This is a relatively standard Samhain rite, although while many honor the Morrigan at Samhain, this particular year we honored the Cailleach Baere, an Irish goddess. Also, since our elected officers take office at Samhain, there is a brief section on the investiture of offices after the main invocations.
(Note: Many of the ritual phrases in this rite are taken from rituals written by Ian Corrigan of Stone Creed Grove and Paul Maurice of World Tree Grove.)
The musical signal is given to signal the beginning of the ritual, and the folk process to the ritual area, making the ADF sigil if possible.
D1: We are here to honor the gods and the old ways, to receive the blessings of Donn and the Cailleach, and to remember our ancestors.
D2 honors the Earth Mother with words and an offering of corn meal:
D2: Earth Mother, you stand beneath our feet
You grow all around us, you tower above us.
Earth Mother, we offer you this gift
To return to you a gift which you have given us
We ask that you help us stand together and be strong in this rite
Earth Mother, accept our sacrifice.
All: Earth Mother, accept our sacrifice.
Grounding and Uniting in the Grove Meditation
Bard leads the folk in the Unity Chant:
All: We are one, in our grove,
upon the earth, within the sea, beneath the sky.
We are joined, to send our call,
to the honored dead, to the spirit folk, to the blessed gods.
We praise thee, in one voice, in our sacred grove.
We are one.
Establishing the Sacred Grove
through Fire, Well, and Tree
The Fire Maiden (FM) lights the fire and makes an offering of incense.
FM: I kindle the sacred fire in wisdom, love, and power.
Sacred fire, burn within us.
All: Sacred fire, burn with us.
FM censes the site and the folk.
The Keeper of the Well (KW) pours the waters and makes an offering of silver.
KW: In the depths flow the waters of wisdom.
Sacred waters flow within us.
All: Sacred waters, flow within us.
KW asperges the site and the folk.
The Tender of the Tree (TT) dresses & censes the world tree.
TT: From the depths to the heights spans the world tree.
Sacred tree, grow within us.
All: Sacred tree, grow within us.
The formation of the vertical axis is completed with:
D1: The fire, the well, the sacred tree,
All: Flame and flow and grow in me!
D1: In land, sea and sky,
All: Below and on high!
D1: Thus is the sacred grove claimed and hallowed.
All: Biodh Se! ("bee-shay")
D1: By the cleansing of water and fire, let all ill turn away from
me and mine.
All: Biodh Se!
Opening the Gates Between the Worlds
D1 sings to Manannan mac Lir (song by Marae Price):
D1: We stand at the borders,
And watch the mists close in...
Waves rolling, rolling...
Where shore meets the ocean,
Where land meets sea and sky...
We call to you, Manannan,
We welcome you, as you one day will welcome us.
D1 makes an offering to Manannan and says: Manannan mac Lir, accept our sacrifice, and let the gates be open!
All: Manannan mac Lir, accept our sacrifice, and let the gates be open!
Offering to the Outdwellers
D4 makes an offering to the Outdwellers outside of the ritual space, saying:
D4: You who come from the outer dark,
You who stood against the gods and man,
You who are cold of heart and cruel of mind,
Take this offering and trouble not our working.
Invoking the Goddess of Bardic Inspiration
The bard invokes Brighid, goddess of poetic inspiration:
Bard: Lady Brighid of the Bards,
Blessed Fire of inspiration,
Fire the flame within our hearts,
Lead our creative explorations.
Lady Brighid hear our song,
As we give up our rings of praise,
Let your blessings make us strong
As we serve you all our days.
The Bard makes an offering to Brighid, saying: Brighid, accept our sacrifice!
All: Brighid, accept our sacrifice!
Honoring and Inviting the Three Kindreds
D5: The children of the earth call out to the mighty dead. Hear us, our ancestors, our kindred.
To all those whose bones lie in this land, whose hearts are tied to it, whose memory holds it; ancient tribes of this place, we offer you welcome.
To all of our grandmothers and grandfathers, our own beloved dead, blood-kin and heart-kin; ancient tribes of our blood, we offer you welcome.
To all those elder wise ones who guide their people, wise women and men of ancient days, we offer you welcome.
