Some perform their Dedicant Oath as part of a larger rite; I, due to issues of timing (trying to find the optimum set of my community that could attend, for one) and personal interest, created a whole rite. Though the Core Order of Ritual is only required for High Days, I have found it useful for other purposes, and fit it to the purposes of this rite.
I had much personal difficulty over my sense of community; while the Dedicant Manual indicates one’s oath is a private thing (relative to other people), other resources – and common ADF practice – often incorporates one’s oath into a High Day celebration (or, more rarely, into a festival’s main rite). My own Protogrove is still quite embryonic, and the turnout for Yule was quite low. So, I decided to attempt to record the rite to share with my community, those distant throughout ADF.
Initiating the Rite
[ring a bell]
I wash, that I may speak my oath clearly and cleanly. (Annoint self with filtered water)
I pass my hand over the flame, that my oath might be spoken with a good fire. (pass hand over flame)
You who are opposed to this rite, I acknowledge you and leave you this, to occupy you during my work. (make Outdweller offering (beer))
Syn, goddess of boundaries, I ask you to keep the boundaries firm against those who would disrupt this work. (make offering of layered cookie to Syn)
Honoring the Earth Mother
Jord, I who walk upon you remember you each day. On this day of oath-taking, I remember you. (offer wheat berries)
Statement of Purpose
I am here to make my Dedicant Oath, to stand before the Landvaettir, the Spirits of the Land; to stand before the Alfar and Disir, and all my Ancestors; to stand before the Æsir and Vanir, Gods and Goddesses; to stand before the numinous beings and make my oath.
(Re)Creating the Cosmos
On the floor of Midgard stand I, with Aegir’s realm around me, and the skies above. In the center I am, surrounded by the worlds.
Three wells feed the tree Yggdrasil; I give the Well silver. (silvers well) The fire brings a home; I give the fire fuel. (feeds fire, as appropriate) This tree is Yggdrasil, high and low before me; great tree, I bring you gifts. (cense tree)
Opening the Gates
Heimdall, Bifrost-guardian, you guard the ways to Asgard. Heimdall, teacher Rig, you taught humanity the ways of rulership and of magic. Heimdall, accept this offering and join your magic with mine. Let the fire open as a gate. Let the well open as a gate. Let the tree open as a gate, Yggdrasil high and low before me. Let the gates be open! Let the gates be open! Let the gates be open!
Bragi, inspirer, you of the tongue that utters words like mead, accept this offering; Inspire my words and make them mix well into the Well of Wyrd.
Inviting the Three Kindreds
Nature Spirits,Wild Ones, Landvaettir, You of the land, from you who make you home in the smallest speck to you who are the spirits of the trees and animals, to you who are the spirits of streams and rivers, hills and mountains, I make offering and invite you to attend this oath. Nature Spirits, Accept this offering (offer grain)
Ancestors, Mighty Dead, Alfar, Disir, and others, I make offering and invite you to attend this oath Ancestors of my tribe, land, and way, Accept this offering (offer Julnacke (a Scandinavian cracker, spiced for Yule))
Gods and Goddesses, Great World-shapers, I make offering and invite you to attend this oath Æsir and Vanir, other Gods and Goddesses, Accept this offering (offer mead)
Part 1: Patron invocation
Freyja, Vanadis, Mardoll; bearer of Brisingamen, teacher of Seidhr, wanderer after Odhr; You drew my attention to that which I had ignored. You gave me insight into lust. You opened me to power within and without. You have warded me and taught me, given me appropriate blessings and appropriate rebuke. I pour out this water of spice and sweetness, glistening with gold for you. Freyja, Patron, Accept this offering, and attend my oath. (offer Goldschlager)
Heimdall, whitest As and guide to Men, you have also offered me key guidance. Our relationship has been less central, but I still make offering in gratitude on this day.
