I was out of town the weekends before and after the High Day, so I performed my very first ritual in observance of Samhain on 11 November. It won't count towards the Dedicants Program because it was outside the one week on either side of the High Day requirement, but that's okay. I will just pick up the Samhain requirement at the end rather than the beginning.
I am no liturgist. My script was copied and pasted from the DP Manual and two others I found through the ADF website. I won't post the script here, because I don't want to violate anyone's copyright.
My altar is kept in my bathroom, on a shelf above the vanity. I try to do a morning devotional when I get out of the shower, but I've fallen off that wagon again. For this rite, I spread a clean sheet on the bathroom floor and arranged my Hallows: a metal jewelry tree shaped like a tree, three candles, and a lovely handmade pottery bowl my best friend gave me a few years ago. I used my normal Well, a small clay goblet, to receive the blessings in the rite. I also laid out my offerings to my right: an apple, cedar oil, a six-pack of Guinness, homemade biscuits with pumpkin butter, cornmeal and olive oil. On my left I had a bowl for liquid offerings and a platter for dry offerings. I also laid out my ritual script, Ogam index cards, a notebook, Erynn Rowan Laurie's Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom in case I needed it, and a pen and lighter.
It seems like I made at least 15 trips to the kitchen, because I kept forgetting things. My husband rolled his eyes every time, like, "Really? Another trip?".
I changed into a white dress that my grandmother gave me. For some reason, I felt the need to cover my hair, so I wrapped a black shawl/wrap around my head. When I finally had everything ready, I sat down in front of the Hallows and took some deep breaths, trying to clear my head and focus.
I offered corn meal to the Earth Mother, cedar oil to the Fire, quarters to the Well, and sprinkled the Tree with water and circled the candle around it. I didn't have a dropper for the cedar oil, so I tried to use a straw to drop some onto the flame. It melted the straw. I cut off the melted part and held it much higher to offer some more. I requested Mannnan Mac Lir to be my Gatekeeper for the rite and offered an apple to him. The Beings of the Occasion were Donn, The Cailleach, and my Beloved Ancestors.
The Ancestors and Nature Spirits were offered a bottle of Guinness each, while I offered olive oil to the Shining Ones. This all went into the bowl I had set off to the side for liquid offerings. As I invited each Kindred, I paused in between to try to visualize them. I saw my grandmother and grandfather at the head of the group of Ancestors. The Nature Spirits appeared with humanish bodies, their faces were animal-like, but not clear, and had flower petals ringing their faces. I got the impression that the one at the front of the Nature Spirits was male. The Shining Ones appeared as, well, shining. Manannan Mac Lir appeared as an older gentleman (I think my view of him was accidentally influenced by this shirt of Poseidon) with silver hair.
Donn appeared as a black shadow with a gold torc around his neck and a cauldron carried on his hip. He had two horns (not antlers). The Cailleach was an old wise woman wearing a red Gypsy scarf over her hair. My Nanny was smiling and my Pawpaw had a mischievous smile and twinkling eyes. As the Beings of the Occasion, I offered them a bottle of Guinness each and several homemade biscuits with pumpkin butter. I was supposed to offer to the Ancestors in thirds - to the ancient heroes, the honored Dead of the passed year, and to my Beloved Dead - but forgot and offered it all at once.
I don't know that I connected with the Deities or Nature Spirits, but I like to think I did with my Ancestors, particularly my Nanny and Pawpaw. I felt reassured that they were doing okay wherever they are.
To take the Omen, I closed my eyes and scattered the Ogam index cards I had made (they have the name and ogam on the front with the association/meaning on the back) and then drew one for each Kindred. The Ancestors offered "Ruis" (Transition); the Nature Spirits offered "Luis" (Protection) and the Shining Ones offered "Saill" (Intuition).
I forgot to prepare a final sacrifice, but I still had one more Guinness, so I offered that.
After the rite was over, I took the offerings outside and poured them over some rocks we have stacked against a tree.
I was incredibly nervous about doing a ritual. The only religious ritual I remember growing up was Passover, and my only participation was listening and passing the juice and unleavened bread to the person next to me. I had a picture of this Far Side cartoon where Yahweh has his finger hovering over the "Smite" button while watching a guy on his computer monitor in my head.
Obviously this is going to have to be pared way down for my official High Day recap in my DP documentation...