Susan and Ken Reed’s Life, Universe and Everything

Overview of Modern Druid Groups: Rituals and Ritual Structures, Part 2

2020 note: I wrote this this over 15 years ago. Some information may be outdated.

The sample ritual outlines I have included below are just that — samples. In many of the groups, ritual content may vary depending on the nature of the ritual and the preferences of the individuals or groups performing the ritual. Sometimes the ritual outline and content may vary greatly from one ritual to another within the same group. Other groups may have a basic framework that is always or nearly always used with minor variations in content.


In OBOD, the purposes of ritual are to help the participants change consciousness, so that they may contact sources of inspiration and wisdom; to make them aware of the sacred nature of the time and the space they are in; to create a time and space from which beneficent forces may be radiated; and to express deep interconnections among ourselves and between the participants and other realms, beings or forces. (1)

OBOD has both seasonal rituals and various rituals for each grade to introduce the student to experiences taught within a grade or to mark progress within a grade. The seasonal ritual calendar includes: Samhain, Alban Arthan (winter solstice), Imbolc, Alban Eilir (spring equinox), Beltane, Alban Hefin (summer solstice), Lughnassa, and Alban Elfed (fall equinox).

There are no ritual tools required for all rituals, nor is there a set way to physically prepare the ritual space that applies to all rituals.

Ritual components may be reordered, modified, omitted or added to as fits the particular ritual or group or individual performing the ritual. Often, rituals will combine some elements from the BDO ritual format, such as honoring the Spirits of the Land and the Ancestors.

Notice that invoking or inviting Gods is not a usual part of OBOD ritual. This is partly because OBOD regards Druidry as a spiritual philosophy rather than a religion. Individuals and groves/seed groups may include invocations to deities as they wish.

Sample Ritual Outline

Grounding Meditation

Opening Statement

Peace to the Quarters

The “Universal” Druid’s Prayer (AKA “Gorsedd Prayer”)(2)

Awen Chant

Casting the Circle

Consecrating the Circle (with water and fire)

Opening the Quarters

The Working

Unity Prayer

Awen Chant

Thanking the Quarters

Unwinding the Circle

Ending Statement


At the time she wrote Ritual: A Guide to Life, Love and Inspiration, Emma Restall Orr was the Joint Chief of the British Druid Order. Her take on what Druid ritual is:

Ritual is a “pause in time,” a break from the tumbling swirls and eddies of life’s river. It gives an opportunity to check our beliefs, both those that are sound and those that need to be changed. It reveals the world as sacred, guiding us to relate more closely to its creating and its essence, to understand more respectfully the spirit of nature, its power and potential. (3)

I could find no example of BDO ritual from the BDO web site. The sample ritual below is derived from examples given in books by Emma Restall Orr and from a book by Philip Shallcrass (see resource list), who at the time of writing were Joint Chiefs of BDO. Both Orr and Shallcrass are OBOD members as well, and their rituals have much in common with OBOD rituals. (4)

Much of BDO ritual is done at public gatherings, such as Druid camps, Gorseddau, etc.

The ritual calendar includes: Samhain, Alban Arthan (winter solstice), Imbolc, Alban Eilir (spring equinox), Beltane, Alban Hefin (summer solstice), Lughnassa, and Alban Elfed (fall equinox).

Ritual set up varies with the particular ritual being done.

Sample Ritual Outline

Call to Spirit(s) (guardian spirits of place)

Casting the Circle

Peace to the Quarters

Consecrating the Circle (with water and fire)

Honor Directions

Honor Spirits of the Land

Honor Ancestors

The Declaration of Purpose

Invoke the Gods (optional)

The Working

The Grounding

Eisteddfod (optional — may be held after ritual closing)


Thanking the Gods, Ancestors and Spirits

Thanking the Quarters

Unwinding the Circle

Closing Prayer


The AODA doesn’t require a specific liturgy for its members, and in fact the task of writing a personal set of rituals for the holy days of the year is one of the things members do in the course of the study program for the AODA’s Second Degree. Solstices and Equinoxes are the main seasonal rituals; the Celtic cross-quarter days are optional.

There are, however, set rituals for AODA Solitary Grove opening and closing and for the Candidate’s Initiation ceremony (the latter is only available to members). See for an example of the opening and closing ritual.

Rituals may be open to non-members, except for rituals involving initiation, confirmation or exaltation for a particular grade.

AODA Grove Opening and Closing Ritual (5)

Set Up

Altar in center of grove, covered with a white altar cloth.

Incense and incense burner (east of altar).

Oil lamp or candle (south of altar).

Cauldron half filled with water (west of altar).

Platter of earth (north of altar).

Golden sickle and mistletoe in West of the circle.

Sounding board in the North (for staff-rapping).

The elements alternately can take form of four identical cauldrons containing incense, a lamp or candle, water and earth each.

