Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy Samhain, Happy New Year

Samhain is one of the most important holidays in the witch's calendar. It marks the third and final harvest, where livestock is slaughtered and meat prepared for the long dark winter months. It is one of two times when the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is thinnest. Rituals often include messages to loved ones who have gone before, or ancestors unknown, or even a dumb supper. This also makes it a great time for divination. The fae folk are on the move with other incorporeal creatures that walk the Earth on this night. It is also regarded by many as the new year. The old year ends and begins on this day, and many people include things they want to leave behind and thinks they wish to gain during rituals. It marks the symbolic death of the god in the shortening of daylight hours, until he is born again at Yule. I call this period the Dark of the Sun, as the yearly cycle of the sun reflects the monthly cycle of the moon.

This has always been a very special holiday for me. The autumn is my favorite time of year, this holiday occurs during the month of my birth, and the magick of the world feels stronger than ever. This also makes the very first ritual I was able to share with a local ministry I have been working with since I went to their festival at Beltane. I was excited at being able to join them in ritual, and not the slightest bit nervous.

The evening started with preparations. There was paper to write a message to love ones who had passed on to be burned in the ritual bonfire. We made wooden and fabric poppets to represent something we wanted to be rid of, or something we wanted to take with us into the year. I made one of each.

The group of sixteen participants (and one to stand outside the circle as a protector - I need to research this concept, in fifteen years of my own practice, I have never heard of such a position) walked gaily to the ritual circle and then quietly prepared ourselves as we were cleansed one by one. During the course of the ritual, each person was given the opportunity to throw their message and/or their poppet into the flame and say a few words about it or not as they saw fit. My poppet was a representation of the many things that happened to me this year that I needed to leave behind me. This was mostly low points that I had given far more energy to than they needed. My letter was to my maternal grandfather, Poppop. About three years ago, he sent me a message, a loud and clear message, and I finally got the chance to tell him I had received it. He passed on when I was very young, and I think the time we would have shared was taken from us. My other poppet is to remind me of my own strength, and it will stay on my altar until next Samhain.

After everyone sent their messages or gave to the fire what needed to be left behind, we did something very special. It was four years ago Samhain that the sacred space of this place was dedicated. In their attempts to gain non-profit status with the government, they are becoming much more public and the space needs more protection than ever. We raised energy and cast a vast shield around the property, to protect it, those who dwell there, and those who come and go in perfect love and trust. It was beautiful.

When the ritual ended, we moved to another bonfire and told crazy stories into the night.

I am happy that my first ritual with this group, my chosen family, was so special. I am pleased to have been welcomed into their circle, and I know we can all learn and grow from each other.

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