Samhain with children

[editor’s note, by PoliSigh] here’s another excellent diary for today!

Some dear friends asked me to work up a ceremony that would be suitable for their kids (2.5 and 4) to join us. We decided to focus on the “end of harvest” aspects of the season rather than the ancestor night/day of the dead stuff. Here’s what I came up with.

This is a very condensed version of my usual druidic ritual format, and was done sitting around a low table. The full ritual has been posted here a few times, and depending on how things go I may post it tomorrow.

Note: “Biodh se!” (Bee shay) is the Gaelic equivalent of “So be it!”

HDS=High Druidess (me), HD:High Druid (Roland, who isn’t really on a druidic path, but functions as HD when I need one :-).

I’ve used blockquotes to “chunk” the ceremony, so that the pieces don’t all run together.

First, we anointed each other with sandalwood and rose oil, saying “May the blessings of mind, body, and spirit be yours.”

HDS: We come to celebrate Samhuin, season of endings.

HD: We call our kin of the part, the present, and the future, to join us – all times are now.

HDS: We call on the directions — East, South, West, North — to join us. All places are here. We are at the center of time and space.

(grounding and centering meditation)

HD: Let the veil between the worlds be parted.

HDS: O’ Manannan, Son of the Sea, guardian of the veil between our world and the Summerlands, I call to you. I beseech you let the mists between the worlds dissolve that the Ancients may more easily commune with us. Biodh se!

HD: (holds up cauldron of water) Ancestors, mothers and fathers of our people, I reach across the veil with my words and call to you. You who have anchored our faith, you of times long ago. I call you with the water of this sacred vessel, and bid you enter that we, your kin, may be blessed by our communion with you. Biodh se!

HDS: (holds up cauldron of earth) I call you, Nature Spirits: spirit of the wolf and the deer, the dolphin and the hawk. I call the spirits of the oak and the mistletoe, the wildflowers and the grasses of the field. I call the spirits of mountains and caves. I call the sprites and fairies, gnomes and dwarves. All spirits of the present, rooted on this earth with us, I call you and bid you enter into this vessel of earth, that we, your brothers and sisters, may be blessed by our communion with you. Biodh se!

HD: (holds up cauldron of air/incense) O’ Gods, I send my voice across the waves to you. I beckon you from the ancient Sidhes and stone circles. I call you, Fathers and Mothers to us all, and bid you join with the air of this cauldron, that we, your children, may be blessed by our communion with you. Biodh se!

HDS: Why have we gathered on this night?

HD: We celebrate Samhuin, season of endings.

HDS: And why do we celebrate?

HD: We prepare for the transformation: death to rebirth as reflected this season.

HDS: This is Samhain, Harvest’s End.
Summer is over and winter is upon us,
the time to enjoy what our summer’s work has earned us,
and the time to prepare for summer’s return.
Blessed be the winter, this sacred time of year.
 Goodbye, Summer!
(all repeat)
Hello, Winter! (all repeat)

HD: This is the night of the spirits,
The night when we thank the plants and animals
who have died for us.
This is the great secret of life;
That it feeds on death,
and they are close twins.

HDS: The wheel is always turning.
 The spirits of the animals and plants are here,
 of all that we have eaten.
 They have played their part
 In the turning of the wheel
 so tonight we do them honor.
 Thank you.
 We will not forget your gifts.

(We had glasses of apple juice and a plate wtih little bits of each type of food — oatmeal cookies, cubes of cheese, slices of meat, etc. The original idea was to eat quietly and think of the the plants and animals who give of themselves for us. Since the girls are still a bit small to be quiet that long, we instead asked them for their impressions of the ceremony so far. We also sang “John Barleycorn*,” since the girls were already familiar with it.)

HDS: We have received the blessings of the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and The Gods. But now our closing draws near. Let us now dismiss those whom we have called.

HD: (touches cauldron of air) We thank thee, Ancestors for your presence at this rite. Through our communion you are strengthened as are we. Depart across the veil if you must, or stay if you will. In love we bid you farewell. Biodh se!

HDS: (touches cauldron of earth) We thank thee, Spirits of Nature, for your presence at this rite. Through our communion you are strengthened as are we. Depart across the veil if you must, or stay if you will. In love we bid you farewell. Biodh se!

HD: (touches cauldron of water) We thank thee, Gods and Goddesses, for your presence at this rite. Through our communion you are strengthened as are we. Depart across the veil if you must, or stay if you will. In love we bid you farewell. Biodh se!

HDS: O’ Manannan, I give you thanks for parting the Veil during this rite so that the spirits of the Ancestors, the Nature Spirits, and the Gods could pass more freely between the worlds. But now is the time for this ritual to end, so, if you must, allow the veil to thicken again. Biodh se!

(Reverse grounding meditation.)

HD: Let us return now to the world refreshed by our communion with the ancestors, the nature spirits, and the gods.

HDS: We came together in love and friendship; let us part the same way. Let us spread the love we have known in this Circle outward to all; sharing it with those we meet.

HD: Let time and space resume their normal course.

HDS: It is done. Walk with wisdom.

* Note: The “Paean” album is something I came up with a while back for a role-playing character of mine. I may post a seperate diary asking for ideas for other songs, but that’s not really appropriate for this diary :-).


Tip Jar (4.00 / 11)

Bright Blessings.

by Morgan on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 10:12:55 PST

Morgan, (4.00 / 2)

That was beautiful.

Thank you so much, Can I  “borrow” some bits for our kids, if I may?

