Order-wide Rituals for the Earth

In the Ancient Order of Druids in America, we recognize the ethical imperative of doing everything we can to support the health, vitality, and continuance of all life on earth. In today’s age, where most human activity is focused on extracting resources from the earth and/or living in cultures that engage in consumption and waste production, we believe we have a responsibility to do what we can to right the balance between humans and nature. We see this work as having both physical and metaphysical aspects.

On the physical side, righting of the balance is built into our curriculum for individual AODA members through the Earth Path changes that all of our members make. Physical work on the earth comes through ongoing lifestyle changes, tree planting, ovate practices, and wildcrafting druidry.

Metaphysically, we offer these Order-Wide rituals, taking place at the Winter and Summer solstice, to provide metaphysical support for the land and all who live upon her and to our waterways that support all life.

Why Order-Wide Rituals?

There are a host of reasons why order-wide rituals are a necessary step in the evolution of AODA druidry and nature-based spirituality as a whole.  First, we join our ancient human ancestors in acknowledging the need and importance of ceremonies to support the health and vitality of the land. We recognize that, regardless of our ancestry, many of our ancient human ancestors from around the globe engaged in both physical and metaphysical tending of the earth. Metaphysical support included ceremonies to support abundant harvest, to bring blessing and vitality to the land, and support the overall health of specific species or as a whole. Although many of these ceremonies have been lost to the history of time, we point to Wassailing traditions that continue throughout Europe and the Americas as one excellent example of a surviving ceremonial practice that supports the health and abundance of the land.  Due to a variety of historical and cultural factors, few humans at present do this work, but we see it as critical. Thus, we want to develop a set of rituals that are regularly offered by a larger group of people and are sustained meaningfully over time.

Second, we acknowledge the ethical responsibility that we have to support our earth in any way we can. Centuries of extraction, pollution, unmitigated fossil fuel use, and habitat destruction have created the age of the Anthropocene, marked by continued large-scale human-driven ecological challenges, including wildfires, droughts, ocean acidification, climate change, and the 6th mass extinction. While these challenges are greater than any one of us and greater than our Order, we recognize that one key thing we can do in addition to our own individual actions is collectively offered ceremony for the support of our earth.

Third, AODA is in a unique position to leverage our strengths as an order. In AODA’s Vision Statement, the element of earth focuses on “nature reciprocation”, the element of fire focuses on “tools for today,” and the element of Spirit Below focuses on “nature connection.”  Order-Wide ceremonies allow us to deepen our commitment to these practices of reciprocation and connection, and also provide individual members with new tools to respond to the challenges of today. Additionally, because our membership has a global distribution, we are able to effectively leverage change across larger areas. We see this as leading the way for larger ritual work that facilitates reciprocation, reconnection, and relationship with the living earth.

Finally, we recognize the importance and necessity of building the druid tradition in new and meaningful ways. While the Ancient Druids left us only fragments of a tradition, and the Druid Revival offered us rich material from several centuries ago, we also recognize that we need new tools that are responsive to today and that helps our tradition and those that practice it into the future. We see this as one such potential tool and we hope that you will consider joining us. Because these are drawing upon the solar and telluric currents, we recommend that if you are choosing to participate in these ceremonies, you commit to doing both.

A Call for Collaboration and Community

What is presented here is our initial plan to develop and offer order-wide rituals. As far as we are aware, this initiative is new in our order’s history, and there are very limited examples of this kind of work globally at present. Thus, we expect that as we develop and perform these rituals as a community, they will grow and change. And as a community, we will grow together and learn more about this work. If you are doing these rituals, we would welcome you to share your experiences in our forums, mark yourself on the ritual map, and offer suggestions and insights for how we might change or deepen these ceremonies over time.

The Solar Land Healing Ceremony at the Summer Solstice

The purpose of this ceremony is to provide protection, healing, and blessing for our lands and those who live within them. This ceremony uses a modified Sphere of Protection placed in a tree or stone to radiate blessing and healing to the broader landscape. 

