My Samhain Ritual was performed October 31, 2012, in the late afternoon. Normally I would wait until evening to do a ritual for the Mighty Dead, but I’m more comfortable doing full rituals when I’m alone in the house. Instead, I darkened a room almost completely, so even though the sun was out, I did the ritual by candle light. Between the darkened room and the smoke from the incense, the atmosphere seemed to fit the occasion.
This was a solitary rite, following the full ADF COoR. For this ritual, I honored the Earth Mother in an unnamed aspect; the Gatekeeper was Manannan mac Lir. Patrons of the rite included Donn, Lord of the Underworld and the Cailleach Beare, Grandmother Hag of Winter. I brought the following offerings: silver for the well, cedar incense for the fire, and a bottle of good hard cider for the Kindreds and Patrons (as I can not drink ale or whiskey).
This was my first High Day ritual, but not the first time I’d used the COoR. I’m glad I’d gone through it once before, because it gave me the experience to put together some rituals from the ritual archives (as well as a bit of my own material) into a full Samhain rite that I’m quite pleased with. The wording all came pretty easily to my tongue, though I’d read through it several times to help make sure it would flow. I am still not quite comfortable speaking in a loud voice in an empty house, but I made sure I was at least speaking with strength behind my words. The ritual centered on Donn and the Cailleach, an idea I got from one of the rituals in the archive that I really liked a lot. I have a lot of hesitation working with the Morrigan, and I wasn’t comfortable calling Her in my first ritual, even though many of the Celtic Hearth Samhain rituals honor the Dagdha and the Morrigan. My personal experience is one of strengthening my ties to the Mighty Dead this time of year, so being focused on Donn and the Cailleach seemed fitting.
I did find a major issue with my altar, and that was the location of the offering bowl in relation to the fire. Namely, I singed off some of my arm hair pouring offerings to the Kindreds. Not a particularly appealing incense. I’ve since reorganized it slightly.
I didn’t have a huge wealth of “feeling” from this ritual, however. It certainly had moments of poetry and beauty, but the depth of feeling and emotion wasn’t there in the way I am hoping it will eventually be. I know that part of having a Hearth Culture is to build up that current of energy between you and your patrons, and I am looking forward to feeling those ties strengthen. I would also like, eventually, to be able to do a COoR rite without needing a printed or written guide. While the words were ones I really liked, and some of them were even my own, it didn’t have the same feel as speaking “from the heart” does when it comes to prayer. Perhaps I will build in a time of spontaneous prayer into future rituals, since balance seems to be a good goal here, and I enjoy the act of writing out ritual material as well.
- Nion (Ash) – Weaver’s Beam, Connection, Wisdom
- Ailm (Silver Fir) – Foresight, Inception, Perspective
- Iodhadh (Yew) – Ancestors and death, memory
Use the wisdom and power of the Ancestors to gain perspective and see the “big picture” of the path ahead, a path that will lead you to transformation.
This is not the first time I’ve drawn Iodhadh recently, and I have to admit it’s a little puzzling to me. I understand that I’m undergoing a period of transformation and “Death” (of one path and beginning another), but I also feel like the messages are saying “listen to the Ancestors”, and I don’t know what they’re saying! Maybe I will do another separate reading specifically to ask them for their advice.