High Day Essays and Example Attendance

Short essays on each of the eight ADF High Days including a discussion of the meaning of each feast. (125 words min. each)

Fourth Crossquarter/Lughnasadh (wc 242)

The August high day is frequently called Lughnasadh (the Feast of Lugh) or Lammas (Loaf-mass) in the Anglo-Saxon tradition for the high day,  Calan Awst (the beginning of August) in the Welsh tradition, and Freyfaxi (Frey’s Mane) or also Loaf-fest in the Norse tradition.

As far as we know from reconstruction and research, all three traditions center around the start of harvest season as well as enjoying the fruits of their labors with competitions and challenges amongst their followers. Those who follow the Irish tradition, have more warrior oriented traditions as they celebrate Lugh triumphing over the blight that wanted to destroy mankind’s harvest. Those who follow the Welsh tradition look to the story of Lleu Llaw Gyffes from the fourth book of the Mabinogion and his trials his unwilling mother puts him through. The Norse tradition of Loaf-fest is a celebration of the start of the harvest and a sacrifice of a horse to Frey.

All three traditions surround the start of the harvest as well as competitions amongst their people since harvests tend to bring agricultural communities together in a united aim of starting to work the fields. Competitions amongst the members also tends to draw people, much like county fairs where people show off their prized livestock and harvest.

To me, the fourth crossquarter as a ritual can be viewed as when people come together and start to reap all the hard work they’ve put into growing and flourishing. 

Autumn Equinox (wc 166)

The Autumn Equinox is frequently called fall equinox for the Irish (where they finish their harvesting and enjoy the hard work to harvest the crops), Gwyl Cynhaeaf (Feast of Harvest) to the Welsh,and the Autumnal Equinox for the Norse where modern heathens honor Thor and Sif for their connection to harvesting since we don’t have much information on what our ancestors did for this celebration.

All three traditions center on the wrapping up of harvest season as well as celebrating all the hard work everyone did for the harvest. All three seem to be when each ancient culture is either done or finishing up their harvesting. Many of the recipes are based around healthy, well-rounded foods that would be fresh from the harvest and give the farmers the extra strength and boost to finish up their work.

To me, the autumn equinox as a ritual can be viewed as when people celebrate together everything they’ve accomplished and achieved through the hard work over this past year.

Samhain (wc 185)

Samhain is the Irish name for the fall cross day (Summer’s end), Calan Gaeaf (the Beginning of Winter), and Wintersnight for the Norse. For the Irish, it is a feast of the dead with a number of mythological connections besides the main two aspects of the holy day (feast for the dead and the end of summer). For the Welsh, Calan Gaeaf connects with when Pwyll entered the underworld (Annwn) to perform a service for Arawn, the king of Annwn (also known as the lands of the Fair Folk) which also connects it to respect towards the dead and divinations via a dumb supper. For the Norse, Wintersnight is the final celebration before settling in for winter, where they celebrate the Disir (or the female spirits).

For the Irish and Welsh, there is a connection to both the ancestors and honored dead as well as the hints of the faeries in the Irish, while more heavily interacted with for the Welsh through Annwn. For the Norse, the honoring of the Disir does touch upon the ancestors, but they also honor the Disir in the spring.

Winter Solstice (wc 174)

Winter Solstice is referred to as Alban Gaeaf by the Welsh, winter solstice for the Irish, and Yule for the Norse. All three holidays tend to be a time when family and close friends get together to celebrate companionship. Alban Gaeaf is also a time when they celebrate Rhiannon with the horse skull parade the Welsh do called Mari Llwyd. From what I know of the Mari Llwyd, the people go around wearing the horse skull while cloaked and wassail people.

As much as our research can provide, the Irish don’t have any strong traditions other than getting together with family and loved ones to celebrate the longest night. The Norse make Yule into a much bigger event with friends, family, and loved ones. They feast and celebrate their connections as well as honor the gods and goddesses that pertain to making it through the winter. Another thing they tend to do is have a symbel (pronounced sumble) where people will brag about accomplishments, make oaths, and otherwise have a bonding, drunken time together.

