Samhain, one of the most important days in the Wiccan calendar, is observed on October 31st. Many of those who practice Wicca celebrate this holiday with a ritual. Wiccan rituals are many and varied, and can and should be adapted to the personal tastes of the participants. It is best to see a written ritual as a suggestion, and not a firm rule. The ritual presented here can easily be adapted for either solitary or group practice.
Many Wiccans enjoy having each step of the ritual reflect the current season. In regards to Samhain, this means adapting each step to reflect a time of year that focuses on the dead and worships the Goddess in her guise as the Wise One.
Cleansing the Ritual Site for Samhain
The space used for the Samhain ritual should be physically clean. In addition, it should be cleansed ritually, so that negative energy can be eliminated. At Samhain, this can be done using a jack-o-lantern with a lit candle. Fire is believed to be as purifying as water, so carry the jack-o-lantern around the ritual site.
At the same time, feel the ritual space become charged with positive energy, expelling the negative. Some Wiccans like to chant, perhaps something like, "As the fire burns and purifies, so does it cleanse this place."
A Samhain Circle Casting
Most Wiccan rites use either the athame or the wand to cast the circle. In the case of this particular Samhain ritual, the athame will be used. It should be decorated before the ritual to reflect the season. Red, orange, and black ribbon will suffice.
The practice of casting a circle is more a visualization than anything. Take the athame and, starting in the east, slowly draw a clockwise circle along the outer edge of the ritual area, visualizing a soft blue light glowing at the edge of the circle. This forms the edge of the ritual space.
If one desires to chant while drawing the circle, the following can be used: "With this blade, sacred space is cut between the Realm of the Dead and the Realm of the Living."
Inviting the Goddess and the God at Samhain
Wicca focuses very strongly on a personal connection to the divine, so it makes sense that the divine, the God and the Goddess, would be called upon during rituals. At Samhain, the presence of the Goddess and the God is mostly ceremonial, though this isn’t always the case.
Invoking the God is done by allowing the presence of the God, in the aspect of the Lord of the Wild Hunt, to flow down from the sky and into oneself. This is sometimes accompanied by a chant, like: "Lord of the Wild Hunt, Master of Samhain, come down to this sacred space, and feel welcome."
Invoking the Goddess is done by allowing the presence of the Goddess, in the aspect of the Wise One, to flow up from the earth and into oneself. This is sometimes accompanied by a chant, such as this: "Wise One, Mistress of Samhain, come down to this sacred space, and feel welcome."
Samhain Ritual Work
There are many options available for those who wish to ritually celebrate Samhain. Some groups and individuals prefer to mark this part of their ritual with a story or reenactment. Others prefer a dance, such as the Ronde of the Dead. Perhaps this is a good time for the selection of a Winter King and Queen – the possibilities are endless.
Regardless of what method is chosen to celebrate Samhain, it is a good idea to share the meaning of Samhain with all participants. It serves as a lesson for those who are unfamiliar with the lore of Samhain, and a reminder for those who are familiar with Wiccan tradition.
The Feast of Samhain
All participants gather at a feast table that has been previously arranged. Each participant prepares a plate to be placed on the ancestral altar. This is the Dumb Supper, a tribute to the dead. All participants may then enjoy the feast.
Closing the Samhain Ritual
Even the most sacred of occasions must come to an end. The closing out of most Wiccan rituals is simply a reverse of what was done in the first place. One may bid farewell to the Goddess and the God simply by allowing Their essence to flow back to where it came. A chant may be used, like: "Wise One and Lord of the Wild Hunt, many thanks for Your presence"
The circle should be ritually closed. This is done with the athame, which is used to draw the energy (the energy that was used to cast the circle) back into the blade and grounding it in the earth. An example of a chant is as follows: "The Circle of Samhain is now open. Go in peace."
This is a very simple ritual for celebrating the Sabbat of Samhain. Rituals should be adapted and personalized to suit the individual or group using it, for Wicca is a religion of individuality.
Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.