This is a special time of year, and a written ritual plan is highly suggested for Samhain night. Even with memorized wording for parts a plan can help as a map to guide you through the ritual. The plan will be your own, and you will make decisions about how your own plan is structured. Many of you may have a structure you use for ritual plan. Looking at other structures with an open mind can be a learning experience.
Number one in this written plan is Purpose. Purpose is a statement about what you will do during The Body of the Ritual. At any time you can look back at Purpose and know where you are going with the ritual. Purpose is important for group rituals, especially if a group is planning a ritual. This keeps everyone on the same page. Purpose may be the most important part of the ritual plan.
Purification of Self is next in this ritual plan.The ritual bath is just one very pleasant way to purify yourself. You can use herbs, flower petals and candles or not. It’s up to you. You could choose a shower or take a dip in a body of water. You can use essential oil mixed with a carrier oil to anoint yourself. Dorothy Morrison has a lovely written anointing and blessing ritual to be done with oil. Being purified mentally is important, and meditation works well for that. There is a good meditation app called Insight Timer, or you can write and record your own meditation. You could also meditate in silence. There are about as many ways to purify yourself as there are Wiccans.
Setting Up Sacred Space involves making sure the place is clean and tidy, setting up what you will need in sacred space and lighting the candles that should be lit from the beginning of the ritual. Create a checklist of things you will need. There is nothing like having to leave sacred space in the middle of a ritual or having to make a quick revision because you forgot something. Do not forget things like a glass or bottle of water for hydration and to clear your throat, your ritual plan, matches and a work candle if it will be dark during the ritual. This step is especially important to the success of the ritual.
Purification of the Ritual Space is fourth. Purification of ritual space is needed much more indoors than in outdoor spaces. You may vigorously sweep energies with a besom (round magickal broom). The besom is for sweeping energies only. You might ring a bell to clear negative energies. I string jingle bells on some of my besom handles for double duty. The circle casting given also helps purify ritual space.
Now it is time for Circle Casting. It’s a very good idea to have words for this memorized if you are going to use words. A short chant is better than a long poem. To cast a circle walk deosil (clockwise) around the circle. This is the normal movement around the circle. Starting in the east, use your staff or sword to draw your circle. Draw it just above the surface of the floor or ground. Second, sprinkle the edge of the circle with salt water starting in the east. Third, cense or smudge the circle with incense or smudge walking around the circle starting again in the east. By casting a circle, you are creating a space separate from the outside world in which to work. To learn more about circle casting, look at Deborah Lipp’s book.
Quarter Calls are sixth. Energies from each direction are invited to the circle to give power to the circle and/or protect it. If there are a number of people in the circle, 4 or 5 often volunteer to call directions: north, east, south, west and spirit. Either north or east are the suggested directions to call first then the others are called going around deosil. There are more directions you can call as well. See Deborah Lipp’s book.
The Invocation is an invitation for the god and/or goddess to come to your ritual. This is the time to flatter the god and/or goddess whom you are inviting. I believe they listen to plain or flowery language, but flowery language is one way to flatter a deity. Describing the deity in positive terms is another good way to flatter him/her. Having the Invocation memorized is yet another way to flatter the deity. These are things to consider when composing an Invocation.
With the formalities done you get to the meat of the ritual which I call The Body of the Ritual. What is the purpose of your ritual? Is it to celebrate a sabbat and how? Is it to do magick and if so what? If you are doing magic, raising energy is included. This is when you do the purpose of the ritual. Whatever it is you set out to do, this is your time to do it.
This is a good place to pause and talk about time. I never really know how much time elapses during a great ritual. You need to spend the time and attention it takes to work a good ritual. The cellphone should be on vibrate and be placed where you can ignore it. If you wear a watch, it’s a good idea to take it off. If you are doing an indoor ritual, and if there are clocks visible, cover the clocks or turn them around so you will not see the time. The ritual is not a time to be wondering what time it is or to be disturbed.
Grounding is often known as “Cakes and Ale”, and this food and drink will help you ground. Chances are you put out some really good energies either celebrating the sabbat or doing magic. “Cakes and Ale” can be any snack like food and drink, and the drink can be alcoholic or not. If this is a group ritual, and if alcoholic drinks are provided, most likely non-alcoholic drinks are provided, too.
The next steps are to Thank the God/s and to Thank the Quarters you invited. The thanking is as important as the Calling the Quarters and the Invocation. This good manners, and if you expect future help and guidance, this is not to be ignored.
Unbind the energies from the circle you cast. Clean up these energies and the physical space. I call this Opening the Circle. Do not wait to do it tomorrow. It’s important that this space is returned to normal.
Review the Ritual is last. After the ritual, write down how the it went. What went really well? What did you not expect? What did not go well? What would you do differently for the next ritual? This is a very important part in the ritual plan and it can help you plan and do future rituals.
Samhain – A Sample Ritual Plan
1. Purpose – The purpose is to let go of a loss. It may be any kind of loss: a person, a pet, a change in your circumstances, a loss in the your ability to do something. It is helpful to identify the loss you want to focus on ahead of time.
