Sphere of Protection

As a member of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA) you will eventually be exposed to one of its fundamental practices; the Sphere of Protection.  The SoP, as it’s usually referred to within the AODA, is a very Western Hermetic/Esoteric practice (nothing new if you’ve been exposed to Golden Dawn style ritual or readings) of enlivening the self and the psyche.  The main practice in the SoP is the formation of an Elemental Cross within the the practitioner that is then used to construct extending lines of Intent (light) into the Horizontal, Vertical, and Extra Dimensional spheres of existence that are meant to seal up (and enlarge) the individual within time and space.

“The intention of the Elemental Cross Ritual is to create a spiritual space where negative energies cannot exist and to enhance positive energies for the benefit of the ritualist. The ritual is composed of seven distinct steps” (aoda.org)

  1. Preparation
  2. Touch your forehead – Usually assoc. with Mature Male energies/Spirit Above
  3. Touch your lower abdomen – Usually assoc. with Young Male energies/Spirit Below
  4. Touch your right shoulder – Usually assoc. with Mature Female energies
  5. Touch your left shoulder – Usually assoc. with Young Female energies
  6. Form a standing cross
  7. Complete the ritual

I’ve incorporated similar practices in the past, but more from an Indo-european standpoint, so the importance was placed on three’s not on fours and not on a Western understanding of the Elements.  I’ve attempted to work with the SoP ever since joining the AODA (and prior) but the use of godforms for the practice – being that my godforms are more in line with attributions of threes – just was not going to work because the SoP calls for a godform to be associated with the Head, Abdomen, Right and Left shoulders.  The AODA is very open to finding attributions that work for the ritualist/member – some people use animals, elements, plants, trees, directions just to name a few.

For a long time now I’ve been utilizing a similar empowerment rite, gleaned from the symbol of the Awen that fits my Heathen IE sensibilities and my Druid philosophy.  However, now that I am becoming more focused on AODA as a philosophical adjunct and gateway by which to practice some of my more Western magikal leanings, I’ve been struggling to come up with an SoP that works with the AODA recommendation in order that I might continue through the grades of the Order sincerely.

Runes are the primary lens through which I view my Heathen practice, Tarot is the lens through which I see my Western Magikal practice and being that AODA is a revival Druid order much of its ritual and teachings fit with modern Tarot wisdom due to a shared history.  These are two very different ways in which to perceive the world – The Runic much more tribal, the Tarot much more Western/modern. I’ve also for some time been conducting a practice in the evenings that incorporates the four tools of Tarot (sword, staff, cup, disc) as devices of empowerment due to the fact that my Western Magikal practice uses Tarot  as a vehicle through which evocation and meditation is accomplished.

My Sphere of Protection

Being that I feel Druidry is a philosophy of the natural world and the immediate surroundings I came up with an SoP that reflects this that still has Elemental and Tarot significance.

  1. Preparation
  2. Forehead – “Sun” (Staff)
  3. Abdomen – “Earth” (Disc)
  4. Right Shoulder – “Star” (Sword)
  5. Left Shoulder – “Moon” (Cup)
  6. Cross – Arms up and out, hands down.  Imagine the light from above and below moving into infinity and the same for the horizontal. Say, ” I am Restored by the Cup of Sympathy, Strengthened by the Disc of Valor, Armed with the Sword of Reason, Supported with the Staff of Intuition.”  A third line of infinite light is imagined extending to the front and behind you.  These lines of radiant light begin to encompass you and create the Sphere of Protection spinning about and within you.
  7. Closing – Breath in the light, calmly enter your normal consciousness.  ” I walk by Moon, Earth, Star, and Sun – with Sympathy, Valor, Reason, and Intuition this day.”
  8. Finish “May all Beings know Peace, Truth, and Dignity.”

I don’t bother with the summoning/banishing of the elements in their appropriate directions as is called for by the full AODA SoP – this doesn’t sit well with me – proclaiming peace, trust, and dignity in all worlds to all beings is enough for me to feel like I’ve acknowledged all realities/allies and been acknowledged in return.

