Shining Lakes Grove Samhain Rite - 1997

Written by Kami Landy of Shining Lakes Grove (SLG), with revisions by Rev. John "Fox" Adelmann and Rob Henderson.

Outline

  • Fire, allies, tree fire well/opening
  • Consecrate grounds
  • Briefing-at parking lot: censing and apple
  • Bonfire- Bardic & informal intro (call for stories)
  • Final story with "statement of purpose"
  • Fox's warning about the night
  • Remove Fox - Outsiders...
  • Ana, Nature Spirits and Deities
  • Invite people to enjoy journey
  • Manannan, procession
  • Offerings- food, etc.
  • Ancestor invitation
  • Fox blows horn for dead
  • Dead blow horn and come in
  • Praise offerings
  • Dead lead dance. End by burning offering.
  • Divination- Lisa: nut hulls
  • Return- shared feast.
  • Cauldron blessing
  • Go back up hill- sing "Blood of the Ancients"
  • Ana- returning thanks
  • Build up the fire
  • Collective thank you to Nature Spirits, deities
  • Reconnecting meditation
  • Final hug, "Walk with Wisdom"

Parts

  • Greeter
  • Purifiers- one smudging, one offering apples
  • Storyteller/Bard
  • Seanfhear (old man)
  • People to call: Earth Mother, Nature Spirits, Deities, Manannan
  • Servers for the dead
  • Manannan
  • 3 or 4 "dead"
  • Drummers or musicians

Materials

  • 9 woods for the fire such as: yew, pine, oak, birch, willow, rowan, apple, holly, grapevine.
  • silver for the well
  • 20-30 luminaria lining the paths to the upper fire and to the Nemeton
  • Incense for purification: a mix of mugwort, sage and myrrh. Censer
  • Apple slices dipped in lemon juice (or salt water)
  • Lantern and bells for Manannan, conch for calling him
  • Horn for the dead to blow
  • Half-masks for the dead
  • Throne for Manannan, draped in silver/grey and blue/aqua.
  • Blanket, seats, etc. for the "feasthall" of the dead
  • A low table near them, for folks to place momentos of their own dead
  • Food, drink, etc. for the dead, in nice containers and with lovely tableware. Perhaps an enclosed candle for the center of their area.
  • Cups and possibly plates for sharing the feast.
  • Thing to pass during praise offering and then burn: a basket of nuts and apples

Two or three people, possibly the "dead" (dressed in mundanes), need to go to the Arb and redirect people to Botsford, then *quietly* come to the woods near the Nemeton and wait to be called.

At Botsford's at 7:30PM, the fire lit at sundown, the Nemeton fire and well opened and hallowed ahead of the rite, and the Allies (Native American spirits) welcomed and invited at that time.

There should be a person with a candle lantern greeting people in the parking area, telling them that the ritual begins at the upper fire, with storytelling as befits the season, so they should prepare themselves for an otherworldly journey and proceed to the fire. On the path, there will be one person smudging with incense- something purifying, opening and warning, such as a mix of sage, mugwort and myrrh. Another person will offer them slices of apple dipped in salt water or lemon juice- the otherworld feast, gift of Manannan.

At the fire, begin with the Bardic invocation. This will be offered by Richard MacKelley, who then gets people singing and telling stories.

Storytelling

(various people - encouraged by the bard, Richard MacKelley)

