Samhain 2023 online

Sacred Grove’s open circle for Samhain this year will be our first major attempt to hold the rite using ZOOM. This introduced some complications into the planning — How do you stand in a circle? Which way is East? And sealing the circle, in which we hold hands — needs some rework.

The ritual, as reworked, is included in this post.

Zoom meeting

Please note: No new participants will be admitted after 10 pm Eastern.

RedBird is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Sacred Grove Samhain
Time: Oct 31, 2023 09:45 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Meeting ID: 816 0350 3408
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New Considerations

Open Circle

The open public circle concept implies that participants may have long familiarity with Sacred Grove and the Bhakti Wiccan Tradition or may be joining us for the first time without preparation or anywhere in between.

Samhain — Visiting our Beloved Dead

Welcome to the Samhain ritual of Sacred Grove Community Circle, in the Bhakti Wiccan Tradition of the Fellowship of the Sacred Grove.

I am RedBird, and I will fill the ritual office of Bard in this rite.

This room is sealed; no one else will be admitted. If you lose your connection during the ritual, we will do our best to readmit you. This is a working we are undertaking together, supporting each other, and we can hang around and chat once we have returned from our journey.

With our voices and our mutual intentions for this rite, we will join in building the Grove that is our sacred space in this new realm of cyberspace – and in our inner worlds.

As an anchor in this world, feel the Earth directly beneath you, firmly holding you and pulling toward its center. Take a breath, blow it out, and relax.

As an anchor in this moment, reach in your mind for the sky above you, mindful of the season and time. Take a deep breath, exhale with a sigh, and relax.

Take note, from where you sit, which way is east, south, west, north. If the space is unfamiliar, look for clues in what you can see out a window or on a map or determine from the street outside. Take a deeper breath, exhale with a sigh, and relax.

And we now turn our thoughts to this space we share together.

Imagine, if you will, that we are standing together in a circle in the twilight. To our East is a table bearing a sword. To our West is a table bearing a cup. To our South is a living tree. To our North are standing stones.

Once we have formally claimed this as sacred space, I will start the sealing of the Circle by greeting one of you by name and saying “We are one.” Please then greet someone else by name and say “We are one.” and likewise until we all have joined the Circle. Last person, please greet me, and we will all respond together “We are one.”

Once we have sealed the circle, we will move as one between the worlds seeking the Mystery.

Then, we will invite unseen others to join us in spirit, if they will.



Bard speaks:

On this night when the Veil between the worlds is thin, when those who have gone before and we who still journey in Life may be permitted to visit in the care of the Lady and Lord, we approach the Mystery with awe and reverence.

Hear my warning. This is not safe. The Mysteries of Life, Death, and Rebirth have power we feel and cannot measure; they are part of our every moment, and we know them only vaguely. Those who have gone before have experience but cannot speak of all we might ask. They may hear the questions of our souls that we cannot speak for want of words – or volition. We may hear what we are not ready to hear.

We are children of Earth and Starry Heaven, beloved of the Lord and Lady, who seek to experience the Mysteries and open ourselves to Their guidance.

Let none remain who is unwilling to be changed by Their touch.


Bard speaks:

Please respond to each of the claimings with “So mote it be!”

East speaks:

In the name of the Lady of Light, and in my own name,
I claim this circle as a place of Men.
Let all within be bound to speak and hear the Truth.
So mote it be.
So mote it be.

West speaks:

In the name of the Sacred King, and in my own name,
I claim this circle as a place of Women.
Let all within be bound to Perfect Love and Trust.
So mote it be.
So mote it be.

South speaks:

In the name of the Lord of the Greenwood, and in my own name,
I claim this circle as a place of Nature
Let all within be bound in the Sacred Web of Life.
So mote it be.
So mote it be.

North speaks:

In the name of the Queen of Heaven, and in my own name,
I claim this circle as Sacred Space.
Let all within be open to the presence of God and Goddess.
So mote it be.
So mote it be.

Sealing the Circle

Bard speaks:

We have stepped beyond time, to a place not of Earth.
In the presence of the Lord and Lady, we join together and are one.

Bard greets one person by name and says “We are one.” That person greets another in like manner.

When all have been greeted, the last greets the Bard. Then all repeat together, “We are one.”

