Traditionally include acorns which symbolize the God, apples which symbolize the Goddess - often used as decorations are fall leaves, gourds and bare twigs
A photograph of a loved one who has passed on
1 tall gold candle (for God)
1 tall silver candle (for Goddess)
1 pink votive candle
Sage incense to burn in cauldron
Any black colored gemstone such as obsidian , smoky quartz or onyx
Cup of salt
Bowl of water
Chalice of wine or juice
Wand and athame
Perhaps a personal memento of the loved one could be worn such as a piece of jewelry
Cast the circle and call the corners but do not light the corner candles yet. Then begin to invoke the Goddess and God:
(Invocation of the God) – (while lighting the GOLD candle):
“I now do call upon the eternal God in the ancient way, as Lord of the Sun and consort to the Lady -who will in this season pass into the Summerland. Send Thy spirit forth so that we, your children, may feel your light within us all. As it is willed, so mote it be!”
(Invocation of the Goddess) – (while lighting the SILVER candle):
“I now do call upon the eternal Goddess in the Ancient way, as Crone Mother and consort to the Lord, bringer of death and giver of life. Send Thy spirit forth so that we, your children, may feel your life within us all. As it is willed, so mote it be!”
(Then kneel in front of the altar and say) -
“The Wheel of the Year turns on and on, bringing us to and from each season. What will be is, what was will be. All time is here and now inside this sacred space. I pause briefly now to watch the Wheel turn as I honor this sacred season of Samhain – a time to honor the memory of those who have passed and have gone from this physical world. In this moment between time, I come to praise the wise Crone Goddess and her beloved consort, the God, who is soon to pass into the Summerland – opening the veil which makes this world and the world of spirit thin.”
(Take the cauldron or incense burner and hold it upward while saying) -
“As I smell this incense, symbol of air, may I feel myself gaining strength and power.”
(Then light the corner candles while saying) -
“As I watch these candles burn, symbol of fire, may I recall how the fires built by my ancestors nurtured and protected them.”
(Hold the bowl of salt upward while saying) –
“As I touch this salt, symbol of earth, I ask the Ancient Ones to protect and heal the Earth on which we live.”
(Anoint yourself with the cup of water while saying) –
“As I anoint myself with this water, symbol of water, may it serve to cleanse my body and spirit of all negativity, illness and weariness of heart.”
(Take the Chalice of wine or juice from the altar and drink from it while saying) –
“Blessed Lady Goddess, as I drink from this chalice, I humbly ask that you fill me with your essence. Blessed be the Lady!”
(Take the athame from the altar and raise it upward while saying) –
“Blessed Lord God, I humbly ask your presence at my circle tonight as I honor you at this season. Blessed be the Lord!”
“Tonight is a night of death when our beloved God passes into the Summerland as the season of summer dies with him. But tonight is also as night of life as our wise Crone Goddess sees us through the ever-darkening season to life renewed – when our Lord God is born again at Yule.”
(Pick up the God & Goddess candles and unite the flames while saying) –
“Tonight Goddess and God are a part of two separate worlds. They are for a brief time separated from one another.”
(Remove candle flames from one another and extinguish the God candle, symbolizing death. Then place both candles back on the altar, saying) –
“Farewell Blessed Lord. Safe be your journey into the Summerland. Wise Crone Goddess, may the loving comfort of your people ease your sorrow.”
(Light the PINK candle and say) –
“As our beloved Lord passes through the veil which separates this world from the world of spirit, that veil is for a brief moment cast aside. Those who have already passed over may wish to seek their loved ones once again.”
(Take a few moments to honor your loved one(s). Divination may also be done at this time, if you so wish. When finished, extinguish the pink candle while saying) –
“Merry part and may you return to your area in peace – taking with you my love.”
(Close ritual and open the circle by thanking the Ancient Ones and giving back to the Earth afterwards) –
“I am a child of deity,
I am part of the creative life force which moves the universe;
I am part of all that is,
Though we are apart, we are ever together –
For we are one in the spirit of our Goddess and God;
Merry meet, merry part and merry meet again – Blessed be!”
The following is a slightly condensed version of my own Handfasting Ceremony which was put together from a few different ritual ideas. Please keep in mind that my husband & I had a Wiccan/Renaissance wedding.