Imbolc (wc 154)

Imbolc is known as that same name to the Irish, Disir Blót or the Charming of the Plow to the Norse, and Calan Gwanwyn to the Welsh. For Imbolc, it is when people celebrate Brigid and the hearth, so many people celebrate family and home life as well as when the sheep prepare to have their lambs so their milk begins to flow. For Disir Blót, it is a time to acknowledge the female ancestors and female goddesses such as Freyja/Frigg. For Calan Gwanwyn, it’s about Pwyll courting Rhiannon and the subsequent birth of Pryderi.

For all three, it seems to be a time for modern pagans to honor the female aspects of life as spring prepares to return: whether it be through ancestors, valkyries, Rhiannon and her giving birth, or even Brigid who is one of the most well-known hearth goddesses and celebrating her feminine powers of keeping life and the home going.

Spring Equinox (wc 177)

The spring equinox is usually when various cultures celebrate the ending of winter and the start of spring (except for the Norse because they tend to view their seasons as being only two—only summer and winter—and summer tends to start and be celebrated around Beltaine). For the Irish, it is a lot of blessing of the coming of spring and fertility. For the Welsh, it’s Alban Eilir which is a celebration of Pwyll and Rhiannon’s courtship as well as the birth of Pryderi. For the Germanic traditions, it’s a celebration of the vernal equinox or Eostre (Eostremonath) for the Anglo-Saxons or Idunna for the Norse.

What I’ve noticed around this time of the year is that the temperature in Georgia gets warmer at times, rains are more plentiful, and pollen goes crazy. What I find interesting about this holiday is how the modern pagans look to the Norse/Scandinavian countries, but those countries don’t consider it really spring yet—Easter or the start of May is when those countries tend to celebrate the start of spring.

Beltaine (wc 255)

Beltaine is viewed as the beginning of summer for most pagan beliefs and pantheons. For the Irish, it’s Bealtainne (Bright Fire) which is a celebration for the nature spirits as they come out into the world and celebration of the start of summer. For the Welsh, it’s known as Calan Haf (“The Beginning of Summer”) and is considered a spirit night and connected to Annwn. And for the Norse/Germanic, it is Walpurgisnacht with magic and witches in the evening and joy and love in the day. According to Wikipedia, Walpurgis Night “is the eve of the Christian feast day of Saint Walpurga, an 8th-century abbess in Fancia, and is celebrated on the night of 30 April and the day of 1 May” (“Walpurgis Night”). The heathen group I’m with celebrated Walpurgisnacht by honoring any ancestors we might have had who were witches, wise women, or Volva.

With all three celebrating a different version of what their season is like at this time of year, a central theme is love. As a Wiccan, I was taught that May is the month celebration of the Lord and Lady getting married. This theme of “love” is reflected in the Norse view of May 1st while the connection to the Otherworld (whether it be the nature spirits in Irish and Welsh beliefs or the realm of the ancestors in Norse) is the flip side of it. Some view it as the other side of Samhain when the veil is considered thin as well.

“Walpurgis Night.” Wikipedia.org. 2018. www.wikipedia.org (6 Jan. 2019).

Midsummer/Summer Solstice (wc 244)

Midsummer (also known as the Summer Solstice) is approached in each of the different religious practices for the different pantheons as the longest day of the year, but in the three pantheons I work with, it tends to be more of a celebration than a “holy day.” For the Irish they just called it the summer solstice or midsummer where the day is the longest and ask for blessings from the gods and goddesses for their crops and their livestock to be as fruitful as they needed before the harvest. For the Welsh, it is Alban Hefin when the fair folk (the Tylwyth Teg) are their most active in all the year. For the Norse, the Summer Solstice is a time for activity, trading, and other communal events and celebration in honor of the gods.

A thread that seems to run through all three pantheons’ celebrations is asking for blessings and coming together as a group or community. The Welsh and the Fair Folk are closely tied together, so celebrating them on the longest day makes sense, while the Irish and the Norse’s connection to asking for blessings from the gods and goddesses upon their crops, livestock, and what they are trying to accomplish shows a connection between the Celtic and Norse practices. I could see some practices pointing out that the darkness of winter is coming while still embracing the longest day and shortest night of the year as a fleeting day of light in the world.

