Today is Samhain (Sow-win), the Celtic HolyDay that celebrates the Ancestors, our Beloved Dead. I wrote the following in 2017, though nothing much has or will change in how I approach this day. While I didn’t get to walk out to our Sacred Grove yesterday (it was raining), I didn’t need to in order to feel the presence of the Ancestors. In truth, they have been here for weeks, their presence very palpable this year.
I hope you will take a moment to speak the names of your Ancestors, for that which is spoken is remembered. Blessed Samhain!
Late yesterday afternoon, close to dusk, after a very busy day of pouring candles and making winter herbal remedies, I made a cup of tea and walked out to my swing to try and regain some sense of the sacred. The minute I entered the Grove I knew something was different. It was an overwhelming feeling of different, as though the woods had completely changed from earlier in the morning. It felt SO otherworldly – so thin and light. I remember turning around looking at everything, trying to figure it out and, for a minute or two, I felt completely disoriented, confused, as though I’d stepped into a different place, a different time. Then I knew. I remembered.
They were here. It was Samhain Eve, the Veil had thinned, and the Ancestors had come. I sat down on my swing – I was a bit light-headed by this point – closed my eyes and just sat with this energy. Breathing in. Breathing out. Then tears came, but not tears of fear, tears of gratitude and understanding. I was completely overwhelmed at the vast implication of it all and even more humbled by my place in this dance.
Today is Samhain. In a bit I will go out to the Grove and place a vase of red carnations and blooming rosemary on our Ancestor altar. Then I will build a fire in my cauldron and create the larger sacred container that will hold us on this day. As I prepare favorite foods of my ancestors and those of my partner, the Samhain fire will burn. Then tonight, a few friends will join us for a ritual honoring and blessing of this sacred portal.
At the liminal point of dusk, we will gather around the Cauldron, building up the fire, and invite all the ancestors in – both human and those from our respective animal tribes – and we will tell stories, say prayers, laugh, cry, and we will feed them and thank them. We will also honor the Dark Goddess of this season – the Crone – and remember those who died during the times of the European and American inquisitions. We will then divine and later dream, leaving offerings for the fairies, devas, elementals and all the others that will walk this night. We will give thanks for the past year and welcome the new one.
The veil has thinned. The Wheel has turned. This is such an incredibly magical time of the Ancestors and a portal to other worlds. I love that this turning of the Wheel also ushers in the season of the Crone – the teacher and guide into the depths of the Inner Mysteries offering deep calls to the deep as we sink into the coming inner cycle.
I am so very honored to walk this path of the Mystery made manifest… a path of ancient lineages and deepening into the inner time… a path that brings me cycles and empowers me with rich and raw magical authenticity…a path that teaches me death and life are two parts of the whole… a path of liminal numinosity.
Blessings on this day of Remembering.
The Ritual of Samhain…A Remembering by Arlene Bailey ©2017, ©2019
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