Centering

Come! Draw near the fire, draw in.
Take it within you, draw in.
Taste the fire of inspiration
That is the fire within the head,
The gift of the gods that warms the spirit. But look inside now, to the deep upwelling well of wisdom
Stilling you, touching you from deep within the earth.
The year turns to stillness,
Look within at the spark of warmth in your center,
The life which nurtured, rests at the heart of your self.
Follow it, to the sheltered cave of birth,
And the deep pool of vision that lies within it,
Giving knowledge of ancient ones returning,
And of lessons learned and time to come.
See there, a shadowed glimpse of the sun-lit land, the summer land
Where the blessed dead feast and love
And test their skills in endless rounds of pleasure,
A life more bright than life.
Who shall you see there?
Who will come to you,
To tell you of the wonders they know in that place of many wonders?
Which dear one holds you in memory,
As you hold them, and cares still for your welfare?
See them in your minds eye, in the eye of the pool of vision,
And share with them love and honor, laughter and tears of healing.
Peace and blessing be on them,
And on us who greet them with song and story,
Feast and dance this day.
Beckon to the one you have seen, to join us for this time,
To be with us in memory,
In the realm of life as we reach toward them in the land of youth.
And taking with you memory of the beloved dead,
Of those who have led the way, return to the cave of birth.
See yourself looking into that deep pool of vision
For the spark of life's warmth, and now turning outwards once again,
We call to them,
Come! Draw near the fire.

How Manannan brought the gifts of invisibility and immortality to the Tuatha De Danann. (Kami)

It happened, long ago, when the gods retired to the sunlit lands and made the gateways through the hollow hills, leaving the changing realm of life to the sons of Mil, that Manannan mac Lir brought to them certain gifts, that they might live forever unchanging and move unseen among the sons of men.

Now, many and wondrous were the gifts that the Tuatha De Danann had brought with them to Erin's shores, and some of those they left for the use of humanity. Among those were the Lia Fail, the stone of kingship, which sat until the days of our grandfathers upon the hill of Tara. The well of Segais, the well of wisdom, which rises at the bottom of the sea, became the source of the river Boyne, from which those who dared might drink their fill. Gifted to Finn macCumhal was the inexhaustible crane bag, made from the skin of the woman Aife when she had been transformed into the shape of that bird, which held all great and magical treasures.

Other great treasures were lost beyond all finding, gone into the mists of legend. But in that time of change, three new gifts they gained. First was the cloak of mist which enabled the Tuatha De Danann to walk unseen among men. Second was the silver apple branch of Emain Abhlach, the plain of apples, which banished all sorrow and fatigue. So sweet was its sound that it entertained all who heard it, better than the finest of music. Third was the "Feast of Age". No one who ate of it grew old, for as often as they were eaten, the pigs which made up this feast were renewed in the morning, and those who had eaten of them likewise. In this way did Manannan, gracious host, keep the Tuatha De Danann in the land of promise, and this gift is shared with the blessed dead, who come to sit among the gods. There they have the sweetest of wine and the best of foods, fierce fighting and acts of valor by day and all wounds vanishing by night so that there may also be eloquence and words of gentle love in that hall. And in time, perhaps those who died in this world that they may be born there, die in that world and are reborn to this, for did not the druid say; "death is but the middle of a very long life?"

Songs

From far across this mortal plain,
Mothers and Fathers of old,
We ask that you return again,
Mothers and Fathers of old.
To share with us the mystery,
And secrets long untold,
Of the ancient ways we seek to reclaim,
Mothers and Fathers of old.

It's the blood of the ancients
That runs through our veins
And the forms change,
But the circle of life remains.

[encourage people to tell stories of their relatives and ancestors]

Final story: How Cormac macAirt went to Tir na nOg (Kami)

When Cormac mac Airt was king of Ireland, he was a good king and wise, his people prospered and he was greatly loved. And if he was well loved, his children is wife was adored. And if his wife was adored, his children were cherished even moreso.

One day, as he walked upon the plain, he saw a youth playing. This youth had shining hair so fine it was like silver, and cheeks red as apples, his eyes flashed and his smile could bring an answering smile from a stone. In his hand he carried an apple branch, and upon it were nine silver apples. As he shook the branch, the sound of bells rang out, so sweet and pure that Cormac stood to listen, and found the cares and weariness of the day lifted from him.

So deep his peace and pleasure, he determined to have this branch to bring the same to his people, no matter what the cost. He asked the youth what he would take for this branch, and the youth said that he would have Cormac's wife and son and daughter upon the following day. Well, this shocked and saddened Cormac, for his family were the sun and moon to him, but a bargain is a bargain and he could not take back his word. So Cormac returned to his hall and told the people what had happened. There was much wailing and crying out, for the people were loath to lose their queen and heirs, but Cormac shook the branch for them, and they were contented and set at peace.