A brief account of each High Day ritual attended or performed by the Dedicant in a twelve-month period. High Days attended/performed might be celebrated with a local grove, privately, or with another Neopagan group. At least 4 of the rituals attended/performed during the training period must be ADF-style. (100 words min. each)

Note: Below, I’m listing the two rituals I myself wrote and led just for examples for what potential reviews of your experience can be. The experience is very different from when you are participating and when you are the one leading the ritual. I also recommend including the date for each ritual to help show that you did attend ADF styled rituals (at least four of them) within the span of a year.

Autumn Equinox Ritual (Sep. 23, 2017) (wc 294)

This was my first ever group ritual I’ve written and led. I performed it with the Grove of the Red Earth in Atlanta. The concept behind it was Gwyl Cynhaeaf, but I went with the concept Wiccans and witches use — Mabon and his mother Modron, as well as celebrating the Welsh pantheon and having an eisteddfod where everyone in attendance represented their patrons’ pantheons (so people could represent more than one pantheon).

I really wanted the ritual to be powerful and have a very positive impact on everyone in attendance, so I went with the ADF core order of ritual since our grove seems to take a somewhat abbreviated version without the musical signal, the purification, the guided meditation, call and response, as well as commentary while weaving in a continuation of the guided meditation. Many said it was extremely powerful for them. Mission accomplished!

One of the things I addressed before the ritual was making sure people brought their own offerings for their pantheons and patrons. All who did mentioned that it was more powerful and meaningful to do so.

The omen was from the Wildwood Tarot with the acceptance question being the Stag–the answer was yes. With the blessing question, the card was the Page of Stones–this omen pointed back to the guided meditation I created where the pantheons were in the trees sacred to the pantheon and people used the meditation to send out roots to connect with them much like the lynx on both the stone and the tree. With the message question, the cards were the Shaman and the Ten of Stones–through magic and meditation, we can go home to this place we created with the meditation to reconnect to the gods whenever we want.

The omen was from the Wildwood Tarot with the acceptance question being the Stag–the answer was yes. With the blessing question, the card was the Page of Stones–this omen pointed back to the guided meditation I created where the pantheons were in the trees sacred to the pantheon and people used the meditation to send out roots to connect with them much like the lynx on both the stone and the tree. With the message question, the cards were the Shaman and the Ten of Stones–through magic and meditation, we can go home to this place we created with the meditation to reconnect to the gods whenever we want.

Spring Equinox Ritual (Mar. 25, 2018) (wc 300)

I wrote and performed the Spring Equinox ritual which was on behalf of Rhiannon and the nature spirits. The idea was to honor Rhiannon while also inviting nature spirits and helping attune grove members to nature spirits as a whole while the nature spirits got to come witness a ritual on their behalf.

A big wrench was thrown into the works in that it was a bit too wet and cold for a few of our members who are very sensitive to that (health issues). So instead of people connecting to nature while outside, I had to improvise my idea of having them meditate with their eyes open while observing nature through my direction on just quieting their minds and experiencing things (with only my voice as the only distraction/guidance).

Outside of that, most everything went well. We put an empowered staff in the corner with two bowls in front of it for offerings to the nature spirits, the usual cauldron, and the fire in the fireplace. We had Blodeuwedd as the connection to nature spirits, Elen of the Ways as the gatekeeper, and Don as the earth mother.

I did the Two Powers meditation where people imagined themselves as being trees while doing it. I was told by a couple of people it brought back memories they had long forgotten concerning trees that were important to them, so that was great. We had about 12 people in attendance.

The omen was the Six of Athames (Ancestors), the Witch/the Magician (Nature Spirits), and the Five of Chalices (Shining Ones): The Ancestors bestowed expansion, traveling to calm waters, peace, home, finding stability. The Nature Spirits bestowed mastery of the arts, magic, accepting who you are. The Shining Ones bestowed offerings, mutual recognition, mutual exchange, gifting us what we are asking for.