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Resources for Druids



By Rev. Todd Covert, Chief of the Fellowship

The founding documents of the Fellowship of Druidism for the Latter Age spell out few requirements for liturgy.  The only prescriptions are for the use of sacred fire in all ritual—personal or group; the making of offering to the Powers being honored by the rite whenever group ritual is performed; and the enactment of a renewal of the sacred marriage of the People with the Land at all community rituals.

The list of “required” elements is limited intentionally and for multiple reasons.  First, when looking at the precedents afforded by ancient Indo-European ritual forms, it is clear that there were numerous approaches taken, at a variety of types of sites and with widely varying forms of offering.  The ancients, we can reasonably say, had recourse to a variety of forms suited to various occasions and we ought to afford ourselves the same flexibility where it suits with our needs.  But, secondly, Neo-Druidism is a young religious path, finding its footing in a cultural context quite radically different than that of, say, the ancient Druids, and need not succumb to any temptation to etch in stone practices which are—in effect—still being tested by a community that is largely comprised of converts from other faith communities.  And, lastly, there is the matter of the Fellowship’s stated character of inclusiveness and tolerance:  Providing a very open and flexible attitude to liturgy seems reasonably aligned with a goal of presenting ritual that has the greatest opportunity of welcoming the most newcomers.

All of that being said, the brief list of required elements hardly constitutes sufficient material to craft a group ritual.  So what else—practically speaking—needs to be included?

The following is an attempt at providing a hierarchy of possible ritual elements likely to provide a fully fleshed-out liturgy.


–The Fire

It is essential that the ritual be organized—whenever possible—around sacred Fire.  There is good evidence to suggest a relationship between a hearth fire and that used in the ritual altar.  As such, fire can be brought from home—if that can be accomplished safely—and the altar Fire kindled from that.  Or the officiant can privately light a lamp or candle from which the other fire used in the ritual can be ignited.  Or the altar fire can simply be lit directly.  When possible, though, it is symbolically (if not magically) potent for all fire in the work to be from the same source.

A brief prayer, inspired by Gaelic precedent, that can be used for the fire lighting is:

I kindle this flame
For the hearth
For the home
For the whole of the People
One flame for light
One flame for warmth
One flame to encircle us all
Earth under heaven
Heaven down to earth
This day and every day
May it be so

May I pray with a good fire

–The Sacred Site

Ritual is sacred in character, which implies that it ideally occurs apart from the mundane world.  Different Pagan paths have taken various approaches to providing sacred space—from casting of circles to the construction of permanent temples—but some acknowledgement of the special character of the site should be included.  For a temporary setting, the old Gaelic custom of processing about the fields clockwise with a torch has the advantage of being both intuitive in character (fire drives away the wild and untoward beasties) and rooted in actual folk practice.

Note here as well that this custom—attested into modern times—not only defines the sacred space (or “nemeton” to use the ancient Celtic term)—but is understood to establish a protective perimeter.

Processing three times about a sacred well or cairn is a common folk practice as well.  So it is elegant, practical, and rooted in tradition to have the torch (lit from the source flame suggested above) and perhaps the participants, if space permits, process three times around the sacred site.

(Of course, a permanent temple with an altar maintained within it would be lovely—and far more attested by archaeological evidence from the Celtic lands than many people realize—but is not practical for many groups.)

The Mother Grove of the Fellowship has used the following chant during processions of this sort for many of its rituals, repeated until the procession is complete:

By our will

By our words

By our work

This place is made whole and holy

–Prayer for Inspiration

The “fire in the head” of poetic inspiration, the “truth of the King,” and the power of the word which gave satire the power to physically blemish.  All these point to the centrality of the presence of what is often referred to by the Irish Imbas or the Welsh Awen.  The Irish goddess Brid (Brigit) is often regarded as providing this inspiration and can be prayed and offered to.  Many modern Druids approach the Awen as an independent force and seek its descent through invocation in ritual.

Poetic inspiration—and truth and purity in the words of the participants—should be asked for.  A sample of a short prayer for inspiration is the following:

Lady Brigit!
We call on you to guide our rite in the way of truth.
Let our words be fit and so our hearts.
Let it be so!

–The Statement of Intent

However simple or elaborate a ritual might be, unity of purpose is important.  To that end, it is important to provide some context to the attendees.  This might be accomplished by a simple explanation during the rite.  It is also possible to take care of this with a briefing prior to the opening of the ritual.  A less literal way of handling this is with the telling of a tale or sharing of a traditional (or newly-composed) song or story that captures the essential purpose of the ceremony.

