Daily Rites (Archived/Original Version)
This is the original version of our Daily Rites article, which was primarily written by Gaol Naofa’s founder Tomás Flannabhra, with prayers given in English-only format. We have archived it here on the website for those who might prefer the prayers given in this version of the article. If you are looking for the current version of the Daily Rites article, which has been substantially revised and rewritten by Kathryn Price NicDhàna, please click here. The current version outlines slightly different prayers given in both Gaelic and English, which have been largely inspired by prayers and practices from the Carmina Gadelica. It also includes a video that gives an introduction to the subject of Daily Rites.
by An Chomhairle Ghaol Naofa
Do not reproduce without explicit permission.
Daily rites are prayers or rituals often performed in the morning and in the evening which strengthen the bonds between us and the dé ocus andé (gods and un-gods) and fosters their blessings, and promotes a greater awareness of the interdependent relationship between the secular and sacred. While it’s unknown how these daily rituals were performed—or whether they were at all—by the pre-Christian Gaels, such rituals can still be a meaningful applied to Gaelic Polytheism (GP) or Gaelic Reconstructionist Polytheism (GRP) and be a fulfilling aspect of everyday life.
In the later rural traditions of Ireland, Isle of Man and Scotland, much of the day was littered with prayers, incantations, blessings, and poetry or songs while people labored, traveled, ate, cleaned, and went about their daily business, which demonstrates the powerful integration of the spiritual and mundane within the Gaelic mind-set. Many affairs that are considered mundane by today’s standards would have been imbued or shared with the sacred, or considered a ritual in itself. One such act, well recorded by Alexander Carmichael in his Carmina Gadelica, is the kindling and smooring of the hearth fire (#84-87). Carmichael describes this as being the sole responsibility of the woman of the household who would relight or subdue the hearth fire each day while reciting prayers and blessings over it for the welfare of the household. This practice was common in Ireland and Isle of Man as well.
This practice has been adopted and applied within a Gaelic Polytheist context as part of the daily rites. In the morning the hearth fire or the fire present on the household shrine (could be in the form of a candle, oil lamp, or electric lamp) is lit whilst prayers, poetry, or song are recited for the dé ocus andé, usually requesting that the household be healthy and well for the day, and then an offering is usually given (incense, water or milk, or perhaps some food from breakfast) in their honor. At night, the fire is smoored1 and again prayers are given expressing gratitude for another day of life, and that the family be protected while it sleeps. Greetings to the rising sun or the new moon, small offerings to the land spirits, and meal blessings may also be part of daily rites.
Daily rites can be planned and scripted or random and improvised; they can be as simple as a short prayer to a formal offertory ritual. Below is an example of a Gaelic Polytheist daily devotional ritual, which is based largely on the material recorded in the Carmina Gadelica. It can be used as is or adapted to personal tastes and meaning.
I. Light a candle, lamp, or kindle the hearth fire.
I will kindle this fire today,
In the presence of the excellent gods,
In the presence of our beloved ancestors,
In the presence of the kindly fair-folk,
And in the presence of our shining Bríde —
great flame of sustaining is she.
With love, with honor, with reverence,
O! With love, with honor, with reverence,
This fire is kindled today.
The encirclement of radiant Bríde around,
Our hearth, our house, and our household,
This day and everyday,
O! Each and every single day.
II. Give your personal prayers. You may say something like:
Thanks be to the Three–
Patrons, Hosts, and Progenitors,
for my waking and rising this day.
May you grant me good health in all my efforts today
and may I go forth into the light of day
with the blessings of the dé ocus andé
upon my roads.
I make my circuit beneath your shield,
Where beneath it I shall fear no evil,
No peril, no harm, nor dull words,
whether by land, sky or sea.
Each day and night,
Each shade and light,
Each moment in kindness,
Lend to me your wisdom, O Mighty Three!
III. Give a libation.
I honor the dé ocus andé with this (water/milk/etc) I pour to them, as I honor our ancient and ancestral contract.
IV. Extinguish the candle or lamp. If you have kindled a hearth fire, you may wish to keep it burning.
As it was,
As it is,
As it shall be.
A blessing of blessings
On all Three.2
I. Again, light the hearth fire.
II. Say something like:
Blessed be this house,
from site to stay,
beam to beam, ceiling to floor,
wall to wall,
and room to room.
May the dé ocus andé give blessing to the house that is here
and all of us within it this night.
III. Extinguish the candle, lamp, or smoor the hearth fire.1
Tonight, I’m smooring the fire as gentle Bríde would smoor.
May Bríde the fair guard us until the fair day wake us,
and by her grace may we awake refreshed and well
to greet the new day.
(You may wish to give another offering before sleep.)
IV. As you lay down in bed:
I will lay down this night with the Three,
I will lay down this night with the excellent gods,
I will lay down this night with my beloved ancestors,
I will lay down this night with the kindly fair-folk.
And I will lay down this night with Bríde.
- There are some Gaelic Polytheists who perform their nightly smooring by going through the house and turning off all the lights and appliances that are not needed, rather than subduing an actual flame.
- Borrowed from Annie Loughlin’s An Deiseal ritual.