Before start of the ceremony, privately bless and charge the rings, salt, water, bread and wine. The rings are then placed on the wand and the cord or ribbon is loosely wrapped around it. The rings will then be placed on the altar for the High Priestess to use later. The HPS must cast the circle and call the corners. While the Bride's Matrons discretely close the circle portal behind her with rose petals, sealing it.
HPS: (Rings bell to announce the ceremony is about to begin. She then begins to call the corners) - "Be with us here, O Powers of Earth! Bless this couple with tenderness, compassion and sensuality." (HPS lights North corner candle and bows)
"Be with us here, O Powers of Air! Bless this couple with communication, intellectual growth and wisdom." (HPS lights East corner candle and bows)
"Be with us here, O Powers of Fire! Bless this couple with harmony, creativity and passion." (HPS lights South corner candle and bows)
"Be with us here, O Powers of Water! Bless this couple with friendship, understanding and the deepest of love." (HPS lights West corner candle and bows)
HPS: "May the place of this rite be concecrated before the elements of nature. Blessed be!"
(HPS joins couple at the altar): HPS: "We come here today in a ritual of love, asking the blessings of the Lord and Lady to be with and grant everlasting happiness, thy love and thy protection to this couple, (couple's names)."
HPS then takes the athame and holds above the Bride's head, saying) - "Do you, (Bride), come freely of your own will?"
BRIDE: (responds) "I do."
HPS then holds the athame above Groom's head, saying): "Do you, (Groom), come freely of your own will?"
GROOM: (responds) "I do."
HPS: (Recites a prayer to the Lord and Lady) - "Gracious Goddess, Maiden of the dancing waves and glittering stars, Mother from whom all life is born and Crone who is full of the wisdom of great age. Be with (Bride) now and with her love as they are joined together in love."
"Gracious God, Hunter of the Forests, Lord of the sun, bringer of warmth and light and consort of the Lady. Be with (Groom) now and with his love as they are joined together in love."
HPS: (Turns to Groom) - "If you dost truly desire, O (Groom), to marry this woman, I bid you present to her your pledge, that which is an expression of the love that you have for her."
GROOM: "I pledge to thee my love, to cherish, aid and protect thee through all lifetimes."
HPS: (Turns to Bride) - "If you dost truly desire, O (Bride), to marry this man, I bid you present to him your pledge, that which is an expression of the love that you have for him."
BRIDE: "I pledge to thee my love, to cherish, aid and protect thee through all lifetimes."
(HPS loosely binds the couple's wrist together using the cord or ribbon)
HPS: "As your hands are bound together now, so your lives and spirits are also joined in a union of joy, trust, love and mutual support. May the Lord and Lady smile upon this union and bless you both with health and prosperity. May neither ever take advantage of the other; for remember, what one may not provide, the other may."
(HPS unties cord. Now the exchange of rings and vows) -
GROOM: (While placing ring on Bride's finger) "By love and life, in the name of all I believe, I, (Groom), take thee, (Bride), to my hand, my heart and my spirit, to desire thee and be desired by thee, at the setting of the sun and the rising of the stars. I shall respect thee, thy beliefs, thy people and thy ways as I respect myself. This ring is a token of my promise to be your campanion, friend and lover. I offer it to you as I offer you this vow. I will be honest and open with you always, I will strive for your well-being and happiness. Whatever life presents to you, it presents to me also."
(Bride places ring on Groom's finger and repeats the same vows to Groom)
HPS: "Is it your wish, (Groom), to become one with this woman?"
GROOM: (responds) "Yes."
HPS: "Is it your wish, (Bride), to become one with the man?"
BRIDE: (responds) "Yes."
(Bride & Groom then light the unity candle using the God & Goddess candles)
HPS: (Performs the symbolic Great Rite. She then offers the couple the chalice of wine) - "This is your first drink together as husband and wife. May you never thirst!"
(HPS askes the couple to break off a piece of bread and feed it to eachother) - "This is your first meal together as husband and wife. May you never hunger!"
