A Samhain for Cerridwen

I was just suggesting to a friend on Facebook that we need to publish more rituals for the community to draw upon.  I figured that maybe I should see if I could find a few that folk might be interested in.  Here is the Samhain ritual that we did in 2013.  Note that for Samhain rites we do not invoke a gatekeeper since the veils between the worlds is thin.

Special Notes

  • One of the women should have a bundle of dry sticks.
  • Participants will be asked to hold one particular ancestor or departed loved one in mind to call out to.  They may bring an offering/light a candle and/or say a few words to them.

Ritual

Purification:

The group processes towards the nemeton.  As they approach, Druid 1 asperges them with water, saying “May the waters of the Earth Mother cleanse you.”  and Druid 2 purifies them with incense, saying “May the air of the Sky Father purify you.”

Initiating the Rite:

The group gathers in a circle around the centre.

Druid says:

“Of old, on Samhain the Celts would put out their hearth fires and clean their fireplaces.  Then the women would spend Samhain day gathering dry wood.  Have the women come with dry wood?”

A woman brings forth a bundle of dry wood.  Druid continues:

“With such wood, the men folk would build a need-fire.  Without fire, the tribe would not survive the coming winter, so it must be made or we shall perish.  But once lit, each member of the tribe would bring home with them an ember of the need fire to kindle anew their hearth fires.

Now, if the women would raise some energy, we men shall try to kindle the need fire!”

The men work on kindling the fire while the women chant:

“Come fire come we welcome you
come fire come we honour you”

Establishing the Group Mind

When the fire is kindled, all of the folk join hands and dance deosil, singing:

“Fire red, summer’s dead
Yet it shall return.
Clear and bright, in the night,
Burn, fire, burn!”

Statement of Purpose

Druid provides the statement of purpose:

“As our Ancestors did in times before and our children may do in times to come, our tribe has gathered once more to mark the High Day.  We come to walk the old ways, to honour our ancestors, the land, and the Gods.

Throughout the year, we sow seeds within our lives and the world around us.  And at Samhain we reflect upon the harvest that we have reaped.  What is your harvest?  Has your life been enriched by that which you have sown?  Is the world a better place?  Think of our ancestors and the harvests of their lives.  Are you yourself being a good ancestor to those who will follow you?

I invite you all to take a few moments to reflect quietly on these thoughts.

 

Now, it is Samhain, and the land turns to darkness as the new year begins.  Tonight we shall prepare our fields for new plantings.

But first, as is our custom, let us give thanks to Our Mother the Earth.

Honoring the Earth Mother

Druid gives the Earth Mother prayer:

“Danu, Earth Mother, your children sing to your body
Danu, Earth Mother, your children sing to your bones
Danu, Earth Mother, your children honour your spirit
Danu, Earth Mother, your children honour your stones

Earth Mother, accept our sacrifice!” (repeat by all)

Druid scatters the Earth Mother offering on the ground.

Establishing the Sacred Center

Druid honours the well:

“Boanne of the well of the Hazelnut Trees,
Daoine dhen Tamais calls out to you,
to make of this vessel the Sacred Well
|the gateway to the underworld!

Boanne, join me in my incantation!

Sacred waters that flow and swirl
Earthen waters of elder wisdom,
foam and bubble and come to me!
Rise up and reveal to us your Mysteries!

Sacred Well, flow within us!”

Druid offers silver to the well.

Druid repeated by All:     “Sacred well, flow within us!”

Druid honours the fire:

“Bright Brigid of the Hearth,
Poet, Healer, and Smith,
Daoine dhen Tamais calls out to you
to sanctify this fire as the gateway to the heavens.

Bright Brigid, join me in my incantation:

Sacred flames that leap and dance,
Flames of passion and wild poetry,
soar and surge and come to me!
Rise up and reveal to us your Mysteries!

Sacred Fire, burn within us!”

Druid offers incense to the fire

Druid repeated by All:     “Sacred fire, burn within us!

Druid honours the tree:

“Blodeuwedd, flower of the mighty oak,
Daoine dhen Tamais calls out to you,
to bless this tree as the World Tree
the cross-roads of the world!

Blodeuwedd, join me in my incantation:

“Sacred tree that touches the sky,
Rooted deep and crowned high,
Centre of the Earth,
Axis of the world,
Link now the land, the sea, and sky.”

Druid offers water to the tree:

Druid repeated by All:     “Sacred tree, grow within us!”

