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 Webweaver@SacredGroveSWC.org 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 SacredGroveSWC.org 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.