One of the things that sets ADF’s form of ritual apart from the average Wiccan ritual is that we do not cast circles, or the call quarters. In Wicca, as I understand it, the circle is cast to hold energy in, as well as to keep certain influences out. The quarters are called as a way to re-create the cosmos and acknowledge the elements that are part of all life.
We in ADF do indeed re-create the cosmos, but in a different manner. Instead of the directions, we call the three worlds and Kindreds. We light the fire, honor the well, and acknowledge the Axis Mundi. We do not cast a circle because we do not wish to keep anyone out, and do not need to keep anything in.
Every ritual includes the Axis Mundi for several rather important reasons. The Axis Mundi is the center of the world for the space and time of the ritual, and as the center it becomes sacred space around which all others revolve. It is usually represented as a tree, but can also be viewed as a mountain, or pillar. I have done a Hellenic ritual that used a stone as the omphalos, or navel of the world.
The advantage of living on a globe is that every spot on the surface of the Earth can be declared the center of that surface, with all truthfulness and honesty. There is nothing wrong with declaring several places at once as the center of the surface of the world when you’re on a globe. We can see this in how the ancient Greeks declared the center to be in Delphi, while at the same time having a sacred cosmic tree1 as well as Mount Olympus as centers of the cosmos. Any space can be declared sacred, and in the end there are no off-limits, outside of the local laws, or no-trespassing signs.
This is something I love about our ritual form. Being married to a man who studies the universe as a profession, I see the big bang slowly expanding out from a center, while there is no center to the universe, but everywhere is the center, reflected in how we establish the sacred space for our rite.
We use the Axis Mundi as a connecter to the underworld, upper world, and to this space we inhabit. It becomes a doorway in which we can cast our voice and call to the Kindreds. This is not an action to be taken by oneself! This is why we call a gate keeper to help in the effort it takes to create that bridge. We set our altar, and the fire that burns on it, on the strong back of Mother Earth. She upholds our actions, just as the fire carries our prayers. The well, which waters the tree, acts as a gate to the dark underworld, but it is the Axis that connects them all.
Some traditions view the human body as the Axis Mundi. This can be seen in some forms of Tai Chi and Yoga. The Chakra system that many have borrowed for their magick workings from Hinduism is a type of human-body Axis Mundi2. Is it any wonder that the Buddha gained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree? Or that in the Old Testament, Jacob met God next to a ladder that was itself an Axis Mundi?3 The Axis connects us to everything, and everything to us.
2.Mircea Eliade (tr. Philip Mairet). 'Indian Symbolisms of Time and Eternity' in Images and Symbols." Princeton, 1991. p.76