SAMHAIN RITUAL
Third Annual Witches' Ball
at the Unitarian Church in Fort Lauderdale
October 28, 2000
Prepared by Eustacia Blackstar, Circle of the Sun Coven
(email Eustacia)

This ritual is the creative property of the author and
may not be copied or redistributed without permission.

Upon arrival, participants will be given the opportunity to tie
a black ribbon in memory of loved ones, on a memorial wreath.

The ritual begins inside the sanctuary. Participants will
eventually move outside, through the memorial area,
to simulate passing into the Netherworld.

They will emerge into the ritual circle, around the fire.
The ritual circle is arranged with Quarter altars, which
have been seasonally decorated. Quarter teams are
responsible for calling and dismissing the Quarters,
leading the chants, serving participants and lighting
the memorial candles that will be held by each participant.

Music: drums

HP: The Grand Sabbat of Samhain is about to begin. 
Let all those who would attend of their own free will, 
direct their attention this way.  
We ask that you assume a manner of respect and reverence. 
This is a sacred religious occasion.  
We have come to honor the Lord and Lady, 
our beloved ancestors and all those who have come before.  
May all present be here in perfect love and perfect trust. 

We ask you to pay close attention to the Spirit Dancers.  
When they leave the sanctuary follow them outside, 
through the Gates of the Netherworld and into the Circle.

Chant around the Circle, one Quarter at a time,
starting with the South:

They who are remembered, live!

Music:  "This is my Homeland"

Maiden enters Irish step dancing to Irish music.


High Priestess enters.

Maid:                                                                                                                                                                      We come together on this night
To perform an ancient rite,
As our elders did before
Throughout the world, in days of yore.
The season's wheel has turned again.
The harvest's in.  It's summer's end.

HP:
We look back now and look ahead.
We mourn because the Sun God's dead.
Hecate now this time will rule.
The Sun God will return at Yule.
Tonight the New Year celebrates.
The Summerland casts wide its gates.

HPS:
And each of us will know once more
The love of those who've gone before.
For hope to us this promise gives
That they who are remembered lives.

Group: That they who are remembered live.

HP: This is a sacred festival. 
For its fulfillment we have already called forth 
a protective Circle 
to encompass this sanctuary and the entire grounds. 
The Lady and Lord have been invoked and are omnipresent.

It remains to call the Mighty Forces 
for extra protection on this night 
when all manner of entity roams free.

HP:  Let us call the Quarters, starting with the East

East:  Powers of the East wind, Air,
Breathe in us a hope to share
With loved ones who have gone before,
That now we will unite once more.

Group:  So mote it be.

South:  Powers of the South and Fire,
Flame our passions, not our ire.
Guard us.  Guide us on our quest
In this New Year, to be the best.  

Group:  So mote it be

West:  Water and the Western Powers,
Let us know the strength that's ours.
Cleanse our minds that we might be
Free from negativity.

Group:  So mote it be.

North:  Mother Nature, show the way.
Help us keep in mind each day,
Oh, Powers of the North and Earth,
Where there's death, there is rebirth.

Group: So mote it be.

HP:  (hand extended in blessing)
In perfect love and perfect trust 
we celebrate this season!  
In the name of the Cosmic Ones, 
the Lady of the Moon and the Lord of Death 
and all names by which they are known; 
in the names of the Mighty Ones of the Four Quarters, 
blessed be this place and this time, 
and they who are now with us!  
So Mote It Be!

(Quarters read the Samhain Story:)

East
Tonight we celebrate the Grand Sabbat of Samhain
that was the Celtic New Year. Samhain marks the final harvest,
the coming winter, the death of the sun. To our ancestors,
particularly those living in harsher climates,
this was a frightening time.  Food had to be stored
to last through the cold months ahead.
Often the weak would not survive.  An especially bleak
winter could mean the end of the entire community.
Even the sun appeared to leave the sky.



South
Samhain then, was a very important festival,
because it offered hope.  It meant that the harvest
had been successful, and sufficient supplies had been
stocked for the winter.  Fires were lit in honor of the sun,
which our ancestors hoped would be reborn at Yule.

West
And they thought of those who had gone before - those
who had died in the preparation of the food, or the hunt,
or those who had died in past winters. Maintaining this
connection is, and has always been, a very important
affirmation of life itself.

North
Just as our ancestors did long ago, we remember and honor
the dead because they are a part of us.  All those we have
ever known, including our beloved pets, live on in our mannerisms,
turns of speech, values and practices. They comprise the parts
of our being that distinguishes us from others. The traits and
memories that we possess, of those who have gone before, represent
a kind of immortality for them.

