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Favorite Samhain ritual [Oct. 13th, 2008|01:56 pm]
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Hi all! With Samhain just around the corner (eta: in the Northern hemisphere) I was wondering what everyone else's favorite Samhain (eta: or other late Fall/early Winter) ritual that you led or attended. What was the most fun? Or, conversely, what was the least favorite?

[User Picture]From: sunvenus
2008-10-13 09:20 pm (UTC)
Actually, it is nearly Beltane here in the southern hemisphere. And just so you are aware, not all priestesses necessarily observe those holidays. They are not part of Thelema, instance. :-)

That said, as I am a cross-traditionally initiated person I can tell you that I observe Samhain, Beltane, et al in a religious neo-pagan witchcraft manner. Our specific practices, rites and lore are oathbound, but I will say that we do some of the stereotypical stuff common to neo-wicca, witchcraft and neo-paganism. The best of those is the work done with the bond of my fellow initiates; the worst is most of the public rituals I’ve attended. Open rituals—for the most part—really seem to lack any “oomph”. I think this is because all too often they try to cater to the lowest common denominator. YMMV. That said; I did enjoy a nice semi-open Beltane ritual in 2005. We danced the Maypole (even though “maypole” is an awkward term for our October/November southern hemisphere observance) but it was a good group who was new and somewhat unfocused, but sincere.

My special preference with Samhain, the one thing that sets my observance apart from others here is that I lived in Arizona for the majority of my life, and spent a lot of my time in Mexico. I’ve now imported some of the Dia de los Muertos décor, food & symbolism to Australia, in particular Pan de Muertos (Bread of the Dead). My fellow witches love it for feasting, and my friends & neighbours—even the non-pagan ones—enjoy loaves that I bake to share. I don’t make those loaves skull-shaped (as is traditional) but it makes damn good coffee bread no matter what form you shape it in. With hot chocolate, it is absolutely divine.
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[User Picture]From: wilhelmina_d
2008-10-13 09:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for pointing out my omissions. I was so head-down in my preparations that I didn't even think before I posted. Sorry about that!

Anywho, the Pan de Muertos sounds divine! Thanks for sharing.
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[User Picture]From: altaeruditas
2008-10-23 02:42 am (UTC)
I had to think about which Samhain was the most special to me for a while before replying.

And then it hit me last night. It was the first Samhain ritual I ever led as a High Priestess in 1994.

My Calling to the high priesthood of teaching and leadership was accidental for me, and this took place in 1994, so the Samhain ritual was really my first ever major ritual I performed. I had been doing Full Moons regularly, but not a Sabbat, and especially nothing like Samhain.

I had been learning Dark Magic from a Native American Shaman, who was the one who encouraged me to be a High Priestess in the first place and trained me how to lead and teach a group, and harmonize the energies of an Open Circle, and how to work with a High Priest...he was my first High Priest, as well.

I was known for being a Witch around town, and he was known for being a Shaman. Joining together as teachers made quite a sensation, and by word of mouth only we had a large following. I had been in traditional covens previously, and had been Solitary as I was in the Army across the states from my coven back home in California. So I was really taken off guard by the whole experience. I was only 23, and he was only 21. We sort of just got thrown into the experience...and our students ranged in age from teens to people in their 50s, in fact, my mother flew out to California to join the group and became my student, and she made friends and had them join, too! My head was spinning.

I was married at the time, to another Wiccan, and we had been in the same coven in California. Which had the tradition of secrecy. We also happened to have an open marriage...he had girlfriends but I did not ever explore that freedom for myself...but magic choose for my Shaman teacher for that (like I said, we were young) and to prevent problems, we cut off our relationship.

But we had this coven, and Samhain was coming up. I hadn't seen or heard from him in a few months, and I didn't know what to do. So I prayed for guidence. "What do I do now?" And afterwards, I went into the living room to turn on the stereo. It was set to the radio, which was unusual, and the volume was up very high...and it was the Shaman's voice speaking. He had entered into a radio contest he had won. I turned to my husband, and asked, "Did you hear that? I asked what to do. What do you think it means?" He said, "Call him." So I did.

It was an amazing ceremony! I don't know what it is, but when I work with the Shaman we make a very good team. We led everyone in a death and rebirth guided visualization that was a journey to the Summerland, and then woke them back up after their journey. My mother opened her eyes and called me, "Mother" in a little girl's voice. It made my heart skip because it was so weird being the daughter, now in the role of the Mother for my mother in ceremony.

I am still very good friends with the Shaman, in fact we are chatting right now, and last night it was odd because we both remembered leading this Samhain ritual together so many years ago. That moment in time changed my life completely. My life was never the same after that.

It just was very profound on a spiritual level how the Shaman and I were brought together by coincidences, and how it my personal and Goddess directed initiation into High Priestesshood, when I never asked for it and had not believed in this sort of thing as a traditionalist. It took me many years to accept this Calling...I am still in awe of it. But this year I have fully embraced it, and the same phenomena has been happening that reminds me of 1994, though I have led covens as a High Priestess since 1996...this is the first time I really accept I have this Calling and have the experience to really now understand the lessons learned from the mistakes I made when I begun this Journey. I also feel better now because my HP and HPS of the BTW have been very supportive of my Calling, despite it is not traditional, and they have assured me that they believe that this is a Calling of the Goddess, and I have answered Her voice. I think I needed that assurance, that though this goes against tradition, it is what She choose for me, and I am learning to trust that.

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[User Picture]From: ivorywitch
2008-12-29 02:23 am (UTC)
This seems to be quite an old post, but since I just joined, I thought I'd answer it.

My favorite rite at Samhain takes place at a State Park in Tennessee. The festival is called Festival of Souls and is sponsored by the church for which I am one of the clergy members. This year we lost one of our members in death, so it was a poignant time for us. There are two events at this festival that address both our dead and the recent loss of loved ones. The first is the Ancestor Rite, led by someone that practices a Druidic inspired path in which Ancestors are invited to attend a fireside circle by which all who wish to may step forward an add incense or some other article to the fire as they remember a loved one, sometimes several loved ones at once if this is their first time. At the end, they say "I will remember..." and then the other circle participants sort of echo that with 'We will remember..." then we slowly file out of the circle, led by the 'Druid' to the entrance to a candlelit labyrinth. One by one, people are allowed entrance, to progress to the center where there is a fire, incense and candles and people can place things on the altar or lit candles or incense in memory of their loved ones, or just in meditation, then file out. The part of the rite takes a couple of hours, and yet it is the single most anticipated event at the Festival and is what brings people back from far away places that may not have any connection to our church or its members, but came because it was a "Samhain Festival" and return because this rite touched them. It is simple and profound and if a pagan church can have a tradition, this is certainly one of ours.

Blessed be,
currently in Knoxville, TN
Summerland Grove Pagan Church
Memphis, TN
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