Inviting the Guardians

East speaks:

To this circle of mystery and honor, I call for one to stand
in the place of the Sword,
To teach us courage and discernment and to uphold
the pillar of the East.
Guardian of the Sword, Hail and Welcome.
Hail and Welcome.

West speaks:

To this circle of celebration and mystery, I call for one to stand
in the place of the Cup,
To teach us compassion and understanding and to uphold
the pillar of the West.
Guardian of the Cup, Hail and Welcome.
Hail and Welcome.

South speaks:

To this circle of remembrance and mystery, I call for one to stand
in the place of the Tree,
To teach us of life and change and to uphold
the pillar of the South.
Guardian of the Tree, Hail and Welcome.
Hail and Welcome.

North speaks:

To this circle of sacred Mystery, I call for one to stand
in the place of the Standing Stones,
To teach us reverence and awe and to uphold
the pillar of the North.
Guardian of the Standing Stones, Hail and Welcome.
Hail and Welcome.

The Mystery

Welcoming the Lord and Lady

Bard speaks:

We welcome You, Lady&Lord, to this sacred circle.
As we journey to meet with our Beloved Dead in Your Presence,
we remember Your Charge to Your children:

Friends, hear now the words of the Great Mother who is called Isis, and Freya, and Brigid, and many other names.

Priestess speaks:

I, who am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mysteries of the waters,
I call upon your soul to arise and come unto Me.
For I am the soul of nature that gives life to the universe.
From Me all things proceed and unto Me they must return.
Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices,
for behold – all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.

Bard speaks:

Hear the words of the All Father who is called Osiris, and Woden, and Lugh, and other names beyond counting.

Priest speaks:

I am the glory of the Sun and the enigma of the stars.
I am the ferocity of the storm and the rainbow of Hope
when the storm has passed.
I am the challenger and the challenged.
I am the seed and the harvest and the life that calls the seed to rise again.
Let My worship be in hands that protect and heal and
minds that cherish the Mysteries.

Priestess speaks:

Let there be beauty and strength, peace and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.
And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the mystery:
for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself,
you will never find it without.
For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and
I am that which is attained at the end of desire.

Priest speaks:

Let there be love and truth, courage and discernment, delight and connection, joy and devotion within you.
And you who seek to know Me, seek My Face in the helpers
in times of challenge and in your neighbors in need.
Offer your hands and voice to Me and do My work in the world.
For behold, I have been with you from the Beginning, and
I have carried you through the fire and storm.

The Working

Bard speaks:

Here between the worlds, we stand within the circle
on a grassy plain at twilight, beneath an ancient Living Tree.
On the far side of the circle we see a tall Standing Stone.
To our left, beside a quiet spring, we see a golden Cup, and
To our right, amid the surrounding trees, we see a great Sword.
[guides breathing and relaxation in this safe place]
Relax a moment in this quiet spot to enjoy the breeze – and a poem

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me
That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.

For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life’s endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the nomads,
And as silently steal away.

The Day is Done By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And our adventure awaits. Come with me to the north.
Just to the right of the standing stone, a path leads into a pine forest,

[Bard leads all following the path downward, scent of pine needles crunching underfoot.

Listen …hear the night noises of the woods … crickets … distant tree frogs … whippoorwill — loon —

follow closely – evergreen trees, still richly endowed with needles, shadows the sparse twilight —

dampness in the air —

We come to a stream flowing from our right.

The trail bears to the left and follows it down,

the rushing water becomes louder

the stream curves sharply to the right and our path narrows between stream on right and a steep bank on left.

Pines give way to oaks and maples as our path veers away from the stream

more gentle descent than the stream, yet still meandering .

Acorns on the path underfoot among fallen leaves in great variety of color and shape.

The forest is less dense here and we can see the first stars peeking through.

The last of the twilight shows us our way.

Until we come out of the woods to a clearing on level ground.]

Before us are the ruins of an ancient temple, and we see light glowing through the open gates.

Looking down, we find we are standing in the forecourt to the temple

where we are offered a welcome place to sit,

a basin of water and towels to refresh ourselves after our journey.

cold water to drink.

Soft slippers to replace our travelers’ footgear.

Here we lay aside any burdens we have carried this far, rest them beside our shoes, and turn eagerly toward the light.

