Ravemore's Notes

A little meandering… Pagan reflections on a left hand path.

Month: November, 2011

Samhain Rite

-Cast the Ritual Circle.

-Perform The Sacrament.

Declaration

Kneeling or standing before the altar say:

We stand between the old year and the new. The veil between our land and the Underworld is thin, and it is a time when those who have died and await rebirth can return briefly between dusk and dawn. Therefore, we set an extra place at our table… and we remember. The Great Goddess Morrígan has granted this reprieve.

Our Great God Lugh, who has sacrificed much that we may continue, has reached the Underworld to await his rebirth, his long journey from the mortal world now complete. The Horned One has watched over his travels on the Low Road, even as he watches over ours. Morrígan the Crone greets him, welcomes him, and walks with him in darkness. The Mother Danu weeps at his absence, and the land becomes cold and barren. The Maiden Bridgit sequesters herself away from man and beast, the fires of desire smoldering low like ashes on the late evening hearth.

Opening Invocation

Kneeling or standing before the altar say:

Horned God of the Witches, Great Cernunnos,
I utter your name into the darkness.
Giver of knowledge, Goat God of the witches I invoke thee,
By standing stone, and twisted tree.
By fiery flame and starlight pale,
In shadowy hosts that ride the gale.
By moonlit meadow and dusky hill,
When haunted wood is hushed and still.
Come to the tone of chanted prayer,
As the moon bewitches the midnight air.
Come to us from dark depths below,
When the pale white moon is climbing slow. (1)

– Prayers and invocations can be offered to the individual Gods and Goddesses at this time.

Sacrifice

Offer a sacrifice of bones and ash to The Gods, laying them upon a plate on the altar. After the circle is opened, the sacrifice can be burned in the bonfire or buried beneath a tree.

The Ritual Circle

The ritual area is prepared with candles and decorations appropriate to the time of the year. Atmosphere is an important component and prepares the mind and spirit for magical works. Appropriate symbolism aids in altering the consciousness. The Godstang should be set in the northern perimeter of the working area, and in a pot of earth if the circle is cast indoors. It is a representation of the Horned God Cernnunos.

The circle diagram should be drawn prior to the actual casting. Ritual Circles can be permanently scribed, etched, or painted on concrete or other surface areas, but the tracing of the drawing with the tip of the Ritual Knife is done prior to every arcane endeavor. This charges the diagram and readies it for use.

Ritual Circles create consecrated space, provide protection for conjuring and summoning, act as a conduit and reservoir to collect and focus energy for greater magical casting, and provide greater power for specific spells, charms, or curses. Keep in mind, a circle is not necessary for the working of all magic though. Magic can be successfully cast to great effect without a circle.

The casting of a Ritual Circle is much more though… it is a mystery representing death and rebirth, in itself worthy of contemplation. By entering the Ritual Circle you have left the normal outside world and have stepped into the Underworld. The Altar is oriented towards the north, the direction ruled by the element earth, the Great Goddess Morrígan, and from where the Horned God watches the Low Road. The Underworld is the womb of the Mother Danu, all comes from it, and all must return to it to await rebirth. When the ritual is complete and you leave the Circle you are born again into the world above. Therefore, the casting and closing of every Ritual Circle is a symbolic death and rebirth. Ritual circles can be used at any time of the day or night, but any magical working completed during hours of darkness, preferable within the confines of “the witching hours” will have greater affect. Midnight to 3AM, being the aforementioned time frame.

The ritual circle I most commonly use is constructed of three concentric circles. Depending on the purpose, I will then inscribe within the two enclosed rings that these three lines create. Although the circle should ideally be 9 feet across, as that is a sacred number, it is no less effective if it is smaller or larger. Do not get too caught up on measurements.

Casting the Ritual Circle

Facing North with the ritual knife in your left hand, eyes steadfast upon the Godstang say:

In ancient times the Horned God Cerrnunnos came to man in the form of a serpent and offered light and knowledge. Man accepted his gift and received the fire of creation and knowledge of the craft. He taught that divinity is a path that any may embark upon. For this we thank you, Lord Of All Witches. Watch over my rite, lend it power, and provide your protection. I have cast the circle thrice about.

