I was honored to have been asked to lead the ritual at this year’s New Orleans Witches Ball. The event itself was fabulous… the costumes… the music… the food.. the dancing… the puppet show… everything was perfect, and judging from the smiles on everyone’s faces it seemed like everyone had a great time.
The ritual was one of remembrance and of honoring the Mighty Dead; the spirits of witches and warlocks who have passed from this world but who still have an active relationship with the world, guiding living practitioners in order to better the Craft. As an initiate of what some call ‘traditional witchcraft’ I am intimately familiar with the Old Craft concept of the Red Thread; those lines of blood and initiatory lineage that connect us back to the first witches, and to those powers with whom we claim kinship.
Complimenting this piece of witch lore is the concept of the Silver Thread; those connections that we may share with the spirits, as we learn directly from them forming our own spiritual lineage. In the months leading up to the Witches Ball I was guided to reach out to the Mighty Dead of my tradition, as well as of the Craft at large and –in a series of rituals– ask them to deliver a series of messages that were intended to be received during the ritual.
My coven joined me in opening the Western Gate; a traditional ritual for calling to the spirits of the Dead, and gathered around a crystal ball to scry and receive messages which we then recorded. We received over 50 unique messages before we felt that they were “done”. These messages were then transcribed onto papers upon which I printed an original sigil created from the letters in “Mighty Dead”, fashioned into the likeliness of a skull. These went into each bag along with a length of silver thread and some sunflower seeds.
During the ritual we gathered and I lead everyone in a simple grounding and centering, after which I cast a circle and opened the Western Gate in the style of Faery tradition. We then invoked the Mighty Dead to come and guide us… to give us the messages that we need to hear in order to progress upon our path and to depend the work of the Craft. We called to them with open heart, and we asked them to bestow upon us the Silver Thread.
“We call to you, O Mighty Dead
To enter through the Western Gate
And weave here now the Silver Thread
That guides us toward the witch’s fate!”
We were then guided by the beat of the drum (masterfully played by the talented Louis Martinié) and were prompted to dance with the Mighty Dead. As we made our procession around the circle, the drumming picked up speed and we stirred the energy with our bodies, inviting the Dead to dance with our feet… we called to them with open heart and in our moving trance we sung and chanted and were then invited to reach out and take a packet from the Western altar as we passed, trusting that the message that was for us would be the one that came to our hand.
We danced and sang and felt the spirits around us swirl… and then we slowed, and reformed the circle to finish the spell we had woven.. to breathe an offering of life-force into the bags for the Dead, with the knowledge that we could finish this work when we went home by rolling up the message, tying it with the silver thread, and then burying it in the ground along with the seeds as a charm to manifest and deepen our connection with the Mighty Dead in the coming year. And with the packets held close to our hearts, we made a prayer to seal the work, and then we were done. Together we pouched the circle to encompass the whole of the house and grounds so that the rest of our evening would be spent in sacred space. (Later, after the guests had gone home, I returned to the altar to formally close the Western Gate and reabsorb the circle… no sense in letting all that good energy go to waste! 😉
It was a beautiful evening and I was honored to have been a part of it. I’m already looking forward to next year.