2. Purify Self – Do this in your chosen manner.
3. Create Sacred Space – Make sure the space is clean, tidy and that everything you need from the Materials List is set up. Light candles that should be burning at the beginning of the ritual.
Plan of where things go on the altar
Goddess candle – black – lit at beginning
God Candle – deep green – lit at beginning
Samhain candle – red, orange, deep purple or black – lit at beginning
Fireproof container like a cast iron cauldron with clean kitty litter to stick candle in (easy clean up after ritual)
Candle for fireproof container – red, orange, deep purple or black. (Consider burn time.) Unlit at beginning of ritual
Piece of paper
4 candles unlit at beginning of ritual, stones or something else to mark the quarters
Compass to figure out where the quarters go if needed
Consecrated salt water
Rosemary smudge and censor
Tool – sword or staff is best (You will be bending over with an athame or wand.)
Glass or bottle of water
Work candle if doing the ritual after dark
4. Purify Ritual Space – Sweep indoor space with a besom.
5. Circle Casting: Do silently or chant this:
I create a sacred space
the mode of time
and the mode of place
of the everyday erase.
6. Call the Quarters –
North: I invite North, Earth, rocky, full of fertile soil to this circle this dark night. Please grant this circle your powers of stability and join this circle. Power and Protect. Blessed Be.
East: I invite East, Air, sometimes calm, sometimes blustery to this circle this dark night. Please grant this circle your powers of breath and join this circle. Power and Protect. Blessed Be.
South: I invite South, Fire, flames licking, always on the move for change to this circle this dark night. Please grant this circle your powers of transformation and join this circle. Power and Protect. Blessed Be.
West: I invite West, Water, sometimes splashing, sometimes rushing to this circle this dark night. Please grant this circle your powers to cleanse and join this circle. Power and Protect. Blessed Be.
Spirit: I invite Spirit, Quintessence to this circle this dark night. Please arrive and attend. Please bless this circle. Blessed Be.
7. Invocation – Oh, magnificent Crone Goddess, you who are so familiar with the sorrows and joys of this life, I call to you. You know creation and destruction. You who have the experiences of the maiden and the mother within you I invite to this circle. Please attend this circle this dark night. Blessed Be.
Oh, formidable Horned God, god of of the large antlers and the dance I call to you. You are Lord of the wild. You who are familiar with victories and loss I invite to to this circle. Please attend this circle this dark night. Blessed Be.
8. Ritual Observance – Approach a dark fireproof container. Feel the chill of the container. Note the darkness in the container. Think about the loss you chose to focus on tonight. Write your loss on a piece of paper. How do you feel about this loss? How has is affected your life? What will you be doing from now on, if anything, that is different? Take your time to think about and feel this loss. Know that the consequences of this loss will still be with you, but when ready to let it go, light the paper on fire and let it burn in the container. Light a candle in the container. Experience the joy the fire brings as it helps to burn away at the loss.
9. Grounding – Cakes and Ale: It’s up to you what food and drink to have. “May you never thirst. May you never hunger.” Blessed Be
10. Thank the God and Goddess –
Thank you oh, wonderful Crone for your presence and for attending me during this dark time returned to light. You who are familiar with the cycle of birth, life and death, I give my sincere blessing and bid you farewell for now. Blessed Be.
Thank you oh Powerful Horned God for your presence and for attending me during this dark night returned to light. You who are so familiar with the victories and losses, I give you my sincere blessing and bid you farewell for now. Blessed Be.
11. Thank the Quarters –
West: Thank you West and Water for attending this circle this dark night, and for your flowing aid to this search for peace. I give you my special blessing and farewell for now. Blessed Be.
South: Thank you South and Fire for attending this circle this dark night and for your energetic aid to this search for peace. I give you my special blessing and farewell for now. Blessed Be.
East: Thank you East and Air for attending this circle this dark night and for your breezy aid to this search for peace. I give you my special blessing and farewell for now. Blessed Be.
North: Thank you North and Earth for attending this circle this dark night and for your firm aid to this search for peace. I give you my special blessing and farewell for now. Blessed Be.
Spirit: Thank you Spirit, Quintessence for attending this circle this dark night and blessing this circle while I search for peace. I give you my special blessing and farewell for now. Blessed Be.
12. Open the Circle – Unbind the energies of the circle either silently or by chanting:
Around, around, around.
May the circle be unbound.
Then clean everything up and restore the place to its original state. Maybe its a bit cleaner and tidier.
13. Review the Ritual
This sample allows you to see what a ritual plan looks like. This plan was written as a ritual for one person. You may use this plan if you want to for a ritual. Feel free to make adjustments to this plan as desired or needed.
May you have a meaningful Samhain.
Deborah Blake, Everyday Witch Book of Rituals: All You Need for a Magickal Year, Llewellyn, 2012.
Deborah Lipp, The Elements of Ritual: Air, Fire, Water & Earth in the Wiccan Circle, Llewellyn, 2021.
Dorothy Morrison, The Craft: A Witch’s Book of Shadows, Llewellyn, 2001.
Scott Cunningham, Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner, Llewellyn, 1994.
Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary Network Podcast, October 27 2019, Circle Craft Samhain Ritual, Encore from 2014.
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