The Presence

At the gates of the temple, we are welcomed by our Host and Hostess into the great Hall of Celebration.

Though it seems the gathered company is large, the Hall is quiet, and guests are scattered. A scented mist swirls and softens the light.

When you have made yourself comfortable, you notice the Lady moving among the guests. She brings you a chalice, filled with a refreshing beverage that you have not tasted for many years, that brings happy memories to mind.

The Lord comes to you bearing a basket of fresh bread that is unlike any you remember tasting before – rich, moist, satisfying – and the piece in your hand seems enough for a meal in itself.

There is a table near at hand with a plate for the bread and place for the cup, so you can nibble and sip as you will.

The mists throughout the hall have grown thick, and the company has multiplied.

Someone is coming toward you – the mists lighten, swirl, and reveal a familiar, beloved face.


This is your time with your beloved. You may want to share the bread or share the cup in hospitality.

To notice. To remember. To speak, if you will.


As the mists swirl and grow thick once more, your Beloved may seem distracted by a call beyond your hearing. You may notice sounds of restlessness around you as others make their farewells.


As our host and hostess see our beloved on their way, we find each other and visit in friendship.

The Lord and Lady return to join us – to share – to ask – to remember.

Share, if you will, or not, as you choose.

Bard brings the group together when it is time to leave.

The Return

Bard recalls everyone to the shoes we left outside, then uphill to the Sacred Grove and then to normal wakefulness, amid the Tree, the Sword, the Cup, and the Standing Stones.

The Closing

Thanking the Lord and Lady

Priest thanks Lady

Priestess thanks Lord.

Thanking the Guardians

North speaks:

Guardian of the Standing Stones,
We thank you for your help and presence in our rite.
Hail and Farewell.

East speaks:

Guardian of the Sword,
We thank you for your help and presence in our rite.
Hail and Farewell.

South speaks:

Guardian of the Tree,
We thank you for your help and presence in our rite.
Hail and Farewell.

West speaks:

Guardian of the Cup,
We thank you for your help and presence in our rite.
Hail and Farewell.

Opening the Circle

Bard speaks:

The rite is ended, the circle is open.
May the blessing of the Lord and Lady be with us all.
So mote it be.

Samhain — another possibility

John Beckett, who is farther along the path to online ritual than we are, is presenting a Samhain ritual via U-Tube on Friday, October 30. His blog post, linked below, has given me a few ideas to incorporate in our Zoom ritual on the 31st. He has prepared a video; we will be co-creating the ritual in real time. He does not require checking in, responding to an invitation, or even identifying yourself; we’re doing the Zoom thing and will see each other’s faces ( or profile pics).

All in all, we have much the same intent. I commend his article to your attention. I’m planning to watch/join in his ritual on Friday.

Under the Ancient Oaks Online Samhain Ritual: October 30

The post, quoted:

Different sabbat, same pandemic.

I really thought we’d be able to have a public Samhain celebration. Denton CUUPS went so far as to write up a proposal for an in-person event. It would have had limited attendance, mandatory masks, social distancing, and other precautions we believed would be sufficient. There is no such thing as “safe” but we thought this would present little additional risk to people who are not completely quarantining.

But before we could send the proposal to the Board of Denton UU for approval, the “third wave” began. Even with precautions, holding a public event right now would be irresponsible.

So we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing – hold online rituals. Denton CUUPS’ ritual will be on their Facebook page. It’s in progress and should be finished early next week.

The Under the Ancient Oaks Online Samhain Ritual is ready. As with the UTAO rituals for the past three high days, it will be a YouTube Premiere.

Under the Ancient Oaks Online Samhain Ritual
Friday, October 30
8:00 PM CDT
YouTube Premiere

The Ritual

The ritual follows the same general liturgy as my other rituals, which is the same as I’ve used in public rituals for the past 15 years or so. Except I made a couple of tweaks, which happens rather frequently. There may be a blog post on the evolution of my Pagan liturgy someday…

The Deities of the Occasion are Lugh, who we honored at Lughnasadh, and the Morrigan, who we honored at Summer Solstice. We are calling on Them because we previously honored Them in UTAO rituals (and thus everyone who participated in those rituals has at least the beginnings of a relationship with Them) but also because we have a need for Their virtues and Their skills.

