A Basic Framework for a Samhain Sabbat
The purpose of this post is to provide a basic framework for someone to be able to do a Samhain rite. Since this is providing guidelines, you will have to fill in a few blanks and incorporate whatever learning you’ve accrued over the years. The post ends with a few authors to check out.
Technically Samhain is November 1st. You could also perform a Samhain rite on the astrological Samhain, when the sun reaches 15 degrees Scorpio (this is November 6th for 2015).
Prepare an altar with your magical tools and fetishes (objects that seem to have an inherent magic to them). This is a passive way of consecrating items, by having them be present during a ritual. There could be bones, possibly idols of deities related to this Sabbat, candles, a censer and Samhain incense, maybe flowers picked from around your neighborhood. Along the side of the altar there should be food for a feast.
Many of the first steps for this ritual framework are to get you in the “space” of ritual and connected with the idea that you are empowered because of your connection with the greater macrocosm and your ability to be clear of external influences.
Getting Into Your Body
1. Chakra chants can be used to get in our bodies. We’re looking to embody certain forms of consciousness, and to do that you need to disembody, but to do that it’s good to be in your body first. Check out the chakra tones and explanation here. For more info about the person behind this website, connect with Orryelle Defenestrate Bascule.
- Crown Chakra ‘Sahasrara’ – Sound: NNGG
- 3rd Eye Chakra ‘Ajna’ – Sound: MMMM
- Throat Chakra ‘Vissuha’ – Sound: EEEE
- Heart Chakra ‘Anahata’ – Sound: AAYYY
- Solar Plexus Chakra ‘Manipura’ – Sound: AAAHHH
- Navel Chakra ‘Svadisthana’ – Sound: OOOHH
- Base Chakra ‘Muladhara – Sound: OMMM
2. Pranayama – Use a Pan Bija vibration of “Ha”. Quoting Aion 131 in his book, The Book of the Horned One, “This “non-word” vibration is uttered NOT as a phoneme (i.e. not pronounced) but as the first exhalation of new life, the last exhalation of Death, and the release of Orgasm.” Do this in circle for about 3-5 minutes and end with the traditional sign of silence (finger to lips).
Acknowledge the Land
If your doing this outside, this can be a good way to acknowledge the land you are living in. (Thanks to Marcus McCoy for this one). Someone should state the following, and a short three minute meditation follows where everyone just stop and listen to the sounds around them:
I supplicate and invoke
The spirit of the unseen lands
that we now walk upon
invisible of earth and sky and the immense regions below,
glory of the Ancient and Eternal
Hear us and
let these words echo above and below
We will share our blood and spirit with you
We will be kind and grateful to you,
Lords of the Land, be kind to us
So be it
Candles are now lit.
Casting the Circle
There are a lot of ways to do this. I have my own ways from certain traditions. Here is one from Gardner, who was instrumental in bringing paganism and wiccan tradition to public attention. Some people think it’s bad to change the words, but I personally think it’s best to feel comfortable with what you’re saying, so edit away! You can say the following while making (and imagining) a circle that you are creating with your magical dagger (athame):
I conjure thee, O Circle of Power, that thou be a Boundary and a Protection and a meeting place between the world of men and the realms of the Mighty Ones, A Guardian and a Protection that shall preserve and contain the Power which we shall raise within thee, Wherefore do I Bless and Consecrate thee.
The Words of Opening
Chant/intone the Words of Opening (from Greek Eleusynian Mysteries, and nothing to do with Chronzon 😛 ):
Hekas Hekas Este Beleloi
Zazas Zazas Nasatanada Zazas
Proto Eos Mii
Nama Weica Aster
Nama Hekau Ashemu Sek
(Be ye far from here all ye profane.
Ye Gates of the Hidden One be Open.
For I am Witness to the Dawn of my own Light.)
(Hail to the Star of Wisdom!
Hail to the Spells of the Imperishable Stars!)