The next day, the youth came and took Cormac's wife and son and daughter away, and the people began to wail again, but once more Cormac shook the apple branch and the people were quieted. So they continued on for a year. The work went faster, for whenever Cormac shook the branch all fatigue was swept away. There were fewer quarrels, for whenever tempers flared Cormac shook the branch and people calmed.

There was peace and prosperity among all the people at Tara, but after a year, Cormac was no longer contented. He missed his family more than the branch could soothe. So one misty Autumn morning he left his high seat and walked away Westward, following the path his family had taken.

After a day and a night and a day, Cormac found himself in an unfamiliar land. Bright were the colors, soft the grass, tall the trees, and the sound of birds was like sweet speech to his ears. As he walked, he came to places of wonder. First, he saw a group of men thatching a house with feathers. No sooner had they got one side done, but they saw that they were out of feathers and began to hunt for more. And while they sought more feathers, those of the first half of the roof would blow away, so that the task was never done. Cormac watched, but said nothing, for he could see no sense in this task.

Again he journeyed on, until he came to a place where a fire was lit for making charcoal, and a woodsman was dragging up immense trees. He brought one, and laid it on the fire, but in the time it took him to go for the second tree, the first was all consumed, so that he could never sit to warm himself. Once again, Cormac watched a while but said nothing, then journeyed on.

Next he came to a barren plain whereon he saw a giant head. Into the skull poured one great stream, and from the eyes and ears and mouth flowed five smaller ones, in all directions. He wondered at this marvel, and traveled on across the plain to where he saw a brightly lit and welcoming house.

The door was opened by a fine lady who welcomed him in with the cup of blessing and wash water for his feet. A table was set for feasting, and a grand lord sat in the high seat. On the hearth a pig was roasting, yet it showed no sign of being cooked at all. The lord said to him; "Be welcome to my house, Cormac macAirt, king of Ireland. Come, let me show you a marvel. You see that pig, roasting on the spit? Well it has this quality- that if four truths are told while turning it, it will be fully cooked."

The warrior, his wife, a servant each told a tale, and their fourths were cooked, and then Cormac told how he lost his family, and the feast was ready. Then the warrior showed Cormac the golden cup with which he had been greeted and said; "You see this cup, well it has the property that, when three lies are told near it, it will break, and three truths told near it will make it whole again."

They demonstrated it's property by means of some nonsense, and when it was said to Cormac; "neither your wife nor your daughter has been unfaithful, nor has your son slept with any woman," it came back together.

Then the warrior revealed himself as Manannan macLir and asked whether he and his people had been happy in the last year. Cormac told him truthfully that the people had been contented, peaceful and productive, yet missed their royal family almost as much as Cormac himself had missed them.

So Manannan told Cormac that they would soon be with him once more and said; "Many times have I visited your realm, seen and unseen. Many times have I invited you to visit me in mine. Not until now have I prevailed upon you to accept my hospitality."

Then through an inner door came the most beautiful sight ever to meet the eyes of Cormac macAirt - his wife and daughter and son, smiling in joy to greet him. Together they laughed and wept and hugged, looked at one another long and deeply to see that all were well, and then they sat at last to the feasting. As the dined, Cormac told of the marvels he had seen while crossing the plane. Manannan explained them; the thatching of feathers were the words of poets, who gain no fame nor give any great thought to their words, so that they are all blown away and the world left unchanged. The log that burned before the man could cook his supper, was the work of those who labor for another's gain, not gaining pride nor sustenance from their efforts. And the great skull was the well of wisdom, flowing into the head and being expressed by the senses.

