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Samhain Notes

The High Priestess wears her white tabard if she has one 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 altar, she faces him across the cauldron, They then simultaneously draw the Invoking Pentagram of Earth in the air with their athames towards each other, after which they lay down their athames; he on the altar, she by the cauldron.

The High Priestess scatters incense on the charcoal in the cauldron. When she is satisfied that it is burning, she stands still facing the High Priest across the cauldron. She then declaims (if needed, ask a man to bring one of the altar candles and hold it for her):

    "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 which 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,
    O thou the Comforter, the Consoler, the Giver of Peace and Rest,
    We will enter thy realms gladly and unafraid;
    For we know that when rested and refreshed among our dear ones
    We will be reborn again by thy grace and the grace of the Great Mother.
    Let it be in the same place and the same time as our beloved ones,
    And may we meet, and know, and remember,
    And love them again.
    Descend, we pray thee, in thy servant and priest."

The High Priestess then walks around the cauldron and gives the High Priest the Five-fold Kiss.

She returns to her place and pulls the veil of her tabard over her face. She then calls on each woman, by name to come forward and give the High Priest the Five Fold Kiss.

When they have all done so, the coven forms up around the circle, alternating male and female with the Maiden next to the West candle. As soon as they are in place, the High Priestess says:

    "Behold, the West is Amenti, the Land of the 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 Western gate, I call upon all of you, my brothers and sisters of the Craft, to hold the image of these loved ones in your hearts and minds, that our welcome may reach out to them. There is mystery within mystery; for the resting place between life and life is 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 inward to Caer Arianhod leads to night, and rest, and is against the way of the Sun."

The Maiden should spiral into the center, taking three or four circuits to do so. During this time, the coven should maintain absolute silence and concentrate on welcoming their dead friends.

When she reaches the center, she faces the High Priestess across the cauldron. They touch palms and the High Priestess says:

    "Those who you bring with you are truly welcome to our Festival. May they remain with us in peace. And you 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."

The women break contact and the Maiden returns to the West candle. When she is there, the High Priestess says:

    "Let all approach the walls of the Castle."

Everyone moves in and sits in a close ring around the cauldron. The High Priestess renews the incense. Now is the time for communion with the dead. When finished scrying, the cauldron is placed next to the East candle.

The spirits of the dead must be thanked and released. The High Priestess leads the rest of the Coven in saying:

    "We thank you our friends for visiting here this night. We bid you a pleasant repose in Caer Arianrhod. We also thank you, the Dread Lord of Shadows for taking care of them and giving them comfort."

The next thing to do is the Great Rite in some form.

Farrar, Janet and Stewart; "Eight Sabbats For Witches"; Robert Hale 1983

Transcribed to computer file by Seastrider