Set up the altar and decorate it with three black candles and enough small tea lights for the number of dead you want to remember. You can add pumpkin lanterns, a skull and a cauldron and photographs of those you want to remember if you wish. Have a cup of wine ready (I like to use clary sage wine), soul cakes and burn a visionary incense, such as mugwort.
Light the black candles and call to the Crone:
Crone of Winter, I call to you. Lady of the midnight skies, keeper of the ancient wisdom, I call upon your dark aspect this night, the Lady of the dead and the yet to be born. Hag Queen, keeper of the keys to the underworld realm of transformation, be with me. Lady, in this darkness show me your understanding, and grant me your blessing.
Take up the cup of wine and say:
Dark Queen, bless the wine in this cup in token of your cauldron which contained three drops of wisdom for all the world. Let the cup be filled in the name of the Dark Goddess, for I would speak once more to those who have passed from us and I would see those who are yet to be.
Drink from the cup. Say:
Harken to the voice of my soul and hear me. Harken for I call upon those who have passed from this life, back through the generations of man to the time of my first parents. I light the beacon that you are guided to this place and I call upon you, join me in this place, and eat of the food I offer you.
Call out the names of the people you wish to join you, light a tea light for each from the black candles and place it on the altar, along with an offering of a soul cake for each and some personal encouragement. Spend some time meditating, remembering, and listening. When you are ready to end the ritual say:
I have rejoiced this night in the knowledge that time is no barrier and that friendship endures. Therefore go to your appointed places disturbing not those who would fear you, nor harming any substance of this world. Remember that we will meet again some other Samhain night.
Put out all the candles and say:
It is not for me to bid the Lady to be gone. Instead, I ask that she is with me all my days, guiding my path. This rite is ended. Blessed be.
6 oz butter
6 oz caster sugar
3 egg yolks
1 lb plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
3 oz currants
Mix flour and spice. Cream butter and sugar in a bowl. Beat in egg yolks. Add flour and spice mixture, and the currants. Add enough milk to form a soft dough. Make into flat cakes and mark with a cross. Place on a greased baking tray and bake at 350/180 degrees until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.
© Anna Franklin, from the forthcoming Hearth Witch’s Ritual Year, Llewellyn, 2021