A Circle of Stones - The Art of Enchantment - The Practice of Druid Magic

The Druid Magic Handbook: Ritual Magic Rooted in the Living Earth - John Michael Greer 2008

A Circle of Stones
The Art of Enchantment
The Practice of Druid Magic

The magical workings presented so far in this book have used very little in the way of equipment. This follows a longstanding habit in the Druid Revival community. In the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), for example, the only Druid gear any member needs to have, even at the highest degree of initiation, are a robe, a nemyss, a colored cord belt, a colored stone, a small cloth or leather bag, a knife, a cauldron, and a staff or wand. Other traditional Druid orders have similar ha-bits when it comes to magical hardware. Compared to many other magical traditions, this is a fairly sparse toolkit, and next to the splendid Victorian clutter of nineteenth-century magical orders such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, it may seem quite ascetic.

Still, the art of enchanting tools and other material objects has an important place in Druid magic. The handful of working tools Druids use in their magical practices can be filled with nwyfre and linked to the great currents and cycles of the cosmos, so that magical work done with the tools echoes outward into a wider world. The same thing can be done to the Druid's own body, enaid, and mind for exactly the same reasons. Both these steps, in turn, lead to one of the core dimensions of Druid magic, the use of enchantment to bring spiritual powers into manifestation throughout the world of matter—literally, the reenchantment of the world.

A Circle of Stones

A basic technique you have already learned offers a good way to begin work on the art of enchantment. Back in chapter 4, you learned how to charge a stone with a magical intention. This simple method of enchantment has long been taught to novices in the AODA, but one of its applications links to a practice common in the Druid community since the late eighteenth century.

Iolo Morganwg, the innovative Welsh Druid responsible for most of the basic elements of classic Druid Revival ritual, established the custom of opening Druid groves inside a stone circle. When it wasn't possible to use one of the ancient circles such as Stonehenge or Avebury, or one of the newly built ones that his work inspired in Wales and elsewhere, Iolo simply brought a pocketful of small stones and marked out the ritual circle with those. The epochal ceremony on London's Primrose Hill in 1792 that launched Iolo's public Druid career took place within such a circle of stones.

Since then, Druids of many traditions have used this sort of portable stone circle in their rituals to define and anchor ritual space. Regular use in Druid ritual will enchant these stones, so that the simple act of setting them in a circle will begin the process of establishing the grove and awakening its energies. This process can be quickened, though, by deliberately enchanting the stones with this intention. The correspondences given in Table 6-1 provide the symbolic framework for this working.

Table 6-1 Correspondences for Stone Circle Rituals


Start by choosing eight stones, one for each of the Stations of the Wheel of Life. Any stone that appeals to you, from plain pebbles to carefully chosen semiprecious stones, can be used. Wash them in fresh running water to cleanse them of unwanted nwyfre, and expose them to sunlight for at least an hour. Once you have done this, decide which of them corresponds to each Station of the Wheel, and mark them with the emblem of the Station, or in any other way you choose. You may also want to get a bag of cloth or leather to hold the eight stones. The only other preparations for the working are those you need to open a grove.

Open in the usual way, with the stone you've chosen for Samhuinn at the center of the altar; you won't need the others until later. In the Sphere of Protection, call upon the elements to bless and protect your grove and add their power to your working, and banish any influences that might hinder your work. Once you open the grove, take your seat in the north, and use violet color breathing to attune yourself to the energies of Samhuinn. Enter into meditation for a time, with Samhuinn as the theme. Contemplate the autumn sunlight, the lengthening nights, the fading leaves, and everything else nature does at that time of year in the region where you live. Imagine the grove filled with the nwyfre of Samhuinn.

When you are ready, breathe it all into yourself through your solar plexus in the form of violet light. Then rise and go to the altar. Pick up the stone with the index fingers and thumbs of both hands, and allow all the violet light and the presence of Samhuinn in you to flow into it. Say words such as these: “In the name of Ceridwen I enchant you, creature of stone, with the enchantment of Samhuinn. Embrace that enchantment, reflect it, and radiate it into the world. Yours is the Station of Samhuinn in the circle of my grove. Keep watch in the northwest.” Pick up the stone again, carry it to the northwest edge of the grove, and set it on the ground there.

Return to the center and pause for a time, paying attention to the nwyfre of the ritual, then begin the grove closing ceremony. When you have finished the closing, pick up the stone and put it away—in your bag, if you have one, or in whatever other place you choose to keep your grove stones—before you clear away anything else from the grove. When you next perform a grove ceremony, place the Samhuinn stone in the northwest after you have set out everything else needed for the ceremony, but before you begin it.

You will need to perform seven more ceremonies of the same kind, changing the names and details as needed, and enchanting one stone in each ceremony. If you wish, you can do one ritual on each of the eight holy days, enchanting the stone for each Station of the Wheel of Life on its corresponding day; this produces a very powerful set of stones. It's best to proceed around the Wheel clockwise from Samhuinn, so that you enchant the stone for Alban Arthuan next and the one for Alban Elued last. Each time, when you enchant a stone, put it in its position around the outside of the grove, as shown in Figure 6-1, and use it to mark out the grove in your workings thereafter. When you finish the process, you will have eight enchanted stones to define the circle of your grove in ritual, and the strength of your workings will increase accordingly.

Figure 6-1 The Eight Stones and the Grove


If you want to use some other number of stones beside eight, you can certainly do so. Iolo Morganwg's stone circles had nineteen stones, modeled on the ancient stone circle at Boscawen-Un in Cornwall. Some modern Druid orders use stone circles with twelve stones, others use thirteen, and if you belong to one of these orders or simply want to experiment with a different number, choose an appropriate symbolism and go to work.

Making a permanent circle of standing stones is a more magically intensive process, because stones set up in the Earth attract the solar and telluric currents and, under the right circumstances, can give birth to the lunar current. A way of handling the magical dimensions of this very traditional Druid practice is covered in chapter 8 of this book.