Part 2: Powers of the Oath
Mighty Thor, Hallower of Oaths, I make offering to you, that you might attend this oath (offer ale)
Frey, owner of Gullinbursti, on boar bristles oaths were sworn in your name. I make offering to you, that you might attend this oath. (offer bread)
Prayer of Sacrifice (Oath)
(final section from Ian Corrigan’s standard Prayer of Sacrifice)
By Freyja, by Thor, and by Frey, on these boar bristles and ring on which I have oathed before do I oath: I am a polytheist of my time, one who seeks old ways while not forgetting the new.
I will develop my wisdom further: deepen my understanding of the virtues, deepen my knowledge of the ways of the Norse and Indo-Europeans, deepen my mindfulness. From myself I cut this fingernail, and divide it again, making it unfit to be part of Naglfar; this, I offer as proof of my pledge. (offer nail)
I will develop my power further: continue my ritual practices, seek stronger mental discipline, and strive against the self-fear that holds me back. From the ground I harvested this nut; this, I offer as proof of my pledge, small but containing great potential (offer hickory nut)
I will develop my love further: continue to honor the sacred bonds to the Ancestors, Land Spirits, and Gods, and my bonds with those here. I pour wine I have helped make; fruit, blue like the blood flowing to my heart, has become red like the blood flowing from my heart, cycling like the flow of gifts and hospitality; this, I offer as proof of my pledge. (offer blueberry wine)
Now let my voice arise on the fire, let my voice resound in the well, let my words pass the boundary to the spirits. Mighty, noble and shining ones, accept my sacrifice and my oath!
Now, to see if my oath has been accepted. (runes) Now, to see what blessings the Kindreds give me. (runes) Now, to see what further need the Kindreds have of me. (runes)
Calling (Asking) for the Blessings
Ancient and mighty ones, you have accepted my offerings and my oath. A gift deserves a gift, and now I pray for your honor in turn.
Hallowing the Blessing
Hallow the waters in this horn with your blessing, ancient and mighty ones, that I might take your blessings into me.
Affirmation of the Blessing
I drink deep of this horn. I drink deep of the waters it contains, and I drink deep of the blessings of the Kindreds within.
Workings (drawn from the Oath Rite from the DP manual)
[While this would be where a Dedicant Oath would fit into a larger rite, this was not used, as this entire rite hinged upon my performance of the oath, instead, I placed a blessing for my Hammer pendant here]
Here, with water and fire mixed, here, with the three Kindreds present I bless this token. A symbol of this oath it becomes, the blessing of the powers upon it, turning aside ill while kindling wisdom, love and power, as I wear it. So be it!
Thanking the Beings
Thor, Frey, oath-hallowers, I thank you. Freyja, Patron, I thank you. Gods and Goddesses, I thank you. Ancestors, I thank you. Bragi, inspirer, I thank you. Heimdall, I thank you, but ask one final boon:
Closing the Gates
Heimdall, again I ask you to join your magic with mine. Let the tree be but wood, Let the well be but water, Let the fire be but flame. Let the gates be closed.
Thanking the Earth Mother
Jord, I thank you, and remember you as I walk from this place.
Closing the Rite
This oath-rite is ended, but the oath continues. I go now, dedicated to my path.
Between weather and my desire to record the rite, I decided to have it indoors, at my Home Shrine. This created a slight problem, in that my home shrine is very vertical and finding a location for all of the offerings and larger ritual tools (such as a large blot-bowl to pour libations into) was difficult.
Beforehand, I performed a rune-cast to divine the reaction to my oath and oath rite before I gave it. I reached into my pouch, expecting to grab three runes, but grabbed five instead. Tossing them, I saw Algiz at the center, Fehu and Othala facedown nearby with Mannaz face-up in an intermediate position and Ingwaz facedown on the edge. I decided this was a hint that I needed to include more of the Powers. To my original ritual script I added a gift to Heimdall and inviting Frey to also be of aid during the oath.
I began by performing 4-4-4-4 counted breathing for twenty-seven cycles (three to the third, my own take on the usage of three and powers thereof in ADF). I then spent nine breaths performing the self-hypnotic induction I learned at Summerland 2006, to deepen my trance.
I turned on the camera, and began the rite, promptly knocking over some of the ritual tools I had placed on the far right of my home shrine as I reached for a bell.
