Liturgy 1, Question 3
Describe the concepts of the Center and the Gates in ADF's Standard Liturgical Outline. (minimum 600 words)
The ADF standard liturgy is based primarily off the work of Mircae Eliade as regards the Center (and much of the ritual design that is inherent in the fringes of ritual as well). The Tree stands as an
axis mundi (or "world axis"), stretching straight through the earth, going from the Waters deep within the world to the highest reaches of the Sky. Along the Tree, our words are carried above and below, and the intersection of the Land and the Tree serves as the gathering point for spirits, powers, and the Kindred that we call.
This Center is different from many other temples and sacred spaces throughout the world, where the sacred space is often conceived as not in this realm or in the next, but in between realms, often in a liminal state, cut off from both the world and the otherworld it represents. ADF's ritual Center stands at the Center of all worlds, and it extends to the fringes of them all. Instead of a clearly defined border, ADF ritual creates a clearly defined Center that is described over and over throughout the ritual in order to ensure that recognition is easy.
The Center itself, while described as meeting at the Tree, our axis mundi, contains two other main components: a Well and a Fire. These serve as markers as well for the Center of the Worlds. Here, we find that the ritual space has become an
imago mundi, or image of the world. The Tree represents the Land, the Fire represents the Sky, and the Well represents the Sea. By bringing these representations together in one localized place, we can use the concept of
sympathy to indicate that these are, indeed, the Land, Sea, and Sky.
Each of these parts of the imago mundi that is created in ritual acts as a "Gate". The Gates themselves are often conceived in different ways by the persons involved in the ritual, but most often they match up with what we think of as a "gate": often, they "open" during the ritual in order to admit or allow clearer communication with the Deities, Nature Spirits, and Ancestors.
An important point about the Gates is that they are not Forbidden Doors of Privileged
AccessTM, places locked and barred against the common seeker who must retrieve an arcane key from someone better placed in the religion she follows. No, these Gates are open to anyone who cares to unlock them, and they can be flung wide to anyone who comes with a pure heart and a desire to bring good worship to the Kindreds. There is not even a requirement that we open them in ritual, but doing so reduces
obstacles that often exist to the seeker, be they mental, physical, or spiritual
Another important aspect of these gates is that they have distinct counterparts
in the myths of the cultures ADF looks to for inspiration: the fire of the
Vedics (Agni) which devour the sacrifice and pass it on to the other deities;
the door that is opened in the Forum when Rome goes to war and the Vestal fire
that burns in each house; the tree, Yggdrasil, which spans the world from deep
within the earth to high into the sky; and the watery place of the dead far to
the west of the island of Ireland all give us the basis for these gates.
Each of these elements in the ADF Standard Liturgical Outline serves as a marker, either for us or for those we would honour and worship, that we are in a sacred place, modeled on and at the center of the Cosmos. They orient us and remind us that we have come to a place of holiness, and that holiness is of our own creation, and that creation has a purpose.
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