Samhain Ritual


  • Autumn decorations
  • Flowers
  • Orange altar cloth
  • Orange candles
  • Horned helmet
  • Cauldron
  • Fire materials
  • Bell
  • Cake and ale

Note: The outer edge of the Circle may be decorated with autumnal flowers, branches, pine-cones, small pumpkins, etc. There should be flowers on the altar. The altar cloth/candles should be orange. The Horned Helmet rests beside the altar. In the north quarter stands a cauldron containing material for a fire (regular kindling, if the Circle is outside, or a candle or a Sterno® burner, if meeting inside).

The Erecting the Temple is performed. This may be followed by Full Moon or New Moon rite, if appropriate. Bell is then rung three times by a covener acting as Summoner.

Summoner: "Haste! Haste! No time to wait! We're off to the Sabbat, so don't be late!"

Priest/ess: "To the Sabbat!"

All: "To the Sabbat!"

With Priest and Priestess leading, the coven moves deosil around the Circle, walking or dancing as each feels moved. It is appropriate to carry small drums or tambourines, to give a beat. Coven circles as many times as they wish. At some point, as they move around, Priest/ess should start singing a hymn to the gods. All can join in as the procession continues. If it is preferred, the coven can circle a number of times then come to a halt and start the singing while standing in place.

Priest: "Now is a time of change. Now do we leave the light and enter the darkness. Yet do we do so gladly, for we know it to be but the turning of the mighty Wheel of the Year."

Priestess: "At this time of the year the gates between the worlds are open. We call upon our ancestors, our loved ones, to pass through and join with us at this time. We invite them to delight in celebration with those they love."

Then follows an enactment of a seasonal motif. This can vary greatly and may be based on any of a number of themes, including local beliefs and practices. Here are some examples: life — death — new life; death of the old king and crowning of the new; the turning wheel of the year; the killing-off of those animals (cattle) that would not survive the winter; return of the dead to rejoice, briefly, with the living; gathering of the harvest and storing for the winter; the creation of the world, with chaos transformed to order. This enactment can take the form of a play, mime or dance. At the end of the enactment, the bell is rung seven times. Then one of the coveners speaks:
Covener: "We are at the crack of time, for this day belongs neither to the old year nor to the new. And as there is no distinction between the years, so is there no distinction between the worlds. Those we have known and loved, in ages past, are free to return to us here in this meeting place. Reach out, each and every one of you, in your own way, and feel the presence of one you have known and thought lost. From this reuniting gather strength. Know, all of you, that there is no end and no beginning. All is a continuous turning, a spiraling dance that goes and returns, yet moves ever on. In that turning, Samhain is the sacred festival marking the end of the summer and the beginning of winter: a time to celebrate; a time to welcome the God as he starts his journey down the tunnel of darkness that bears the light of our Lady at its end."

Priest/ess: "The Old Year ends."

All: "The New Year begins."

Priest/ess: "The Wheel turns."

All: "And turns again."

Priest/ess: "Farewell to Our Lady."

All: "Welcome to Our Lord."

Priest/ess: "Goddess-Summer draws to a close."

All: "God-Winter sets his foot upon the path."

Priest/ess: "Hail and farewell!"

All: "Hail and farewell!"

Priest and Priestess lead coven in a dance around the Circle. This may be followed, or accompanied, by a song or chant. Priestess takes up Horned Helmet and stands before altar.

Priestess: "Gracious Goddess, we thank thee for the joys of summer. We thank thee for all thy bounty; The fruits, the crops, the harvest. Return again as the Wheel turns And be with us once more. Even as our Lord accepts the mantle, Walk with him through the darkness, To come again into the light."

Priest stands and faces Priestess. She holds Helmet high over his head. A Covener stands by the cauldron, with fire ready.

Priestess: "Here do I display the symbol of our Lord: He who rules Death and that which comes after; The Dweller in the Darkness; The Husband/Brother of the light. May he guard us and guide us in all that we do, Within and without this Circle. With our Lady at his side, may he lead us through hardship And bring us, with hope, into the light."

Priestess places Horned Helmet on Priest's head. As she does, Covener lights the cauldron fire.

Covener: "Now is our Lord among us. Speak, for we are your children."

Priest: "Behold, I am he who is at the beginning and at the end of time. I am in the heat of the sun and the coolness of the breeze. The spark of life is within me, as is the darkness of death. For I am he who is the Gatekeeper at the end of time. Lord-dweller in the sea, You hear the thunder of my hooves upon the shore And see the fleck of foam as I pass by. My strength is such that I might lift the world itself to touch the stars. Yet gentle am I, ever, as the lover. I am he whom all must face at the appointed hour, Yet am I not to be feared, for I am brother, lover, son. Death is but the beginning of Life, And I am he who turns the key."

Priestess salutes Priest. One by one other Coveners move around. If they wish to, they may place an offering on the altar or before it. They then embrace and/or kiss the Priest and move on back to their places. As they pass the burning cauldron, they throw into it their piece of parchment listing their weakness. Priest stands for a moment and meditates on his position for the coming half year. He then removes the Helmet and replaces it beside the altar. Bell is rung nine times.

Then shall follow the ceremony of Cakes and Ale. After that the Clearing the Temple is performed so that there is plenty of room for fun, games and entertainment (which may still take place around the altar, if desired). The evening concludes with a feast (usually a potluck affair, with dishes brought by the coveners).