The stock ADF ritual outline, published in Druid’s Progress #4, calls for a processional. The purpose of the processional is consecrate and define sacred space and time. The processional starts people thinking in a magical mood, and separates normal activities from the ritual.
Processionals work well when you have lots of space, such as at a festival. You need space to give people time to change modes of thinking. A short walk doesn’t give you enough time for this beginning centring. For those of us who don’t have a quarter mile long area to march in, there are alternatives.
Shadowpath Grove, in Connecticut, used the ideas of Gates that each person passes through on the way to the circle. The first time I saw this was Samhain 1987. In 1988, the group that I work with, that was to become Shadow Weaver Grove, in Massachusetts, started using a similar style of Gates. At first, the Gates were basically Wiccan/Amerind in conceptualization. Since then, our concept and implementation has changed. In the fall of 1989, after we decided to apply for Grove status, we reworked how and in what order the Gates were laid out and who and how they were manned (personed?).
Shadow Weaver Grove meets in what was an overgrown garden. We spent many weeks clearing the brush and cutting a path down to the circle. The path is about three feet wide and fifty feet long. Along the path there are four gates, Lands, Waters, Sky, and Fire. The layout is based upon the ADF cosmology.
The first Gate a person passes is that of the Land. Here they are asked “What is it that you wish of the Gate of Land?”. After they ask their question, or optionally, not verbalize it, they are marked on the forehead with mud. They then pass down the path to the Gate of the Waters. The same thing occurs using water sprinkled upon their head. At the Gate of Sky, a feather or fan is used to blow upon them. The last Gate before the circle is that of Fire. At the Gate of Fire, the keeper says nothing, but smudges them with incense. Since the Gates are tied into the ADF cosmology, the question asked at the Gate of Waters, deals with Warriors or ones Ancestors, as opposed to emotions.
At the beginning, only the Gate of the Lands is occupied. The three other Gate Keepers lead off, Waters, Sky and finally Fire. The person at the Gate of Fire has a bell that tells when the next person is to come down to the next Gate. This puts four people on the path, one person going through each Gate at all times. When all of the other attendees are through, the Gate Keepers pass through down the path. Each Gate Keeper ends up marked by the other three.
Later on, the four Gate Keepers hold down other roles. As mentioned above, the Gate of Waters is tied to the Ancestors and Warriors. When it comes time to consecrate the Waters of Life, the Gate Keepers are the ones doing it for their world.
As time goes on, we hope to be able to tie all of it together. The Gate Keepers will wear clothes of the related colour and style, and have implements of the related type of wood.
So far, we have found that this division of consecrations among the Gate Keepers, has worked well. The Gates are also well thought of. The table of correspondences between the Three Worlds, and the other categories is laid out below.
REALM ENTITY CASTE TREE COLOUR ---------------------------------------------------------------- Underworld Demons Slaves Unknown Unknown Land Nature Spirits Producers Birch Unknown Waters/Sea Ancestors Warriors Yew Unknown Sky Gods & Goddesses Clergy Oak White Fire High God/dess King/Queen Mistletoe Unknown