–The Invitations

These might also be referred to by some as “invocations.”  The meaning is, for all intents and purposes, the same.  It is proper to identify and make welcome those unseen Powers who presence is essential for the success of the ritual.  This might include a large number of beings or it might simply include one or two Deities being given special honor during the ritual.  The customs of our Fellowship do not absolutely require explicit offerings or invocations of a set number of honored Guests.  The Commitment to Hospitality and the Commitment to Piety should both provide strong incentive to make welcome as many of the Powers as will make the rite effective.

Some possible invitations include:

For the Gods and Goddesses:

Shining Ones!  Highest and mightiest,
First among the Kindreds, worthiest of honor,
Deities of this place, known to us or unknown,
Gods and Goddesses of all those here, Patrons and Matrons,
We would offer you like honor.
Join us at our fire, o Shining Ones.
Accept our sacrifice!

For the Ancestors:

Ancestors!  You who guide our steps,
You who carry the honor of the People to the Otherworlds,
We honor you here.

(Ale is poured in the Nemeton and the remainder set in a cup on the altar. )

We offer you the first portion as is proper and set forth this cup for your taking.
Ancestors, come to our hearthside and guide us in our rite!

–The Offering

While any number of preliminary offerings can—and should—be made in connections with any invitations or consecrations (of site or tools), a main offering should be the focus of any group ritual.  This is what is referred to in the founding documents of the Fellowship as the Mystery of the Otherworldly Feast.

Among the ancients, religious ceremony very often took the form of a meal shared with Otherworldly Powers—most often the Deities or honored Ancestors.  In modern Druidism, we may treat this “meal” more symbolically and offer one or more gifts to the Powers being honored; in an ideal case, either the offering of the gift or a sharing of a portion of it will be stimulating or nourishing to the attendees at the rite.

The ancients also used various vehicles for their offerings.  Very often the sacred Fire was used to convey offerings to the bright Celestial Gods and Goddesses—the literal “Shining Ones,” which is the meaning of our word “deities.”  Subterranean beings –and very often the Dead—might be given honor by the pouring of drink into the Earth or a tomb.  Some Indo-European cultures have also made sacrifice by exposing an offering to the air, whether on an open air altar or consecrated mat or by hanging in a tree.  Modern Druidic worshippers can explore any or all of these as they seem appropriate to a given occasion.  Very often, though, the Fire is the most direct and powerful medium for offering.

The main offering of the occasion can perhaps best be thought of as a gift suited to the occasion.  In a modern context, the nature of the gift is limited only by the imagination—and generosity—of those holding the ritual.


Beyond the necessary components of ritual sketched out here, other elements which can profitably be incorporated include the following:

–Signal of Beginning and End

Whether a musical tone or tones, a drumbeat, or simply a verbal announcement (or a combination of these or other signals), defining the beginning and end of “sacred time” is helpful for creating unity of will and focus.

–Honoring the Source/Mother of the Waters

Ancient Indo-European tradition points to a reverence for fresh water, for rivers and their sources as life giving Goddesses, perhaps all reflecting a fount of life for the People.  It is certainly appropriate to honor and acknowledge this primal figure, preferably early in the rite.  One such prayer is as follows:

Sacred Source, Cauldron of making and unmaking,
Fathomless Sea, bountiful Spring,
Mother of the Rivers, we honor you here

–Acknowledging the Otherworlds

Often seen as realms above and below our world, prayers and offerings to strengthen our connection to the Otherworlds and those who dwell there can be included.  One strategy is to offer to a figure such as the King of the Sidhe to work in concert with the actions of the ritual.  This can be seen as part of the preliminary work of the ritual, prior to inviting the Powers to be given honor.

–Honoring the Middle World

In addition to forging connections with the Otherworlds, acknowledging the “horizontal” and inviting the seen and unseen allies we humans have in this world to join in the rite is also useful.  Offerings of invitation can be made to the spirits of the Middle World.  These can be considered to be such beings as the animals and plants; the Fair Folk; totem allies; and others.

The modern British Druids have used a “Call for Peace” to the four cardinal directions; an adaptation of this that makes use of Irish lore that has been used by the Mother Grove is the following (accompanied by offerings):

May there be peace in the East, ancient Leinster, source of Prosperity.
May there be peace in the South, ancient Munster, source of Harmony.
May there be peace in the West, ancient Connacht, source of Wisdom.