The Chief Druid carries a staff; Druid of Air carries a sword in scabbard; Herald, Pendragon and almoner carry staves with golden sickles; Druid of Fire carries matches or a lighter.

AODA Grove Opening and Closing Ritual Outline

Declared Opening

Call for Peace

Purification of the Grove by the Four Elements

Statement of Purpose

Druid Prayer

Awen Chant

Banishing Negative Influences for Each Quarter

The Center Working (grove meeting, holy day celebration, etc.)

Determine That Work Is Done

Open grove in the cross quarters and invite the Candidates (NE), Druid Apprentices (SE), Druid Companions (SW) and Druid Adepts (NW) to speak or share with the grove.

After they are done “peace” is reiterated for each quarter

Oath of Officers to serve the Earth

Awen Chant

Banishing the Elements/Quarters

Procession Out


RDNA rituals were developed from Episcopal liturgy and emphasize sacrifice to the Earth Mother and receiving blessings from the Earth Mother. Rituals are not required, if done, are usually performed on Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnassadh. Solstices and Equinoxes may also be kept, but are optional. RDNA ritual can be very loose; anyone can omit any part. Rituals are open to anyone who shows up. (6)

Sample Ritual Outline

Invocation (to Be’al)


The Praise (to Earth Mother)

The Sacrifice

The Reply

The Catechism of the Waters of Life/Waters of Sleep

Consecration of the Waters of Life/Waters of Sleep


The Meditation

The Benediction

Drawing the Three Sigils in the air and Proclaiming “Peace”


ADF gives the following intentions for Druidic ritual:

To rectify and empower the souls of the worshipers; to serve the God/desses and Spirits; to bless the folk and the land. (7)

Rituals should honor only one pantheon in each rite. Each ritual usually has one or two Patron powers to whom the central offerings and callings are made. Which ones are chosen depend on the specific nature of the rite. Usually these are a God and Goddess pair, but may also be the ancestors or spirits of the land.

Rituals may celebrate the seasons, be rites of passage or performed for personal needs. ADF “High Day” rituals are open to the public and ADF encourages its groves and protogroves to advertise the rituals far and wide. There is usually a pre-ritual briefing to inform participants about how the ritual works, what will happen, how it happens, background on the mythology behind the ritual, etc.

High Day rituals include: Samhain, Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lughnassadh, and Fall Equinox. Some groves also have lunar rituals as well.

ADF ritual requires a representation of a well (for example, a pan, a basin, a cauldron), of fire (such as a fire pit or fire bowl, or one or more candles, if inside), and the world tree (a pole or branch or, perhaps, an actual tree) and often a sacrificial branch or other sacrificial items/offerings. One of the groves local to my area also has altars for the realms of land, sea and sky or for ancestors, nature spirits and Gods, depending on the cosmology used in a particular ritual. ADF ritual does not create “sacred space”; space is already considered to be sacred all the time. The ritual space is open and people may leave or join in as they will.

ADF ritual structure can be quite complex and some groves have simplified liturgies that follow the basic format. Order of service may be different from grove to grove.

Sample Ritual Outline (8)

Establishing the Grove

Procession in

Opening Prayers and Offerings to the Earth Mother

Grounding meditation

Establishing and affirming the Center/“Three Worlds”

Opening the gates to the Powers.

Offerings to the Powers

Preliminary Offerings (to poetic inspiration and to the Outsiders)

Offerings to the Three Kindreds

Offerings to the Patron Powers

Sacrifice and Omen

The Blessing

Meditation for Blessings

The Waters of Life Blessing

Other workings (if any)

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks to the Powers

Closing the Gates

Releasing the Grove

Procession out

View an example of an ADF Samhain ritual.

Henge of Keltria (9)

The Keltrian Book of Ritual (fourth edition) states that ritual is a way through which faith is expressed. Ritual also provides ways to keep in time with earth cycles and life cycles, to honor the Gods and the spirits of nature, to integrate participants with the essences of earth and sky, the energies of male and female, so that harmony can be obtained.

According to the Book of Ritual, all Keltrian ritual is public except the Vervain Rite, an initiates-only ritual and any initiations or elevations.

The Keltrian ritual calendar includes: Samhain, Winter Solstice, Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lughnassadh, and Fall Equinox. There are also rituals done at the sixth day of the moon (the Mistletoe Rite — focus of this ritual is healing the community, finding balance in our lives and the sharing of food and drink) and, for initiates, rituals done at the third quarter of the moon (the Vervain Rite — focus is on working magic). Two other yearly rituals round out the calendar: The Feast of Age (or its equivalent; this celebrates “our spiritual immortality and the invincibility of our faith”) and The Feast of Remembrance (this honors Druids slain at Mon in 60 CE and all who have been persecuted or killed because of their beliefs). (10)

Ritual space is considered sacred space, which is set up so that it is separate from the mundane world, but not moved “outside” the mundane world. In the ritual, a portal is opened to allow the Divine to come to the ritual space. Ritual space should be outside, whenever possible.

