Gaol Naofa Gealach Úr Rite

Being part of a tribe is a wonderful thing, even if it is an online tribe (or in the case of Gaol Naofa, an organization).  Being a member of a tribe of course comes with its obligations and one of mine to my tribe is the New Moon Rite that I perform every month.

It is a wonderful habit that keeps me close to my tribe and the Gods of the tribe. From the Gaol Naofa (GN) site: “On the new moon of each month, members of Gaol Naofa join together in spirit to honor the gods and spirits, and to celebrate our ancestral heritage thereby fostering solidarity and the blessings of the dé ocus andé.”  I thought I would share with you this month’s rite.  The ritual itself comes from GN and is written by GN Founder, Tomás Flannabhra.  The rite also has some tweeks from me to make it my own.

What is needed: four candles (three for representing the gods, ancestors, and spirits, and one to represent the central or ‘hearth’ fire), offerings, a drinking vessel, a vessel to hold offerings.

Opening Prayer

The fertile land below,
the blue sea about,
the vast sky above,
their blessings here tonight.

“Hymn to the New Moon” (Carmina Gadelica 303)

Hail to thee, thou new moon,
beauteous guidant of the sky;
hail to thee, thou new moon,
beauteous fair one of grace.

Hail to thee, thou new moon,
beauteous guidant of the star;
hail to thee, thou new moon,
beauteous loved one of my heart.

Hail to thee, thou new moon,
beauteous guidant of the clouds;
hail to thee, thou new moon,
beauteous dear one of the heavens!

Kindling the Fire

(light a candle)

I shall kindle this fire this evening
in the presence of radiant Bríd,
golden-flame of our hearth and home.
May she bless and preserve it,
this fire of warming,
fire of wisdom,
fire of hospitality
that is here;
She, the branch with blossoms,
red-cheeked Bríd.

Hail to the Hosts

(light a candle)

A fire for the gods is here,
Excellent Hosts,
proficient in wisdom and skill,
splendid and hardy troupe,
generous patrons,

Morrígan, great warrior goddess, prophetess, and sorceress, I raise my voice in praise of you with wonder and awe.  I sit in your presence, oh great source of terror and comfort.

Lugh Lamhfhada, great warrior and god of many arts, I praise you.  Bright and shining god and flaming spear out of the chaos I honor you.


(give offering)

(light a candle)

A fire for the ancestors is here,
for those whose graves we rest on
and whose fame we seek to follow.
A lamp to guide your way
through the mists
from Tech Duinn.

(give offering)

(light a candle)

A fire for the Fair-Folk and land spirits is here,
auspicious and kindly denizens,
hosts of the abundant land,
gentry of the hills and mounds,

Spirits and guardians of the desert,
People of Peace,

(give offering)

Hail and Greetings to
The Three that are here,
Excellent Gods,
Beloved Ancestors,
and Kindly Spirits;
the three eternal fires
that illuminate the world.

Main Offering/Sacrifice

To the Ever-Living Three
I give this raw meat and bread
in honor and in gratitude and in love,
honoring the ancient and ancestral
contract that binds us.

(give offering)

Peace to sky,
sky to earth,
earth beside sea,
strength in each.

Hail to the gods,
love to the dead,
peace to the Good-Folk,
noble is each.

Personal Prayers

I pray for the strength and courage  to fight my daily battles, to live my life to the fullest, and to seek knowledge and wisdom.

Prayer for Gaol Naofa

Ancient and noble Three of the Gael, of kin and contract, illustrious Patrons, Hosts, and Progenitors! Guide, preserve and inspire our tribe, uphold us into the world as we rekindle the blazing ancestral fires that shall illuminate the way to the future. In health, in honor, in courage, in wisdom, in justice, in truth, in generosity, we go forth into the light of day and onto the roads with your blessings upon us and with victory to be ours.


(take a cup, quaich, bowl, horn, or other drinking vessel and fill it with a beverage of your choice (perhaps mead, ale, milk, juice, water…) Raise the vessel before the shrine:)

To the Beloved Dead!

(libate and sip)

To the Excellent Gods!

(libate and sip)

To the Fair-Folk and land spirits!

(libate and sip)

To my kindred!

(libate and sip)

To Gaol Naofa!

(libate and sip)

To health, wisdom, and prosperity!

(libate and sip)

From my journal:

This was the first month in which I did the New Moon rite after the formal contract with my household deities.  It was very different then before.  I felt a very powerful current go through me through out the rite.  I usually feel it but this time it was very pronounced and very strong that there is no way I can say to myself that I had imagined it.  I’m very pleased with how things have been moving along lately.