It is customary to do exorcisms of the elements. Again, I’m taking from Gardner:
Consecrate Salt and Water: Touch water with Athame, saying, “I exorcise thee, O creature of Water, that thou cast out from Thee all the impurities and uncleannesses of the Spirits of the World of Phantasm, so they may harm me not, in the names of Aradia and Cernunnos.”
Touching Salt with Athame, say, “The Blessings of Aradia and Cernunnos be upon this creature of Salt, and let all malignity and hindrance be cast forth hencefrom, and let all good enter herein, for without Thee man cannot live, wherefore I bless thee and invoke thee, that thou mayest aid me.”
Then put the Salt into the water.
Sprinkle with exorcised water.
Light candles; say, “I exorcise thee, O Creature of Fire, that every kind of Phantasm may retire from thee, and be unable to harm or deceive in any way, in the names of Aradia and Cernunnos.”
Calling the Directions
All hail the Watchtower of the (East, South, West, North).
The Element of (Air, Fire, Water, Earth) [respective to above i.e. Air is East, Fire is South, etc]
I do summon and call you forth
To guard and protect this Circle.
(When you feel the Elemental answer the call say)
(Draw an upright Pentagram in the air toward the direction you’ve just called, and light the Quarter Candle. Draw the pentagram starting with lower left point up to top of pentagram).
Invocation of a Deity
This section is for people who want to an invoke a deity. Some deities/death personificaitons that I associate with Samhain are Hekate, Cernunnos, Cerridwen, Lilith, Baron Samedhi, Santo Muerto.
The following is an invocation of Hekate, guardian of the Gates and Guide to the Underworld.
There are innumerable invocations. Here’s one from the Hymns of Orpheus that I’ve adapted slightly:
I invoke you beloved Hekate of the Crossroads and the Three Ways,
Saffron Cloaked Goddess of the Heavens
The Underworld and the Sea
Tomb frequenter, wild mysteries with the Souls of the Dead
Daughter of Perses, Lover of the Wilderness who exults among the Deer,
Nightgoing One, Protectress of dogs, Unconquerable Queen
Beast Roarer, Wild One of the compelling countenance Tauropolos
Key Holding Mistress of the Whole World
Ruler, Nymph, Mountain Wandering Nurturer of Youth
Maiden, Mother, Crone, I beg you to be present at this Sacred Rite
Ever with a glad heart and gracious to us…
A good idea is to chant her names. She has many names: Hekate, Antaia, Nykteria, Propolos, Enodia, Brimo, Propolos. You could pick three of her names and chant them three times each.
And now some Words for Samhain. These come from a ritual I did a few years ago with my friend Dharma, and I do not remember the original source (perhaps she can tell me?). When I find it I will edit this post and add it in.
The Circle is Cast from where we stand
Our hearts reach out with love and honor
To the first and the last, heavens and lands,
Here, now, before, and forever
We reach beyond the veil to offer remembrance and praise
For the old one of days, to the lords and ladies of eternal night
To death, rebirth, and renewal,
To the webs of blood, friendship, and the divine
That bind, inspire, form, and create us
We shine, from our souls through the dark and the pale
In gratitude and sincerity, from this moment, in this place
We fear not death’s embrace, but go willingly to the arms of eternity
Where we find our beloved dead and gods, in peace
And dark serenity
From the otherworldly palaces of your abode, we bid you welcome and hale,
(light candles in altar of dead)
This is Samhain, Ancestor Night, The Feast of the Dead, the night of the wheel-turning year that brings us to the Thin veil.
The veil is tenuous, but we would part it completely that we may directly connect our love, respect, praise, honor, and thanks to the spirits of our beloved dead and ancestors. Now we rend the veil.
The gates between the worlds stand open this night. The footsteps of my ancestors rustle in the fallen leaves and on wild currents of secret breezes carried from the netherwolrd. The whispering winds carry their voices to me. All those who have loved and made me, watched over me, paved my way, and wished me well from the other side are welcomed within this circle.
