Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Winter Nights / Samhain It marks the turning of the year from summer to winter, the turning of our awareness from outside to inside. Among the Norse, the ritual was often led by the woman of the family. It marks the beginning of the long dark wintertime at which memory becomes more important than foresight, at which old tales are told and great deeds are toasted.
Winternights also marks the beginning of a time of indoor work, thought and craftsmanship. It was also a time traditionally for Seership as the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest.. A rite that was held in honour of the female spirits and Ancestors known as the Dísir. There isn’t a specific day for this celebration. We know that it was held during winter. In some accounts it was in the beginning of winter, during the time of the winternights, hence us marking this rite on the 31st October again when the veil is thin, but in some places this holiday was by the end of winter, to celebrate the revival of nature.
Within this rite we will Scry, just as our Ancestors did before us The word “scrying” actually comes from the Old English word descry which means “to make out dimly” or “to reveal. For us we will Scry with Sacred Spring Water, gathered in rite and ritual from a local Spring!! We will use our Cauldron magically, when the veil is at the thinnest whilst we thread another layer of insight to our Wild Wood Oracle Card journey that we begun at Equinox..
Winternights / The Norns (Fates) can be honoured here (or sometimes on December 30, modern New Year’s Eve, to foretell the year’s future). Because the veils between the worlds are thin at this time, Vor the goddess of divination may be honoured. The ancestors and beloved Dead are, of course, hailed at this time, but they may also be hailed rightly at any other holiday, as there is a strong streak of honouring the Ancestors in the Northern Tradition.
The festival is also called “Elf-Blessing”, “Dis-Blessing”, or “Frey-Blessing”, which tells us that it was especially a time of honouring the ancestral spirits, the spirits of the land, the Vanir, Landwights and the powers of fruitfulness, wisdom, and death. For Odin and his host of the dead alongside Freya are said to lead the " Wild Hunt" The Wild Hunt begins to ride after Winternights, and the roads and fields no longer belong to humans, but to ghosts and the restless, starting on this night, the great divisions between the worlds was somewhat diminished.
These festival was rooted in veneration, awe, and respect of the dead. This was also a time for contemplation thereby to live on in the memory of the tribe and be honoured at this great feast. In this way the tribes were at one with its past, present and future. Here we honour the The Dísir the female ancestors.
Again, the Christians forcefully subverted the sacred Germanic Heathen calendar to honour Christianity, Winter nights on October 31 became “All Hallows Eve” and November 1st was declared “All Saint’s Day”.
On this night we will Scry, just as our Ancestors did before us ...
For us we will Scry with Water, many folk traditions of these lands and the Northern lands would find the Elder Woman of the Household Scrying on Winternights using either the village Well or Spring, or a Fjord, A large body of water, Which was always seen as sacred, the life force of the community!! And a doorway into the otherworld!!
We ceremonially collected Spring water from Lions Head Spring / Gilham Spring; it will then be poured into our Cauldron within the rite!! An egg cracked and left as a Blot and Offering and together we journey into the Cauldron, dropping down another layer of the liminal..
We will perform a rite together . Craft and create our collective altar. We will make medicine. We will weave and share our stories as we continue our journey from harm to healing, sitting within our Sacred Circle. Respectfully and safely!! Join us
I feel the power of keeping the rites and rituals relevant in a modern world, which doesn’t lie in changing their meaning, diluting, distilling them into contemporary purposes, but in finding how their layers of meaning still apply to everyday life, in the here and now.
Cailleach is the Goddess of Winter
Depicted as a veiled hag or an old crone, with one eye and deathly pale skin, she is said to have a bow-legged leaping gait, striding across mountains with a power to shape and transform the landscapes as rocks fall from her gathered apron.
The Cailleach is the goddess of the winter months and is said to control the weather and the winds as well as the length and harshness of winter. Her season begins on October 31st, the Samhain festival, which we celebrate today as Halloween. The word Cailleach comes from the "caillech" meaning "veiled one" in Gaelic. This word is the base root of many other words to describe women, such as the contemporary Irish word "cailin" meaning "girl". She is sometimes called cailleach feasa ("wise woman, fortune-teller") and cailleach phiseogach ("sorceress, charm-worker”)
A little insight into our Rite
May there be peace in the North! May there be peace in the South! May there be peace in the West! May there be peace in the East!
THE SPIRITS OF PLACE
We call to the spirits of place, to those of Land, Sea and Sky, to those of the three worlds to be with us in our sacred rite.
CALLING THE ANCESTORS
We call to our ancestors to those who's blood and bone have been laid within this land , to be with us in our sacred rite. To the Dísir the female ancestors who's woven threads of intent have been felt upon this land, whose songs course through our blood, and bone whose spirit lives on through our celebrations, we call to you to be with us in our sacred rite, and above all else we honour you!!
“We stand at the edge of our cauldron, I will cast the circle as the rim of the cauldron of Annwn, all those there stand upon that rim.
I call upon my lady of the stars and moon
To the Bringer of dreams and twilight of Autumn and Winter.
I call upon my lady of the loom
The Weaver of fates in the night
I call upon the Lady of the fields
The Singer of the Evensong
I call upon the maiden mother and Crone
The Goddess alive and strong
To Freya weaver, weave us back into the centre, for we are in a cycle of return.
To Brigid the Keeper of our Hearth, Home and Flame hold us close over Winter.
To Odin, Warrior , Seeker, and Story Teller, tell us your stories as we sleep and dream.
We come to honour Winternights, the most sacred of nights, when the veil between the worlds is thin. We give thanks for all that we have, and we honour our ancestors and the dead at this time. Let us now say a prayer for our dead, that they may journey tot he Otherworld safely, and that we might know them again some day.
(Prayers and thanks are said, either out loud or internally during this time of prayer naming a loved one or loved ones in remembrance)
We approach our Cauldron's and Altar one by one and place sage and herbs and take a moment to see and feel its wisdom and gifts. For its Sacred Spring Water, and Spring Water holds memory and story, what story does it hold for you?
The land, the trees, the leaves are all dropping parts of itself onto the earth, the old dead wood, nourishing and feeding the seeds that landed gently upon the soil in late summer. As the leaves and dead wood transform into compost, rich alchemy takes place, turning into nourishing fertile matter, the perfect food for life. In their shedding they sustain a spiral, a circle that gives life, in their journey deep into the very fabric of the land itself, they are transformed.
We too are being called into the stillness, to shed what no longer serves, to understand what is now holding back our seeds, and deep potential, to what we have outgrown, to what is no longer aligned to our deep purpose and self…
What we work to shed now, we shed in care, goodness and deep kindness, we care take the soul, we tend to our deeper self, what we nourish now will always be learned from, we are being woven back into the centre, this becomes our compost, experiences that carry us into growth.
For soon we will be asked to dream, in the darker quieter time of WinterNights..
The chant begins:
“The Wheel turns, the fire burns the waters flow” . Drum and Chant
This Honouring ends in peace as it began. May the blessings we have received go with us all as we depart this place, to nourish, strengthen and sustain us until we meet again. So may it be!