(HPS tells the couple to face eachother holding hands) - "Above you are the stars, Below you are the stones, As time passes, remember - Death does not part, only lack of love. Like the stars should your love be constant, Like the earth should your love be firm, Circles represent eterinty and although our lives are finite, love is everlasting, The force that binds us together, The force that gives new life. As your family, friends, the elements and the Lord and Lady are witness to this rite, I now proclaim you are husband and wife - Thus your hands fasted, the two are now one. You may seal your union with a kiss."
HPS: "We thank the Lord and Lady for their attendance this day and ask that they go forth and herald this union."
(HPS then proceeds to open the circle) - (While raising the cup of water): "Hail, O Powers of Water! We thank thee for thy attention. Go forth and announce to all this union!"
(While raising the South corner candle): "Hail, O Powers of Fire! We thank thee for thy attention. Go forth and announce to all this union!"
(While raising the incense burner): "Hail, O Powers of Air! We thank thee for thy attention. Go forth and announce to all this union!"
(While raising the bowl of salt): "Hail, O Powers of Earth! We thank thee for thy attention. Go forth and announce to all this union!"
(HPS thanks everyone and officially announces the couple to all) - "On behalf of (Groom & Bride), I'd like to thank everyone for being here to share their special day. I now present to you, (Mr. & Mrs. __________)!"
(These rites bring an individual into the Magickal community. They do not “make” an individual into a Pagan or a Witch per se, rather they confirm and assist in developing the potential already within that person.)
1 tall silver candle (Goddess)
1 tall gold candle (God)
athame or wand
Bowl of salt
Cup of water
Sage to burn in cauldron
HPS: (Casts circle and calls the corners – she then invokes the Goddess & God)
HPS: (While lighting the silver Goddess candle) -
“O Gracious Goddess of the Earth and Mother of all, be with us now inside this sacred circle as we initiate thy child, (initiate’s name). As it is willed, so mote it be!”
HPS: (While lighting the gold candle) -
“O Loving God of the Forests and Father of all, be with us now inside this sacred circle as we initiate thy child (initiate’s name). As it is willed, so mote it be!”
HPS: ”Blessed be those within this circle,
Cleanse thy hearts and minds
that only truth be spoken
that only truth be heard.”
(HPS then cleanses everyone present by saging them with the smoke from the cauldron)
HPS: (Turns to initiate) -
“Do you, (initiate’s name), wish to be initiated unto the service of the Goddess and God and the Craft, that you may learn of them and that you may join the Craft of the wise, do you seek the way?”
INITIATE: (responds to HPS)
HPS: “Blessed be thine eyes that have seen this day.”
(HPS anoints initiate’s third eye)
HPS: “Blessed be thy lips that may utter the sacred names.”
(HPS touches initiate’s mouth with the tips of her fingers)
HPS: “Blessed be thy heart that may seek only truth.”
(HPS touches initiate’s heart with her hand)
HPS: “Blessed be thy feet that have led thee in these ways.”
(HPS anoints both initiate’s feet)
(HPS then takes her athame or wand and places it above the initiate’s head while saying) -
“In the name of the Lord and Lady,
I place this threefold charge upon you;
To know the Goddess and God,
To love her and her consort through the knowledge of nature,
and to follow the way of the Ancient Ones.”
HPS: (Thank the Goddess & God and the elements, close ritual and open circle – giving back to the Earth afterwards)
Anyone who has ever had a rather “unsettling” spiritual encounter of some kind in their home can easily attest to how very important it is to cleanse and bless your house. On occasion, I have been asked by people to perform such a ritual. These are people who have had angry or unhappy spirits literally try to choke them while they slept or have attempted to chase them out of their home in some other terrifying manner.
In most cases; however, these are merely the spirits of those who have not yet crossed over for whatever their reason. Although this is usually due to some sort of unfinished business here on Earth, the fact remains that evil entities actually do exist. Make no mistake, these types of phenomena really do happen and they are horrifyingly real to those who have experienced them!
Cleansing and blessing your home is essential to the clearing out of any and all negative energies from any previous residents. My husband & I live in what was once his aunt & uncles’ house. Thankfully, they are family and have never expressed any unhappiness about the fact that we now live there. In the past, we have had a few people tell us that they have actually seen their apparitions standing in our hallway – one man fitting the description of my husbands’ uncle and a woman whom we believe to be their daughter who had passed away the year before. Why the hallway? Well, there is a mirror in our guest bedroom which faces an open door to the hallway. This tends to create “open” doors to the spiritual realm, making it much more likely you will experience some kind of spiritual activity.