The Outdwellers received a pre-poured cup of Blithering Idiot, a barleywine from Weyerbacher. I offered Syn her cookie into a smaller “dry offerings bowl,” crouched down to reach toward the earth and gave Jord her wheat berries. I performed the Two Powers meditation, which I felt strongly but with an odd feel to it, almost like a vibrato sense to the sound of each power. I gave the Well a sterling silver hoop earring, lit a leaf candle from the fire to feed it, since we were indoors, and censed the tree with cedarwood incense. During these offerings the space at my home shrine being at a premium was definitely an issue, as there was a lot of movement to get offerings from where I had placed them nearby in-hand to offer. The worst case was the incense for the tree, as my incense holder was one of the things I had sent tumbling to the floor. This extra effort made keeping up with my script a little more difficult; while I knew the basic words, I did want to follow the script closely (especially for the oath itself).
Then it was time to open the gates. I was uncertain what to give Heimdall before the rite, until I realized I had a quantity of the “mead of fellowship” from the Trillium Brewing rite that was too small to warrant bottling a few months back and had been sitting in my fridge since. If there was a time for fellowship, this was it, and so I decided to offer it to Heimdall, Bragi, and the Gods and Goddesses. So I offered it to Heimdall, Bragi, and promptly ran out. In hindsight, I should have planned a different offering for Heimdall; coffee was one I’ve had good response offering to the watchmanof the Æsir before, though it does require a certain immediacy of brewing before the rite. As for the gate opening – it seemed particularly powerful, on par with some of my most potent experiences on High Days and at festivals. This made me feel better about some of the earlier slips and roughness of the words.
After Bragi’s invocation, I made offerings to the Nature Spirits, Ancestors, and Gods; since the mead was gone, I poured some Perkuno’s Hammer to the Gods (more on the Perkuno’s Hammer later). Then, for the patron invocation, I gave Freyja her Goldschlager; the words I used, though not as familiar as some, came out quickly and well. I poured Heimdall some additional Perkuno’s Hammer.
Then it was time to ask the Hallowers to hallow my oath. Thor was the one I had opened the Perkuno’s Hammer for, and I’ll explain why now. In addition to Thor and Perkuno being rough cognates via Proto-Indo-European *Perkunas, this Baltic Imperial Porter-style beer is particularly special because it is no longer made, as the brewery had gone out of business. I had recently acquired five bottles from the last cases available for sale, and as I sought offerings I thought “what better to offer a hammer-wielding God?” I pre-poured a portion out of the bottle for Thor largely because of my concern that I would overflow my blot-bowl with the planned offerings.
Frey’s invitation being last-minute did limit my selection of offerings. I debated pork – some being available to me – but the difficulties of post-rite disposal, and my own uncertainty about the offering of meat, even as a subset of an animal (though apparently acceptable to some in ADF), caused me to focus on Frey’s associations with agriculture and plenty, and so offer bread.
Finally, it was time to give the oath. After reading a number of Dedicant oaths to get a better feel for the genre, I sought to write mine such that it bore a triple structure, particularly reminiscent to me of aspects of [another member]’s oath (which was very different in content). Some ADF ritual scripts have drawn upon the Wisdom, Love, and Power triad; I associated each mentally with the First, Third, and Second function, respectively, while not limiting myself to the definition of those functions. My offerings were selected to correspond both with the needs of each section and to be things involving me and the world. For Wisdom, I turned inward, giving of myself in a fashion drawn from Norse lore. For Power, I turned to the wider world and a hickory nut harvested from the grounds of the farm where I had a significant personal experience of Thor relative to the crops. For Love, something given as a gift; the blueberry wine my wife and I make, from blueberries picked around the time I joined ADF.
It was here where I most pointedly noticed the difficulty of handling my offerings and the ritual script simultaneously. Words that had flowed when I practiced were stilted due to difficulties coordinating with my ritual actions and the movement of items. Trimming a single fingernail seemed fast until I was doing it in ritual space and time. The hickory nut nearly jumped out of my grasp, and the 375ml bottle of wine took a bit to pour out. In hindsight, a table to hold the offerings next to me and my Home Shrine would have helped keep things accessible.
