The Outline of Druidic Rites

In ancient days, Pagans gathered in places hallowed by tradition. Sometimes these were temple buildings. More often, they were groves and glens in the deep forest, or high places. In our times we must usually recreate the holy atmosphere of the Sacred Groves by ritual and meditation.

This page includes the general outline of the public rituals done by Three Cranes Grove, ADF. Following the explanation of each part, an example of the prayer, invocation, or work we might do is included.

Initiating the Rite

As every ritual must have a clear-cut beginning, so too do ADF rituals. Often this beginning may be marked by a simple prayer, a statement of opening, or a procession to the ritual area. Often, the priest or priestess will come out of the grove and lead a procession of all the worshippers to the holy place. Often, this is accompanied by a song, drums, or the music of pipes. At other times, the worshippers might be sent to meditate alone, and then called by the sound of a horn.

A prayer is also offered to the Earth Mother who upholds our rite and our lives. A common custom is to bend and kiss the earth, or place a hand on her to honour her.

Opening Prayer

The spirits of the sky are above us.
The spirits of the land are around us.
The spirits of the waters flow below us.
Surrounded by all the numinous beings of earth and sky and water,
Our hearts tied together as one,
Let us pray with a good fire.

Earth Mother Prayer

All kneel and kiss the earth. The Chief speaks as the Sacrificer makes an offering of grain, bread or flour:

O beloved mother of all
From whose starry womb the green earth springs
You who are the bearer of all life
We pray you bless and uphold this rite.
All: Mother of all accept our offering!

Call for Inspiration

The Bard invokes, saying:

Power of inspiration that attends us
Voice of the fire of wisdom,
voice of the well of inspiration
Come into our hearts’ shrine
O! Into our hearts’ shrine
Let us ken of every good or ill,
Guide our rite in the way of truth
I call you to place the clear heart in us
O power of inspiration in this holy place
O power of inspiration at this holy time
So be it!


At some point, possibly before the folk enter the space, possibly after, the folk are purified. This purification is best done as a group, but individuals can purify themselves also. Most often, fire and water are used in conjunction to purify each participant as well as the space.

Often, too, we may make offerings to beings called “Outdwellers” as part of our purification. These are powers that can be inimical to mortals or oppose our own Gods and Goddesses. We acknowledge their presence, asking them to leave us in peace, often while acknowledging within ourselves those things that might interfere with proper worship.

Outdwellers Offering

An offering is made to the south of the Grove, saying:

Those whose purpose is cross with ours,
You whose harmony does not match our voices,
Be you God, Goddess, Spirit, or Giant,
We ask that you accept this gift
And trouble not our working.

Likewise we acknowledge within ourselves
All those things that would cause disunity

We contemplate these ills and enemies
And for this sacred time
We set them aside!

Statement of Purpose

The priest or priestess gives a statement of the intention and purpose of the rite, as well as the historical precedent for this ritual in the Ways of the ancients. This serves to inform everyone, including those powers that will be called, why we have gathered.

Statement of Purpose, and Previous Precedent

[A purpose is inserted here, proper to the occasion, it begins with the following]:

As our ancestors once did, so we do today, and so our children will do in the future.

[It ends with]:

So let us join together as one folk to make our offerings in joy and reverence.

(Re)creating the Cosmos

Druidic ritual is anchored at the Sacred Center of the Grove. The Center is conceived as a meeting-place of the common world with the Otherworlds of the Spirits. We use one or more of the universal symbols of the Center—the Fire, the Well, and the World Tree. Fire connects us with the Sky, the Well with the Underworld, and the Tree is the Boundary Between All Worlds, rooted deep and crowned high.

Of these three symbols, a representation of the Fire is required for all Druidic rites.

In this phase of the ritual, the Order of the Worlds is acknowledged, first the vertical axis of the Under- Mid- and Starry Worlds. The rite may then honour the horizontal axis of the worlds, such as the realms of Land, Sea, and Sky, or the Four Directions.

By affirming these symbols in our rite, we acknowledge them within ourselves, making our own souls a temple in which the Three Kindreds may dwell.

Grove Attunment

Take a moment to find the center of your mind, body and soul.Now, let us begin to open our minds to Magic, to the presence of the Gods. Begin with your body. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, balanced and upright. Shake out your arms and shoulders. Let gravity pull you evenly toward the Earth, as you release the everyday tensions in your flesh.

Now, begin to breathe deeply and regularly. With each inbreath fill your lungs slowly and completely. With each outbreath empty them entirely. For a moment, simply watch your breath. In and out . . . Slowly . . . Completely.