An Update 3/23/18

I’ve made a few changes to my SoP Practice that seem to be working a little better for me:

6. Cross – Instead of using the symbolism and the statement of the “Cup, Disc, Sword, and Staff” I am vocalizing “Light (to coincide with the Sun statement), Life ( Earth), Law (Star), Love (Moon)” – This was inspired by RJ Stewart’s The Way of Merlin (p.83) – as I envision the three dimensional lines extending out and into a sphere of light around me.

7. Closing – Hold hands palm together at chest (namaste pose) and dwell in the light and knowledgeof the sphere of protection created within and without.

8. Finish “May all Beings know Peace, Truth, and Dignity.”

If done in the morning this practice is done twice – Prior to my Stadhagaldr practice and then after.

 

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Silence + Devotion = evo

Having practiced as a Pagan/Polytheist for many years I’m still caught off-guard by how the process of worship can change; Not only that it can change but that it can be dramatically inspirational and feel wholly new.

Somehow within the Pagan community Polytheism has been equated with a meme that sees worship as ones focus being pushed outside, above nature, and even self.  This probably comes from modern mans inability to excuse himself from the ideas of the predominant cultural myth.  In Christianity and most of it’s denominations, focus is placed outside of the personal sphere and outside of the world and matter itself, god is seen as, and taught to be wholly spirit and not in the least associated with matter…many Pagans/Polytheists therefore retain some of this dualist thought, i.e. matter vs. spirit.

In the past I do admit to having some difficulty with the idea of gods and why they should be worshiped or acknowledged.  There was a time when my Paganism meant Nature – Life -Truth…and that’s it.  After many years of that practice it grew stale and I gravitated toward a deeper learning and study of Paganism and the myths that I loved.

Tree Shrine

Polytheism initially was not an easy fit for me…but I soon realized that I didn’t need to define the gods in the same way as others.  My gods didn’t need to be physical, or be great ancestors, and they didn’t have to be psychological archetypes or representations of natural phenomena.  I began to seek the gods on my own terms because the lens that I had been made to see them through (via school, cultural bias, religious bias, etc.) was far too limited.  The gods became all those things I have listed and more…until I reached the point that I have been at for some time; that point being that the gods need no definition, and to spend my time attempting to pin one to them is useless and a waste of energy.

Experimenting with various ways to approach the gods is fundamental to enlivening a poly/pagan practice.  My offerings are simple and done in a manner meant to initiate communication between myself and the being, idea, or thing to which I am offering.  Usually this is done through words meant to call to the being/thing in a reverent state.  These words are generally titles or name kennings, sometimes a list of deeds and feats, and most often a herald of the entities relationships are voiced.  This is followed by the offering and then an offer to drink or eat together in kinship.

A new form of worship I’m experimenting with is wordless and silent.  Instead of vocalized calls to honor a being with knowledge of their deeds or names I’m forcing myself to use mental images which embody this veneration.  So, as an example, instead of calling to Sunna as the vibrant and living sun, or as the ‘glory of elves’, I visualize the blazing sun (and all that that entails) and may see the elves of the land and those in the halls of ljossalfheim and svartalfheim paying her homage as I do so.

What I have found with this type of wordless honoring is that an extremely deep communication takes place.  Most of ritual takes place within the minds of attendees and clergy conducting the ritual.  By removing the need for the mind to fabricate words and linear logical phrases, perhaps when using imagery as the device of reverence, the ritualist or worshipper is better able to communicate with beings that may favor images to phrases and the linguistic tedium.

This goes to the heart of what I’ve been finding lately; that in ritual one is literally entering a new vista of thought, an environment of self, time, and place almost completely separate from the day to day dreaming that clogs our every action, and the ‘ritual intelligence’ that the practitioner enters understands the world and the ritual time in images that go beyond language.  To take this further, I’m thinking (and experiencing) that the ritualist begins to think mythically, that the physical self and what I call the mythic self begin to meld and bleed into an absolutely unique presence that interprets action, intuition, and insight via images.

Now as far as pagan/magic(k)/occult literature goes this is probably not a unique viewpoint.  But for me it seems to be going beyond the usual visualization techniques and mental imaginings.  Through this new technique of silent offering, I’m finding a language of images and a path of profound depth.

Perhaps I’ll add a Practice piece to this soon.