The Gorsedd Rite

A Gorsedd is a gathering of Bards. The term Gorsedd (literally 'high seat') originally referred to prehistoric sacred mounds, often with single trees growing on them, which were places of tribal assembly, festival celebration, law-giving and the inauguration of kings. In times past, sacred kings were ritually wedded at such sites to a representative of the female spirit of the land. At some point, the assemblies themselves came to be known as Gorseddau after the mounds on which they were held.

Once everyone has assembled, the gathering forms two groups; one, the Goddess party, led by the representative of the Guardian Spirit of the place, takes one course, while the other group, the God party, led by the priest, take another, processing sunwise to the point where the two meet again for to begin the rite.

Others may also present gifts to the Guardian and receive a blessing from her in return. Priest and priestess then lead the procession to the place where the Gorsedd circle is formed.

Opening the Circle

We begin by greeting the spirits of the land and of our ancestors, welcoming all who have come. An incense burner is carried around the circle, the smoke wafted over each person present. A bowl of water is the taken around the circle, each person being sprinkled with a few drops.

Calling the Quarters

Calling the quarters is a part of many traditions, invoking different energies from each of the cardinal points. Representatives of different faiths are invited to call the quarters, each in their own way.


Handfasting is a traditional form of marriage once common in parts of Britain and treated as binding by the couple themselves, their families and communities.

In Detail:

Priestess: "At sacred times and places such as this our ancestors clasped hands when they would wed, and such Handfastings were lawful, true and binding, for as long as love should last. Would any couple who would wish to make such vows, or to reaffirm existing vows, witnessed by this gathering, now come forward."

The couple requiring handfasting join hands, and the cord is used to bind them.

Priestess: "As the sun and moon bring light to the Earth, do you Phil and Theo vow to bring the light of love and joy to your union?"

Both: "I do."

Priestess: "And do you vow to honour each other as you honour that which you hold most sacred?"

Both: "I do."

Priestess: "And do you vow to maintain these vows in freedom, for as long as love shall last?"

Both: "I do."

Priest: "Then let the Earth bear witness that Phil and Theo are joined in love and joy and freedom. So let it be!"

All: "So let it be!"

The couple are then encouraged to exchange personal vows of their own:

Both: " In the name of the Triple-Goddess
I pledge you my troth.
For even though our paths may later diverge,
Yet will I always be your true friend,
To love and cherish you through all lifetimes,
Beyond the imaginable reaches of time and knowledge."

All: "So let it be!"

The bond is sealed with a kiss.

Priest: "Let all bear witness that Phil and Theo are joined in love. May their love partake of the beauty, majesty and power of the sacred land, and may they grow together in wisdom, joy and harmony. My own blessing, and the blessings of all those assembled here be with you,"

Priestess: "The blessings of the Gods be with you,"

Priest: "The blessing of the Ancestors be with you"

Priestess: "And with all that flows from your union,"

Priest: "So may it be!"

All: "So may it be!"

Bardic Initiation

This simple form of initiation offers an opportunity to make a commitment to the bardic path and to the spirit of the place. The candidates for initiation gather at the centre of the circle, linking hands to form an outward facing circle of their own, and the Awen is invoked.

The Oath of Peace is sworn, and departed souls honoured.

Those who wish to may say the name or names aloud. Others may make their dedications in silence. A bard may sing a song or play a melody in honour of the departed and for the strengthening of those they leave behind.

The Sharing

Priest and priestess then bless the bread and mead. The bread and mead are brought into the centre of the circle to be blessed by the priest and priestess. While the feast is shared, the eisteddfod begins.

The Eisteddfod

Bards of the Gorsedd are now invited to give offerings of poetry, story or song in honour of the season, of the Earth and of the community.

When the eisteddfod ends, the circle is closed. The Priest and three bards unweave the circle.

Here ends this Gorsedd rite.