There will be a two-part main event. The first part will honor those who have died from Covid-19 this year. Samhain is a time when we honor our dead, and this year over a million people have died from Covid worldwide. Whether their lives were cut short by days or by decades, they all died before their time, and they deserve to be remembered.

The second part is a working for victory – in particular, victory in the upcoming U.S. elections. The Gods I follow have never told me who to vote for. But I think that’s less because They don’t care and more because They think government is something we have to figure out for ourselves.

The ritual mentions no candidates or political parties by name. But I’ve made my positions clear. The intention of the ritual is that those who oppress refugees, the poor, racial and religious minorities, women, LGBTQ persons, and anyone else be thoroughly and decisively defeated.

If your politics includes voting for people who do these things and revel in them, this isn’t the ritual for you.

What you need to participate where you are

You’re welcome to simply follow along. If you’d like to participate where you are, you’ll need a candle and something to light it with, something for offerings and something to pour them into. I’m using whiskey this time – you offer what seems right to you.

Repeat the calls of ‘hail and welcome’ and such. Pour offerings as I pour them, and light your candle as I make offerings to the central fire. For the main working, add your will and your magic to mine.

When we’re done with the main working, we’ll share a drink among ourselves. After the ritual, be sure to dispose of your offerings in a respectful manner. Pouring them on the ground is ideal. Never pour offerings down the drain.

The ritual runs about 25 minutes.

Why Friday?

As much as I prefer to celebrate Pagan holy days on the actual dates, the reality is that Covid or no Covid, Saturday October 31 is going to be a busy day. Those of you with kids will have to find an alternative for trick or treating. Many of you will celebrate Samhain with your family or close friends. More people will be available on Friday than on Saturday.

Of course, because this is a video ritual, it will remain available after it’s done – if you can’t make it Friday evening, it will still be there on Saturday, or whenever you’re ready.

A note for non-U.S. readers: most of the world goes off daylight saving time the last Sunday in October. The U.S. doesn’t change until the first Sunday in November. So the time difference between “here” and “there” is likely to be an hour off from what it usually is. Check your phone’s world clock or one of the online time zone conversion sites. Or set a reminder on YouTube and let it do it for you.

The future of online rituals

I’m getting more comfortable with the video production aspects of online rituals.

On one hand, I always enjoy learning new skills. On the other hand, my goal in life is to be the best Druid and priest I can be, not to be a better videographer. I wish I didn’t have this on-going opportunity to keep making ritual videos, but we learn the skills we need to do the work in front of us.

I will continue to facilitate online rituals until we can start meeting in person again, or at least until I can do it. It’s too early to make a commitment for Winter Solstice, but given what I’m reading about the “third wave” I think it’s likely I’ll be doing another one.

May your beloved dead be honored and remembered, and may your Samhain be deep and meaningful, however you choose to celebrate.

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John Beckett on Samhain

Is Samhain coming, or is it already here? The answer is a little bit of both.

For those of you who are new to Paganism, Samhain is one of the four ancient Celtic fire festivals, along with Imbolc (February 1), Beltane (May 1), and Lughnasadh (August 1). The word means “summer’s end” – it marks the end of summer and the beginning of winter. In modern Pagan lore it’s the third and final harvest festival. It’s a time to think about the reality of death, and to remember our loved ones who have died.

This 2014 post by Jason Mankey has all the history of the day and the season, and it describes how we got from there (i.e. – ancient Ireland) to here.

Samhain 2020

After several very quiet years, Sacred Grove Community Circle (SWC) is exploring celebrating the rites of the seasons more consistently through the use of ZOOM, beginning with a somewhat open circle on Samhain. We will invite a number of people via email and provide the instructions for joining, then be prepared to proceed with whatever number of people join us.

Anyone who would like to participate is welcome to email to request an invitation.

We are working on adapting the traditional Bhakti-Wiccan ritual format to this new environment. We have recently updated the website for easier reference, and details on the ritual format are included there in the Book of Shadows. In particular, Finding Our Way to the Grove provides a quick introduction.

For Samhain this year, our Working will be a version of Rest for the Warrior, which I’m sure will be welcome to all of us in the stress of Covid-19 and (US) election politics. As the Veil is thinning, I hope the Beloved Dead will find their way to join with us. They will be welcome.