Choose a private space in nature that is outdoors. This can be a forest, park, garden, or any other natural space. In order to select your space, use your intuition and commune with nature to select an appropriate location. Once you select your space, find a tree, stone, or other natural features that will receive the blessing on behalf of the broader landscape. Using your intuition, make sure the tree/stone/other natural feature is willing to receive the blessing before proceeding. (The rest of this ritual will refer to “tree”).

The Ceremony

Use AODA’s Solitary Grove opening to open a sacred space. (If you are in a public space and do not feel you are able to do this, perform the Sphere of Protection on yourself before you leave for the public space).

Perform the full sphere of protection ceremony, centered around your tree. Rather than facing outward in the East, South, West, etc, draw the symbol on the tree itself, facing inward. Thus, you would stand in the east, facing the tree, and trace the symbol directly on the tree. Do this for the first four elements. Visualize each of the elements powerfully, paying attention to their physical qualities in the immediate landscape and visualizing their energies coming into the tree. For the Spirit Above and below, trace the circle around the tree’s roots (telluric) and trunk (solar), walking fully around the tree each time if possible. When you call the Solar Current/Spirit Above, spend extra time with this element, building the clear image of the solar current, in the height of its power at the Summer Solstice, radiating down into the tree/stone. Feel and visualize the solar current coming into the tree/stone and filling it with golden light.  Feel the warmth of that summer sun present.  Then, complete the sphere of protection.  As you form the sphere, imagine it radiating outward from the tree/stone and into the broader landscape as far as you can. As it radiates, you can continue to draw from the seven elements, especially the solar current, to radiate the blessing outward as far as you can.

Offer this prayer:

Summer sun, stand now
At the height of your power
See this place with your fiery eye
Share your warmth and light.
Let the solar current descend
Blessing all with its radiance.
Let that blessing
Radiate from this place
Blessing the lands
And all who live upon them.

Sit in meditation for a time once you are finished seeing if any additional insights or messages from the living earth arise.  Perform any other work you choose to perform. Close the grove (if you opened it) and give thanks to the living earth.

After the ceremony, we suggest that you also do something to bring the energies of the blessing to the earth directly, as an additional offering. This allows you to balance both physical and metaphysical work.  This might be picking up trash in the area where you did the blessing, working to replant trees, working in your community to raise ecological awareness or any other earth-path style change.

The Telluric Waterway Blessing of the Waterways at the Winter Solstice

The purpose of this ceremony is to provide healing, blessing, and protection to the waterways and bodies of water upon which our planet depends. It uses a two-part ritual: the first is using a modified Sphere of Protection that is placed on a stone. The second part of the ritual involves leaving the stone at the waterway as a blessing. 

For this ceremony, you need to gather one or more small stones that can be taken with you to a local waterway. To select your stones and waterway, use your intuition and connect with the land.  Find a stone that is willing to receive the blessing (you canl sense this intuitively or can do a simple divination). We recommend using local stones as these are directly returned to nature, either gathered from the waterway or the surrounding landscape. You will also need to select a waterway in order to receive the blessing. If you know what watershed you live in, you might wish to do your first ceremony for the watershed you live in. If you are in the US, you can learn more about your watershed through the United States Geological Survey Site. Canadian Members can visit here.

Given the cold and dark nature of the Winter Solstice, the ritual itself can be done in advance at your home, and then the stone taken to the waterway and offered there. You can also perform the stone blessing at the waterway itself if it is private and the weather is appropriate.

You can bless one or more than one stone, leaving the stones at one waterway, along a waterway, or at multiple waterways in your region. If you are blessing more than one stone, you will want to trace the symbol on each of the stones as you perform the Sphere of Protection on them.

The Ceremony, Part I: Blessing the Stone

In preparation for the Stone Ceremony, place the stone(s) upon your altar and decorate your altar as you see fit. Have spring water, snowmelt, or water from the waterway itself available in a small bowl.

Open up a Sacred Grove using AODA’s Solitary Grove Ritual.