Happy Samhain…


by Keir on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 17:47:47 PST

Feel free! (none / 1)

The opening/closing is an abbreviated form of the standard Keltrian ritual, which as I understand it was taken from the ADF format. The “meat” of the ceremony was cribbed from “The Pagan Family: Handing the Old Ways Doen” by Ceisiwr Serith.

by Morgan on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 18:11:20 PST

Morgan, (none / 1)

It was lovely!

Our group is growing by the week…LOL we just had a new babe! In fact that one couple has enarged us by two in the last three years. lol

And we have hives that are growing…busy little bees!

We have a candy circle…bobbing for apples and a pinata! LOL… this will allow more of a seriousness that will fill out the night.


by Keir on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 18:42:10 PST

Difficult… (4.00 / 4)

Samhain is a difficult circle for kids. We generally leave them “upstairs” unless they’ve had a death in the family and have already participated in several circles.

But our focus is usually helping group members deal with the year’s crossings. This year will be extra tough even on the adults due to the death of our matriarch last February.

I like how you made this work.

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” — Hunter S. Thompson

by rune on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 10:41:47 PST

Thanks (4.00 / 5)

I ended up writing this on the morning we held it, because I’d kept putting it off :-).

We will also be doing a more adult remembrance, but they wanted something for the girls, to start getting them used to the idea.

The older girl (age 4) was just fascinated by the whole thing, and kept staring at me. It seemed to help when her dad explained that what I was doing was like the minister at church (they’re UU). Then again, this is the little one who can hear the trees and the wind talk to her, so I shouldn’t be surprised :-). Maybe I’ll have a student in a few years.

I wish I’d started including my son in ceremony when he was younger. By the time he was old enough to start making those decisions himself, he wasn’t interested. Ah, well, if and when he ever decides to start looking for a spiritual path, he knows where to find me *g*.

by Morgan on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 11:04:57 PST

asdf (4.00 / 4)

My coven sister has three children who’ve all gone in and out of phases — really interested, bored to tears, and everything in between.

At the moment the oldest boy is totally uninterested, the middle daughter is assisting with and writing family rituals, and the youngest daughter is interested, but with a short attention span. 🙂

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” — Hunter S. Thompson

by rune on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 14:43:23 PST

Thank you. (4.00 / 3)

This is a very moving ceremony.  I’ve had an All Saints’ hymn in my head, and sometimes on my lips, all morning since reading this.  I only sang it once, in seminary, and don’t know the words, but the tune left a haunting impression on me.

I’ve also been thinking of a couple of people in particular who have died in the last few years.

The Wine of Youth ferments this night in the veins of God – Alfred de Musset.

by dirkster42 on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 12:50:44 PST

This is beautiful (4.00 / 3)

and in some ways, it has hints of Eastern mysticism as well.

May I ask, as a completely uneducated person on Samhain, what is the penultimate point of this ceremony/ritual/event?

Is it a personal inner peace, a “paying forward” of energies, a tribute, a rejuvenation?  All of the above?

by Sarea on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 13:12:45 PST

Purpose (4.00 / 3)

For this particular variation, I’d say the main point is mostly a tribute, a remembrance. It acknowledges the lives that have been given over the year for our benefit. Even vegetarians subsist on death, if “only” the deaths of plants rather than animals. We honor the sacrifice of the plants and animals that have fed us over the year.

Also, as with most of our seasonal rituals, it’s a reminder of the turning of the wheel — that summer is over, winter is coming, and in it’s time summer will return again.

Most Samhain rituals tend to focus more on the “ancestor night” aspects, the whole idea that the veil is thin on this “between” night: The old year ends on 10/30, the new begins on 11/1, so 10/31 is between. It’s a time to honor ancestors, both of blood and of spirit. One book I have suggests as “traditions to raid” the Mexican Dia de los Muertos, All Saints and All Souls Days, Martinmas, the Japanese Bon, Yom Kippur and Passover, Memorial Day, and of course New Year’s Eve :-).

by Morgan on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 13:38:26 PST

Thank you 🙂 (4.00 / 2)

I have the Dia de los Muertos book you mentioned and I love it.

by Sarea on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 14:15:48 PST

Elements/Cauldrons (4.00 / 3)

Very beautiful and very poetic–as ritual should be.

A curiosity question:  You did not seem to include the fire element.  Is there a specific reason for this?

We have to have a deep, patient compassion for the fears of men and irrational mania of those who hate or condemn us.-Thomas Merton

by Jeff G on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 17:44:25 PST

# of elements (4.00 / 3)

In the druidic traditions I know, there are three elements: Land, Sea and Sky. Fire is of the “otherworld.”

by Morgan on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 19:55:51 PST

Remembrance and Giving Thanks (4.00 / 2)

are things well suited to the season.

I wonder what age you feel children would be ready for a more in depth talk of the nature of death as seen in the Pagan tradition. My 6 and 8 year olds have already begun to ask questions about the nature of reality (sex, death and smoking seem to be our favorite “reality” topics) and I try to not offer just my boring old atheist’s view of things. It’s fun to talk about other traditions and their ideas of heaven and reincarnation.

“Only boring people get bored” – Mary E. Hirschler

by Marko on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 21:30:43 PST

Thank you.This will be an important (4.00 / 2)

New Year for me and my sister as it is the first one without either of our parents.

And it is the first one in our new home.

Blessings to all.  Let it be a very good year for everyone.

by Rain on Mon Oct 30th, 2006 at 21:45:58 PST

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