This post will cover the Samhain ritual and party held by the Circle of Fountains.
To see the Circle of Fountains 2014 Samhain ritual, click here!
Circle of Fountains now has a Facebook page! Click here to check it out!
Circle of Fountains now has a Facebook page! Click here to check it out!
Before we begin, I wanted to make a small side note: Unfortunately, I was unable to cover the Liithi Lushede public ritual because our rituals coincided this year. They also cancelled their Mabon ritual, which is why it's been some time since you've seen them here on Witchy Words. However, we are working together to coordinate coverage for both of our Yule rituals. You can look forward to that!
Circle of Fountains' Samhain celebration was written and hosted by me this year! Samhain is my personal favorite and my preferred ritual overall, so I greatly enjoy writing and leading it. As usual, I like to set Samhain apart from our other rituals because it's such a special holiday for us. This year's ritual went darker and deeper than previous rituals, encouraging our members to dig at their inner most fears and face them for the Witch's New Year.
Our festivities began, as usual, with a crafting session. Last year, we made masks. This year, we made shrouds. This project was fairly simple and didn't require the use of hot glue guns. We cut veils from fabric and decorated a headband which held them in place. What a simple yet effective craft for covering our faces. After all, the spiritual veil is thinnest on Halloween night and the dead walk the earth. Covering your face, be it via mask, shroud, makeup or costume, is the perfect way of scaring away the darker spirits.
After our veils were completed, we continued to the dining table where I briefly read the rules for dinner. Traditionally called a Dumb Supper, that name tends to be offensive towards those who cannot speak, so we instead chose to call it a "Silent Supper." During a silent supper, you dine quietly with those who have passed.
At the head of the table was a sitting area that included a special plate served for the dead and a chair covered in black cloth. In front of that plate were eight tea light candles. Before we sat, each circlemate lit a candle to call upon their loved one and placed a picture or token at the guest table. The last words each person spoke was the name of their loved one and the deceased's relation to that member.
Even my husband lit a candle for a dearly departed. By lighting a candle, placing a picture or token item of that loved one and leaving an empty chair, you beckon the deceased to join you while you eat.
We then sat to dine in complete silence. I asked each member to be explicitly aware of their surroundings, taking note of each whisper, cool breeze, touch or any other out of place sensation. These may be signs that the spirits have joined us. When each person finished eating, they covered their face with their veil and hung their head in silence.
Suddenly, in the midst of the silence after everyone had finished eating, the following music came from the basement:
"Seven Devils" by Florence and The Machine
Before heading down, I lit a special sage bundle blend and smoke cleansed each circlemate. I also anointed their foreheads with protective oil. This was essential as what we were about to face required extra protection. As the fog swirled up from the stairwell, I descended first towards the veil between our physical world and the spirit world.
At the start of the chorus, I pulled back the veil and all entered into the realm of the unknown.
Each circlemate made their way towards the centermost altar in the fog bank, gathering around it and holding hands.
In the meantime, I cast a circle of protection about them by calling upon the individual elements, beginning in west, the direction of the setting sun and the spirit world, and working my way around.
Once each direction was called, I joined the center circle in holding hands with my head bowed until the end of the song. We then officially began ritual.
I asked my circlemates to take note that we were not alone, that other entities had joined us in the circle. On Samhain, the veil between the physical world and the spirit world is the thinnest. Yes, the dead cross the veil when the pass, but other entities can also cross the veil, including guiding spirits and demons.
I then related the Biblical story of Mary Magdalene and the seven demons which were cast from her. While not much is known about Mary prior to this passage, and little is known about the demons that were once within her, we can infer two things: 1) The demons were eventually considered the archetypes for the seven deadly sins in Christianity and 2) the number seven is a number of wholeness. The fact that Mary of Magdalene was possessed by seven demons means she was wholly consumed by them, unable to move forward.
Whether the demons were real demons or metaphors for inner turmoil, mental or physical illnesses are up to your interpretation. For those who choose this interpretation of the passage, we find that, sometimes, our own internal demons are scarier than any astral or spiritual entity that could be invoked. They control us, rule our every action and guide us by fear.
On the night of the Witch's New Year, we were going to face our own inner demons.
