We timed our Samhain ritual to coincide with sunset, a liminal time of day during a liminal time of year. At this time of year, it is common to honor and communicate with the Ancestors. At Black Bear Grove, we communicate with and honor the Ancestors at every ritual, along with Nature Spirits and Deities. We call these three categories of Other World beings the Kindreds and an ADF ritual is structured to facilitate communication with them.
We began our ritual with individual meditation and centering. Everyone stepped away from the ritual area to prepare themselves mentally, leaving behind the mundane world to focus on the divine. We gathered together again when hearing the processional music and we processed from the gathering spot to the ritual area, where we were purified by smudging. This is another step to remove us from the everyday world and bring us mentally to the Kindreds.
We then made an offering to the Outsiders (also known as Outdwellers). As we do not create a circle of protection, we make this offering to ask those who would disturb us (physical or spiritual beings) to leave us be. We then did an attunement, an activity to bring all of us together mentally and spiritually. This time we used dance.
After honoring the Earth Mother first and then the Black Bear, we asked Ogma to give us Bardic inspiration. This invitation and offering to a deity are to ask for help in making our words and works proper for the Kindreds.
After presenting the reason for the ritual, we continued our journey to communicate with the Kindreds by creating a Sacred Center. This involves making a fire, a tree, and a well (or representations of these) into sacred gates to the Other Worlds. We then called on the owl to be our Gatekeeper. The Gatekeeper helps to open the gates to the Other Worlds and facilitates good communication.
Then it was time to open the Gates. This was done by all of us joining hands (basically giving high fives to each other to create a circle). This element of the ritual takes little time, but after the buildup of energy beforehand, it is very powerful.
Then we began the inviting and honoring of the Kindreds and the Patrons. Besides asking the three general categories of Other World beings to join us, we call on one or two specific deities to join us to be honored. This time it was Arianhod and the Morrigan.
When all had been invited, we began the offering period. The offering period is the time for individuals to honor those beings specially invited to the ritual or any other being they wish. After the individual offerings were done, we made a last honor to our personal Ancestors by calling out their names. These included cultural or spiritual as well as relational Ancestors, and also our beloved pets. We called out their names, for what is remembered, lives.
Communing with the Kindreds is a two-way street. We asked for them to give us a message through the taking of an omen. This time we used the Witch Tarot. It was a good omen. We then took in their blessings physically through the Waters of Life. A chalice of water and a chalice of an alcoholic beverage are blessed by the Kindreds, then passed around.
It was then time for the working. We were led in a meditation to meet our inner owl and let that owl take out of us any blockages that keep us from seeing with our third eye. Those blockages were tossed up like an owl casting a pellet. We were given masks to remind us of our inner owl and pellets to keep the magic with us.
Once the working was done, we thanked Arianhod and the Morrigan and the Kindreds. We then closed the Gates by beginning with the circle of joined hands, then clapping our hands together. We thanked the owl for being our Gatekeeper. We thanked Ogma, the Black Bear, and the Earth Mother.
Our ritual was done. We had communed with the Other World beings once more. On to revels!