The following is a simple Cleansing & Blessing Ritual which I have used and have had much success with.
Salt, water, a stick or cone of sage incense, athame or wand, a white candle and a besom (broom)
One room at a time while burning the incense and candle, sprinkle the salt and water in the corners of each and every room in the house - repeating the following incantation:
“In the name of the Lord and Lady,
I now do cleanse and bless this house –
Banishing it from all negative energies.
As it is willed, so mote it be!”
Then, with your athame or wand, make the sign of the banishing pentagram. Place or hang the besom in or near the area where there is the most spiritual activity, if any.
When it comes to magickal workings, some deities are most definitely easier to work with than others. For example, I have found that working with Egyptian deities is considerably different from working with Celtic or Greek pantheons. Egyptian deities tend to be much more on the “stubborn” side and will only allow you to invoke them if they so choose to. They are somewhat independent and will only work with you on “their” terms. When they do decide to work with us; however, they are effectively powerful indeed!Quite honestly, of all the pantheons I have worked with, they seem to command the most respect!
There are times when I am asked if I invoke any particular deity or deities in my rituals. Although I have worked with various pantheons in the past, I usually stick with the Celtic deities because I feel most connected to them. When working with deities, it is important to remember that particular Gods and Goddesses are called upon for different types of workings. One might choose to invoke Aphrodite for love magick or Bonus Eventus for spells involving money.
Before deciding which God and/or Goddess you wish to invoke, you should consider their etiology. In other words, should you decide to use Lilith or Kali, for example, you would do better to remember their attributes! By invoking any deity, you are effectively bringing their entity or "essence" into your circle to aid in your magick.Due to this fact, you must be smart and use your own discretion. Doing your homework not only increases your chances of success, but it also helps avoid any mistakes on your part!
From ancient Egyptian deity to present day domestic feline, the cat has a very long and rich history. As the story goes, a cat wondered into Egypt one day and began killing the mice which were eating the wheat grain that the Egyptians had stored away for the coming year. Because famine was such a serious problem, the Egyptians welcomed these felines, believing them to be sacred. The capital city of Am-Khent in Lower Egypt was named Bubastis – in honor of the cat goddess Bast or Bastet. In Egyptian mythology, Bast was the daughter of Ra & Isis and she was the goddess of music, dancing and fun! People revered their cats as family members and when they died, they would mummify them and adorn them with various gemstones and jewels! Even today, cats are sacred in Turkey. Harming them in any way is against the law.
During the Middle Ages; however, cats endured the most horrific of atrocities! Due to the ignorance of the religious leaders of the time who believed that cats, especially black cats, were linked to witches and the devil, these beautiful creatures were killed in any way possible by the masses.In effect, allowing the bubonic plague to spread.Since this disease was carried by the rats, rats which would have normally been killed by the cats, it is believed that 25 million people died as a result.
Fortunately for us, cats still live among us - gracing us with their love, loyalty and exquisite presence! There is absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do for my kitties. They are my best friends and I would be extremely lost without them. As long as I live, I will always have a cat (or two, or three) in my life!
Throughout the years, we have had numerous solitary practitioners join us in our circles for many sabbat and esbat rituals.. The following is a list of the dedicated group of individuals who have become an important part of our Solitary Wiccan group we call the Old Path Enlightener’s Circle, and, of whom we have been fortunate enough to still call our very good friends! To their credit, they have shown a high level of dedication to their studies and have been practicing Wicca along side of me for 12 years now. I thank them all for their hard work and commitment – and for their trust in allowing me to be their teacher!
Judy Stricker (Rhiannon) – Aside from studying and practicing Wicca for many years,Judy, along with her husband Matt, was also a member of The Old Path’s Enlightener’s Network where she served on our Technical Staff. In March of 2010, she received a Wicca Certificate of Achievement in acknowledgement for her years of successful participation in the study of Wicca and Witchcraft.
Matthew Stricker (Draco)-Matt has been studying and practicing Wicca with Judy & I since 1998. He also received a Wicca Certificate of Achievement for his years of dedicated studies in the craft.