Now, as you continue to breathe deeply and regularly, imagine, feel that roots are springing from the soles of your feet, reaching down into soil and stone, down to the World below you. A strong taproot slides down, going deeper and growing stronger, down to touch the cool, dark waters beneath the Earth. The dark, cool, magnetic powers of the land.

Breathe deep, and with each inbreath draw the Earth Power up through your roots. Feel it flowing into your feet, tingling and energizing. Rising up from the Earth . . . into your legs . . . rising up through your legs . . . feel it pool in your groin. Breathe deep, and draw the Earth Power up your spine . . . rising through your belly . . . rising through your heart . . . rising up to pool in your head . . . Filling and energizing you . . . rising still to fountain out the crown of your head and flow back to the Earth. Flowing back out through your head and hands, to return to the Earth.

So are you now filled with the Power of the Earth.

Now imagine, feel, that from far overhead, from deep within the turning Wheel of the Sky, a single ray of light shines down, out and down to bathe your body and your spirit in the warm, electric Sky power. Shining down over your head . . . over your heart . . . over your loins . . . touching and warming the Earth Power.

Everywhere the light touches becomes bright, shining like the sun on the water. Now, raise your shining hands to the Sky and let the Earth Power flow into your hands. Feel . . . see . . . your hands brighten and energize with the combined Powers of the Earth and the Sky.

So are you now the Sacred Pillar, the World Tree, the vertical axis of all the Worlds.

Now, reach out to those beside you. Join your shining hands together. Let the Waters and the Light merge and flow through us all . . . the Power flowing upward from below . . . the power flowing downward from above . . . through each and all of us . . . making us one light, one depth, one united and Sacred Grove.

The waters support and surround us
The land extends about us
The sky stretches out above us.
At our center burns a living flame.
May all the Kindred bless us.
May our worship be true.
May our actions be just.
May our love be pure.
Blessings, and honor, and worship to the Holy Ones.
So Be It


The Portal Song

[As this song is sung, silver is offered to the Well, oil is offered to the Fire, and the Tree is censed and aspersed. In this way, the center is established.]

By Fire and by Water, between the Earth and Sky
We stand like the World-Tree rooted deep, crowned high.
Come we now to the Well, the eye and the mouth of Earth,
Come we now to the Well, and silver we bring,
Come we now to the Well, the waters of rebirth,
Come we now to the Well, together we sing:


We will kindle a Fire, Bless all, and with harm to none,
We will kindle a Fire, and offering pour,
We will kindle a Fire, A light ‘neath the Moon & Sun,
We will kindle a fire, our spirits will soar.


Gather we at the Tree, the root & the crown of all,
Gather we at the Tree, Below & Above,
Gather we at the Tree, Together we make our call,
Gather we at the Tree, In wisdom & love.

CHORUS (with gusto)


Opening the Gates

Meditation on the World Order is a valuable spiritual tool all by itself. The next part of the rite transforms the simple symbols of the Center into true magical Gates. First, the priest or priestess invokes the Gatekeeper, a being in charge of the Ways Between. We offer to the Gatekeeper and ask his or her help in the work.

The symbols of the Sacred Center are then conjured to function as Gates Between. Through these gates we send our love, worship, and offerings to the Powers, and they in turn send blessings to us. As long as the Gates are open, our thoughts and impulses can be heard clearly by the Gods and Spirits.

The Garanus Meditation

In your mind’s eye, see the mists that hover between the worlds as they roll in around this sacred space. In all directions, the mists close you off from the mundane world, leaving nothing but this Grove.At the edge of the mists, there is a parting. The mists roll back to reveal the waters, deep and undisturbed. They stretch far into the distance, disappearing into the farthest mists.

In the shallows before you, where the land meets the waters, stands a tall, watchful crane. One foot stands upon the land, and the other is in the water. His eye is raised to the sky.

This is Garanus, the crane.

He has dominion over the three realms: he walks upon the land, feeds in the waters, and flies through the sky. Garanus, the crane, will guide us and protect us as we walk to meet the Kindred at the boundaries of this sacred Grove.

The Opening of the Gates

The Senior Druid makes an offering to the Garanus, the Crane, saying:

You who stand between the realms,
Open the ways for us.
Guide us as we walk in your holy ways,
Guide us as we walk the Sacred Road.
Share your magic with us,
Ward us as we travel to meet the Kindred.
Garanus, accept our sacrifice!
All: Garanus, accept our sacrifice!

An offering of oil is given to the Fire. The Senior Druid then conjures the Gates, making an opening triskel on the Fire and Well, saying:

Now, Garanus
Join your magic with mine
And let the fire open as a gate,
Let the well open as a gate,
Let the tree be the crossroads of all Worlds.

Open as a road to our voices and to the Spirits. Let the gates be open!

