Samhain Ritual (Submitted by Alastar)

Preparation: For decorating the altar use gourds, pumpkins, jack 'o lanterns, and orange and black ribbons or streamers. Prepare the altar with the God and Goddess candles and the supplies for casting the circle. Include a water filled cauldron, a 2' x 2' square of thin, veil-like cloth, mugwort and valerian incense, and an assortment of divination tools. Both the Grape Dolly and the Corn Dolly should be dressed in black to appear pregnant. Begin by casting the circle.

Here I am on this night, Samhain, the Day of the Dead, All Hallow's Eve, The Final Harvest, Ancestor's Night, the time of the Thin Veil. I am here to understand life, death, and rebirth, and to give reverence to those who have endured each. In this circle between the veils, I welcome any benevolent spirits who wish to watch or to join me on this special night.

Place the Corn Dolly and Grape Dolly next to each other with their candles close by. Bow your head to think about how Samhain fits in one of the three groups above and how it fits in the Wheel of the Year.

I stand at the gate between the living and the dead on this night when the veil between the two worlds is the thinnest. I am here to witness the death of my God, the Old King, the waning Sun God, the lover and husband of the Crone Goddess. Death. . . a necessary transition on the Wheel of the Year.

Lie down the Grape Dolly and place the thin cloth over it. Extinguish the flame of the God candle. Place the cauldron behind it.

Dead is the beloved Old King, one of the three faces of my god, but he is still forever with me. I watch as the Goddess travels to the thinnest threads of the veil between the worlds.

Place the Corn Dolly near the Grape Dolly, setting it on the cloth, but not touching the Grape Dolly.

Return, beloved Old King. Return!

Hold the Grape Dolly and cloth high. Say:

The Old King wishes to bestow upon us the gift of knowledge. Thus he shall speak. These wise words are his gifts. "Death is a truth as is life, and just as life cannot last forever, neither can death. You shall see me again, reborn, gaining in strength and vibrancy. When it seems that the darkest has come, as the Yuletide fades, under the stars, when it is my time again, you shall see me born. Until then, I invite you to see what I have seen and to learn what I have learned." So mote it be.

Lay the Grape Dolly down on the other side of the cauldron.

The Old King has shown me the way. Now, on this night of Samhain, at this place between the veils, I shall scry to receive the knowledge which I need.

Gaze into the cauldron waters to learn any bits of information which should help you in the seasons to come. After receiving the vision, place a floating incense burner in the center of the cauldron. Light the charcoal and place a little mugwort and valerian on the fire. Watch the smoke to leave open the opportunity for spirit contact.

If any of the visiting spirits or ancestors wish to offer knowledge to me, this is the time to do so. This is the time dedicated to keeping you in our hearts and memories.

Take time to try different divination methods if nothing much happens with the smoke. Let the spirits attempt to contact you though meditation, trance work, hypnosis, automatic writing, crystal ball, tarot, runes, or any other means. You can now conclude the ritual.

I thank you, blessed spirits and ancestors, for joining me on such an occasion. You shall not be forgotten any time soon.

Close the circle. Serve yourself mugwort tea to induce prophetic dreams, apples, cider, cookies shaped as ghosts and skulls, and Cakes for the Dead. Place a little of the food and drink outside for the spirits. You can hang the veil- cloth over the altar until Yule to remind you of how close you are to the other world and to your ancestors. Also leave the pumpkins and gourds on the altar to remind you of this harvesting time.

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