Introduction: Order-Wide Rituals at the Summer and Winter Solstice

In the Ancient Order of Druids in America, we recognize the ethical imperative of doing everything we can to support the health, vitality, and continuance of all life on earth both physically and metaphysically. In AODA’s vision statement the element of earth focuses on “nature reciprocation”, the element of fire focuses on “tools for today,” and the element of Spirit Below focuses on “nature connection.”

As of Spring 2022, we are starting a new initiative where we offer order-wide ceremonies. These are ceremonies done by individual members in their local areas, where we do a similar ceremony and then come together online to share our experiences.

These allow us to deepen our commitment to our core practices of reciprocation and connection, and also provide individual members with new tools to respond to the challenges of today’s age. We recognize that much of AODA is individually focused, and with the release of these rituals, we hope to begin to leverage our collective ability to do good on behalf of the earth. We offer two new rituals that we encourage all of our members to perform, at the Summer and Winter Solstice.

The Solar Land Healing Ceremony at the Summer Solstice: The purpose of this ceremony is to provide protection, healing, and blessing for our lands and those who live within them. This ceremony uses a modified Sphere of Protection placed in a tree or stone to radiate blessing and healing to the broader landscape.

The Telluric Waterway Blessing of the Waterways at the Winter Solstice: The purpose of this ceremony is to provide healing, blessing, and protection to the waterways and bodies of water upon which our planet depends. It uses a two-part ritual: the first is using a modified Sphere of Protection that is placed on a stone. The second part of the ritual involves leaving the stone at the waterway as a blessing.

To learn more about the rituals, please visit: http://aoda.org/earthrituals/

This forum is a space for us to plan rituals, ask questions, share experiences, and build collective wisdom about this work.

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Just wanted to say that I love the idea of doing Order-wide rituals at the Summer and Winter solstices and look forward to following the directions given on the link! This also encourages me to design meaningful rites for the other high days as well.

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First, I want to say that I LOVE the idea of order-wide rituals. That is awesome.

Second, I want to mention that this first iteration of a winter ritual may not be ideal for my local region and much of the mountain west and northwest, and I’d love a discussion about strategies to address that.

Here are the issues I see:

  1. When at elevation, unless you are on a major waterway, you likely don’t actually want your winter water to flow at the winter solstice. You want it nice and solid and covered in as much snow as possible. Which can make placing a stone in the waterway difficult, especially if your waterway wanders from year to year. I could potentially place a stone on or buried in 6 feet of snow where I think the waterway will be in the spring, but in some places that’s as close as I could get.

  2. There’s an access problem at winter solstice. Areas I would want to bless the waterways, especially headwaters type areas, are completely inaccessible to me on the solstice due to snow, and are not accessible until May or June. Would a winter blessing hold in a stone that long for placement 5 or 6 months later?

How would you suggest addressing these issues in a way that keeps the integrity of a shared ritual? I am new to ritual and I don’t know which parts are important to keep standard and which parts are flexible in this context. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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Hi Amy,
Thanks for sharing. Let’s talk through this–as the first version of our rituals, we certainly can adapt them.

So I think for this, you want the stone going in the waterway. The first thing that comes to mind is that it is a multi-part ritual, how about blessing the stones at the Winter Solstice then doing the 3rd part of the ritual at a later date in the spring? (e.g. you can choose to do it as a “when the waters are flowing” again?)

The other question is, what size of waterway are you thinking? Here, we have lots of ephemeral springs that open up in the spring, so I wouldn’t have access to those, but I would have no problem visiting the mighty Allegheny or Monogahela and leaving an offering stone there all winter long…

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@DanaD, thanks for talking it through. Is there a time limit for storing the blessed stones before placement? Or any particular way to store them between the blessing part and the placement part? Some high elevation areas are not accessible until May or June - and not just for me, but across the western US.

For a little more context, I live in basin and range country where OR, CA, and NV intersect. Town is about 4,200 feet elevation, and the surrounding mountains in which most waterways originate go up from there to between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. We are high, dry, and cold. The water cycle runs on the significant snow received in winter, especially in the mountains.

Most waterways are small. Our county is larger than a few eastern states and really only has 2 water bodies that would qualify as actual rivers. Most waterways are somewhere between a creek and a trickle, and yet they are hugely important.

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Since your waterways are snow-fed, basically, I should think you could place the stone in the snow at first. Possibly even in snow you collect specifically for that purpose. When the waters are flowing, like Dana suggested, you might be able to place it at an actual waterway of choice and add the melted snow to the waterway as well, or let it find its own way. As it would have anyway, since snow is the starting point of the waterways in your area, the way springs might be the starting point in other areas. Does that make sense?

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I don’t think there would be a time limit–once you do the ritual, the stone will hold the energy. I would just leave it on your altar or something until you can put it in the river.

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Thanks, @DanaD and @JudithO both. I appreciate it!