Within the ritual space, Keltrians stand in a horseshoe shape, rather than a circle. Altar placement may be placed in the east, by tradition, or may be placed in any direction according to season or purpose of ritual.

Ritual set up

Altar tools: Bell branch; sickle; three “cauldrons” or bowls, one for each of the triads; altar plate; two chalices; libation bowls; two white candles; a freshly cut “sacrificial branch”; a fire pit/place/candle; a shell or other symbolic tool for the Deity who parts the veil; essential oil for anointing; an offertory basket or container; two “remembrance” bowls; gong or bell; mead or other spirit and water. All tools must be of natural materials.

Appropriate dress is some kind of ceremonial robe (white preferred for clergy roles) and participants should have bare feet, if possible, or wear soft shoes of natural materials. Street clothes are discouraged and there is a phobia of any man-made materials.

Sample Outline of Keltrian Ritual

According to the Book of Ritual, there is no “official” Keltrian ritual, but variations to the suggested outline are limited to moving a few parts around. The following is the suggested outline given in Book of Ritual:

Designating parts

Individual preparation

Site Preparation


Marking sacred space

Tracing the Sigil

Invocation of the Bards, Seers and Druids of past, present and future in the Southwest, North and Southeast

Greeting the Four Directions

Announcement of the Rite

Establishing Group Mind

Unity chant

Tree meditation

Parting the Veil

Invoking the Powers

Invoking the Triad (Ancestors, Nature Spirits and Gods)

Statement of Purpose of the Ritual

Invoking the Principals (Matron and Patron) of the Rite

Lighting the Sacred Fire

The Devotionals (dedicating something to the service of the Principals, such as a tool or a poem or some similar thing)

Offerings to the Gods (gifts to the Gods such as grain, incense, libations, etc.)

The Divination

The Working/Grove’s Choice

Giving of Remembrances

Consecration of the Blessing

Distribution of the Blessing


Closing Announcements

Returning the Patrons

Thanking the Triads

losing the Veil

Dissolving Group Mind

Parting Message



2020 note: URLs in the footnotes are from 2004. Those that still go to the same or similar information as before have active links. Whenever possible, I added revised or new links to similar information for each of these organizations at the end of the footnote. The Henge of Keltria has disbanded since I wrote this, but revised information is still available online.

  1. Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. The Book of Ritual. Lewes, Sussex: Oak Tree Press, 2001, 4. (Generally unavailable to non-members, but the information is not restricted to non-members.)
  2. The original Gorsedd prayer is usually attributed to Edward Williams, who was also known by his pen name, Iolo Morgannwg. Williams published several variants of this prayer, which he claimed to be by a medieval Welsh bard named Talhaiarn, in his book, Barddas. This book is available online at The Sacred Texts web site, <> (Accessed June 24, 2020). William’s exposition of the prayer can be found on at One modern variation of the Gorsedd Prayer can be found on the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids web site, < (Accessed June 24, 2020).
  3. Emma Restall Orr. Ritual: A Druid’s Guide to Life, Love & Inspiration. London: Thorson’s, 2000. XX.
  4. Emma Restall Orr. Ritual: A Druid’s Guide to Life, Love & Inspiration. London: Thorson’s, 2000 and Thorson’s Principles of Druidry. London: Thorson’s, 1999; and Philip Shallcrass. Druidry: A Practical and Inspirational Guide. London: Judy Piatkus Ltd, 2000.
  5. Ancient Order of Druids. “AODA Grove Opening and Closing” n.d. Accessed July 27, 2004. < The URL goes to the current information which may vary from what is described in the article.
  6. A collection of RDNA liturgy can be found in: The Reformed Druids of North America. A Reformed Druid Anthology, Part Three: Liturgy. Drynemeton Press, 1996. Available in PDF format [1,488K].
  7. Ian Corrigan. “Intentions of Druidic Ritual.” Published 2003. Accessed July 27, 2004. < More about ADF rituals can be found at: < (accessed July 27, 2004). 2020: The URLs go to the current information which may vary from what is described in the article.
  8. Ár nDraíocht Féin. “Standard Liturgical Outline.” Published 2003. Accessed July 27, 2004. < The URL goes to the current information which may vary from what is described in the article.
  9. Henge of KeltriaThe Book of Ritual. 4th ed. n.p., 1997. The following information about Keltrian ritual is derived from the Book of Ritual unless otherwise noted.
  10. Henge of Keltria. By-Laws. 2003–2004 Edition. Published 2003.  2020: The most recent edition of the By-laws was published in 2016. Available online in PDF format. [212K].