HPS:  So we pause and we look back and we give thanks for
those who have made us what we are today.

We hope that some day we too will be remembered, because
we know that "They who are remembered, live."

(HP, HPS and Maiden leave)

Music:  Drums

HPS:  (lights are dimmed.  Voice of the Lady is heard) 
Hear me my children!  I am Inanna the Great Earth Mother.
My consort the Sun King will soon pass into the Netherworld in death.
The way to the Netherworld is perilous. Only the pure and
the dead may pass.  The Spirit Dancers have come to lead you.
As they leave the sanctuary, follow behind them. T
hey will lead you through the gates of the Netherworld
into the great Circle beyond.

Drumming/Chant:  "Spirits" (wearing masks) will dance and
eventually lead participants to pathway through the memorial garden.
(Memorial wreath will be present by pathway.)  Before entering the
pathway, participants will be smudged with sage.
(An arch with the sign "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here"
would be a nice touch.) Participants will emerge on the other
side to form the Circle.

(Exit, Quarters stay behind)

Chant: "We are the walking breath.
        We are the spirits of the earth.
        We are alive and walking.
        Where we are is beautiful."

Music:  Drumming and dancing continues in Circle until the wreath
is ready to be presented.

(When all participants are in place, the two persons who performed
the smudging, will emerge from the path carrying the memorial wreath,
and place it in front of the altar.)

(Quarter Priestesses take their places.
Drumming can be low until HP speaks)

Enter HP and HPS with Maiden

HP:  Witches believe in reincarnation.  
This is the idea that upon death a human soul 
is released from its mortal shell 
and goes into a kind of hibernation 
until reborn into a new body.  
The cycle of reincarnation
continues until that soul becomes "enlightened" 
and can reunite with the Source.  

So while death is a time of sadness 
which we pause to recognize at Samhain, 
it is also a time to rejoice.  
We know that the Wheel continues to turn 
and that the souls of our loved ones 
will come back to life 
just as the Earth is reborn in Spring.  
Let us begin.

HPS:  O mighty forces of earth, air, fire and water,
grant release from pain.  Heal those who remain behind,
in this world. Speed the souls of our deceased loved ones
into the glorious realms of the Gods.

(Maiden lights four quarter candles on altar.)

HPS: Lovely, somber lady of the Samhain Moon, strong and
silent Lord of the Far Realms, be with us here in this time
of loss as we remember those who have gone before.
(Light tall, central candle)

Quarters Chant around the Circle: 
They who are remembered live.

HPS:  Dear friends, you have for a while lost one who is
dear to you. Perhaps it was a revered ancestor or perhaps
you are grieving a more recent loss.  We all on some level
feel your loss, though the pain you suffer can only be imagined.
But know that it is only for a time. Your great sorrow will ease.

There is a reason for being here and a reason for going.

The Summerland, and the places beyond are places warm,
pleasing and beautiful where all ills are gone and youth returns.

So let us find some joy and solace tonight,
for the ones who are gone from here have found true joy at last.

(Start passing candles)

HP: We of the Old Ways 
know that when a death takes place 
the soul returns again to earth.  
This has been a tenet of loving faith 
taught since long before history began.  
It is said in our lore:  
"Arrayed in some new flesh disguise 
another mother gives birth. 
With sturdier limbs and brighter brain, 
the old soul takes the road again."

(Light candles, starting from High Altar to Quarters)

HP: Now stand in silent contemplation 
as the Quarters light the candles 
that our deceased loved ones 
may find us once again.

(Light the 200 candles)

Music: Drums (low)

All sing:  "We All Come From the Goddess"

HP: (After all candles are lit.)  (Slowly)
Gaze softly into the light.
Visualize this Circle 
and where you stand right now, 
as filled with shimmering white light.  
It sparkles and dances 
with life and magic. 
Feel it around you warming the skin; 
energizing your spirit. 
Let this power wash away any sadness 
and replace it with peace.  

Now envision the form 
of one lost to you.  
This is not an earthly form 
but a spiritual essence.  
The form moves toward you slowly 
as it enters the Circle.  
Sense this spirit 
as it mingles with your own. 
Know that you are once again 
in communion with loved ones.  

(long pause here)

(Maiden, now dressed as Spirit, in a long white gown,
carries a basket filled with dead leaves, that she
strews on the ground around the circle.)

(Another Spirit may smudge the circle.
"Deep Peace" is played on tape.)

