Samhain Ritual for the Solitary

    This is a day of remembrance, our New Year and the last harvest festival.  With so much going on with one holiday, this simple ritual expresses it all.  As always, I leave the decorating up to your own good taste, but this is a meal celebration. So the recipe for your favorite dishes will be the key to your enjoyment.  Pick recipes that includes the harvest essentials: pumpkin, apples, and if you are a meat eater include that as well.  My own preference would be a hearty soup or stew, with plenty of fresh vegetables like potatoes, corn, onions, carrots, homemade bread and either fish or meat, depending on what I can find fresh at the market.  Your own choices and life style should be reflected in the dishes you prepare.

    Break out the good dishes and if you have friends to join you, so much the better.  This is a ritual to have a good time, to celebrate and remember.  While I understand the concept of the dumb supper, I do not believe that silence celebrates this holiday.  Rather, there should be laughter, there should be discussion of what the year has brought, what we may look forward to in the coming year, planning for the winter, and finally an offering of libations for those who have passed over as well as the remembrance of who they were.   I suggest a real china plate from the dollar store for the spirit plate to leave outside for the night.

    Decorate the table for your ritual.  You will be leaving a place at the table for those unseen friends who will join you.  So set your table and cook your meal and welcome your friends when they arrive.  And even if you are dining on your own, remember you are inviting those who have passed over so make a placesetting for them as well.

    Once dinner is ready, pour the drinks and open the ritual with a poem or make one up yourself.  Doreen Valiente's poem Samhain Chant can be found here.  There are lots of other seasonal and Samhain poems out on the Internet that can be used as well. Choose one that fits your style.

    Once your ritual is open, invite your Gods and/or Goddess' to join you for your meal.  At the empty chair, place some of the food on the plate and offer an opening toast to those unseen spirits who have joined your ritual.

    Time now for you to enjoy your own meal, and if you have a friend or two, enjoy the company of likeminded people.  You should discuss the past year, plans for next year, good times and good company.  This is a time to enjoy what the God and Goddess have given us, and we do so by celebrating.  Laugh, have a great time, have second helpings of dessert if you so desire.

    If you are doing this meal alone, I suggest you take a notebook and write down things that you want to remember in advance.  Make a list of this year's events and next year's plans.  As you sit and eat, discuss these with your unseen guests.  Remember to have a good time on your own.  There is nothing wrong with speaking with spirits, and sometimes you may even hear an answer or two, or a bit of laughter.  Do not worry; they are there to enjoy the evening.  You will have a good time.

    Once the meal is done, it is time to drink a toast to those who have parted this world.  Remember them by name, remember them by deed.  Remember them with laughter, and remember them with a tear.  With a final toast, thank the Gods for a good year but save some drink in your cup.  At this point take the plate of food, and the cup of drink, as well as a last portion of your own drink, and move outside to offer these to the spirits of those who have joined you, and to honor the Gods.  Pour the drink into the earth, and leave the food for the spirit of whatever comes by.  

    Once back inside at the table, remember to thank the Gods again for the good year that has passed, and ask Their blessings on the year to come.  This is a good way to end the ritual, but it should not end the evening.  Continue to have a wonderful evening with good conversation with your friends, or if you are on your own, it's time to find those things that interest you and enjoy your evening as well.  Good movie, good book, or go out someplace to find good company and good conversation.  Again, this is your celebration.  Enjoy it.

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Boudica Foster is the pen name for Margaret Foster. All website material written, drawn or photographed is the work of Margaret Foster.