The Apple Branch: A Path To Celtic Ritual by Alexei Kondratiev

This is one of the very few books out there that discusses how to walk a Celtic rituals in a well thought out structured manner.  It is not Celtic Reconstruction. It is however, a great book to read if you want to start performing your own rituals. I’ve read this book a couple of times and now I am reading it again to review it, and I expect as time goes by I will read it again.

Chapter One: The Tale of the Celts

This first chapter gives you the history of the Celts from their first emergence as a distinct culture to the time they split into the Celtic countries of today.  The author admits that it is his view of the history of the Celts.  There is nothing incorrect in the history per se but he does view it from the viewpoint of how the culture behaved rather than the economic or in the time line sense.  Still it was a great survey of the history in such a small space.  He also discusses how the western world has ignored their environment to their detriment and that perhaps reclaiming this old/new spirituality is the way to bring our selves back to an eco-centric worldview rather than an egocentric one.

Chapter Two: Drawing The Circle

This chapter has always been a little difficult for me to read.  Not because I didn’t like what I was reading but because it took me a while to get my feet grounded in mythology enough to know what he is talking about.  The author does have some ideas on the people following the Celtic path.  He tries very hard to answer a lot of questions that might come up for people who want to follow this path but are scared somehow.  For example he has a lot to say about genetics, mainly that being Celtic is a cultural association more than a blood related one though having “Celtic” ancestors is certainly a plus.  He stresses that it is important to learn at least one of the Celtic languages, and I know that that has disgruntled a lot of people, but I have to agree on that point.  Having a working knowledge of a culture’s language gives you a great insight into their thought process and their way of living.  Plus whether it is Welsh or Irish or any other of the Celtic languages, they are beautiful in their own right and deserve to be preserved.  He does also think that in order for the Celtic culture to survive all the Celtic countries should unite I’m not sure how viable that is.  In his enthusiasm it does seem like he is trying to lump all the Celtic countries together but he isn’t, he does say that they are each distinct in their own right but should be associated wit each other.  Seriously though, if the ancient Celts couldn’t unite, how can the current Celtic nations with all the history between them?  The author also points out that when studying the Celts and taking in their spiritual traditions we should not dismiss the influence of Christianity, it is after all one stream in the long history of the Celtic countries.  He describes the importance of tribe and land to the Celtic spirituality and how you can incorporate that into your life.  The rest of the chapter goes on to describe the sacred space and how to set it up and how to associate direction with function.  I think it is here that most people will say that he has strayed into Wiccan territory but I disagree.  His associations are just as valid as the Sky, Land and Sea associations.  He does pick them from known parts of mythology like the stories in the Book of the Taking of Ireland and The Settling of the Manor at Tara and if you know a little about the Indo-European cultures you know that some of what he presents in this chapter also jives with them, for example, facing east to pray.  Archeologically, even in the Indo-European times worship enclosures if available were mostly square or rectangle with only some being circular so having four directions is just as valid as having the three of Sky, Land and Sea.  Still this is a tough chapter and I guess what you take from it is your own choice.

Chapter Three: The Cycles of Earth and Sun

This is the longest chapter of the book.  In this chapter the author argues that even though the ancient Celts may have originally celebrated only Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain (which are connected to the earth), the other four festivals associated with the sun were later incorporated and became part of Celtic tradition.  Some people now a days (he calls them purists) and I’m one of these people, only celebrate the four festivals mentioned above.  He goes on to describe each of the eight festivals in detail and give the associations of each.

Chapter Four: The Cycle of the Moon

In this chapter the author outright tells you that the association between the 13 moons of the year and the lines of Amergin’s Song are his own creation though he has tried to stay true to the spirit of Celtic tradition.  Though I do not use these associations myself I thought it was an interesting chapter to read.

Chapter Five: The Cycle of the Tribe

This chapter is one that I’m going to guess will make pagans a little angry because it involves the dates ascribed to saints.  I think though that I know why the author included them here.  We cannot erase the Christian history of the Celtic countries, and we cannot completely ignore it.  These days represent important events in the lives of the Tribes we have chosen and though we do not have to celebrate them we can’t be ignorant about them.  When you are a part of a tribe everyone has to be included.

All in all I think this is a book that everyone should at least read.  You may not agree with all of it, but it does have some interesting ideas on the structure of ritual and a lot of good information for the person or persons hoping to follow a Celtic path.