HPS:  Let us not cling to mourning,
      Do not stand on the grave and weep.
      They are not there.  They do not sleep.
      They are a thousand winds that blow.
      They are the diamond glints on the snow.
      They are the sunlight opened grain.
      They are the gentle autumn's rain
         
      When you awaken in the morning's hush
      They are the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds
         in circled flight.
      They are the soft stars that shine at night.
      Do not stand on the grave and cry.
      They are not there.  They did not die

HP: Now Dear Ones,
    let your spirits rest and refresh.   
    And when the time comes, 
    return to the earth 
    in a new, healthy body 
    that will allow your quest for union 
    with the Mighty Ones to continue. 
    Farewell for now.  
    We will soon meet again. 

(Extinguish candles.)

(Cups are distributed.)

Cakes and Ale are passed.  Drumming Continues

HP:  (When all are served) 
I propose a toast to the gracious and lovely Lady.

HPS: And to the strong, laughing and hearty God.  Blessed Be!

HPS: We take this moment now to remember one of our own.
A member of our group left this earth quite unexpectedly
this past month.  Her ashes have been present on the altar
for the Sabbat.  As was her wish we will dispose of them
tonight in a manner fitting and appropriate.

HP:  (gives a few appropriate remarks about Andrea,
then with great care and attention, places the ashes in the fire.)
Release her spirit!

(Memorial Wreath may be thrown into the fire by HPS.
Make sign of the pentagram. Blessed Be!)

HPS: Great Lord and Lady, we commit our loved ones
into your gentle care. Guard and guide these souls
until one day we can meet and know and remember and
love them again. Help those of us here who grieve,
to know that he who is remembered lives. So mote it be!

HP:  We have come together in love and peace.  
As we open the Circle, 
let us depart the same way.

We know that all there is, 
is love 
and in every moment there is wisdom.
Let us salute the Quarters:

(Quarters are dismissed as they were called.)

East:  Powers of the East and Air,
       we thank you for joining our Circle.
       We ask your blessings as you part.
       May there be peace between us, now and forever.

All:  Hail and farewell!

South:  Powers of the South and Fire,
        we thank you for joining our Circle.
        We ask your blessings as you part.
        May there be peace between us, now and forever.

All:  Hail and farewell!

West:  Powers of the West and Water,
       we thank you for joining our Circle.
       We ask your blessings as you part.
       May there be peace between us, now and forever.

All:  Hail and farewell!

North:  Powers of the North and Earth,
        we thank you for joining our Circle.
        We ask your blessings as you part.
        May there be peace between us, now and forever.

All:  Hail and farewell!


HPS: Lord of the Summerland, Lady of New Beginnings,
we thank you for joining our Circle.  We ask you blessings
and guidance in this New Year. As we depart tonight, may we
take the first step on the path toward our highest and best
calling, in the certain knowledge that you are ever with us.

Star sings

HP:  This Circle is Open but unbroken. Merry Meet.
Merry Part. Merry Meet Again.
Blessed Be!

Let there be drumming!  Let there be dancing!


***************************************

Main Ritual - Blocking Script

(What moves where and when)


Memorial Wreath is on Patio

Remembrance candles are already burning in Memorial Garden

11:30 PM:  DeeJay Music Stops

Costume awards are presented.

Memorial wreath moved to path.

Drumming begins in sanctuary

HP announces Ritual

Quarter teams do circular "He who is remembered, lives" chant.

Euistacia & Star Sing: "This is my Homeland."

Maiden enters and dances.  Tape: Irish music.

HPS enters

Maiden, HP, HPS explain season

Quarters are called.

Quarters read Samhain Story

Lights dim. Drumming begins - HP, HPS Maiden leave.

HPS does Voice of Lady

Spirits enter and lead participants out rear door, past wreath. 

Smudgers stand at arch.

Some drummers slip out front door and move to Circle.
HP & HPS move to Circle.

Participants continue through Memorial Garden and to Circle.

Smudgers carry wreath into Circle and place it in front of altar.

Spirits dance around Circle.

HP & HPS & Maiden Enter Circle

Quarters Chant around Circle

Ritual Continues.

200 candles are passed you.

Candles are lit.

Tape: "Deep Peace."

Participants come forward and place them on quarter altars.

Cups, cakes and ale are distributed.

Toast

Cups are collected

Ashes thrown into fire

Wreath thrown into fire.

Quarters are dismissed.

Star sings!!

Circle is open, Drummers drum, spirits dance.

Props:

Horns,  Staff
Wreath on Easel, Black Ribbons
Ashes 
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