There are three great gates that are central to Druid rites: The Well is the Deep Gate, The Fire is the Bright Gate, The Tree is the All-Reaching Gate.
The Well connects us to the powers below, to the currents flowing under the ground that are the blood of the Earth. These are cool, dark, silvery and rise up through our feet. The bones of our ancestors are the stones that wall the sides of the Well, creating a tunnel into the great pools of forgotten knowledge and memories, guiding us as we remember all that we were, all that we are and all that we will be. This is where the World Tree is rooted, with each of its three main roots fed by a well.
The first is the Well of Hvergelmir in the North, and it is the home of the deepest root, the most ancient one. Here is the source of the primal waters of life and death. This water is unbearably cold and filled with a yeasty venom. Yet it feeds all rivers. Ancient serpents dwell here, feasting on the root, but the Tree is strong.
Next is the Well of Weird where three women of the elder races take care of the tree, healing and renewing it by sprinkling the waters of their well, maintaining the pattern of the universe. They came when the gods were still young and carefree, putting into motion the forces of destiny, the flow of time and the laws that shape our world as well as our actions. These three women are called the Norns, and acting on their behalf are all the lesser norns of various races that preside over every birth, marking the paths available to each being. They know the meaning and purpose of each life, as they are the weavers that make patterns out of chaos. Even the gods cannot overrule them, but with cunning, one can find different ways to satisfy destiny.
Last is the Well of Mimir. Here is kept the store of all knowledge, wisdom and power. Everything it contains is available, for those willing to pay his price. Many are the goddesses and gods who made sacrifice here to attain their powers and attributes. They gave of themselves and were made sacred by their offering. This is the well of all possibilities. Here we can become anything we desire, and the price is action. We must give up what we were, sacrifice our life, and then continue living as a different person, with different duties and abilities. The Well of Wishes then becomes the Well of Memory.
Hearth Fire is the power of transformation that created life out of the substance of the primal waters. It is the primal fire, the essence of change and the spark of life. Just as the waters quench our thirst and make up most of our body, it is the fire that feeds us, fuels and animates us. It cooks our food, extracts the essence of food while discarding the chaff through digestion. Again it acts in turning this reserve as fuel for action.
Sacrificial Fire is the gate through which we feed the goddesses and gods. To sacrifice is to make sacred (in Latin sacri fere). Fire releases the essence of the foods we give to the deities, brings it to their world and sanctifies our relationship with them. It is the vessel of hospitality that cements friendship and entitles us to ask for a return gift. Fire creates a crossroad, a meeting place where we can show respect, good manners, and trade for what we need.
Then there is the Wild Fire, the destroyer that consumes and leaves only ashes. It is also the purifier that removes impurities. It is the rising smoke of the smudge stick that cleanses one of barriers and blockages, and made ready to approach sacred space with focused intent. This is the fire that will end the world when the time comes, so that it may be born again from its ashes, rising like the phoenix.
The Tree reaches everywhere, either with roots or with branches, and the trunk lies at the center of the universe. This center is not a physical place you can get to, it is a state that we define. Every time we do a Druid ritual, we make our space sacred by making it the center of everything.. From there, we can reach all worlds and all beings, we can ride the Tree to wherever we choose.
It grew between the primal waters and the primal fire, spanning the great gap that separated them, giving structure to the world as well as diversity. It is life, giving food as it is fed. The Tree is our home and our parent.
On top of the Tree sits the Eagle of the Winds, and between his eyes is perched the watchful hawk. Below is a great serpent that gnaws at the roots, and along the trunk runs a squirrel bearing messages.
On the roof of a hall, a stag eats at the limbs of the Tree and from his antlers water drips down into the well of Hvergelmir. On the roof of a hall, a she-goat eats at the limbs of the Tree and from her udders flows the mead, holiest drink of the gods and goddesses, which they share with the mighty ones among the dead who dwell with them.
Questions to Consider
What kind of well is most commonly used in ritual ? Why? In what ways can the other wells be used?
What are the nine fires? Which are the major ones?
What kinds of fire can we use in ritual, and how?
How does fire work?
If each well and fire were a person, how would they act? Describe them and the way you would Imagine they would look, or write little stories about them.
What do you think is outside of the reach of the Tree?
Compare the Tree with the concept of supreme deities. What they do, their attributes, etc. Be specific in what this supreme being ought to be doing.
What are the functions of the different parts of the Tree? Be sure to talk of the leaves.
What are the rings of growth? (The ones you can see on a tree that has been cut.)
Assume that space, time and identity, (or meaning), are the three coordinates that can describe anything. What do they correspond to?
It is not always possible to do ritual with a real tree, a well and a bonfire. Give as many examples as you can of creative replacements.