Open rituals can be difficult things to manage. As well as embodying the purpose of the ritual (the season, festival, deity, etc.), you also want the ritual to be enjoyable for the public who attend. open rituals are very different from a private ritual. The atmosphere in a private ritual and among a familiar ritual group, is much more conducive to generating a full spiritual experience that affects people on that deep level. In an open ritual, the room can be filled with a mix of friends, acquaintances and total strangers, and even the setting (probably a public hall or similar venue) can seriously steal away from the sense of a spiritual environment that tends to be created in a private group or when performing ritual alone. Plus, the number of people present at an open ritual, can seriously limit the degree to which everyone can "be involved", further impacting the experiential potential of the rite.
As such, the best that one can often hope for, is to create a ritual that is enjoyable for attendees and creates a good sense of community. So it is wonderful when a public ritual is not only received as enjoyable, but is reported as being genuinely moving and spiritually effective for people.
So, I was delighted to hear that kind of feedback from people.
Of course, if you are going to reproduce it, please give credit and link back here.
Just a little about the ritual.
For this Samhain ritual, I really wanted to draw upon the darker side of things, especially the darker side of "the witch". Witches have been feared (whether justifiably or not) for thousands of years and the character of the witch, has long featured in folklore and fairy tales, as a foreboding and terrible creature. I wanted to utilise that side of our witchcraft heritage, in order to give form to the dark sense of Samhain.
However, I knew that doing such a thing was something that needed to be done responsibly - especially in an open ritual. It is one thing to explore the darkness in private, with people who you know and who agree that they are okay with that and whose limits you are aware of. But in an open ritual, you can't really be sure who will be there or what their sensibilities may be. So, it is important to be considerate of how people may be affected by certain themes and content.
As such, I sought out a way to bring in the dark imagery and atmosphere that I wanted, to allow us to feel that element of Samhain. But do so in a way that could be safely embraced by everyone.
The witches of Macbeth are wonderfully dark and enigmatic. They embody the power and mystery of the witch, but also hold a scary aspect. Their secret ways and strange powers, make them unknown, scary and potentially dangerous. However, they are also familiar to use. They are a version of the witch that people know so well that they are able to straddle the dual understanding that these are dark and feared beings, but also known and acceptable.
So I turned to Macbeth and the language of Shakespeare, to form the basis of the ritual and craft a deliberate atmosphere of something that is both strange and alien, but also close and familiar.
This is the tradition that I decided to include in the ritual, along with some traditional fairy lore.
To that I added the Gods of the ritual, including a Shakespearian Hecate and all the characters of our sacred drama were ready.
So, to the story of this sacred drama...
We begin with three witches, who greet the gathering of attendees and then cast a circle and summon the power of the winds, to protect those present.
With the ritual space prepared, they begin their spell: the classic Double Double Toil and Trouble.
With the spell chanted, they have successfully invoked the presence of divine Hecate, who comes to them and praises their spell work. Pleased with the witches' magic, she grants them a reward and brings into their presence a fairy sprite, to bring them merriment and fun.
However, at this point, Morpheus, the God of Dreams, descends upon the ritual and commands Puck to cease his mischief, reminding him that the circle is there to protect those within it and so the Gods themselves will enforce that protection, if needs be.
Morpheus then gifts those present with a dream, in the form of a pathworking, in which the attendees may experience a connection with those who have passed over to the other side.
Thus ends the ritual.
The wording of the ritual is roughly half my own, while the rest is reworked from the plays Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
There is also a single line taken from Neil Gaiman's Sandman.