All: Let the gates be open!

Inviting the Three Kindreds

In each of our rites, we invoke and offer to the Spirits in three categories. We call these the Kindreds to reflect their family relationship with one another and with us. The Nature Spirits are those who ensoul soil and stone, water and wind, bird and beast. The Dead are our ancestors, both those of actual blood or those of our heart and affection. The Gods and Goddesses are the eldest Children of the Mother, the Brightest, Wisest and Strongest. For each of these we speak an invocation and make a proper offering.

When these Triad Offerings are made the worshippers should meditate and call to those Spirits that are closest to them: our own Ancestors, Gods and Goddesses, and allies among the Nature Spirits are called to join us in honouring the Patron Powers of the rite.


The Children of the Earth call out to the Mighty Dead.
Hear us, our Ancestors, our Kindred.
To all those whose bones lie in this land,
Whose hearts are tied to it,
Whose memory holds it;
Ancient tribes of this place,
We offer you welcome.

To all of our grandmothers and grandfathers,
Our own beloved dead,
Blood-kin and heart-kin,
Ancient tribes of our blood,
We offer you welcome.

To all those elder wise ones who guide their people,
Poets and seers,
Judges and magicians;
Wise women and men of ancient days,
We offer you welcome.

So, O Mighty Ones
We call to you as our kin,
In the love of the All-Mother,
To join in our magic.

Come to our fire, Spirits
Meet us at the boundaries.
Join us at our Sacred Hearth and be warmed by our good fire.
Aid us and guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Ancestors! Accept our Sacrifice!

Ancestors, accept our sacrifice!

(an offering of food and/or drink is made onto the ground or into a shaft)

All: Ancestors, Accept our sacrifice!

Nature Spirits

The Children of Earth call out to the Spirits of this Land.
Hear us, companions and teachers!
To all our allies,
Kindred of stone and stream,
Crystal and fertile soil,
Pools and every water;
We offer you welcome.

To all our allies,
Kindred of the growing green,
Herb and flower,
Shrub and mighty trees,
Root and stem and fruit.
We offer you welcome.

To all our allies,
Kindred of fur and feather and scale
All who walk or fly or swim or crawl
We offer you welcome.

So, O Noble Ones
We call to you as our allies,
In the joy of life upon earth,
To join in our magic.

Come to our fire, Spirits;
Meet us at the boundaries.
Join us at our Sacred Hearth and be warmed by our good fire.
Aid us and guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Nature Spirits! Accept our sacrifice!

Nature Spirits, accept our sacrifice!

(an offering of herbs, flowers and/or trinkets is scattered around the nemeton’s edge or hung on the tree)

All: Nature Spirits, Accept our sacrifice!


The Children of Earth call out to the Shining Ones.
Hear us, eldest and brightest!
To all the Shining Ones,
First children of the Mother,
Wisest and mightiest,
Loving and comforting;
Gods and Goddesses,
We offer you welcome.

To the Goddesses and Gods of this place,
Ancient and powerful,
Known to us or unknown;
Gods of this place,
We offer you welcome.

To all the deities of those here gathered,
You whom we worship,
You who bless our lives;
O patrons and matrons,
We offer you welcome.

So, O Shining Ones,
We call to you as our elders,
In reverence and love,
To join in our magic.

Come to our fire, Shining Ones;
Meet us at the boundaries.
Join us at our Sacred Hearth and be warmed by our good fire.
Aid us and guide us as we walk the Elder Ways.
Shining Ones! Accept out sacrifice!

Deities, accept our sacrifice!

(an offering of scented oil is poured on the fire)

All: Deities, accept our sacrifice!

Praise Offerings to the Kindreds

At this time, the folk are often invited to make the first round of Praise Offerings. This round is provided so that the folk may bring praise to any power they wish among the Kindreds. Usually, these are offerings of art (songs, poetry, etc.), though they may simply be thanks to the Powers for blessings received.

Key Offerings

Each of our rites is commonly dedicated to two or more of the Gods and Goddesses. These are usually chosen either for their connection with the seasonal holiday being celebrated, for their ability in the area of the work being done, or their special relationship with the mortal focus of the rite.

The patrons of the rite are first invoked with expressive prose or poetry, sometimes accompanied by a visualized image of the Deities. A proper offering is made as the priest or priestess invokes. These offerings are different for every rite.

Praise Offerings

After the formal offerings, there is a time when members of the company can make personal offerings to the Deities of the Occasion. Like the previous round, these are offerings of art (songs, poetry, etc.), but they are specifically directed at the Deities offered to in the Key Offerings above..