May there be peace in the North, ancient Ulster, source of Strength.
Here in the Center, let peace rule over this rite.

–Renewing the Bond with Sovereignty

The People have an ancient and ongoing marriage with the Land.  For our forebears, the Sovereignty goddess—often local or national in nature—was linked in sacred marriage to the King.  In our seasonal rituals, we pledge this sacred compact anew, with the presiding Druid standing in as fit representative of the people.  It is proper to offer to the Land and pray:

May we be united with you, Lady of the Land,
Sovereign of the Realm under Sídhe,
Grant us the abundant blessings of the Land,

Teach us its mysteries and its lessons,
As our ways find favor in your eyes.

–Individual Offerings

In addition to a main offering by the community, time may be allotted for individuals to approach the Fire (or whatever medium for sacrifice is being used) and pray or offer praise or their own offerings.  In general, it is important to remember that our rituals are above all an opportunity to offer thanks and to strengthen the ties we feel to the Otherworldly Powers, however each of us understands them.  By offering praise, gifts, and hospitality as unconditionally as possible, we increase their strength as allies and empower them better to offer us what will improve our lot.

–Sharing of Cheer

It was customary in many ancient societies to pass a cup (or drinking horn) or to share the consecrated food brought to the altar.  Certainly a cup can be passed at the end of the ritual and participants encouraged to share a prayer, a toast, or even a boast—as was indeed common among the ancients.

–Giving Thanks

Perhaps this should be a “required” element—thanking all guests for attending.  Indeed the only reason it isn’t included as such is that, in the most pared-down format, the main offering is—in a real sense—a giving of thanks to an honored guest or guests.

Reading List Version3.0


Reading List for Druidic Training
Compiled by Chief Druid Todd Covert


CELTIC HERITAGE by Alwyn and Brinsley ReesAn exploration of the tripartite society of the Indo-European world as manifested in ancient Celtic society.
THE CELTIC REALMS by Myles Dillon and Nora ChadwickThis unique cultural history includes both general Celtic history and outstanding chapters on the literary traditions of Ireland and Wales.
THE HISTORICAL ATLAS OF THE CELTIC WORLD by John HaywoodAn invaluable resource, including a foreword by Barry Cunliffe.
THE DRUIDS by Peter Berresford EllisThe best current book on what we think we know about the Druids.
THE WORLD OF THE DRUIDS by Miranda GreenA terrific introduction to the subject by a respected Celtic scholar.
THE TRIUMPH OF THE MOON by Ronald HuttonAn eminent British historian’s groundbreaking history of Wicca, also covering the 19th and early 20th century roots of Neopaganism.

One of the following:

THE CELTIC HEROIC AGE, edited by John T. KochWhile it omits a couple significant tales, this sourcebook includes a fairly comprehensive collection of Gaelic, British, and continental sources.


ANCIENT IRISH TALES, edited by Cross & SloverInexpensive reprint of a standard collection of tales from Irish mythology and folklore.


THE MABINOGION, trans by Patrick Ford OR Jeffrey GantzInexpensive reprint of a standard collection of tales from Irish mythology and folklore.


THE ANCIENT CELTS by Barry CunliffeA thorough and widely recommended survey by one of the most respected archaeologists in Britain.
THE APPLE BRANCH (aka CELTIC RITUALS) by Alexei KondratievThe indispensable guide to reconstructing Celtic Paganism. Full of excellent examples of folkloric practice from throughout the Celtic world.
CATTLE LORDS AND CLANSMEN by Nerys PattersonOutstanding survey of early Irish society, based on evidence from the surviving law codes.
THE FAIRY-FAITH IN CELTIC COUNTRIES by W.Y. Evans-WentzA unique and seminal book: Both a collection of folklore and myth from all the Celtic lands and a theory of the nature of indigenous Celtic belief systems.
CARMINA GADELICA by Alexander CarmichaelHymns, charms and prayers collected in the Scottish Highlands in the late 19th century. An invaluable sourcebook.
MEDIEVAL IRISH LYRICS (WITH THE IRISH BARDIC POET) by James CarneyValuable both as a compendium of Irish and Latin poems in the original language and in translation, as well as a seminal essay on Bardic training and traditions in Ireland.
COMPARATIVE MYTHOLOGY by Jaan PuhvelA widely-cited survey of comparative Indo-European mythic traditions and themes.
A HISTORY OF PAGAN EUROPE by Prudence Jones & Nigel PennickAn essential overview of the history and practice of Paganism in Europe.
PAGAN THEOLOGY by Michael YorkAn informative study that argues for “Paganism” as a worldwide religious ideology and places Neopaganism in the context of such other traditions as Shinto and Afro-Caribbean practices.
THE ARTFUL UNIVERSE by William K. MahonyHighly recommended: An analysis of the Vedic religious imagination. Provides a very insightful perspective on the traditions of priests and bards in the Indo-European world.
THE SACRED AND THE PROFANE by Mircea EliadeBrief, yet profound and important. An exploration of sacred space, sacred time and the nature of ritual and religion from a preeminent religious scholar.