All chant repeat x 3:

By Fire and by Water, between the Earth and Sky,
We stand like the World Tree, rooted deep, crowned high.”

Opening the Gate(s):

Druid:

“The waters support and surround us.
The land extends about us.
The sky stretches out above us.
At the center burns a living flame.

Thus we stand at the sacred center,
upon the land between the sea and the sky.
The three Goddesses
Boanne, Brigid, and Bloudwedd about us
The well, the fire, and the tree within us.

It is Samhain and the veil between the worlds is thin
May the well open as a gate to the underworld!
May the fire open as a gate to the upperworld!
May the tree become the crossroads between the worlds!

Let the gates be open!!”

All:     “Let the Gates be open!”

Inviting the Three Kindreds

Druid:

“The gates are now open, and our words shall travel to the other worlds.
Now let us invite the Three Kindred to join us.”

Druid invokes the Ancestors:

“The children of the earth call out to the mighty dead. Hear us, our ancestors!

Let us each call out the name of one of our departed ancestors, whether they be of our blood or our heart.”

Druid takes up a bell and asks each participant to name one departed loved one.  As they do so, the bell is rung.  Participants may also light a candle and/or make offerings to those ancestors.  When all is finished, the druid continues:

“Now, close your eyes and think of the ancestor you have called.
Bring their face to life in your mind’ eye!

Noble ones, we call to you as our kin,
in the love of the all-mother, to join in our rite.

Come to our fire, Ancestors,
to guide and ward us as we walk the elder ways.”

Druid makes the Ancestor offering, saying:

“Ancestors, accept our sacrifice!” (repeat by all)

Druid invokes the Spirits of the Land:

“The children of earth call out to the Spirits of this Land.
We call out to the Spirits of the New World and the Old World,
spirits of stone and stream, of fur and scale,
spirits of forest and air, of root and feather,
we offer you welcome.

Mighty ones, we call to you as our allies,
in the name of the all-mother, to join in our magic.
Come to our fire, spirits,
to aid us as we walk the elder ways.”

Druid makes the Spirits of the Land offering, saying:

“Mighty Ones, accept our sacrifice!” (repeat by all)

Druid invokes the Gods and Goddesses:

“And finally, the children of earth call out to the Gods and Goddesses,
first children of the all-mother, wisest and mightiest,
Hear us, shining ones!

To the gods and goddesses of this place, ancient and powerful,
who were honoured here before our Ancestors came from across the seas, we offer you welcome.

And to the Gods of all those here gathered,
The Gods of our Ancestors and of our Hearths,
All you Gods and Goddesses whom we worship,
and who bless our lives and our homes;
we offer you welcome.

Shining ones, we call to you in reverence and love, to join in our rite. Come to our fire, shining ones;
to bless us as we walk the elder ways.”

Druid makes the Gods/Goddesses offering, saying:

“Shining Ones, accept our sacrifice!” (repeat by all)

Druid invites the participants to make an offering to the Kindred.

Key Offerings:

Druid says:

“They say that in Wales by the banks of the Lake Tegid there once lived a mighty witch.   To her I shall call.

Under the moonless sky,
on this dark night of Samhain,
Daoine dhen Tamais calls out to the Dark Mother!

Mighty Cerridwen,
Sorceress, Shapeshifter, Queen
Hear us,
though we tremble at your presence,
answer our call.

Let the moon be reborn
Let the land be reborn
Let your children be reborn
Through the darkness that is Thy Mystery.”

Druid makes an offering, saying:

“Cerridwen, accept our sacrifice!”

Cerridwen enters the circle.

Druid says:

“Now hear my tale.

The great witch, she had two children,
and her daughter was the most beautiful maiden in all the lands.”

Creirwy walks across the circle, looking beautiful.

“But her son was ugly and misshapen,
and all who looked upon him cringed.”

Avagddu crosses the circle, hump-backed.

“So said the witch to herself..”

Cerridwen says:

“Fair is foul and foul fair.

If my son is to be looked upon with respect,
as ugly as he is, he must have great powers,
powers of knowledge and divination.”

Cerridwen sets the cauldron above the fire, saying:

“A magic broth I shall make.

Now to gather the herbs for this potion,
trick or treat,
bitter and sweet.”

Cerridwen goes around the circle with a basket to each person, asking:

“Have you herbs for me?”

When she is done, Cerridwen puts the herbs into the cauldron, saying:

“For a year and day this cauldron
must bubble and boil,
til it is thick with three drops,
of magic, and wisdom, and learning,
and all else shall be poison.

