* Ashcroft Nowicki Samhain Rite *
copyright 1995 D. Ashcroft-Nowicki.
The Living: The Ice King, the Snow Queen, The Crone, Jack O'Lantern
The Dead: Representative of Ancient Dead, Representative for the Dead Warriors, Representative for the Newly Dead.
Come to the place of the Rite quietly, silently, bearing gifts for the Dead.
-The Snow Queen brings salt for them to savor.
-The Ice King brings wine.
-The Crone a loaf of newly baked bread.
-Jack brings a faggot of well dried twigs and a lighted lantern and four simple crosses made of two pieces of wood/twigs about 12 inches high. Wrapped around the cross is a piece of cotton wool or sheep's wool soaked in oil. All has been prepared. The fire is ready for lighting and all that is needed laid out for the making of the circle of sighs. Each person present has an unlit candle.
The King and Queen enter the un-hallowed dancing floor.
Others wait for entrance (For those who wish, the circle may be cast in your usual way. ed Dolores)
The King and Queen each with a lighted candle (Black & Purple), call the Crone and the Jack into the circle alternately. They in turn take the candles and call the others, each pair calling in the next.
Welcome all this Samhain night,
When the Old Year wanes and fires burn bright.
Welcome all let nothing lack.
Enter the circle Lantern Jack
I come, I come with the faggot to burn,
To light the fire so the dead can return.
With the candle and flame and cakes and ale,
And while we eat I'll tell thee a tale.
He enters the circle, kisses the Queen, salutes the King and lights the faggot from his lantern and with it lights the fire.
Crone enters the circle, kisses the King and Jack, salutes the Queen.
Blessed be ye Ancient One,
Who cares for the body when life is done.
When your own time comes, by the blessed moon,
I will put on your embroidered shoon.
Here comes the Crone with new baked bread,
Set it on the altar to feed our dead.
Cast it round the circle
Cast it round the fire,
Hallowing the dancing floor
And the Dead Folks Pyre.
She places a piece of the loaf on the altar, throws a piece into the fire and crumbs around the fire area keeping the second half to give out.
Now the others enter one by one, kissing King or Queen, taking bread from the Crone and lighting their candles from Jack's Lantern. These they set round the furthest edge of the dancing floor, making a barrier of flame. The Queen now paces round the circle scattering a thick trail of salt at the edge leaving two feet clear between the candles and the salt.
Come one, come all and now rejoice.
For salt doth give the Dead a voice.
On Hallow's Eve, the dead we feast
Death levels all, makes none the least.
Grace of the Lady, Might of the Lord.
Bring loved ones back from the Second Road.
King pours wine on the earth, encircling area for the living, but leaving space for dancing etc. There should now be three rings. One of flame at the furthest edge, two feet in from this a ring of salt, between these two circles, the dead will come. One foot from the salt circle is the wine leaving a large space for the people.
Red wine doth make the heart full merrie.
Sloe and grape and elderberry.
Salt for the dead and wine for the living.
Love and memories all for the giving.
A coin for the ferryman, a soul cake for the mass.
Linen for the farmer and slippers for the lass.
(Death custom demanded a new linen shirt for a dead man and a pair of embroidered slippers for a woman).
Jack lights the crosses and drives them into the earth at equal distances from each other around the circle saying:
One for the Lady, and one for the Lord,
One for the Cup and one for the Sword.
Lighting the way down the dark dread track.
That is the duty of old Lantern Jack.
Black is the water, cold are the stones,
Candle flame is needed to warm dead bones.
Now we come to dance and sing.
And make we all the Hallows Ring.
Welcome to the folk long passed,
Welcome in and break your fast.
Blessings on the Ancient Dead,
By the light may ye be led.
She goes to the edge of the circle with a piece of salted bread and a glass of wine. The Representative of the Ancient Dead comes forward and accepts them from her hand.
Gracious Lady of the Rite,
Bless your welcome this Soul's Night.
I bring my people to your call
Fear not the dead who leave their hall.
To dine with you this Hallowed Eve,
But must ere morning take their leave.
Leave is given welcome be,
But see no harm is done by thee.
Come ye dead of Ancient Days,
Welcome back to living ways.
Representative of Ancient Dead enters the circle, takes bread and salt from Queen and joins the group.
(He must not touch anyone during the Rite).
King goes to the edge and summons the Representative of the Newly Dead, takes cup of wine and spills some on the ground.
Newly Dead I call thee home,
Rest ye soft and no more roam.
Blessed by thy resting place,
Come look upon a living face.
Cast no shadow, do no wrong,
When crows they cock, then get thee gone.
Rep for the Newly Dead comes to the edge of the circle and takes the wine offered.
Blessed Be the living, Blessed Be their Rite.
Blessed Be the offerings made this night.
Be Blessed for your welcome, Be Blessed for your love.
Be Blessed of the Goddess who comes from above.
(He must not touch anyone during the Rite).
The Crone goes to the South with a cup of water and a sprig of green. The Representative of the Dead Warriors comes to the Edge of the Circle.
I am the Mother who sent you to fight,
I am the Wife who cried in the night.
