Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Ritual for Samhain

No. 7 in my series on real Folk Witchery.

The old Celtic name for Halloween is Samhain (pronounced Sow-in), this festival was so important to our Pagan ancestors that the christians were obliged to take it over and rename it All Hallows Eve which shortened to Halloween.
     First I will just say that this festival is a season rather than a single day as so its celebration can be timed either to the date, 31st October, to the nearest Full Moon (known as the Hunter's Moon and this year on the 6th of November) or to Old Halloween 11th November, or any day between new and old Halloween.
     Also of all the festivals, if you can hold it out of doors, it does add to the magic and mystery of the occasion. And if you can safely make a fire of 13 sacred woods, this will be the centre piece of your celebration.
     If you are holding your ritual indoors then try to make a special incense using shavings of 13 different varieties of wood. You may be surprised how many different sorts of trees and shrubs there are.
     You will also need a sprig of rosemary (available at most supermarkets) a small glass of wine, cold tea or fruit juice, and some good quality biscuits. These can be made by you or bought, but make sure there are enough for everyone present to have one, and one left over.
     I shall write this ritual as if it will be just you alone inside doing it, but feel free to adapt, add or take out bits to suit your needs or beliefs.

     First cast your circle and have some of your special incense burning. Take your time, be thorough, this is not a race.
     Consecrate salt and water.
     Now while facing towards the North, hold your arms out and up so that they curve like the curve of the crescent moon (this is the standard pose for invoking any deity or spirit in a Witch's circle) and say:
"Boreas, guardian of the Northern gates, 
open the way for the Lord and Lady of Witchdom to enter this circle 
and be with me at the Holy rite of Samhain."

     Now wait quietly and imagine your God and Goddess coming towards you from the North. If you have names for these deities, you can use them in the invocation.
     You may feel the temperature rise at this point.
     Now take up the consecrated water and dip your index finger into it, and use this to draw a five point star in the middle of your forehead. You can do this also to anyone else present and as you do so say:
"I bless [magical name] in the names of the Lord and Lady, Blessed Be!"

     It is now traditional to do some magic, a spell or divination. When that is complete say:
"And now it is the time to welcome and remember the dead."

     Dip the rosemary in the consecrated water and use this to sprinkle around your circle and say:
"May this place be welcoming to the spirits of Witchdom, 
and to those who have gone before."

     Break off a few leaves of rosemary and drop them into your incense burner and say:
"I remember [name(s)] merry meet, merry part and merry meet again!"

     Next we are going to bless your cakes and wine. For this part you can use either your Athame, wand or the index and middle fingers of your strongest hand. Point at the plate of biscuits and say:
"I conjure thee, O Meal, thou who art indeed our body,
 for without thee we could not live.
Thou who first was seed and grew in the body of the Earth Goddess, 
growing tall and strong and yet were cut down in thy prime, 
dried and ground so that through your sacrifice we could live and flourish. 
Blessings be upon thee, and upon all who partake of thee. Blessed Be!"

Now point at your goblet of drink in the same way and say:
"I conjure thee, O Wine, thou who art indeed the blood of the Goddess, 
drawn forth from the dark earth and spreading through the fruits and vines. 
As we drink of thee we remember again the old ways and the ancient rites. 
Blessings be upon thee and upon all who partake of thee. Blessed Be!"

     And now you should sit in your circle and enjoy the atmosphere, eat a biscuit and drink some of the wine or fruit juice. Remember to save some of each as these will be an offering for you to take outside after the rite, leave it under a tree or bush as an offering to the spirits.

    When you are ready to end your ritual, go to your altar, face north and stand again with your arms outstretched like the horns of the moon, and say:
"Lord and Lady and all the spirits of Witchdom, 
those who have gone before and those who are yet to be, 
I salute you all in love and friendship 
and thank you for attending my Samhain rite. 
Stay if you will until dawn lights the sky, 
and then return to your proper place in peace. 
So shall it be."

     You can now leave your circle and take the offerings outside.


For lots more information on Samhain and folk magical traditions surrounding Samhain and Halloween see:
A Folk Witchery Book of Halloween by Chris Sempers and Graham Raven £3.95
Lesson 1 Raven Wicca Course (which includes the festival of Samhain) £2.95
The conjurations used for the cakes and wine are based on some from the book Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches by C G Leland, edited by C P Sempers £4.95
all available from Raven, 17 Melton Fields, Brickyard Lane, North Ferriby, East Yorkshire HU14 3HE

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