Now who can I find to stir it for me?”

Druid says:

“Let us all take turns stirring the cauldron.”

Led by Druid, all participants take a turn stirring the cauldron.

When all have taken a turn, Druid (D1) says:

Now, I ask you to listen to the sound of my voice
as your eyes fall shut
and you bring to mind the memory of stirring the cauldron,
how you held the spoon,
the heat of the fire,
the smoke in your eyes
the scent of the herbs.

When you began stirring, it was Samhain,
and you stirred through winter
and you stirred through spring
and you stirred through summer
and Samhain has come again.

And just as the potion has boiled down,
three drops leap out of the cauldron
and land upon your finger.
Scalded, you immediately suck on the burn
to sooth it and the three drops are in your mouth.

And in that moment
you suddenly know the past, the present, and the future,
and great wisdom floods through your mind.

And you know, too, that the wrath of Cerridwen
will be great.   You must flee before her,
so you use your new powers to transform yourself
becoming a swift hare upon the field,
your powerful legs propelling you across the land.
But soon you see a sleek dark Greyhound
coursing you down, and you know that it is Cerridwen herself.
You keep running but soon feel the hot breath of the hound
upon your neck and know that her fangs will soon be upon you.

At that moment you spy a river and leap into it,
turning yourself into a swift salmon,
your tail propelling you through the sea.
Yet your escape is short lived, as you quickly
see that a sleek otter is now giving chase.
You swim as a rapid current, yet still the otter swims faster.

Just as it is about to snatch you, you leap up and take wing,
transforming yourself into swallow,
your feathers propelling you through the sky.
Yet, just as you feel you have escaped, you notice
a hawk now giving chase.
You may fly fast, but she flies faster.

You begin to tire and realize that soon she shall have you,
and just then you notice down on the ground below
a barn filled with the harvest wheat,
and you transform yourself once more,
this time taking the shape of a grain of wheat.
Surely a hawk cannot possibly find one grain amongst so many?

But when she lands, it is not as a hawk but a great black hen,
who begins to claw at the grains, scratching away in search.
Your energy is spent, you cannot transform yourself again,
you can only wait and wait and wait until the great high-crested hen
is above you,
and swallows you,

and you go down, down, down

into the belly of Cerridwen and the darkness therein.

 

Now, as you slowly open your eyes and gaze upon the fire,
be reborn through the mystery of the Great Goddess Cerridwen.”

Seeking the Omen

Druid invites the Seer to take the omen.

“We have been reborn.  May the Seer to come forth and take the omens of the new lives ahead of us.”

Seer pronounces the omen.

Calling (asking) for the Blessings

Druid :

The Seer has read the omens and pronounced the blessings.

Do the folk accept the blessings?”

All:    “We do!”

Druid:    “Then let us call them forth!”

Druids 1 and 2 hold the two blessing cups up.  

Druid 1 invokes the Waters of Life:

“We have given due honour and sacrifice,
now as we have given let us receive.
Mighty Cerridwen,
we open our hearts to your blessings.

Let these cups overflow with your blessings,
let your blessings become the waters of life.
Give us the waters of life!”

All:     “Give us the waters of life!”

Hallowing the Blessing

Druid:

“The waters of life are the gift of the Gods.

Behold the waters of life!”

Affirmation of the Blessing

Cerridwen goes about the circle deosil, asperging each of the participants, saying:

The blessings of Cerridwen be upon you.

Druid follows with the blessing cup and offers it to the participants.

Thanking the Beings

Druid:

Our work is now complete.  Let us now thank those who have joined and helped us.

“Great Cerridwen,
for your blessings and your presence this day,
we thank you.”

All:    “We thank you!”

Druid:

“Shining Gods and Goddesses, for your blessings and your presence this day, we thank you.”

All:    “We thank you!”

Druid:

“Mighty Spirits of the Land, for your aid and your presence this day, we thank you.”

All:    “We thank you!”

Druid:

“Noble Ancestors, for your guidance and your presence this day, we thank you.”

All:    “We thank you!”

Closing the Gate(s)

Druid thanks the Gatekeeper.

“Gatekeepers,for your aid and your presence this day, we thank you.”

All:    “We thank you!”

Druid (D6):    

“Now let the fire become flame,
let the well become water,
Let all be as it was before.

Let the gates be closed.”

All:     “Let the gates be closed!”

Closing the Rite

Druid:

    “This rite is now ended. Go now in peace and blessings until we meet again.”

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