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)
- Touch your forehead – Usually assoc. with Mature Male energies/Spirit Above
- Touch your lower abdomen – Usually assoc. with Young Male energies/Spirit Below
- Touch your right shoulder – Usually assoc. with Mature Female energies
- Touch your left shoulder – Usually assoc. with Young Female energies
- Form a standing cross
- 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.
- Forehead – “Sun” (Staff)
- Abdomen – “Earth” (Disc)
- Right Shoulder – “Star” (Sword)
- Left Shoulder – “Moon” (Cup)
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.