I asked each member to think about that which plagues them - the thing that inhibits them the most in life, the thing that scares them the most about themselves. They were then told to light a skull candle one at a time and take that candle over to a figure in the room. Ensuring the candle was facing that figure, each circlemate was asked to call upon their inner demon as if it were a real entity, look it in the eye and face their fear.
Emotions ran high. Some circlemates turned to anger while others shook and still others cried, unable to fully call their innermost fear. You'll notice that one fear was faced as a couple rather than individuals. This was certainly not a ritual for the faint of heart or the inexperienced witch. Dealing with any kind of fear, but particularly your darkest one that has the strongest grip on you, is a struggle on its own. Pulling that fear into a ritual space requires the utmost trust, not just in your own abilities but in your ritualmates abilities as well. Even on a metaphorical level, I would not consider this a 101-level ritual and would strongly suggest against the new witch attempting this work.
We had extensive protection in place on a multitude of levels. Of course, we began with a smoke cleanse and a dab of protective oil but, in addition to that, each member was also asked to arm themselves with their own protective charms and trinkets. The room was cleansed and protected, and a circle raised. Each demon was held in place by a sachet of black salt inside the form, courtesy of Sabbat Box, and bound to the cloth by a woven spell. We certainly double- and triple-downed on the protection. In addition to all of this, I kept my personal banishing spells on hand and all supplies close by to deal with any entities we may not have wanted in the circle. Should we have somehow mistakenly summoned something tangible, we were prepared.
I want to expressly state again that this is not a ritual we would have undertook if we were not prepared to deal with the ramifications. If you attempt this ritual on your own, ensure you are studied and prepared to deal with whatever it is you face.
Once each inner fear was called upon, I lit a center candle to represent our demons as a whole. We then stood united for a moment to face our own demons in silence.
At that time, I passed around a small piece of white cloth to each member and a bag of small rubber bands in various colors, preparing my circlemates for a simple but effective way to create a vessel for energy.
Each circlemate chose a rubber band color that best matched the kind of energy they felt would repel their fears. We then went around in a circle one by one and stated the kind of energy that would guide us to cast out our fears. By pinching the center of the cloth an wrapping the rubber band around it, we created a head with a sort of ghostly shaped body. This little vessels were called "Guiding Spirits." As we charged them, we put into them love and light and happy thoughts to help us face our fears.
The next step involved communal support. Each member, or members as the case may be, lit a thin white taper candle from the center pillar that represented our inner demons and stated the fear which they called upon.
The member then passed their lit candle around the circle.
Each circlemate would then channel their own energy through the candle and light one of the black candles surrounding the pillar candle. While lighting it, they would make a statement of support. Once the taper circled back around to the member who first lit it, they could blow out the flame and save their taper to burn later when they felt lost or at the mercy of their fear.
By doing this, we vowed to become each others' safety net, a circle of protection and support from their inner demon.
At the same time, the bowl became ablaze with flames of support, symbolically melting the faces of the demons on the pillar candle. Eventually, the overwhelming amount of support and fire became too much, and the wax snuffed the flame of the primary pillar candle. It all went out in perfect harmony and timing.
The final step was to face our inner demon one last time and remove them from our lives. We did so by taking a pair of scissors and cutting them down.
Cutting the demon down did not harmfully release it into the world. Instead, the demon loses its shape, becoming nothing more than cloth and wire on the floor. This symbolizes how that fear no longer holds any power over our lives. Thus we cut our inner demons out our lives for the New Year.
With that, we as a group blew out our individual candles. Members were encouraged to take the skull candles that represented their inner demon home and bury it as an a final act of removing their fear by neutralizing the energy.
And, with that, we completed ritual by closing the circle. The ending of the ritual was silent but very joyous. We all hugged each other and chatted for a bit before heading into the other room to prepare for the next event of the evening:
The Circle of Fountains After-Hours Halloween Party!
Around 40 Kansas City pagan community members turned out for dancing, drinks, food, costumes, games and more! We had a fantastic night that lasted all the way until 4 in the morning! Thank you so much to everyone who came out and joined us in our festivities. It was a blast!
From my circle to yours, we hope you had a blessed Samhain and a fantastic Witch's New Year!