I am the Morrigan who laid you to rest.
I am the Goddess by whom you are blest.
Yours was the sacrifice, your was the pain,
Yours is the duty to guard us again.
One with the Heroes who stand by the shore,
One with Immortals living ever more.
You who died with honor, giving of the best,
Be ye welcome always, sit ye down and rest.
Once I walked an English Lane,
And felt the kiss of summer rain.
But I was asked to give my life
And with it all my joy,
I never saw my wife grow old,
I never held my boy.
And yet I was a greater man
Than other men have been.
I walked with Drake and Frobisher,
And Elizabeth the Queen.
I stand my guard with Cavalier,
With Alfred and the sort,
Who fought upon St Crispin's Day,
And won, At Agincourt.
I bless thee all who give to me
This one day in the year,
When I can walk the Earth again
And feel the kiss of rain.
She sprinkles him with water. He enters the circle and joins the New and Ancient Dead.
(Like the others, he/she must touch nothing)
Jack goes to the edge of salt circle with lantern and signals with it to the dead.
Now I summon up the dead and those who still hold on.
Let go of grief, let pain and fear, grow less and then begone.
We ask you now to be our guest until the cock doth crow.
Then follow ye the shadows long to where the soul must go. Now joyful be and join with us and share our cup and plate, Comes the morn the sun will show the way to Heaven's Gate.
All take it in turn to call out the name of someone who has passed and who they wish to contact, then all turn to face the fire while the dead gather. First by the ring of flame, Rep of Newly Dead speaks for them.
We thank you for your gentleness, Your blessing and your light. I speak for all the newly dead Who come to you this night.
Do not forget us, this we beg, But give us leave to stay
With you who live, each Hallow's Eve, And on to All Soul's Day.
Representative of Ancient Dead goes to ring of salt and summons them.
Pass through the flame that guards this place,
Pass through and greet us face to face.
Take of the salt to give thee form,
To replace that taken by the worm.
Then look upon those dear to thee.
Show them the face they long to see.
Now come with slow and solemn pace
And share with us all Hallow's grace.
At this point may come songs and dances and feasting. But at a selected point in the rite, the living throw notes and messages, photos and small gifts of candles, food, ribbons etc into the fire in memory of those who have passed on. All stand in silence and remember those who are no longer with us. Bless them and love them and let them go.
Blessed be All Hallow's Eve
And blest be those who weep,
And blessed thrice this companie
Who this All Hallow's keep.
May those who live remember well,
The ones who've passed away.
For all who live must one day pass
And no one know the day.
Blessed be the Ancient Dead.
Now call your wights to heel,
For soon the cock draws breath to crow,
And hither you must steal.
From all this joy and company I now will take my leave,
But I will come again to feast with you next Hallow's Eve. (turns to dead)
Ye Ancient Dead now take your leave nor wait till break of day. But pass from here with silent step and take the second way. We bless and name you hallow friend and give to you our leave. To join with us when comes around The next All Hallow's Eve.
(leaves circle casting salt before him/her)
Blessings on your head and feet, and on the heart between.
But we must take the second road no living man hath seen.
In one years time pray call us back and with you we will dine. With bread and salt and water sweet and red October wine. (turns to dead)
Now be we gone and leave this place.
Where we have dined full well.
And as we pass we'll say a prayer
Upon the Matins Bell.
(leaves circle casting salt before him/her)
Warrior now sheath your sword and join the might band.
And we will rest more easily to know you guard this land.
And I will lay a red red rose upon your resting place,
I do not know your name, but, oh, how well I know your face.
Now farewell mother think of me
But do not count me lost.
I'll be with Drake and Frobisher
Aa'standing at my post.
I'll walk with Haig and Wellington
And stand upon the tor.
With Launcelot and Pendragon,
No one could ask for more.
We pass, we pass we take our leave
And walk the broad hi'way.
Where only those who have no breath
May walk at break of day.
But look for us when leaves turn gold
And snow is on the height.
Then we will come and dance with you
Upon All Hallow's night.
(leaves circle casting salt before him/her).
Now all ye dead pray take your leave
And follow with your king,
Along the secret second way
As the Matins Bell doth ring.
But be not sad, but only glad
For soon will come the call.
We'll be together in a year
When leaves begin to fall.
Hold fast, hold fast to all your dreams
And so you must believe,
That we will come together yet
Upon next Hallows Eve.
Now we depart and take our leave
And lay a blessing bright
Upon the place where we have spent
This joyous Hallows night.
I bless this earth and bless this sky
And bless them three times three
For all that it has given us
And all that is to be.
A sacred place where sacred feet
Have danced a sacred round.
For where the dead have hallowed it
Such earth is blessed ground.
Now dies the fire and dies the night,
The moon lays down her head.
And we must leave our dancing floor
To seek a living bed.
But nothing dies it simply seeks
To live another way.
As every night must surely change
Into another day.
They leave in procession, casting salt about them. All others follow.
This ritual is based on Village material but has been adapted to make a more modern working. This ritual has been copyrighted to Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki 1995 and she asserts her moral right to be acknowledged as the author of this work in this version.