The Third Best Spell Under the Sun: A Warding Charm for Samhain

rowan-crossI’m a little late to the party with this, seeing as Samhain proper is tonight, and ideally this spell should be done before that, but better late than never. Samhain is a seasonal tide, so you perform this rite any time within the next few days. This warding rite and charm was submitted for the ADF course “Magic 1 for Priests” last year.

In Scotland and Ireland, folk practices surrounding protection take place on the quarter days, and involve protection by smoke, water, and the use of talismans.

Burning juniper is often used in Celtic rites as a means to purification; in the Highlands it was burned on New Year’s morning (McNeill 80). Erynn Laurie uses a combination of juniper and native plants for glannad and offerings (Laurie 41).

A sain is a protection charm against specific dangers on a person, animal, place, or object, used to ward away evil influences and bring health and prosperity (Campbell 211, Laughlin “Saining”). The act of saining can involve fire or water. Circumambulation of a person, animal, vehicle, or property with fire can protect them from the evil eye or ill intentions (McNeill 62). Sprinkling door-posts and houses in a clockwise direction with silvered water would protect it from harm; this was also done with cattle (Campbell 137). A saining rite using juniper and water was recorded by McNeill in The Silver Bough, with water collected from a stream, sprinkled on the household, and then juniper burned to produce smoke throughout the house. After a time, and after much coughing, the smoke was vented out and whiskey distributed (Laughlin “Saining”).

Talismans made of rowan wood and red thread were placed above the doorways of buildings on the quarter days, or carried in the pocket for personal protection (McNeill 77). Tying two twigs together in a cross or god’s eye shape with red thread is a common form of the amulet (McNeill 73).

The following warding working incorporates these folk practices, and is performed just before the Samhain season begins — consider it part of winterizing the home!

The house is mundanely cleaned in advance of the rite. In the early morning, walk to the river to bring back a pitcher of water for use in the rite. Upon returning, give offering to An Cailleach and your house or patron gods:

Offering to An Cailleach
Winter hag, and bringer of storms,
I set out this offering for you,
Dark foods to sustain you as you pass by this place.
Take them, and trouble us not this winter!

Offering to the House Gods
[A person can make offering to their own house spirits. Mine are given:]
Spear above the door, protector,
Ward the boundaries of our home.
Fire on the hearth, nurturer,
Hold the centre of our home.
Watch our goings out and comings in,
Beneath the turning of the moon and sun.

Silvered Water

The water from the stream is poured out into a bowl, and silver or gold is added to it. The water can be silvered using a piece of magical jewelry, a wedding ring, etc. (Black 392 n.451). Drop the silver into the water and say:

Water of rivers, water of long life, water of blessings.

Each member of the household drinks a sip. Taking the bowl, and a sprig of juniper to sprinkle, go clockwise from room to room, sprinkling the water on the beds, the seating, and the members of the household. Repeat the silvering charm.

Saining with Juniper, and the Crafting of the Charm

From the altar again, and working in a clockwise manner, one person lights juniper in a fireproof bowl or shell and carries it from room to room, fanning it into all the corners.

The other remains at the altar to make the rowan charm. As the saining with juniper is being performed, and as the rowan and red thread charm is woven, the weaver should chant the following, entering a light trance as she works. This charm is a modified version of “Spell of the Eye” [150] in the Carmina Gadelica. Again, the gods mentioned are my house gods, but a substitution could be made for someone else.

I place this spell to my eye,
As my magic has ordained:
Spell of the Well, spell of Ancestors,
Spell of the Tree, spell of nature-kin,
Spell of the Fire, spell of shining Gods.
Spell of Lugh, chieftain of the tribe
Spell of Brighid, warmth of the flame
Spell of cows, spell of herds,
Spell of sheep, spell of flocks,
Spell of greatness, spell of means,
Spell of joy, spell of peace,
Spell of war, spell of the brave,
The third best spell under the sun,
The powerful spell of the Three Powers,
Of Land, of Sky, of Sea.

The saining with juniper should continue for as long as it takes to make the charm.

When the talisman is completed, it is hung in its place above or behind the front door, repeating the charm once more.

The members of the household share a drink of whiskey.

If an old rowan talisman has been replaced, the old one can be moved out to the car, repeating part of the rite there with the silvered water, juniper, talisman, and whiskey.

[I also have a version of this charm explicitly written for use within the ADF Core Order of Ritual. If you’d prefer this version, let me know.]


Campbell, John Gregorson. The Gaelic Otherworld: John Gregorson Campbell’s Supersitions of the Highlands & Islands of Scotland and Witchcraft & Second Sight in the Highlands & Islands. Ed. Ronald Black. Birlinn: Edinburgh, 2005. Print.

Carmichael, Alexander. Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and Incantations. T. And A. Constable: Edinburgh, 1900. Rpt. As “Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and Incantations” on Web. 15 Nov 2015.

Laughlin, Annie. “Saining.” Tairis. 2015. Web. 11 Nov 15.

Laurie, Erynn Rowan. Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom. Stafford, UK: Megalithica, 2007. Print.

McNeill, F. Marian. The Silver Bough: Volume One: Scottish Folk-Lore and Folk-Belief. Edinburgh: Canongate, 1989. Print.

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