|Resources, Tables & Information: Moon Calendar | Table of Songs and Festivals | Next Great Festival|
Samhain, Year's Turning, is the greatest, and darkest, of the ancient Celtic Fire Festivals. This is the night when the dead walk, when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, and when magic and power reach their peak. It is the turning point from Autumn to Winter, a time when those animals whichm couldn't be fed through the winter would be slaughtered, when the fading warmth of Autumn gave way to the bitter cold, when darkenss really began to overwhelm light during the day.
The focus of Samhain is still death, and the underworld. Now is the time to take stock of the past year, to clear debts and put afairs in order, to remember the fallen, and to give thanks for whatever bounty and harvest we have managed to put in store to see us through the long dark months ahead. Now is also the time for feasting, for consuming that which cannot be preserved through the dark, and for celebrating the dark side of the Gods' natures. Never forget that the old gods had their grim, dark and brooding aspects as well as their fairness and light. Fey and deadly can the Goddess be, when the dark mood takes her.
A Simple Samhain Rite
Note, this is a simple outline suggestion. The wording of each of the actual invocations and chants is left entirly up to those performing the ritual - we would suggest you gather together in advance and work these out in a form that you find both meaningful and beautiful. Remember, this is the work of the Gods, so you should put both your head and your soul into it! Don't worry, though, if elaborate poetry or fancy phrasing is not your thing - a simple yet pure rite is every bit as beautiful as a complex and elaborate one requiring dozens of participants and a small orchestra for backing. It's also less likely to go wrong!
First, chose a place where you feel at home and won't be disturbed. Each participant should bring some food and drink, plus things like candles, incense, any ritual tools you want to use, etc. Traditionally, you should have some earth, or stone, for the North, incense for the East, a candle or small fire of twigs in a little pot for the South, and a bowl of water for the East. At Samhain, it is traditional to lay extra places for the souls of the lost.
Casting the Circle
Then, cast your circle. Invoke each of the quarters, North, East, South and West, all the while visualising the circle forming about you, creating a little bit of "sacred space" for you to work in.
Calling to the God and Goddess
Once the circle is complete, call to the God and Goddess to come and join you.
At this point, you've done the "basics", you've created your circle, and invoked the powers and gods, now you need to celebrate the actual festival itself. Samhain is a dark time, with bitter cold just around the corner and death rattling in the fallen leaves on the west wind. Rituals at Samhain are often deep and somber, with much store placed on meditation. If you have the facilities, spending all night in some remote place, ready to greet the first light of the first day of winter, and spending the dark hours in contemplation of the eternal cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth, is a good way to celebrate Samhain.
The Simple Feast
Samhain food should be simple yet hearty, and an offering to the wild places at this time of year is always a good idea.
Opening the Circle
Once feast is done, stand up and gather again, and then open the circle, blessing and thanking the God, Goddess, and the powers of the four elements for being there and helping.
On through the night!
Keeping a fire burning through the night, in honour and rememberance of the fallen and the lost, is a good way to focus on the mortal aspects of Samhain, as are fireworks and music. Do not be afraid to sing and dance, for in all things, even death, there is beauty.
Now Death has come, and Death has kissed
From the West, comes old Death
Though the kings and the queens and the generals
Main Circle Page