D5 makes an offering and says: Ancestors, we give you honor and praise, and ask that you join us here this night. Ancestors, accept our sacrifice!
All: Ancestors, accept our sacrifice!
All sing Mothers and Fathers of Old (repeated 3 times).
D6: The children of the earth call out to the spirits of the land. Hear us, companions and teachers.
To all our allies, kindreds of stone and stream, crystal and fertile soil, pools and every water; kins of the earth, we offer you welcome.
To all our allies, kindreds of the growing green, herb and flower, shrub and mighty trees, root and stem and fruit. Green kins, we offer you welcome.
To all our allies, kindreds of fur and feather and scale, all who walk or fly or swim or crawl, we offer you welcome.
D6 makes an offering and says: Nature spirits, we give you honor and praise, and ask that you join us here this night. Nature spirits, accept our sacrifice!
All: Nature spirits, accept our sacrifice!
All sing Fur and Feather (repeated 3 times).
D7: The children of earth call out to the shining ones. Hear us, eldest and brightest.
To all the shining ones, first children of the mother, wisest and mightiest, loving and comforting; gods and goddesses, we offer you welcome.
To the gods and goddesses of this place, ancient and powerful, known to us or unknown; gods of this place, we offer you welcome.
To all the deities of those here gathered, you whom we worship, you who bless our lives; o patrons and matrons, we offer you welcome.
D7 makes an offering and says: Gods and Goddesses, we give you honor and praise, and ask that you join us here this night. Gods and Goddesses, accept our sacrifice!
All: Gods and Goddesses, accept our sacrifice!
All sing Hail All the Gods (repeated 3 times).
Meditation of Merging the Energies and Re-Centering
Ritual Purpose, and Honoring the Spirits of the Occasion
D1 states the ritual purpose & precedent, and makes offerings to Donn, the Cailleach, and the Ancestors.
[Note: The Donn and Ancestor invocations were written by Ian Corrigan, while I wrote the
Cailleach Baere invocation for this rite specifically.]
- The Invocation of Donn
In the season of darkening, the Lord of the House of Death receives the Spirits in his Hall. He is Donn the Dark One, the First Ancestor, the Torc Bearer, The Guardian of the Cauldron of Plenty.
Hear us now, Horned One, Dark one, Receiver of the Dead, Granter of Rest, Patron of the Feast in the Land of the Dead. We your children pray you to come in, to let your gaze fall upon this Sacred Ground, to indwell our rite and give us your blessing.
We make due offering to you. We give you...
(offering made into shaft or offering bowl.)
Silver, that you grant the wealth of the Underworld, Source of All Potential.
(offering made to the Fire)
Oil, that the richness of the Land be renewed as our own lives are renewed.
(offering placed at the foot of the Tree)
Horn, that the beings who know you may bless us in the Season of Hunting.
Be welcome among us, Donn; Dark One, accept our sacrifice!
- The Invocation of Cailleach Baere
As the Earth falls into sleep the Hag of Baere is wielding her scythe and cutting the green corn down, to sow it again in the late winter's night. She is the Cailleach, the wise and cunning old woman, who passed into seven periods of youth while her husbands passed away behind her, grandmother to peoples and races of the Earth. Her eyes are keen and sparkling like the cold river stream, her hands are gnarled like the twisted roots of ancient trees, and her skin is old and wrinkled like the scattered leaves of autumn.
When the Cailleach calls, deep within the forest, deep within the land, we can feel it in our bones, like the roots of old. It is time to come home, into the darkness of the woods, where the old hag will cut us open, and we will grow new again, our frailty and weakness cut down like the corn.
Hear us now, Cailleach Baere, Great Ancient Grandmother, Lady of the Deep Forest, Old Witch of the Roots and Cauldron. We your children pray that you be with us, that you look kindly upon our holy rite, and that you come into our Grove and give us your blessing.
We give due offering to you. We give you...
Precious stone, that the Bones of the Earth may be clothed again in life.
Whiskey, that the Waters of Life May flow in us and Spirit indwell flesh.
Bone, that the old and unnecessary fall away into peaceful rest.
Be welcome among us Cailleach; Great Grandmother, accept our sacrifice!
