Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Samhain Charm

Dear Gods and Poet's Fire! have I neglected this blog for an entire month?? Please forgive me, dear readers. Review my previous excuses for discussions of just how busy my life continues to be - October has been no more slow. Much of that is my fault, of course. Likewise it's my fault that I've just been easily distracted.

I'm slowly grinding my way out of my writer's block, and stuff will be coming in the next weeks. Thanks for still reading - newer readers should find plenty of old stuff while I get my poo together.

Fair notice, the current offer of the Leabhar Mor will stay up until Sunday night or Monday morning, then vanish for an unknown (but not brief) length of time.

The Host of the Bitter Dead
Among spirit-worshipping peoples, the care of the Dead is vital to the maintenance of a tribe or family's luck.
Mortal spirits are mighty, and each deserves the offerings and reverence of their folk. Fate being what it is, many humans die without those comforts. In older times one might be slain along the road, and lie unknown in the green. One might fall as one of hundreds in battle, bones left for crows. In our day one may die under a bridge, without resources or love. One may die in a natural disaster, corpse swept away from all care. Tradition teaches us that a bad death makes a bitter spirit, as surely as does a bad life. Each year's turning creates a new crowd of bitter Dead. Throughout the Indo-European world the notion of the host of the unshriven dead was a source of spiritual and possibly material danger. In Gaelic lore the 'host of the unshriven dead' is sometimes called the sluagh sidhe. 'sluagh' means 'host' in the sense of crowd, and the sluagh arises in swamps and mires (a common place to die unknown) to haunt and harm the living.

Last year this charm came to my mind late - only in time for Yuletide. I want to repost it at a more proper season. It is useful at this time of year to aid us in directing offerings to these beings, to calm their hearts and bring them back to the Fire. It could also be useful in some cases of 'haunting', but I haven't tried that yet.

Let an offering of bread, honey and ale or wine be prepared, along with a small fire, or candle to be lit even if the rite is worked at a more formal ritual fire.
Begin with whatever prayers and offerings to the gods and spirits are proper to your work, and then prepare the fire so that the food offerings can be placed before it.

• Let the blood of the Dead water the root of the Tree.
Let the Hazels of Wisdom grow from deep roots.
Let wisdom, strength and love nourish every being, by the rising of the light.

• Often do we honor the Ancestors, blessed and beloved.
With them we share warmth at the Shrine of the Hearth.
Many are those who die who we know not,
Yet human kinship does not stop at the garth’s wall.

• All our allies among the Dead, help us to speak to the Lost.
Elder Wise, Grandparents of our lines,
Join your voices with ours in love and mercy
For all the Host of the Dead.

• Hear me now, all you lost spirits
All who died suddenly, without warning;
All who died unjustly, or by the hand of another;
All who died alone, in unknown places, or in deep waters;
All who died without the embrace of kin.

• We make these offerings to you, for your rest and peace
That you no longer be lost
That you no longer be angry
That you no longer be vengeful
But be welcomed at the Fire.
(Lay the bread offering, and pour honey upon it)
We honor you with this gift of bread and ale
(Lay the Ale or wine offering)
Though we may not name you,
We have not forgotten you
(Light the small fire or candle)
• This small fire we light for you,
As the small sun of Yule morning will rise.
Let it be as a hearth of warming
Where peace prevails
And all feast as friends
With the Blessing of the Gods.
Host of the Dead, accept my sacrifice!