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.
The Four Earth Rituals
Our four Earth Rituals align with the Celtic divisions of Land, Sea, and Sky and offer blessings to the entire earth through this ancient three-fold division. The fourth ceremony, at the Fall Equinox, also recognizes the importance of attending to ourselves, hearths, and communities in this challenging age. Our sequence of four Earth rituals are done collectively by AODA members and friends of the order throughout the world, and thus, our work is amplified beyond any single individual or group.
Our four rituals are as follows (click on each to see the ceremony and further instructions):
- Sky Blessing at the Spring Equinox: A blessing for the air and sky.
- Solar Land Healing Ceremony at the Summer Solstice: A blessing for all of our lands and the physical earth, including ecosystems and the biosphere.
- Telluric Waterway Blessing at the Fall Equinox: A blessing for the waterways: springs, streams, rivers, oceans, and the entire hydrologic cycle.
- Hearth Blessing at the Winter Solstice: A blessing for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our hearths, recognizing that living in this age is challenging and any land healing must also be accompanied by self-care and caring for each other.
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.
- Discuss our rituals on the AODA Forums
- Discuss our rituals on AODA’s Discord
- For the three earth healing ceremonies (Summer Solstice, Fall Equinox, and Spring Equinox), if you would like, please place yourself on our ritual map. New maps are posted for each ritual.
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, friends and family members of AODA) 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 location for the ceremony 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 Equinoxes and Solstices. 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 fine 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.
What about other AODA holy day ceremonies, such those in the New Candidate Guide?
Members can choose if they want to use the New Candidate Guide ceremonies or participate in the Earth Rituals (or do both). In 2024, the Earth Rituals will replace those currently listed in the New Candidate Guide.
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, the Winter Solstice ceremony at or around June 21st, etc.
Why Earth 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.
How did these rituals come about?
The AODA originally put forth two rituals: the Summer Solstice Solar Land Healing ceremony and a Winter Solstice Telluric Waterway healing (which was moved to the Fall Equinox in our second year of the ceremonies). After inviting AODA members to participate in the Summer Solstice ceremony, we met as an order. During this conversation, it became clear that we needed a “sky” ritual to complete the Earth-Sea-Sky triad and also a ritual to support those engaging in Earth Healing work. Thus, our four-fold ritual sequence was born.