A gracious host was Manannan mac Lir, and the best of companions his wife, and the night passed pleasantly indeed, but as the sky began to pale, Manannan made a gift to Cormac of the apple branch and the cup of truth, and sent the family off to bed. When they awoke, they were once more upon the plane of Tara, and a year had passed since Cormac's leaving. Great was the rejoicing when they returned to the hall. And that is how Cormac mac Airt won the silver branch of soothing from Manannan mac Lir.

Fox, coming in as the seanfhear - the old man:

[wanders around the fire, muttering at people, then turns and tosses in some flash powder]

Hear me, children of this earthly realm;
Beware your words this night,
Beware of those who hear unseen,
Beware of hidden ways between
The world of the living and
The sunlit summer land.
It is a night of death,
The ending of the year,
The dying of the light,
The dimming of the sun's great fire.
Do you not fear the darkness?
See shadows move within the forest;
Which is yet more fearsome. The
dark itself, or what is faintly seen in darkness,
Shadows and mysteries of past and time to come?
So have a care not to wander off your well-marked paths,
Nor speak lightly now of ones long gone,
For they may be among you at this turning of the year.
Beware!

Outsiders Invocation (Rob):

Begone, old man! You bring a note of confusion and discord to our ritual this night. We have not need of your scare-stories here. Leave the ordered circle of our firelight and do not return!

Seanfhear:

Ignore my warning at your peril. I have spoken to you, what comes after, none may say. I say to you again- go home, where it is safe and warm and bright, and do not trouble the wandering spirits with your foolishness. [leaves]

Call to Ana (Kore):

We're the children of the earth, what have we to fear from any creature, living or dead? Trust the earth to continue, our River Mother Ana to preserve us in our place upon the earth, as she has always done. As long as we flow along with her, what have we to fear from the turning of time or any spirits out of time? They, too have belonged to the earth. Ana! Mother, You are with us this night, as every other, and we take joy in your fluid grace, slowing now and peaceful with the coming of the time of sleep. Share our journeys, as we journey on with you.

Call to Nature spirits (Matt): [a voice speaks up from around the fire]

You call us children of the earth. Then look to the first children of the earth, bear and deer and tree and salmon, eagle and raccoon and squirrel: hunters and hunted. They know well the cycles of life and death, and meet them without fear, for though there is an ending in death, yet there is in time a return. So let us be led by their wisdom, to take joy in life and adventure in death, to honor change and the steadfastness of life's return. The spirits of nature shall lead and join us on our journeys. We welcome them among us. Hail to you who know the wisdom of the earth! Beannachai agaibh!

Deities (Raven): [standing up, addressing the fire]

And I call to the gods of our people, who instruct and protect us in all things. They will go before us to show the way, and guard us that our steps be sure and strong. We are a people of courage, of wisdom, of vision and adventure as our gods themselves. Therefore, I call to Lugh our father, Bile' and Danu the first ones, Brid of the hearthfire, Ar'n the lusty and the Stag God who leaps in splendor unnamed, to be welcome in our rites and on our journeys, in this sacred day and time and place. Beannachai agaibh!

Rob: It is indeed a night of mystery. Let us call to Manannan to guide us, lest we be lost in the mists of change.

[hand out bells to people around fire]

Call to Manannan (Rob):

[blow conch]

Manannan comes, he comes
Even to our fire he comes.
From beyond the sea's nine waves he comes,
From beyond the isle of Donn he comes,
Lighting the moonlit path of mist he comes,
Showing us hidden gates he comes,
Guiding his sacred guests he comes,
Leading the longed-for dead he comes,
To our calling,
to our greeting,
to our blessing
to our welcome,
[all ring bells]
To the feasting of the night of Samhain he comes,

[Pause. Wait for him to arrive.]

[Manannan (Marae) steps forward silently, lantern in hand]

Welcome, Manannan, honored lord, hallowed guest, high one, Failte romhat! Grey one, what would you have of us this night?

[Manannan gestures to everyone to rise and follow him]

[begin procession, ringing bells for Manannan]

[Upon arriving at the Nemeton, people are quietly directed to bring food-offerings to the work altar, opposite the place of the dead. These ushers will sit to the right of the dead and be willing to help serve them.]

