The whole nation of the Gauls is greatly devoted to ritual observances.Cæsar, C. J., “De Bello Gallico”, vi, 16
Table Of Contents
- Elements from the Past
- How is a ritual done?
- Rite 1 Simple
- Rite 2 Involved
- Life Rites
- Birth Rite (Coming Soon)
- Coming of Age Rite (Coming Soon)
- Marriage Rite (Coming Soon)
- Funeral Rite
Below are a few Rites one can do but remember, in the Gaulish Realm we don’t have one way that is Gaulish. We have nothing from Gaul to honestly go on (as in all the fine details and narrative). We do have the neighboring cultures one can look at to try and reconstruct a Rite plus fragments left from the Senogalatis. There are many ways. Anyone claiming there is only one is genuinely wrong and misguided.
Elements from the Past
We do have some elements left from the Senodruides and the Senogalatis.
Mistletoe Rite (There are many elements within this short amount of words, we see some asspects of Ritual, but also myth).Pliny , “Nat. Hist.”, xvi, 249
Here we must mention the awe felt for this plant by the Gauls. The Druids – for so their magicians are called – held nothing more sacred than the mistletoes and the tree that bears it, always supposing that tree to be the oak. But they choose groves formed of oaks for the sake of the tree alone, and they never perform any of their rites except in the presence of a branch of it; so that it seems probable that the priests themselves may derive their name from the Greek word for that tree. In fact, they think that everything that grows on it has been sent from heaven and is proof that the tree was chosen by the god himself. The mistletoe is found but rarely upon the oak; and when found, is gathered with due religious ceremony, if possible on the sixth day of the moon, (for it is by the moon that they measure their months and years, and also their ages of thirty years). They choose this day because the moon, though not yet in the middle of her course, has already considerable influence. They call the mistletoe by a name meaning, in their language, the all-healing. Having made preparation for sacrifice and a banquet beneath the trees, they bring thither two white bulls, whose horns are bound then for the first time. Clad in a white robe, the priest ascends the tree and cuts the mistletoe with a golden sickle, and it is received by others in a white cloak. Then they kill the victims, praying that god will render this gift of his propitious to those to whom he has granted it. They believe that the mistletoe, taken in drink, imparts fecundity to barren animals, and that it is an antidote for all poisons. Such are the religious feelings that are entertained toward trifling things by many peoples.
Collecting Herbs (Here we get a few more themes, That being the moon, non iron tool, these seem to speak of a myhical narative as well.)Pliny, “Nat. Hist.”, xxiv, 103 – 104
Similar to savin is the plant called selago. It is gathered without using iron and by passing the right hand through the left sleeve of the tunic, as though in the act of committing a theft. The clothing must be white, the feet washed and bare, and an offering of wine and bread made before the gathering. The Druids of Gaul say that the plant should be carried as a charm against every kind of evil, and that the smoke of it is good for diseases of the eyes. The Druids, also, use a certain marsh-plant that they call samolus, this must be gathered with the left hand, when fasting, and is a charm against the diseases of cattle. But the gatherer must not look behind him, nor lay the plant anywhere except in the drinking-troughs.
Some recent discoveries in The lands of the Carnutes capital Autricum modern day Chartes in France have given us a look into a Gallo-Roman Rite of some kind. These findings are from around the early second century AD.
Branos Carnutodrûidon is slowly working on reconstructing this rite and a research paper regurding this finding.
One can see these cosmic principles in all things, the seasons, day and night, life and death. They very much have symbolic and philosophical ideas behind them.
- Are (East) – The path of Samos.
- Dexsiuos (South) – The path between Samos and Giamos.
- Eri (West) – The path of Giamos.
- Tutos (North) – The path between Giamos and Samos.
- Medios (The Middle) – The center of all, the place between all, and the place that leads to all.
Adaððus – Rite, Ritual
Uentâ – place one makes sacred and gives offerings.
This is a place we make sacred to give offerings, it can also be a place associated with a sacred person or relic, marked by a building or other construction.
Cletra – Portable Altar.