Step to the northern quarter, whisper while tracing the outside perimeter of the circle with the Ritual Knife held in the left hand in the deosil direction:

I conjure thee, Circle.
Here at the crossroads, a world within a world,
Under the watchful eyes of the horned God of the Witches.

Take a small portion of Cross Road Earth from a container on the altar and sprinkle it around the base of the candle in the northern elemental circle and say:

Morrígan, Mistress of the Underworld, hear my call. I beseech thee to watch over my rite, lend it power, and provide your protection. –Light the candle.

Pick up the candle in the eastern elemental circle, blow upon it and say:

Lugh, Sun God, trickster, and sacrificial lord, hear my call. I beseech thee to watch over my rite, lend it power, and provide your protection. –Light the candle.

Pick up the candle in the southern elemental circle, light the candle and say:

Bridgit, Fire and Inspiration, hear my call. I beseech thee to watch over my rite, lend it power, and provide your protection.

Take a small bottle containing water from the altar and sprinkle it around the base of the candle in the western elemental circle and say:

Mother Danu, from you all-that-is was given birth, hear my call. I beseech thee to watch over my rite, lend it power, and provide your protection.  -Light the candle.

The Circle is rightly cast and the Gods are present. This space is blessed and hallowed. So Mote It Be.

After casting the circle and completion of all of the rites and rituals for which it was created, disbanding the binding magic is fairly simple. Thank the Gods, declare the Ritual circle open, and allow your Will to let go of the binding power. The energies will dissolve and flow into the surrounding area. No formal ritual is required for this.

Great Gods and Goddesses, you have my thanks, and I ask for your blessings before you depart. The Ritual Circle is now open. So Mote It Be.

The Sacrament

The Sacrament Ritual is performed during the Sabbat ceremonies. It is a rite that through deep symbolism connects us more intimately to Deity. Within the confines of a ritual circle and consecrated space we invoke, we intone prayer, and we offer thanks for life, will, and power.

The energy that flows forth from the Greater Gods and Goddesses infuse everything. We consume food, which is in turn broken down and transformed into energy for our bodies. The symbolism here cannot be ignored in the Sacrament. Our Great God Lugh gives his life each Autumn to provide for the growing season the following year, therefore the stalks of grain also hold great significance. His flesh is ground and he is consumed in body and blood as bread and ale, so that by his sacrifice we may live on. We rejoice at his rebirth and the continuation of the great cycle. We take the essence of the Gods into ourselves, and we celebrate and contemplate this during the Sacrament.

The cup that holds the ale also has great symbolic meaning. When being blessed it accepts the ritual knife as the woman accepts the phallus, the male form attracted and bewitched by the wiles of Bridgit. When filled with ale it is ripe like the womb of the Mother Danu, holding life-giving substance within it. When empty it represents the underworld and Morrígan, waiting to receive the souls of the dead on the journey from the Low Road. It represents both procreation and death… the cycle of life.

– Cast The Circle.

– Upon the alter place a wooden bowl holding a piece of whole grain bread, an empty cup, and a bottle of dark ale.

-Kneel on both knees and bow before the alter and say:

Great God Lugh, you thrust yourself upon Areadbhar each cycle and your lifeless body returns to the ground to ensure the fields are fertile. You warm us and deliver us from darkness. I thank you for your sacrifice.

-Raise yourself up and remain in a kneeling position before the alter. Pick up the ritual knife and touch the tip of the blade to the bread and say:

I consecrate this bread, symbol of your body, and by consuming it I take within me your essence. You warm us and deliver us from darkness. I thank you for your sacrifice.

-Place the ritual knife on the altar. Take a piece of the bread and eat it, taking a few moments to ponder the meaning of sacrifice. When done, pick up the ritual knife again and dip the tip into the cup and say:

Great God Lugh, you thrust yourself upon Areadbhar each cycle and your blood flows into the ground to ensure the fields are fertile. You warm us and deliver us from darkness. I thank you for your sacrifice.

-Place the ritual knife on the altar. Pour the ale into the cup and consume about half of the contents in one long draught, taking a few moments to ponder the meaning of birth, life, and death. When done, place the cup back on the altar, reserve the leftover bread and ale for the Fey, and say:

Gods and Goddesses, witness this holy sacrament taken in remembrance of the sacrifice of Lugh. Bless me and mine, empower my art, and be with me this sacred night.