Next, everyone takes what they have written down prior, their prayers, hopes and wishes for this season, and burns them in a cauldron (or pot or iron bowl or whatever). The ash is offered to the ancestors, as our lives come from them and our greatest form of thanks is to make the greatest use of our lives towards our greatest conception of personal and worldly progress. The ash can be rubbed over faces and bodies to create an acknowledgment of the ephemeral nature of our lives and will and desire, and that that we ourselves are on the road that leads towards Death.
Another idea for this is to do a guided underworld meditation. See this article: Hekate in the Underworld Pathworking
One interesting tradition here is the Silent or “Dumb” Supper. A feast for the dead. This link goes to a very ugly page but it is still informative: The Dumb Supper – A Feast With the Dead
Another way is shown below:
Place a plate of food wine on a pentacle or a large plate with a pentagram drawn/painted/etched on it. Say
This is Samhain, Ancestor Night, the Feast of the Dead. The Veil has been lifted that we may know that we are not forgotten, that we may hear the voices of our ancestors of blood and spirit, and that they may know that they are not forgotten but living in our hearts and hopes. All those who have loved me and made me, watched over me, paved my way, and wished me well from the other side are welcomed within this circle.
Take the plate of bread and salt and hold it up before you, say:
May we always enjoy good luck and health, prosperity, and plenty in the sights, grace, and honor of the spirits of our beloved and departed or separated ancestors, friends, and familiar Gods. May your congress bring joy and success to all!
Then partake in the Feast of Samhain. Make the rounds with the wine, sharing stories of your personal dead and honoring your ancestors with stories and celebration of those that have passed. This should be an uplifting time, about celebration and honoring, not sadness, though obviously sadness is wrapped up in death.
Music relating to Death could be good. Dancing might be good.
There is something called the Declaration of Giving that comes from Robin Artisson’s book, Witching Way of the Hollow Hill. I personally am not a fan of the first theoretical half of the book, but I like the practical, ritual second half very much:
The bowl with the remainder of the bread and wine should be held up by one person, and then all say the following words:
“As some is taken, so is this given
By the sons and daughters of the family of the Old Faith
I give it to the Ground
I give it to the Pale People below
That above and below will become one
For what is taken is truly given
And what is given is truly taken
The day and night are wed
As the living and the dead.
Here is shown a mystery.”
Then the bread and wine are sacrificed to the ground.
Close the Circle
There are many ways to do this. Here is a way:
Depart in peace, O Powers of Air. Many thanks and blessings.
Extinguish southern candle and say:
Depart in peace, O Powers of Fire. Many thanks and blessings.
Extinguish western candle and say:
Depart in peace, O Powers of Water. Many thanks and blessings.
Extinguish northern candle and say:
Depart in peace, O Powers of Earth. Many thanks and blessings.
Return to the altar, raise arms and say:
To all beings and powers of the visible and invisible, you are free to depart in peace.
May there always be harmony between us.
We extend our most sincere thanks and blessings to our Ancestors, Friends, Gods, and Guides from the realms beyond the Veil, and we now allow the Veil to close.
Clap to cut the circle and end the ritual, and say:
The circle is now closed.
Some Authors to Check Out:
I’m sitting here at Edge of the Circle, a Witchcraft supply shop in Seattle’s Capitol Hill where I read tarot, and what follows, in alphabetical order, is a list of authors on Witchcraft based on some conversations I’ve had today with people working here in the store and my own experience – linking to their works, interviews, or wiki descriptions. Worth checking out!
Robin Artison – Witchcraft Folklorist
Andrew Chumbley – Cultus Sabbati
Robert Cochrane – Clan of Tubal Cain
Sorita d’Este – Hekate devotee and author/publisher
Gerald Gardner – Gardnerian Wicca
Michael Howard – Traditional Witchcraft
Paul Huson – Wrote the seminal Mastering Witchcraft
Judika Illes – Element Encyclopaedia of Witchcraft
Daniel Schulke (links to his book Viridarium Umbris) – wortcunning master
Starhawk – “a theorist of feminist Neopaganism and ecofeminism”
For teens and people wanting to start out, these might be okay:
Raymond Buckland (I got my start as a teen with his Complete Book of Witchcraft)
Silver RavenWolfe (adding her here for her Solitary Witch book)