Addatus – Offering, Sacrificial Gift
Molanton – Praise, Offering
Uediâs – Invocations
Nemetilon – Centre of Worship in a living space
Nemeton – Sanctuary, Temple
Nemetos – Sacred, Holy, Venerable
Dagilâ – Sacred Candle
Common offerings to the Dêuoi would be Incense, Colored/decorated or Scented Candles, Wine, Beer, Bread, Grain, Coins, Art, Music, Fruits, Cooked Foods.
Natural Things – feathers, bones, stones, flowers, leaves
These are items that can help you when just starting. As you develop more of a connection with the Dêuoi, you will learn other items to offer. Don’t overthink it at first.
How is a ritual done?
Rituals vary greatly, but the basis of a simple ritual follows a formula like this:
- Purification (Glanosagion), cleaning the self before a ritual.
- Marking out of sacred space.
- The lighting of candles or fire.
- An invocation of the recipient.
- An offering to the recipient.
- Closing of the ritual.
- Disposal of the offering.
This is done before we start our ritual. You can take a shower or wash your hands, face, and, arms maybe say some words to purify your thoughts.
This is declaring what’s about to happen. Say some words
Make a Sacred Space/Sanctifying the space
Mark out your space that will be sacred. Do this by either lighting a flame ringing a bell walking in a circle around the space, and declaring the directions. One can do all the above or just one of the things or even what makes you feel comfortable.
(Opening the doorway)
This is optional or you might do it every time you create a sacred space, This is for the Gatekeepers (Deuoi of Thresholds that one would invoke.
A prayer of the recipient.
Invocation – This is the naming of the God/desses or spirits you are calling on. So descriptive words about them.
Argument – This is the reason you are calling the deities or spirits.
Petition – Asking the deities or spirits to aid you.
An offering to the recipient.
Items are given to the deities or spirits for helping you. This is part of the gifting cycle as they give we give.
Closing prayer thanking the deities and spirits, putting out the flame, ringing a bell, or any other acts such as thanking the directions.
Now the above can also be very simple to very complex. One could dress up everything and make it a massive Ritual that lasts hours. Alternatively, one can keep things minimal and have a ritual that lasts only minutes. What matters most is one intentions.
Rite 1 (Simple)
Mediolânon to center the mind beforehand.
“Clean Hands” wash hands
“Clean Mind” wipe face
“Clean Soul” wipe the body
Make a Sacred Space/Sanctifying the space (this does not need to be done every time if you do not wish. Truly when one is making a sacred space is the only time this needs to be done, unless you are having a gatekeeper or opener.
“Lady of the borders, Separator of the sacred from the profane.
I ask you Nemetona to help to define this space as sacred/May I enter your Nemeton.”
Light the sacred fire, this can be a candle or a fire of any kind.
Saying, “I light this sacred flame of Aidonâ, may you brighten and provide.”
Make a sunwise circle motion over the Dagilâ three times if you can walk around the Dagilâ, do that. The reason for the three is to represent the three realms of Drus ( Albios, Bitus, and Dubnos).
“Aidonâ you are the center that illuminates, bringing warmth since the beginning of creation. In your illuminating flame, you bring connection”
“Thank you for illuminating this sacred place, May my prayers be heard).”
Give an offering of incense or dried herbs to the flame.
A prayer of the recipient.
“I invoke Litaui matir”
“Holder and provider of all that sustains”
“Your flowing waters, deep valleys, high peaks, and low lands support the whole of all life.“
“I give offerings and thanks to you.”
“I ask for grounding/ Ask for whatever you would like/You don’t always have to ask for something.”
“Cheer to you”
“Thanks to you”
“I praise you Litaui matir”
“I praise you Aidonâ“
“I go in peace”
“I thank you, Nemetona”
Rite 2 (Involved)
Mediolânon to center the mind beforehand.
Purification – Wash/Breathe deeply, and clear the mind. Say
Initiating the Rite – Ring bell, Light candle
Enter from the west (facing to the east (Sunrise), Ring the bell stating you are going to open a sacred space/or a Rite is about to take place.
“A great rite is about to take place at this time”
Light your sacred fire (Which should be on your Altar)
“Aidonâ may you brighten and provide like you have since the beginning of time.”
Take a candle and light it from the Sacred Fire.