Richard Godfrey – Richard is Matt and Judy’s son who was introduced into Wicca when he was about 4 years old. On Imbolg 2002, he had his Wiccaning Ceremony and in February of 2009, he officially dedicated himself to the craft.
Naomi Proud (Waterfae) - Even though she was never actually one of my students, Naomi has brought a lot to our Solitary Wiccan group, especially being a Faery Wicca practitioner for so many years. She served as Newsletter Editor and a vendor for our Old Paths Enlightener’s Network organization. She has since moved on to bigger & better things as she is currently the Vice-President for the Reading Witches & Pagans Group.
With Waterfae at Barbon's Tavern performing tarot readings on Samhain eve - 2004
Rev. Peter Witycyak – Rev. Peter was a Kabbalan clergy member for the Universal Life Church and long time member of our solitary group. He was also the Web Master for our O.P.E.N. organization.In 2006, we lost Rev. Peter due to natural causes. We will always remember him for his dedication to his craft and his contagious sense of humor!
Robin Witycyak-Raber (Aurora Skye) – Another long time member of our group, Robin has also shown much dedication and commitment to the practice of Wicca. In April 2010, she received her Wicca Certificate of Acheivement for her years of hard work and dedication.
A few years ago, I decided to begin my journey into the fascinating world of witchcraft. Due to the fact that I did not know of any other witches at the time, I began studying and practicing on my own – reading every single book I could get my hands on! As a result, I essentially became a solitary practitioner.In time, I began to meet other witches – some solitary practitioners, some whom belonged to a group or coven.It wasn’t long before I too belonged to a nice little group of Wiccan friends who practiced and believed as I did. It was about this time when I met Lady Sabrina Rhiannon, a Wiccan High Priestess who had started her own Eclectic coven. She invited me into her home to meet her very warm and welcoming coven members. From time to time, I would join them in their circles, enjoying the feeling of unity which I had never been able to experience as a solitary. Through the years, Lady Sabrina Rhiannon and I became very dear friends. In fact, we officiated at each others’ weddings!
My solitary friends and I decided to get together on a regular basis to celebrate esbats and sabbats. Eventually, we began a Pagan group which we named the Old Paths Enlightener’s Network -(O.P.E.N.). It has since been renamed the Old Paths Enlightener’s Circle.
As a teacher, I am always telling my students that whether they decide to practice as a solitary or join a coven, I strongly encourage them to experience a coven atmosphere for themselves. Perhaps even “sit in” on a ritual if possible - if for no other reason, but to educate themselves on what covens are actually about.
As much as I love getting together with my own solitary group of friends, I still enjoy participating in my High Priestess friends’ ritual ceremonies now and again. For me, one of the really wonderful things about Wicca is that we are constantly learning throughout our lives. I truly believe that we are forever learning from one another – solitary and coven alike!
Samhain, pronounced “sow-ween” or “sow-in,” is the third and last harvest of the year. It literally means, “summer’s end” and it is a time when the dark winter half of the year commences.It is known as “the witches New Year” and it is also one of two “spirit nights” – the other being Beltane. This means that the veil between the world of the living and the world of spirit is thin. Communication with ancestors and departed loved ones is easy at this time, for they may journey through this world on their way to the Summerlands.
This is the sabbat when we honor our Mother Goddess in her crone aspect and, her consort, our Father God who will soon die only to be reborn again at Yule. This is evident by the fact that the days begin to get shorter and the nights begin to get longer.
In ancient times, the Celts celebrated Samhain by leaving food offerings on their doorsteps for the “deceased” and single candles were lit in windows to help guide them home again. “The Fae” or “Faeries of the Woodlands,” who were believed to have lived in Faerie Mounds, were extremely active on this night – pulling pranks on unsuspecting humans. Huge hearth fires were built and lit to help protect them during the coming winter. Druids and Celtic Priests used divination – making predictions about the future at this time.
Halloween’s origins date back to this ancient Celtic festival which was celebrated 2,000 years ago in the area that is now known as Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France.Many, if not all, of the modern traditions of Halloween come from the sabbat of Samhain.“Trick-or-Treating", lit hollowed pumpkins which became known as jack-o-lanterns,dressing in costumes, all have Celtic roots.
