A new weekly ritual will be posted here each week, which we will use in our Sunday meetings. For more information on these meetings, see the Get Involved page.
It is recommended that you have two bowls: one with pure water, another empty. You will also need a glass with your offering to the Gods. Typical offerings are wine, milk, or water, but the offering can be specific to the deity you are addressing. It is also appropriate to have a candle and incense.
Wash your hands in the bowl of water to purify yourself before the gods.
Music, a stanza from Hávamál, and the ringing of a bell start the meeting.
47. I was young once,
I walked alone,
and I became lost on my way.
I felt like I was rich
when I met another traveler—
people’s joy is in other people.
First, we worship our Gods,
pay reverence to the noble Heroes,
we greet the spirits of the Dead,
and honor our meeting’s Patron.
So let us offer this libation,
for the honor of their power
and communion with their souls.
Today’s libation text is Horace Odes 3.25.
Where are you taking me, Bacchus,
now I’m full of you? To what caves or groves, driven,
swiftly, by new inspiration?
In what caverns will I be heard planning to set
illustrious Caesar’s lasting
glory among the stars, in the councils of Jove?
I’ll sing a recent achievement,
not yet sung by other lips. So does the sleepless
Bacchante, stand in amazement
on a mountain-ridge, gazing at Hebrus, at Thrace,
shining with snow, at Rhodope,
trodden by barbarous feet, even as I like
to wander gazing, at river
banks, and echoing groves. O master of Naiads,
of Bacchae owning the power
to uproot the tallest ash-trees, with their bare hands,
I’ll sing nothing trivial, no
humble measure, nothing that dies. O, Lenaeus,
the danger of following a god
is sweet, wreathing my brow with green leaves of the vine.
As you give to us, so we give back to you!
Pour some of your offering into the empty bowl.
Neither earth nor heaven were,
when chaos ruled the empty space.
But from the two that shape and form –
from light and darkness, sky and soil –
the world was forged and ordered.
So shall we be brought to order,
As we partake of this drink.
The remainder of the drink is consumed.
A bell is rung to initiate the reading.
Today’s reading text is Princess of the Fomorii from the book Celtic Myths and Legends by Peter Berresford Ellis. [Peter Berresford Ellis (born 10 March 1943) is a British historian, literary biographer, and novelist who has published over 98 books to date either under his own name or his pseudonyms Peter Tremayne and Peter MacAlan.]
Each person who chooses to read will read one paragraph from asterisk to asterisk. One person will read at a time. We will read in alphabetical order and repeat this order as many times as needed till the reading is complete.
Down came the great horse and its rider, halting in a spray of sand. The warrior leapt from the horse and came striding up the sandy beach to the battle lines of the Feans.
“Is this the Tighearna Dubh of whom you spoke, Princess?” demanded Fingal.
“It is none other,” the Princess assured him, her voice faint. “Protect me, for his power is great.”
Oscar, the youthful hero, stirred by the passionate cry of the girl, strode forward, shield and sword ready.
The Tighearna Dubh scorned to fight with him. “Move aside, balach,” he roared, deliberately insulting Oscar by calling him “boy”. His very voice made the earth quake.
However, this address made Oscar angry and he yelled back.
“Defend yourself from this ‘boy’, laosboc!” He used the most insulting term he could think of, being a “gelded he-goat”.
The Tighearna Dubh laughed so that the mountains shook and landslides roared from their tops. But he ignored Oscar. He looked straight at the Princess of the Fomorii.
“I have come for you, not to fight with boys.”
Enraged, Oscar seized his spear and cast it at the strange warrior. It did not touch his body but it split the ridge of the shield right in its centre.
Still the Tighearna Dubh did not respond, dismissing Oscar as a “petulant balach”. At this, Oscar became angrier and cast his second spear at the warrior’s mighty steed. It went right through the horse’s heart and it fell dead. Ossian, who was the bard of the Feans, immediately composed a song about this mighty deed and some say that it still may be heard, sung in the remote places and islands of Scotland, where the language of the children of the Gael has not yet been entirely cast out by the language of the Gall.
The Tighearna Dubh was finally moved to anger by the loss of his prize horse, and he beat on his mighty shield with his sword and challenged the Feans to send fifty men of them against him and he would overcome them all. If they did not accept his challenge, then they were all weaklings who should still be supping their mother’s milk.
So a great battle was fought on that strand. The Tighearna Dubh fought with tremendous strength and ferocity.
It happened that the Tighearna Dubh finally came face to face with Goll, who was Fingal’s best warrior, and they closed on each other with sword and shield. Never had high-hilled Alba seen such a ferocious combat. Sharp and cunning was the swordplay. Blood stained the sands and it was a mixture of the blood of the Tighearna Dubh and the blood of Goll. It was nearly sundown when the combat ceased and then it was because the Tighearna Dubh, growing fatigued, dropped his sword-point a little and gave Goll the chance to make a lightning thrust. The Tighearna Dubh fell dead on the shore.
No mightier a warrior had ever been overcome in the history of the Feans. When the Dark Lord fell, there was a hush in the air, the whispering waters of the seas fell silent and the wind died away.
The Princess of the Fomorii turned to all the Feans with her sad smile and thanked each of them.
“I can now return to the land of the Fomorii,” she said, “and return without fear, thanks to the bravery and skill of the Feans. But promise me one thing, before I go: that if ever I need the help of any of you again, you will come freely and quickly to my aid.”
The Feans all promised and none more ardently than Fingal himself.
A year and a day went by. It transpired that the Feans were once more crossing the Eas-Ruaidh, the Red Cataract, when they saw a boat approaching with one person rowing it.
Oscar shaded his eyes.
“Perhaps it is the Princess of the Fomorii?” he suggested hopefully, for he still wished to prove his valour before such a beautiful maiden.
Fingal shook his head. “There is but a young man in the boat.”
The boat drew swiftly alongside and the young man hailed Fingal without climbing out.
“Who are you?” demanded the leader of the Feans, peering down over the rail.
“I am a messenger from the land of the Fomorii, those who dwell under the waves.”
“What is your message?”
“Muirgen, my Princess, is dying.”
Now there was great sorrowing among the Feans when they heard this news and they immediately set up the golghàire, the loud lamentation which is the tradition for the reception of bad news. But Fingal silenced them with an upraised hand.
“This is a sad message you bring,” he said, addressing the young man. “Is she so ill?”
“She is and ready to die. But she sent me to bid you to remember your promise to help her in time of difficulty.”
“If there is anything we can do,” Fingal assured him, “then it shall be done.”
“You have a healer among the Feans, whose name is Diarmuid Lighiche. Ask him to come with me, so that he may give of his healing to my Princess.”
This completes our reading. We will pause a moment for silent contemplation.
If the program leader would like to make a comment on the reading or libation, they can briefly do so here before moving on to the conclusion.
As we conclude our meeting –
in honour of our Gods,
of our Ancestors, and the World,
which is an image of the Gods –
let us remember how to live
with justice, wisdom, temperance,
with holy thoughts and valiant deeds.
A bell is rung to signal the end of the meeting.
The offering can be left in the bowl for some time. Later, it can be poured outside into the earth.