“I light this candle in the presence of the ( Gods, Spirits, or Ancestors).”
Take the candle walk clockwise stopping in each direction to light each flame in each direction,
“Now walk to the Are (East). “I light the path of the East the direction of direction of Samos”
“Now walk to the Dexsiuos (South). “I light the path of the South the direction between Samos and Giamos”
“Now walk to the Eri (West). “I light the path of the West the direction of Giamos”
“Now walk to the Tutos (North). “I light the path of the North the direction between Giamos and Samos”
“Now walk to Medios ( the middle). “I return to the center to the place all points come together as one”. Place the candle on the Altar.
(Opening the doorway) Calling Aisus
Aisus keeper of Drus, The First Druits
Great teacher of the ways to cultivate our great tree that connects all,
I call to you to help my words be known
May you help to connect them to the Deuoi I call to. (Optional I personal dont do this all the time)
Prayer, Inviting the Gods, Ancestors, Or Spirits
Honoring Litaui matir (Mother Earth)
“Litaui matir, I call to you”
“Mother of Plenty”
“Queen of all”
“I praise you, Litaui matir, for you give us ground to stand on. As we come from you, so shall we return.”
“I praise you, Litaui matir, for you give us the flowing waters that nourish and keep us.
“I praise you, Litaui matir, for you provide the seeds of plenty that your sons and daughters have helped us to cultivate.
“I call to you as many have before”
“Within your embrace, I have the gift of life.”
“Because of you I am”
“I ask you, you Litaui matir, Highest Mother”
“To keep me grounded”
“So that my roots will feel all that is around”
“In my greatest thanks for all that you are and all that you do for all that you give and all that you will give, I give to you this—- Litaui matir.”
Give what you feel is appropriate.
Closing the Rite
Thanking the Gods, Ancestors, Or Spirits
Thanking the Directions (as you put out the flames)
“Now walk to the Are (East). “I put out the flame of the East the direction of direction of Samos”
“Now walk to the Dexsiuos (South). “I put out the flame of the South the direction between Samos and Giamos”
“Now walk to the Eri (West). “I put out the flame of the West the direction of Giamos”
“Now walk to the Tutos (North). “I put out the flame of the North the direction between Giamos and Samos”
“Now walk to Medios ( the middle). “ “I leave the center the place all points come together as one”.
We are told, at the funerals of their dead some cast letters upon the pyre which they have written to their deceased kinsmen, as if the dead would be able to read these letters.Diodorus Siculus — Book V chapter 28
Gauls had relatively simple burials in accordance with their social class. As their social status increased, their funerals were more elaborate. A chieftain would be buried with trappings of his wealth. The most elaborate tomb of a known Gaulish woman is that of the Lady at Vix. She was buried with her funeral wagon, jewelry, mirrors, and food service for nine people.
Different Tegosbessus, Touta, and Trebâs will have varied customs.
In developing a funeral rite, we must not only write out prayers, but create a flexible format or template that can be expanded upon for future rites. It must allow for personalization and change as necessary. The rite serves more than just a religious function, but a sociological one, as the funeral is often a time of gathering.
The following is a general template for a funeral rite that may be adjusted according to your needs and what is meaningful to the deceased and their loved ones. The specifics of the rite would vary based on location and whether the body or cremated remains of the deceased are present.
- The Nemeton should be opened, per usual custom, and the fires lit. Invoke the Regentia in addition to the Deuoi of the sacred.
- The rite may open with reading letters to the deceased from their loved ones or perhaps from the deceased who may have decided to prepare beforehand. Remember that this is a time of sharing and grieving, not one of judgment. Respectfully allow the speakers to say their peace.
- Prayers are said for the Regentia, the Materes, and any Patrons of the deceased.
- Offerings are made for the Deuoi invoked for their aid in the passage of the deceased from this life to the next.
- The letters written to and/or from the deceased are burned, signifying their passing on and leaving behind their bonds to this life.
- A moment of silence and meditation may be observed.
- The Deuoi are given thanks once again, and the Nemeton is closed.
This is meant to be a basic outline for a modern funeral rite to be adapted and changed for the needs of everyone involved.
Written by Điracarnâ Maruodelgaunon