The following are commonly-accepted phases of modern Pagan Druid ritual (though this is by no means an exhaustive list). Some are based wholly on evidence from the Celtic world. Others are hypothesized from other documented Indo-European practices, while others are reflective of Neopagan sensibilities. Some or all of these ritual elements can be found in the liturgical practices of paths such as ADF Druidism, Asatru, Celtic Reconstructionism/Restorationism, and others. Many of these are specific to group ritual, but many are core practices that can be observed by individuals in daily or seasonal devotions.
Right speech and right practice is sought, often through invocation of an appropriate deity (or the more generalized concept of “Awen”).
Establishing and Protecting the Nemeton
Most Pagan ritual practice–esp. group practice–was held in a defined space, whether a constructed temple, a sacred hilltop, or a consecrated grove of trees. If a permanent temple is not available, then a working sacred space (or “Nemeton”) is consecrated. It can be marked out–and protected–by such attested techniques as processing sunwise around the perimeter with a torch.
Lighting the Fire Altar
If we know anything about ancient Druid practice, it is that their public ceremonies involved the use of ritual fire. This is extremely common throughout Indo-European tradition, both in terms of public practices and hearth devotions.
Preparing the Participants
Purification by the smoke of a sacred fire is well established in Celtic traditions, so censing the participants is one possibility. Water can be consecrated as well (and honor given to a Mother Goddess in doing so) and used for cleansing.
Honoring & Uniting with the Land
Particularly if a temporary Nemeton is in use, offering to the Goddess of the Land (or Sovereignty) is recommended. At this point, the Four Directions (e.g., as represented by the ancient provinces of Ireland and their associated qualities as found in the manuscript called “The Settling of the Manor at Tara”) can be invoked. This is a particularly welcome action in its respect for Neopagan sensibilities, including those of the British Druid orders.
Opening to the Otherworlds
In Irish tradition, the ruler of the Otherworlds could grant passage to mortals to the other realms of our cosmos. Invoking such a figure to make open the way between the worlds, with a suitable offering, is appropriate.
Offerings to the Powers
The Deities, Ancestors (including the Lord of the Dead, who is often conceived of as the First Ancestor), and often the Spirits of the Middle World are given appropriate offerings and invited to share the ritual hearth.
The purpose of the ritual is made plain–through recitation of lore and statement of intent–and offerings to support that purpose made to appropriate Powers. These are most often tangible offerings given via the Fire, but individuals may offer prayer or song or other gifts as well. Where beings associated with the Lower World are being offered to, a shaft, well, cauldron, or even a lake or river, may be the appropriate locus for the offering.
Sharing of Blessings
Often a communal cup is shared among the participants, with the contents sometimes libated as a personal offering or sometimes consumed accompanied by a toast or pledge. This is drawn from the Norse tradition of the sumbel and is an appropriate time for oath taking and thanksgiving, as well as the directing of the blessings received during the rite for magical purpose.
Thanks and Conclusion
It is important to provide closure to ritual. The temporary Nemeton (if such has been established) can be ritually dis-established.
Pagan Druidism is a community- and hearth-based religious path, not a hierarchical and ecclesiastical one. Once the formal rite is concluded, sharing of hospitality is a worthwhile activity.