THE ATLANTIC CELTS by Simon JamesControversial and thought-provoking, this re-examination of the notion of Celtic identity is central to much current discussion of the subject (especially taken in the broader context of the work of British scholar Barry Cunliffe).
HANDBOOK OF THE SCOTTISH GAELIC WORLD by Michael NewtonA detailed introduction to the history and culture of Gaelic Scotland.
  THE CELTIC CONSCIOUSNESS, edited by Robert O’Driscoll  A breathtakingly diverse collection of papers on Celtic history, art, ethnology, archaeology, and much more, from a seminal conference on Celtic studies in 1978.
SEX AND MARRIAGE IN ANCIENT IRELAND by Patrick C. PowerThis slender volume represents an excellent and accessible introduction to the concepts of the Brehon Laws of Ireland, focusing on marital customs.
PAGAN CELTIC BRITAIN by Anne RossA landmark survey of the evidence for ancient Celtic Pagan practices.
PAGAN CELTIC IRELAND by Barry RafterySticks almost entirely to archaeology, but covers the topic thoroughly.
THE DRUIDS by Stuart PiggottOften described as “unfriendly” to modern Druidry, but an essential read.
THE DRUID RENAISSANCE by Phillip Carr-GommAn excellent compendium of essays on the development and practice of modern Druidry.
CELTIC MYTHOLOGY by Proinsias Mac CanaOut-of-print, but findable: a definitive survey of the Gods and Goddesses of the ancient Celts, full of pictures.
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CELTIC WISDOM by John and Caitlin MatthewsBilled as a sourcebook for “Celtic Shamans,” this is an excellent compendium of lore organized by topic.
MYTHIC IRELAND by Michael DamesA fascinating–if sometimes opinionated–walking tour of the sacred landscapes and folklore of Ireland.
THE BARDIC SOURCE BOOK, edited by John MatthewsA collection of primary and secondary sources on the Celtic bardic traditions.
THE HIDDEN IRELAND by Daniel CorkeryA history of late bardic practice in eighteenth century Ireland.
THE CELTIC SEERS’ SOURCE BOOK, edited by John MatthewsAn excellent compendium, including Nora Chadwick’s important essay on “Imbas Forosnai”.
CELTIC TREE MYSTERIES by Steve BlamiresThe best of the popular resources on the Ogham alphabet, with a great deal of reference to the medieval textual materials.
  TREE WISDOM by Jacqueline Memory Paterson  A handsome reference to the various trees associated with the Ogham.
IN SEARCH OF THE INDO-EUROPEANS by J.P. MalloryPopular and comprehensive survey of the Indo-Europeans and their diaspora.
HOW TO KILL A DRAGON by Calvert WatkinsDense and technical, this is a unique and landmark study of poetics in the Indo-European cultures.
MYTHS AND SYMBOLS IN PAGAN EUROPE by H.R. Ellis DavidsonA useful study of the common religious practices of the Celts and the Norse.
THE RIG VEDA, translated by Wendy Doniger O’FlahertyA useful paperback collection of representative hymns from the great text of ancient Indian Paganism.
PAGAN RELIGIONS OF THE ANCIENT BRITISH ISLES by Ronald HuttonHutton has apparently disavowed this book, but it is still a worthwhile read. Soundly debunks numerous Wiccan and Neopagan “sacred cows”.
DRAWING DOWN THE MOON by Margot AdlerThe definitive work on Neopaganism in America
WITCHES, DRUIDS AND KING ARTHUR by Ronald HuttonA collection of excellent essays on ancient and modern Paganism, including a history of modern British Druidism.
GOD AGAINST THE GODS by Jonathan KirschA history of the conflict between monotheism and polytheism–highly sympathetic to ancient Paganism.
THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO PAGANISM by Carl McColmanA surprisingly solid introduction (written by a former leader of a Neopagan Druid grove).