- Honoring the Ancestors
On the feast of Samhain the veils between the worlds are thin. We call to our Beloved Dead, the blessed Ancestors, to join our feast and receive due offering.
Come to the Gates, honored ones; hear our call, we your children who remember. We offer you our worship, our reverence and our love.
You who fill the empty womb, you who cause the seed to spring, you who fill the breast with milk, receive now these offerings, made in your honor:
Apples, the Fruit of Life and Death.
Pork, the flesh of the Sacred Sow.
Hazel nuts, concentrated meat of wisdom.
We offer these...
To the ancient heroes of the Pagan World; those men and women who did
the bidding of the Gods for the good of the folk.
To the honored Dead of the passed year; those women and men of our
folk who inspired and guided our whole world.
To our own Beloved Dead, Grandmothers-and-Fathers, family and friends
who have gone ahead, we honor you and grieve for you.
To all of you we give these fruits and meats that you may feast in joy
in the Land of the Dead.
Praise Offerings to the Kindreds and Spirits
D1: Have the Folk brought praise?
Bard: They have.
D1: Biodh Se!
The Bard conducts three rounds of praise offerings: Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Gods.
After the three rounds, D1 conducts a group intonement to honor the gathered spirits.
An Omen for the Blessings is Taken and Shared
Receiving the Blessings of the Gods and Spirits
D1 holds the waters aloft and hallows them with the blessings of the gods, as revealed in the omen. Then he raises the cup aloft and says:
Behold the holy cup of magic, the outpouring of blessing from the mighty ones. When we share the draught of the gods we drink in wisdom, love and strength to do as we will in the worlds, in service to the Shining Ones. We have honored you, Donn, Cailleach Baere, our Ancestors, and all the Spirits here this night, and we pray you honor us in turn, for a gift calls for a gift. O shining ones, bless our spirits and our lives with love, magic and bounty as we receive these sacred waters. Seo iad uisci na beatha!
All: Behold the waters of life!
D1 asperges the Folk and guests.
Investiture of Offices for the Coming Year
D1: Now, with the blessings of the Gods, the Ancestors, and the Spirits of Nature in us on this night of rebirth, and their presence all around us, we seek once more to honor that which has come before and welcome that which will come anew.
D1: Let us honor and thank our officers who have worked for the Folk over the past year.
(Presentation of gifts and accolades)
D1: Now let the new officers of our Folk come forth and make their oaths of Office for the coming year.
(The new Scribe, Pursewarden, and Senior Druid of the Grove each place their hand upon the World Tree and take their oath of office, one at a time.)
D1: With our new officers in place, and our old officers duly thanked,
let our Folk and our Grove be blessed in the coming year. Biodh Se!
All: Biodh Se!
Thanking the Kindreds and Spirits
D1: The gods have blessed us. With joy in our hearts, let us return to the realm of mortals to do both their will and ours. Every time we invoke them, they become stronger and more alert to the needs of the folk . But now comes the time when we must prepare to depart. So let us give thanks to those whom we have invited here.
D1: Donn, Cailleach, Ancestors, go raibh maith agaibh.
All: Go raibh maith agaibh ("gora mah-ageev", plural).
D1: Gods and Goddesses all, go raibh maith agaibh.
All: Go raibh maith agaibh.
D1: Nature spirits, go raibh maith agaibh.
All: Go raibh maith agaibh.
D1: Lady Brighid, go raibh maith agait.
All: Go raibh maith agait ("gora mah-agit", singlular).
D1: Manannan mac Lir, go raibh maith agait.
All: Go raibh maith agait.
D1: Earth Mother, go raibh maith agait.
All: Go raibh maith agait.
Closing the Gates and Ending the Rite
D1: By the keeper of the gates and by our magic we end what we
began. Let the fire be flame and the well be water and the ways
between be shut. Let the gates be closed!
All: Let the gates be closed!
D1: We have done as our ancestors did and as our children will do and
the Gods have answered! Let us go out into the world secure in the
knowledge that our sacrifices have pleased the gods and that we go
forth under their protection. The ritual is at a close. Biodh Se!
All: Biodh Se!
The musical signal is given to signal the end of the rite.