Using the AODA’s Sphere of Protection ceremony, perform the Sphere of Protection with the stone (or group of stones) as the center of your Sphere of Protection. For example, for the east, you would move to the eastern side of your altar. Dip your finger in the bowl of water,  and draw the symbol of the east on the stone with the water, then speak aloud and visualize the energy of the air.  Do this for each of the elements in the sphere of protection. At this cold and dark time of the year when the Telluric energy is quite powerful, take extra time drawing the telluric current into the stone–feel the golden-green energy from the heart of the earth overflowing in the stone, making it radiant. To complete the Sphere of Protection, hold the stone in your hands, and feel the energies of the sphere coalescing in the stone, contained within the stone.

Sit in meditation for a time once you are finished seeing if any additional insights or messages from the living earth arise. Perform any other work you choose to perform. If you are at the waterway, picking up any litter that you can easily reach is an excellent choice for a physical action that will ground the blessing. Close the grove (if you opened it) and give thanks to the living earth.

Part II: Offering to the Waterway

Take your stone to the waterway where you intend to offer the blessing. Offer the stone, with your own words or an appropriate poem.

Using your intuition, decide if the stone will be placed in the water or next to the water. The placement is important: A stone placed in the water will allow the blessing to flow downstream, while the stone placed next to the water will continue to bless the waterway in that particular spot.

You can offer this prayer:

Winter waters, flow now
From the deepest sacred springs
Hear the beats of our hearts
Share your love and life.
Let the Telluric current rise
Through ancient rock and stone.
Let that blessing flow 
Upon river current and ocean wave
Blessing the lands
And all who live upon them.

Meditate on the experience of placing the stone and thank the waterway.

After the ceremony, we suggest that you also do something to bring the energies of the blessing to the waterways directly, as an offering to the waterway. This allows you to balance both physical and metaphysical work.  This might be picking up trash along your waterway, participating in waterway monitoring, reducing your use of water in your home, or other such activities.

Additional Information and Questions

Who can participate?

All AODA members and friends of the AODA (such as those on related paths of nature-based spirituality) are welcome to participate in our ceremonies.  We encourage you to join our AODA forum, where we will be discussing the specifics of the rituals and events.  Please visit our Discord or Forum for more information.

What is needed to participate?

This ceremony as written requires familiarization with AODA’s core ceremony, the Sphere of Protection. For more information on this ceremony, AODA members can see the New Candidate Guide while friends of the AODA can visit this link.  We also use the Solitary Grove Opening and Closing rituals, which can again be found in the New Candidate Guide or here.

Where should I choose to perform either ceremony?

The choice of lands and waterways is entirely up to the druid performing the ceremony and the land on which you live. If you are living in an area long-term, you might consider these as a yearly ceremony where you return to the same place. If you are a transient druid, find land or water that calls to you. There is no “wrong” place to choose and this choice is up to the individual and the waterway they are working to support. We suggest using your intuition and connecting with the surrounding landscape for an appropriate place–work to set intentions for the ceremony together with the land where you live.  Make sure you feel welcome and invited to perform the ceremony in any location you might choose.

When should I do the ceremony?

The goal is to perform the ceremony within a three-day window of the Summer and Winter solstices. Each solstice, AODA will select a day/time for as many as possible to do the ceremony.  You can choose either the traditional date of the 21st of June and December or the astrological date (usually these are the same); your choice. We do recommend within 3 days on either side of the date.  If you need to perform them outside of the window, that’s ok too.  We’d rather you participate than not!

Can I make changes or additions?

Yes, we encourage you to explore and adapt these ceremonies.  What is provided here is a basic framework. You are welcome to add additional material befitting your own ecosystem and spiritual path. We also encourage you to share your changes and experiences as we build these rituals as an order together.

Can I do either ceremony in a group setting?

Yes, you are welcome to perform these ceremonies as groups or as individuals. You can adapt the solitary grove opening for more than one person, or, you can use the grove opening in the Druid Grove Handbook if you have 7 or more individuals. For the Sphere of Protection itself, you have two options: the first is that one individual does the ritual while all other individuals are energetically and visually supporting the ritual. The second is that individuals take turns with different elements in the SOP. For either, we suggest some practice in advance.

What if I am in the Southern Hemisphere? 

Perform the ceremony that is appropriate to the time of year: thus, perform the Summer Solstice ceremony at or around December 21 and the Winter Solstice ceremony at or around June 21st.

Thank you to everyone who is participating or considering participating in our rituals.