I had quite a bit of trouble deciding when and where to perform my Oath Rite. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to perform my rite in private: I started this path as a Solitary, and I knew I wanted to finish it that way, as well. I wanted the Oath to be between the Kindred and me, and I wanted to keep it free from some of the drama my grove has experienced lately. Even knowing that I would perform it alone, I had trouble deciding where to perform it. I had an outdoor space chosen, but the drought-induced burn ban in our county made the thought of an outdoor ritual less appealing, especially in combination with the 90-degree temperatures we’ve been having. In the end, I decided to perform the rite at my personal altar. No matter where I go, that altar will come with me, and it seemed fitting to perform the rite at the altar that has been my spiritual home in two different states and over the course of nearly two years. I performed the rite on an evening of the waxing moon when I knew my husband planned to be out until late, so I wouldn’t have to deal with distractions.
I performed the oath as the magical working in the ritual, and spoke it from memory (as best I could) after receiving the Waters of Life:
With the blessing of the Kindred upon me, I ask the gods, the dead, and all the spirits to bear witness to my oath. Mighty Kindred, I make this oath in your honor: hear me now!
I declare myself a Pagan. I swear to keep the Old Ways, to walk the Druidic path, to keep the virtues given by tradition. By my gods, I swear I will strive to live well, to live in harmony with nature and the spirits, and to do my best to protect the Earth Mother. I swear to seek the truth of the elder ways, to learn the lore and meaning of our ancestors’ wisdom. I swear to seek vision, inspiration, and wisdom under the guidance of the deities.
To honor the spirits, my ancestors, and the deities, I swear I will keep the wheel of the year, observing the feasts and ways of the ancient path.
As a token and reminder of my oath, I dedicate this necklace as a symbol of my spirituality. Let the three spirals represent the three realms and the three Kindred, and let the triskele ever remind of the connections between all things. As I wear it each day, let it be known that Kristin McFarland is a Druid, a keeper of the Old Ways, and a child of the earth.
Before all the powers, and especially before my gods, I make my oath. Should I be forsworn, may the heavens fall upon me, may the earth burst open and swallow me, and may the sea rise up and drown me.
Mighty, noble, and shining ones, accept my oath!
I’ll be completely honest: the rite and the oath could not have gone better. They were absolutely wonderful. I had a lot of trepidation the morning of the rite: I had a turbulent week and was in a very bad place with my grove and my future plans for my spiritual discipline. I decided to proceed with the rite at the advice of my husband, who suggested that the oath might reaffirm what is truly important in my spiritual practice—my dedication to this path and my relationship with the Kindred. Naturally, he was right, and I’m so glad I could make my oath with an open heart, even in a time of trouble.
I’m going to try to evaluate the rite thematically rather providing a blow-by-blow.
I used a lot of songs and chants in this rite, which is something I’m still not completely comfortable doing. I did it to try to nudge myself out of my comfort zone: I need to get more comfortable singing and chanting in public, and I need to be comfortable singing by myself before I can sing in front of others! I sang for the processional, for the Earth Mother, and for (Re)Creating the Cosmos. By the time I called my patrons, I was comfortable enough with my own voice that I even spontaneously sang the chorus of a Celia song for Brigid. I see the power of chant in ritual, its ability to lift our voices beyond the mundane and carry it to even the farthest reaches. It has the added element of being internalized, and when we chant, we can focus our energy without worrying about our words.
The internalization problem did plague me a bit during my rite. I used a script as a memory cue, and I found myself wishing I had committed more of the rite to memory. I don’t normally use a script, preferring to speak extemporaneously, but I wanted this rite to go smoothly. I think I still prefer not using a script—in future, I’d like to stick with internalization and cue cards, if necessary. Though I had some hesitations in my memorized oath, I’m glad I didn’t have my eyes glued to the page. It’s hard to feel a connection to the other realms when focused so completely on something in this one.
In addition to calling the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Deities, I called on my patrons Manannán mac Lir and Brigid. I work with Manannán mac Lir as Gatekeeper as well as patron, so His presence was especially important to me. I found myself joyfully tearful as I called both of my patrons, simply because I feel we’ve grown so close in the last year. I find the true ‘working’ relationship one develops with patrons really fascinating: yes, they are deities we love and worship, but they are also friends and colleagues who work with us to perform magic. They are our superiors, but they are also cooperative companions. (That’s probably a topic for a different piece of writing!) I made offerings to both of them and realized I forgot the cream I intended to offer Brigid. I offered oil to her instead, which I think went over fairly well—I work with her in her fiery aspects as much as in her ‘hearthy’ aspects, so oil was appropriate.
The omens I received were very promising for my future work. I asked what message the ancestors, nature spirits, and deities had for me as I took my oath. Using my ogham staves, I received: Saille from the Ancestors, which I interpret to mean mysteries and intuition; Ailm from the Nature Spirits, meaning foresight and new projects; and Ioho from the Deities, meaning rebirth. Altogether, I took this to mean that I have come into an ancient mystery tradition, that I’m presently showing foresight and approaching new projects, and that I will be reborn with my practice. To me, this is an extremely positive omen to receive at what is ultimately just one spiritual landmark among many: this rite was not an end, just a transformation. The possibilities are endless.
That’s a pretty exciting omen, and I can’t wait to see what new adventures await me.