More than 2,000 years ago,
October 31st was a night to
be feared for people who lived
For them October 31st was and
still is the Festival Of Samhain,
Which marked the end of the year
and the end of the harvest season.
It was their New Year`s Eve.
Why all the fear?
Because it was beleived
that during the evening
of this harvest festival
The Lord of the dead,Samhain,
would allow the dead to return
to earth for a few hours.
To hide from these evil spirits
many people doned masks-the more
gruesome the better-so the spirits
would think that they were mortals
but other evil spirits and pass them
by.Grotesque mask of all sizes and
shapes were made out of animal skins,
animal heads and anything eles they
could find and use.costumes were also
incorperated in this ceremony.The wilder
the costume,the more frightening it
would be to ward off evil spirits.
Bonfires,in honor of the sun god,
were built to keep these spirits
away.The masked and costumed people
would gather around the the bonfires
dancing,singing,and even jumping over
the flames.Those who didn`t jump high
enough were burned in the flames and
offered as human sacrifice.Other sacrifices
made to the bonfire were animals and crops.
The High Priestess wears her white tabard for the opening ritual with the veil thrown back.
After the witches Rune,the High Priest and High Priestess take up their athames.He stands with his back to the alter,she faces him across the cauldron.Then they simultaneously draw invoking petagrams of the Earth in the air with their athames towards each other,after which they lay down their athames,his on the alter,she by the cauldron.
The High Priestess scatters incense on the charcoal in the cauldron,she then declaims
"Dread Lord Of Shadows,God of Life,and the Giver of Life
Yet is the knowledge of thee the knowledge of death
Open wide,I pray thee,the Gates through all must pass
Let our dear ones who have gone before
return this night to make merry with us
And when our time comes,as it must
Oh thou the Comforter,the Consoler,the Giver of Peace and Rest
For we know that when rested and refreshed around our dear ones
We will be reborned again by thy grace of the Great Mother
Let it be in the same place and the same time as our beloved ones
And may we meet,know, and remember
And love them again
Descend,we pray thee,In thy servant and Priest
The High Ptiestess then walks deosil around the cauldron and gives the High priest the Fivefold Kiss.She then calls on each woman witch by name in turn to come forward and also give the High Priest the Fivefold kiss,When they have done so,The High Priestess directs the coven to stand around the edge of the Circle,man and woman alternatley,with the Maiden in the west when they are all in place the High Priest says,
"Behold the West is Amenti,The Land of Dead,to which many of our loved ones have gone for rest and renewal.On this night we hold communion with them,And as our Maiden stands in welcome by the West Gate,I call upon all of you,my brothers and sisters in the Craft,to hold the image of these loved ones in your hearts and minds,that our welcome will reach out to them.
There is Mystery within mystery,for the resting place between life and life is also Caer Arianrhod,the Castle of the Silver Wheel,at the hub of the turning stars beyond the North Wind.Here reigns Arianrhod the White Lady,whose name means Silver Wheel,To this,in spirit,we call our loved ones.And let the Maiden lead them moving Widdershins to the center.For the spiral path inwards to Caer Arianrhod leads to night,and rest,and is against the way of the sun.
The Maiden walks,slowly and with dignity,in a widdershins direction within the Circle,spiralling slowly inwards,taking three or four circuits to reach the center.During this the coven maintains absolute silence and concetrates on welcoming their dead friends.When the Maiden reaches the Center,she haults and faces the High Priestess across the cauldron.The High Priestess holds out her right hand at shoulder level,over the cauldron,palm facing inward.The Maiden places her own right palm flat against that of the High Priestess.
The High Priestess says,"Those you bring with you are truly
welcome to our Festival may they remain with us in peace.And you O Maiden,return by the spiral path to stand with our brothers and sisters;but deosil for the way of rebirth,outwards from Caer Arianrhod is the way of the sun.
Maiden and High Priestess breaks hand contact,and the Maiden walks slowly and with dignity in a deosil spiral Back to her place in the West.
The High Priestess Says,"Lets all aproach the Castle
The High Priest and the coven moves inwards and everybody sits in a close ring around the cauldron,The High Priestess renews the incense.
Now is the time for communion with dead friends and for this no set ritual can be laid down.When she feels this part of the sabbat has fulfill edits purpose,the High Priestess orders the cauldron to be carried beside the east candle,the quarter of rebirth
The High Priest now takes over explanations.He tells the coven,informally but seriously that although Samhain is a Festival of the Dead it must include a strong reaffirmation of life;on behalf of the coven itself and of the dead friends who are moving towards reincarnation.He and the High Priestess will now therefore enact the Great Rite as is the custom at every Sabbat.When it is finished,the High Priest will personally give the wine to each female,and the High Priestess will give the wine to each male,then tehy will consecrate the cakes and give them out in the same manner.The purpose of this is to pass on the life-power raised by the Great Rite directly to each member of the coven
Afterwards,and before the feast one thing remains to be done.
The High Priestess fetches the Lord of Misrule`s wand of office and presents it to a chosen male warlock.She tells him that he is now the Lord of Misrule and for the rest of the Sabbat is priviledged to disrupt the proceedings as he sees fit to take the mickey ot of everyone including herself and the High priest.