Finishing the oath, I opened my rune-box and drew wooden runes from the pouch within. For Acceptance, I drew Isa, Ice. That was not acceptance to me.
My nervousness ramping upward, I changed my next question. I asked what I needed to do, and received Hagalaz, Hail. Rather than clarifying, this made the interpretation murkier, in no small fashion due to nervousness.
Finally, I asked “What would you have me do?” and received Ehwaz, Horse. “A horse for riding and boasting upon,” I muttered. Despairing, I stared at the runes for a few minutes, then looked up at the camera, noting that recording had ended, likely because the camera was full. Unexpected delays due to the tightness of the area I was working in, along with my pondering of the runes, had consumed the time available. I stared at the runes, distraught.
“Do you need help?” my wife’s voice asked from behind. She had wanted to be nearby, knowing this was important to me; I had all but forgotten her presence with my deepening of the rite.
I said a hoarse “Yes.”
She said something to the effect of: You are going on a journey. Who takes care of travelers, that you’ve forgotten to offer to as you begin the next leg?
“Odin, or Njord” I replied.
“You didn’t give them anything. Offer something to them,” she said. This made sense; the two icy runes indicated I had frozen them out, and they wanted me to toast them.
I had a small amount of spare offerings, partially due to reading the recommendations from the Wheel of the Year book and partially because I was worried about pouring out too much of things to have any Waters of Life. I opened up a bottle of Weyerbacher’s Old Heathen, and poured it, thanking Odin and Njord for their help as I continued my journey.
Then I drew another rune, not to check acceptance, but to ask if I should restart the recording. I received Othala, ancestral land – this struck me as being about having the recording for me and mine. I then asked if I should re- speak my oath, and drew Mannaz, Man. At the time, I perceived this as it being more useful for those here than for the Gods. I restarted the camera, unfortunately erasing the first chunk of the rite; I did not wish to fully exit my ritual mindset to download it onto the computer.
I returned to my position before my Home Shrine, took a breath, then re-said my oath. The words flowed better without the full actions involved, as I touched the bowls in which the items had been placed. Then, replacing all the runes that had been removed from the pouch, lest I simply run out of negative omens, I asked for my acceptance omen again. This time I pulled out Wunjo, Joy. That was a definite yes. I asked for my blessings, and received Jera, Year – it was New Year’s Eve, and this was the new year, full of promise. Finally, I asked what further need the Kindreds had of me. I received Sowilo, the Sun. Sowilo is a particularly interesting rune for me, as it has in many ways become the symbol of a great future success/my “Right Desire”. I saw this as me needing to do my part to bring this into reality, that this promised reward was now closer – but also more in my hands to obtain. Cheered, I asked for the blessings, poured the small remaining amount of Perkuno’s Hammer into my drinking horn, and, after the hallowing, drank most of it. I then used a drop of the remainder to bless my hammer. I endeavored to write my blessing in a more symbolic fashion than some. This is partially because I know of the potential for me to select different jewelry, or lose this hammer to happenstance. Indeed, as I write this I have recently noticed corrosion on the chain – I also have a boar pendant I wore for a time and abandoned for similar reasons, and may yet refocus upon with a new cord.
Finally, I spoke my thanks, closed the gates, thanked the Earth Mother, and ended the rite.
The question that does remain, I think, is: Did I handle the omen properly? I am convinced that all was well. An extremely strong personal experience of Freyja’s presence shortly after the rite’s end convinced me that things had gone well. At the same time, in hindsight, I am wondering if the first acceptance omen was a Yes rather than a No – that the stillness and frozen- ness of Ice were the crystallization of something that had not been solidified, and that the Hagalaz was “wrong interpretation, start over.”
In the end, the oath rite was interesting both in how much it did and did not change. In many ways, as I prepared, I realized this was more a recognition of status than an active change of it. At the same, I realized the distance I’d traveled and how important my personal religion had become to me. Since then, I have noticed that this rite did deepen my linkages to the Kindreds. I feel on firmer footing, and ready to move forward.