Kneeling in the damp grass before the shadow cast altar I pick up the incense I had laid out and hold the end to the flame of a candle. As I blow out the lit tip the smoke wafts it sweet fragrance about me invoking the memory of rituals past.
I place the incense in the holder before the picture of the deceased and watch as the smoke passes across the image. “Holy art thou ancestors of the Witch Blood, of kith and kin, you whom sit upon the Thrones of the Mighty Dead in the Halls of the Fated-folk, witness these offerings and heed the call to guide one of your own into your company ,” I say just loud enough for my own ears. Then I toll the bell seven times, each chime shatters the silence in sharp contrast to the calm night.
The chalice is cool to the touch and drips condensation as I raise it in salute to the night sky before beginning to tip the contents upon the ground. The red wine splatters the grass and roots before the altar. The dark stain reflects the dim of the night sky as if it were freshly spilled blood. “Accept this offering o Mighty Dead, may it stir your memories in aid of this rite. Allow it to uplift you and the one who joins you now.” I invert the chalice and sit it back on the altar.
Then I pick up the small loaf of bread from its silver dish next to the photo. Holding it to before the altar, I rip at it, tearing at it with my hands as crumbles fall upon the earth. The last few pieces I sprinkle across the altar itself before wiping my hands against the sides of my robes. Then with my right palm gestured towards the altar I say, “Accept this offering o Mighty Dead, may it feed your power in aid of this rite. Allow it to sustain you and the one who joins you now.”
Stooping I grab an unlit black candle staged beneath the altar. I hold it wick to wick with the lit white candle. I watch the flame pass, growing in strength, mesmerized by the swirling of the dripping black wax as it commingles with the white. I sit the candle in its brass holder before the photo next to the incense and inverted chalice. “Accept this offering o Mighty Dead, may it illuminate your path in aid of this rite. Allow it to warm you and the one who joins you now.” I reach down and pick up the bell, ringing it seven times more.
Sitting the bell down I knock three times upon the altar and pronounce, “So mote it be.”
“Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.”