-After the Sabbat Ceremony is complete and the circle has been opened, an offering of the remains of the Sacrament is put outside for the Fey.

Ritual Tools

Dedicating, purifying, or making ready tools and implements through extensive and long drawn out rituals is something I find silly. A proper tool will do what my Will directs it to do. This does not mean there should be no purification mind you. My path requires only that a tool to be used in ritual be bathed in the light of the full moon for one night, and the light of the sun for one day. A simple prayer is then said over it. It creates a connection between the Gods, the tool, and me.

I think over time it has gelled in the minds of many magic practitioners that rituals are only going to be successful if the main tools are both varied and prepared in specific ritual manners. That is a bag of rubbish. A spell can be cast with something bought directly from a grocery store and with no preparation if the intent is known, the Will is strong, and the power is directed by the Will to accomplish the intent.

The main tools used for rituals in my Left Hand Path are few, those being the Ritual Knife and the Cup. Sometimes simplicity is best, and I have embraced it in many aspects of my path.

The Ritual Knife, is symbolic of two very different but interwoven things, and therefore represents a duality. Like the phallus it is an object representing fertility. A phallus is driven into a woman spewing seed into her womb, and the womb generates life. In the Sacrament the Ritual Knife is driven into the Cup, a representation of the womb and symbolizes the holy union of a man and woman to procreate. But with birth, comes death. Thus the duality of the Ritual Knife, as it is also a weapon and represents a clear connection between birth and death.  The Ritual Knife is used in magic castings to create outcomes directed by the Will. It shapes energy from the womb of the Mother Danu, and it also disapates or ends them.

The Cup is a symbol of the secret power of the Mother Danu to give birth and give shape…and by extension all women. It holds the water of life like the woman’s womb cradles the fetus in life-giving fluids. It is a symbol of creation and transformation, for from it nothing can become something.

Specific spells or rituals can require other tools, components, and implements. Some of these include, but are not limited to, cords, wands, chalk, crayons, paint, containers, censors, incense, candles, plant and animal parts, etc. These I will mention within the directions for various spells or magical workings where they are required. The complexity of preparation for these items can vary from working to working and some can even be unique to a particular purpose. A piece of chalk may be used “as-is” in one working, but can be required to have many other processes worked in another. There is nothing wrong with this. It sets the mood or tone, helps to focus the Will, and atmosphere is an important component as I have mentioned before.

Powders and Dusts

Powders and dusts are called for in various spells and charms. The following is a description of ones I use.

Soot: Soot is a good conductor of magical energy. It is said that a bowl of appropriately consecrated soot placed in your bedroom will absorb any curses seeking you. Soot can also be made into a paint or ink and used to paint protective symbols on structures and other surfaces. On the other hand a curse will be all the more affective if the person sending it can obtain soot from the chimney of the hearth of the victim. It is said that in the past that those sending a curse would fly a kite over the chimney of their intended victim to gather this soot.  
 
Cross Road Earth: Earth gathered at the cross roads is used in many spells and rituals, the casting of the Ritual Circle being foremost. It is a mixture of earth gathered from a place where four roads meet. 
 
Grave Soil: Dirt collected from within the confines of a graveyard. It is used in certain rites, either to cast curses or to bring fertility to land.   
 
Love Powder: A mixture of Orrisroot, red rose petals, and sugar ground fine. This sweet and sticky powder is a common ingredient in love spells.  
 
Charm Ash: After making and then charging talismans they can be burnt and then the ash scattered were the result is required.   

Crow Ash: Crows are emissaries of the spirit world and their ash is sometimes used in rites where strong spirit contact is needed. On the night of a full moon a small fire is made without flint or iron and on it are burnt the corpses of crows. The fire should only be just big enough to burn them to ash. Once the fire has cooled sieve the ash and put in a jar. The same process can be used to make ash from other types of animals for specific magical workings.
  
Bone Ash: Made in much the same way as Crow Ash. It is used to mark out magic signs upon the earth during some rites and in necromancy.

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