How To Hold a Samhain Rite to Honor Animals
By Patti Wigington, About.com Guide
This ceremony is designed to honor the spirits of the animals – both wild and domestic. Man’s relationship with animals goes back thousands and thousands of years. They have been a source of food and clothing. They have protected us from the things that lurk in the darkness. They have provided comfort and warmth. In some cases, they have even raised and nurtured our discarded children, as in the case of Romulus and Remus. If you have animals in your home — pets or livestock — this is their night. Feed them before you feed the humans in your family. Put some food out for any wild animals that may happen by as well.
- If you have a pet that has passed away during this last year, you may want to include a photo or keepsake of them on your table during this rite.
Prepare a stew for your family that includes small amounts of as many different meats as you may have available — beef, pork, game, chicken, etc. If your family is vegetarian or vegan, designate a non-meat ingredient to represent each animal and adapt the ritual as needed, eliminating lines that reference the eating of animals. When your stew is ready, gather the family around the altar table you prepared during the previous night’s Harvest End Ritual.
- Place the stew pot in the center of the table, with a large serving spoon or ladle. Make sure you have some good dark bread to eat as well. Each member of the family should have a bowl and spoon handy. Say:
Samhain has come, and it is the end of the Harvest.
The crops are in from the fields,
And the animals are preparing for the coming winter.
Tonight, we honor the animals in our lives.
Some have died that we may eat.
Some have provided us with love.
Some have protected us from that which would do us harm.
Tonight, we thank them all.
- Go around the family in a circle. Each person should take a scoop of stew from the pot and place it in their bowl. Younger children may need an adult’s help with this. As each person gets their helping, say:
Blessed are the animals,
Those who die that we may eat.
Blessed are the animals,
Those we love and who love us in return.
When every family member has their stew, each takes a piece of bread. As they do, say:
As the Wheel of the Year continues to turn,
The harvest has ended, and the grain has been threshed.
The animals sleep for the winter.
We thank them for their gifts.
- Take your time finishing your meal. If you have pets, don’t be surprised if they come visit while you’re eating your stew tonight — animals tend to be very aware of the spiritual plane! If there is any stew left over, leave some out for the spirits. Any extra bread can be thrown outside for the wild animals and birds.
- If you want to mix a bit of stew in with your pet’s everyday food, it’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian first.
- An altar table
- A pot of stew
- Some hearty dark bread