As European immigrants came to America, they brought with them their varied customs. By the 1920’s and 1930’s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment.But regardless of the evolution of this sabbat, it will always remain a sacred, mysterious Pagan holiday!
(For sabbat dates, please see the post, "The Wheel of the Year..." - November 2010)
Ten years ago, my husband and I decided that we wanted to be legally handfasted in our back yard. The problem was we did not know any clergy who would be willing to perform our wedding ceremony. Little did we know that the Goddess and God would soon provide one for us.
A short time after I met Lady Sabrina Rhiannon, she informed me that she had recently been ordained by the Universal Life Church. She very graciously agreed to officiate at our legal handfasting ceremony and we were indeed blessed! Not only had she become a good friend to us, but she would become our Pagan Minister as well!Since neither my husband nor I wished to get married in a church, nor did we want a civil ceremony, this was a dream come true!Even though we lived across the street from a Justice of the Peace, who was kind enough to offer to officiate for us at our home, it was so very important to us that we have a Pagan wedding.Needless to say, we had a beautiful handfasting ceremony - surrounded by family and friends!
About a year later, I, too, made the decision to become ordained by the ULC. I thought about how fortunate I was to have had the opportunity to choose “how” I got married and how many others did not have that same choice.Not only that, but I felt that it was extremely important that we have Pagan clergy for all of our other Rites of Passage as well – Wiccanings, funerals, etc. Having Pagan clergy not only gives Wiccans, but other non-conventional faiths the same rights that mainstream religions have.Unfortunately, for all the “lip service” we as a society give with respect to “Freedom of Religion,” we still somehow manage to fall adequately short of the concept. The fact remains; however, that freedom of religion means freedom for ALL religious beliefs – not merely the politically acceptable ones!
I am proud to be a Pagan clergy for the Universal Life Church. The founders of ULC fought for our right to practice what we believe and they fought hard! They gave us the ability to perform legal marriage ceremonies throughout the entire United States and; furthermore, they gave us the legal right to found our own organizations i.e. covens, groups, congregations, etc.
Of course, as with most other laws, each state has its’ own set of guidelines and requirements which we as clergy must abide by.Still, just think how far we have come since The Middle Ages. We, as Pagans, are at last becoming recognized.
Who isn’t intrigued to some degree by the art of divination? Even those who are seemingly skeptical are still somewhat fascinated by the idea. From tea leaves to tarot cards, divination goes back centuries. It is simply astounding how many different types of tools are used. Pendulums, palmistry, runes, tarot cards, ouija boards, crystal balls/scrying, egg yolks and even coffee grounds are just a few examples of how to divine the future.
The vast majority of witches whom I have known over the years have learned some form of divination skill along their path.As for me, I read the tarot and have been using the cards for several years. On an occasion or two, my friend Waterfae and I would be asked to read cards at various establishments – pubs, private parties, etc. Waterfae works with “The Fae” when performing her readings, channeling through "them.” While I, on the other hand, use the 10-card Celtic spread – combining the meaning of the cards with my own intuition.
Card placement is an important factor when reading for someone. Past, present, future and outcome cards – all tell a story! It is also very important to make sure that people understand that the future is not “written in stone.”The reading itself simply reflects the individuals’ own chosen path at the time of the reading.It can either be considered a warning of things to come or a kind of confirmation, if you will, of the good choices the individual has made in their life thus far.In other words, “if you don’t like the direction you are heading in, CHANGE IT!” We all have that power within us!
Tarot cards, when used correctly, can be an excellent source of guidance. The cards themselves date back to 1442 and were commonly used by Kings to predict the rise and fall of power. They survived religious persecution by going underground, reappeared sometime in the 1700’s and are still used by many witches to this day.
Whatever the method of divination you may be using, always be sure to use your tools wisely and never abuse any natural “gift” that the Goddess & God have seen fit to give you.
(Just a word of caution regarding ouija boards. THEYARE NOT A GAME!!! Using these boards opens up doorways to the spiritual realm – inviting ANY spirit, friendly or not, into your life. Unless you are highly experienced and know exactly what you are doing in order to take the proper precautions to protect yourself, I strenuously advise you to avoid using ouija boards for ANY reason!!!!)