One of the most important concepts in ADF’s ritual theology is that of reciprocation, hospitality, and gift-giving. The Core Order of Ritual splits nicely down the middle so the first half is all about our hospitality – making the space pure and sanctified, honoring the Kindreds, calling forth the Gatekeeper to make ritual possible, and finally giving to the assembled Beings our food, drink, love, attention, and time – while the second is all about Theirs – a return flow of energy, blessings, and the ritual participants partaking of the Waters of Life to accept this cherished energy.
The linchpin between these absolutely vital parts of ADF ritual is the Omen. For me, the Omen is an opportunity for further energy exchange between myself and the Kindreds. I always ask at least two question: How were my offerings received? and What blessings may I expect in return? I find this to be a natural bridge between the two halves of ritual and allow for more flexible divination responses, rather than a simple yes-or-no question. My deck of choice at the moment is the Wildwood Tarot, which is a beautiful re-imagining of the traditional tarot system within the context of Celtic mysticism. I use it because I connect with it quite strongly and I find it to be adaptive and intuitive to use in a way that other decks haven’t always been.
But what did I pull for Lughnasadh this year? Read on to find out.
Question: How were my offerings received?
Answer: Queen of Vessels, Salmon/Queen of Cups
Key Words and Phrases: The struggle of salmons swimming upstream to return to their birthplace to reproduce (and often die in the process) is linked to self-sacrifice and wisdom. The Queen is deeply caring and kind and can bring joy to the darkest places. She is also linked to virtue, simplicity and devotion, and joyfulness and recovery.
Interpretation: My offerings were received with graciousness and approval. My actions were viewed as both generous and wise, a combination which shows the virtues of moderation and piety. In other words, I did good!
Question: What is our [between the Kindreds and myself] relationship like?
Answer: The Blasted Oak/a combination of The Tower and The Hanged Man
Key Words and Phrases: The Blasted Oak takes on meaning from both The Hanged Man and the Tower of the traditional Major Arcana. The universe can be a random and chaotic place; all we truly have is what we have learned. As terrifying as being struck down from our high places of understanding and order may be, it is necessary to remove us from the bondage of false security, spiritual isolation, stagnation, and collapse. There are also echoes of divine sacrifice on behalf of the individual so painfully thrown down from his oaken perch. All of this upset and turmoil is in fact timely and natural, bringing the querent the newfound freedom to adapt and evolve. Be patient with this process of loss, because it means you are liberated from being a powerless victim.
Interpretation: I’ve experienced some major shake-ups recently in my life and in some cases, the penny’s still in the air. This card is a reminder that strife and dissolution are normal, vital parts to our existence. Cutting away deadwood is a painful process, but not one that I need suffer through as an unattached, disempowered victim. To the contrary, part of this current turmoil is of my own choice and doing. In the long run, it is very good this is going on. The Kindreds are aware that my life is chaotic right now and I’m experiencing pain and difficulties as I learn and grow. While I have a sneaking suspicion a few in particular are directly responsible the sudden changes in my life (Morrígan, I’m looking at you), this card means that all the Kindred are willing to help me through this transition process.
Question: What blessings may I expect in return?
Answer: The Sun of Life/The Sun, reversed
Key Words and Phrases: A powerful symbol of light and fertility that is the bringer of life, warmth, and light into the human world. The Sun of Life is energizing and cleansing, helping us to connect with the consciousness of the universal mind and the cosmic soul. The Sun of Life also represents the creative fire, the furnace of potential, and the primal melting pot of matter and energy.
Interpretation: This deck seems to exclude working with reversals, but since I interpreted this card as reversed during my ritual, I’ll continue to do so here. (I peeked at Aeclectic’s reversal meaning for help.) The Kindreds will help me to attain a more balanced, rational, understood state – I’ll be able to experienced more clarity and stability, feel less isolated and more connected, and turn the pain of transformation from the Blasted Oak into something that I can control, turning lead into pure gold. Because of the reversal, this blessing is not simply dropped into my lap; I have to work hard to make it manifest in the world. There may also be obstacles in my path toward manifesting this gift of the Sun of Life, probably related to “Sun” energies. This could be everything from emotions getting the best of rationality and logic, to facts and knowledge misunderstood and used incorrectly, to a creative blockage, to feelings of isolation that keep me from taking my place in the sun.
Question: What clarification is there to the meaning of The Sun of Life, reversed?
Answer: King of Arrows, Kingfisher/King of Swords
Key Words and Phrases: The kingfisher is equally at home in the air or in the water and is symbolic of ancient wisdom and lore. This card indicates an exercise of impartial judgment and helps you to cut yourself free of what weighs you down. It also indicates counseling, watchfulness, and the ability to judge true from false.
Interpretation: The path to the Sun of Life may not be easy or clear cut, but I will not be undertaking this journey unprepared. I need to focus on a union of water (femininity, seership, emotions, dreams) and air (masculinity, creativity, critical thinking, and conscious thoughts). The work begun with The Blasted Oak continues under my own purview. It is time for me to pick up the reins of my life and decide what to cut and what to keep, rather than just allowing events to buffet me as they please. Slow and steady is the key here. It’s vital that I make the right decisions and perform the correct steps, regardless of how long the outcome takes to manifest.