The New Moon rite is at the core of the Hearth Keepers shared practice. While keeping your hearth is largely a personal endeavour, the New Moon rite is what connects all of the folk who have aligned their practice in some way with the shared hearthfire of ADF and its Hearth Keepers.
This does not mean that every Hearth’s practice is identical, nor does it mean that one’s sole commitment is to the Hearth Keepers Way, or even to Ár nDraíocht Féin. What it does mean is that we join in worship with others who have chosen to do so, at our hearths, once a month. We define the new moon as the first light, and while it is encouraged to actually see the new moon, a good guideline is to hold your rite on the second day after the astronomical new moon.
In the Hearth Keepers Way book, there are examples of liturgies and rites which Hearth Keepers can use in their practice, but they are not necessary. All that is required is that the essence of the essential parts are included. What this means is that your rite can take any form, using any words, so long as it includes certain essential practices.
“Often, the parts listed as [Hearth Keeper Essential] are important because they directly relate to the purpose of the rite, but also because they are cornerstones of the shared practice that the Hearth Keepers Way has. As our Hearths across the globe maintain the same practice, we are joined across time and space by the fellowship of this shared ritual work.”The Hearth Keepers Way, p. 48
So what is essential? Declaring that we are connected to the other hearths of ADF, honouring the Hearth Deity, acknowledging the time of the New Moon, offering to the Allies of our Hearth, and blessing the other Hearths and Hearth Keepers (which may include reaffirming our oaths).
The example New Moon rite in the book, written by me, was thought to be too formal for some people, and that is perfectly fine. Even at my own hearth, the rite performed with only my husband and myself looks vastly different to when it is a meal rite with our two year old son, who tries to eat the offerings and sings to the Earth Mother and insists on censing himself over and over again.
I see a value in having the same practices as others, and feel that it is especially valuable for solitaries, or for folks who want more shared practice than what their local groups provide, or for people who want to connect with the wider membership of ADF, or even for a new form of connection in this time of physical distancing.
When we state our connection to the other hearths, and to the ADF Unity Flame, it is a bright fire in my heart. This is why I do this practice — for connection and for solidarity. I may not personally know all of the other people who are engaging in this work with me, families and individuals from many situations, but I know that we at least have this one shared goal: to bless each other in our work, and join in a common but individual fellowship once a month, under the same moon.