[people call to their beloved dead, led by Rob]

Seanfhear (Fox):

Come ancient ones from days long past, come you whose feet knew clay in recent years, come you who gave flesh to your children and you who give loan of this place, and you who teach the paths of spirit. Come, ancestors well-loved and long-remembered, Come! You who have been called by name, come and share in the feast.

[Fox blows horn for dead. Victor blows the horn of the dead.]

[The dead come and take their seats]

Wait! You call this a feast? Where are the offerings of hospitality?

[3 or 4 servers carry food to the dead]

Praise offerings (Rob begins):

We are honored to be here with you. I have brought an offering, a token of esteem, to convey love and blessing.

[does own praise offering, passes the basket]

[pass the basket, each person may make an offering as it comes to them, or merely add energy to it and pass it on. When it gets to the ushers. one of them carries it past the dead, Manannan and the Seanfhear to the next person. When the basket gets back to Rob, he will take it and place it before the dead. This is the signal to begin the final offering.]

Final offering: [The dead take up the basket and lead us in a snake dance - Fox begins the drumming for it.]

Song

You who dwell in the summer land,
Honored dead, join us in the dance.
By our side receive our love today,
Dance with us on this holy day.

[At the dance's conclusion, the basket is taken to Manannan; an offering from the dead to their lord. He takes it, makes a gesture of acceptance, and passes it to the seer.]

Divination (Lisa): [The basket of nuts and apples is tossed in the fire and scried into for the message of the ancestors and the direction of the coming year.]

Seanfhear: [One of the "dead" whispers in Fox's ear, who says:]

Those you have called here are pleased with your offerings of hospitality. They bid you share in the feast.

Return: [sharing the feast. People may continue to bring offerings to the dead or to tell stories about their loved ones or to suggest songs.]

Cauldron blessing - Seanfhear:

We thank you for joining us. It is long since we have been so well treated. But now the feast is ended. The living cannot thrive and grow in the land of the ever-young, as the dead cannot live anymore in the realm of time. Leave now, return to your proper place, and do not forget what can happen when you venture abroad on the night when the year turns to winter. Take with you as you go, your memory, and also if you dare, a blessing from the cauldron of health, wealth and wisdom, for you have shown honor as befits a good guest.

[Manannan will hand the cauldron to one of the "dead", who will hold it by the gate out of the Nemeton so people can take what they need as they leave.]

[process back up hill]

Song

It's the blood of the ancients
That runs through our veins
And the forms change
But the circle of life remains.

Ana - return and thanks (Kore):

We who have journeyed far from familiar ways, we thank you for keeping our place in the world we know. You have held for us a place upon the earth, the realm of life, and we rejoice now to greet you with love and honor, Ana, our mother, daughter of this ancient land. Though we may leave this place and return to our homes, you are ever in our hearts for you are the river of life to us and we do not leave your presence, within this world.

[build up the upper fire, we're all freezing!]

Thanks to spirits and deities who journeyed with us (Matt): First children of the earth, ancient high and shining ones, you spirits and deities who have joined us on this journey, for your guidance and protection, your joyful awesome presence on this journey, no less for all the blessings you bring to our lives, we give you thanks and blessing and honor this day that marks the boundary- time of the year. Slan leibh!

Reconnecting Meditation (Kami):

So- we have journeyed far, within ourselves and between realms. Now we return to ourselves, to the ways and world we know, wiser perhaps, and comforted by contact with loved ones from across the endless sea. The gate now is closed, forms are firm, each place is but itself. And yet all realms adjoin; pass through the mists or the archway or cave, the twilight and shoreline, the boundary and wasteland can be the gate. All worlds are here. And so are we.

Song: Walk with Wisdom

Fox: Affirmation, new member, new officers, announce fire vigil.

Announcements: hottubbing, raffle, "witch night", etc.

Author Information

Rev. John Adelmann (John fox Adelmann)

Articles by Rev. John Adelmann (John fox Adelmann)

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