Prayer of Sacrifice

After the Praise Offerings, the priest or priestess gives a final Prayer of Sacrifice and makes a large offering to the Fire. This is the moment when every worshipper sends her love and respect, her energy, through the Gates to the Patrons and Powers.

Final Sacrifice

The druids prepare the final offerings, saying:

So we have given of our love and our wealth
To the Powers, that they may know our intentions.
Now let our voices arise on the Fire
Let our voices sound in the Well
Let our words pass the boundary to the Otherworld.

We give you our love
Our respect, and our devotion
as we pray you…

[Patron], accept our sacrifice!


After the Final Sacrifice, the seer seeks an omen, doing a simple divination to determine what sort of blessings the Powers offer in return for our gifts.

Three Ritual Questions

The seer for this rite will ask three questions:

Have our offerings been accepted?What do the Powers offer us in return?

What further needs do the Powers have of us?

Calling for the Waters

The priest or priestess leads a meditation combining the presence of the Powers with the content of the Omen. We also meditate on our own needs, those of our loved ones, and our community.

At this time, there is usually a litany in which the assembled company pray to be given the Blessing, in the form of the Waters of Life. In this moment, our personal desires should be strongly imagined, held in the mind and heart, with harm to none and for the good of all.

Calling for the waters

These are indeed powerful omens;
take a moment to reflect upon them.
Consider first how these blessings affect you,
how you can find their expression in your life.
Next consider how these blessings relate to us all,
how the community as a whole, and this Grove in particular
might be affected by the Great One’s blessings.

Now, in your mind’s eye, see the blessings manifest:
A mist around us, a shining ray from the heavens,
a deep welling from the bosom of the earth.
See the blessings in your own way,
And know the Gods pour them out for you.

Hallowing the Blessings

The Blessing of the Powers is commonly given as a cup or horn of drink. Three Cranes Grove, ADF, only uses purified spring water for the Waters of Life. The priest or priestess invokes the Blessing as water drawn from the Well of Potentials and held in the light of the Fire of Transformation. We contemplate again our needs and the Omen as we drink the blessing. We often sing an anthem or listen quietly during this most reverent moment.

Hallowing the Waters

[elevate larger pitcher]

All waters are by nature sacred,
welling from the earth or falling from the sky,
but today, we separate these waters *
Asking that they be infused with the blessings of the Kindreds.

[* – pour the waters into a smaller vessel as you speak this line]

[At this point, the waters are set in the center of three candles, unlit as yet. Source note: I picked this up from Ian Corrigan]

Ancient and mighty ones, we have honoured you,
And you have offered us blessings in turn:
Shining Ones, give us the Waters!All: Shining Ones, give us the Waters!

[First candle lit]

Your blessings mingle with the waters before us,
Infusing them, becoming one with them:
Shining Ones, give us the Waters!All: Shining Ones, give us the Waters!

[Second candle lit]

In all the ways your blessings may come, in all their forms,
mixing with the waters here, shining and bright with your love for us:
Shining Ones, give us the Waters!All: Shining Ones, give us the Waters!

[Third candle lit]

[Pause for a moment, and hold your hand, wand, or sickle over the waters. Direct the energy from the Grove into the container.]

These Waters now hold the blessings of the Gods,
The outpouring of love from the Great Ones
As we share in these sacred waters,
we drink in wisdom, strength and blessing.

[elevate the Waters]

Behold, the Waters of Life!All: Behold, the Waters of Life!

Affirmation of the Blessings

Once all have drank from the cup or horn, the folk vocally affirm that the Blessings from the Powers have indeed been received. This not only affirms to the Powers that we have received their blessings, but it also further imprints the reception of these blessings in our own minds.

Affirming the Blessing

Children of the Earth, before you is the holy cup
Do you wish to share in these blessings?
All: We do!

Then, as the waters are poured out,
know that they hold blessings for you and this grove and this community.
Work well with these blessings, Children of the Earth.

[Waters are passed out, and quaffed]

Now we have imbibed the Waters of Life,
the outpouring of blessings from the Powers.
Feel the waters within you,
and know that we have been blessed.


If there is any social or magical task to be accomplished, it is done at this time. Healings, announcements of weddings, child blessings, workings for the community good, and oaths may be made at this time.

Thanking the Powers, Closing the Gates, and Thanking the Earth Mother

After all is done, we give proper thanks to all the Powers. The priest or priestess leads us in thanking the Patrons of the rite, as well as the Kindreds. We thank the Gatekeeper and conjure the Gates closed. We renew our grounding, our connection to the Earth and the Sky, centering the energies of the rite in our own souls. We allow excess energy to flow away, into the ground, and we offer any remains to the Earth Mother.

Closing the Rite

The rite concludes with a blessing, and we often sing a closing chant as we leave the Grove.