Tag Archive | samhain

The Littlest Druid learns about Samhain

Aisling sat at the edge of the turnip field, a pile of perfect turnips piled beside her. She only needed one more. Her teacher had sent her out here to select the nine turnips that would be carved into lanterns to represent the skulls of the people who had died in the village for the procession on Samhain.

Her teacher had told her that they used to use the skulls of people who had died. She was glad they had switched to turnips. She knew death was a part of life but she didn’t want to see the skull of her friend Beith that had died this year. She missed her so much. It still hurt to lose her.

It was an honor to be picked for this job. She had to find the biggest and most perfect turnips for the lanterns. This wasn’t easy because turnips grow underground and she had to choose hers before they started harvesting the field. She was supposed to pull the turnips that called out to her and those would be the right ones and she had one left to go. She wanted the absolute most perfect one for Beith.

She closed her eyes and reached her hands out trying to feel which one in the field was calling her. She felt a tug from the left and started to walk that in that direction. She kept her hand out and cautiously walked across the field. She closed her eyes and stood still and put her hands out again. It was close by, she could tell and someone put a turnip in her hand.

Aisling’s eyes flew up and a woman smiled at her.

“I think this is the one you need for Beith.” The woman said as she handed Aisling the turnip. It was a lovely one. Beautiful clear white and just an edging of purple around the top and it was clean with no soil clinging to it.

Aisling knew she had been alone in the field but it was the gloaming time and she was well aware anything could happen in the between times and for her it usually did.

Aisling studied the woman and was trying to figure out who she was when the woman said to her, “I’m Anann. I’m the one who came for Beith. She wanted you to know she is doing well but she still loves and misses you.”

Aisling felt a lump in her throat. She swallowed trying to keep it down. She didn’t want to cry in front of the goddess. Anann reached her hand out and smoothed Aisling’s hair which really didn’t help at all.

“She’s happy and safe and not in pain anymore?” Aisling finally got out.

“She is happy and safe and not in pain anymore. She and the priestess you helped have a message for you.”

“They do?” Ailsing wasn’t sure how that worked.

“They want you to know they are always around if you need them and that someday they will be back.” Anann told her.

“I so want to carry Beith’s lantern in the procession. Do you think that they will let me?” Aisling asked beginning to relax.

I don’t think the Chief Druid would have it any other way but you know you will be the youngest in the procession?”

Aisling nodded. She really wanted to honour her friend and not do anything wrong. Samhain was too important a time and she wanted Beith to be proud of her and know she still loved her.

Anann spoke and it was if she had heard Aisling’s thoughts. “She is proud of you all the time because you don’t give up and you’re always learning. Do you know what my job is?” asked the goddess.

Aisling thought and remembered, “To comfort the dying, and to make the fields fertile and to protect the cattle.”

Anann laughed, “Good! That’s some of it. I also teach the dying about their existence after they die and help them get ready to return. You know how your teacher told you that you are supposed to rejoice when people die because they are being born into the Otherworld?”

Aisling nodded again. She still didn’t feel like rejoicing that her best friend in the whole world was gone and it made her choke up again and start being angry. How was that something to rejoice about?

Anann looked at her. “The rejoicing part is the hardest, isn’t it? You still want and miss your friend. She still wants and misses you too but part of life is learning to let go and rejoicing when someone dies hurts. There is no way out of that but you need to know that that is you hurting and she doesn’t hurt any longer. No pain and no strife, she is at peace.”

Aisling was beginning to see the pain was about her. “Am I being selfish when I miss her so much?”

“No, you’re being human and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’d worry about you a lot if you didn’t.”

“You would?”

“Aisling, you are going to be a very good druid, maybe even a great druid and the best druids have felt all emotions and know that other people feel them too. They learn that everything isn’t about them. It’s about the all, everything and everyone that exists.”

Aisling was quiet for a bit. “Is it okay if I still miss her a lot?”

“Always, it will just hurt less and you will start to have more happy memories than sad ones.”

“Really?” Ailsing asked.

“Really, and it’s even all right if you cry during the procession and the ceremony. It shows you loved someone.”

Anann hugged Aisling, “Don’t you need to take these and go help carve them into lanterns?”

Aisling grabbed her sack and started stuffing the turnips into the bag she’d brought.

“Not so fast, you don’t want to bruise them.” laughed Anann and she helped Aisling put the turnips in more carefully.

“I’ll be watching tomorrow night with the rest of your dead. Be well, Aisling, you will be fine,” and Anann walked to the end of the field and was gone.


The next night Aisling lined up with the others. She was last in line with her lantern. She was very proud of the carving she had done. She thought she had captured Beith’s smile just right. They started the procession and Aisling started to weep. She missed her friend but it was going to be all right. She thought she got a glimpse of Anann, Beith, and the Priestess in the crowd but it was hard to see by the light of the turnip lanterns and she couldn’t be sure. When she got to the hall where they were going to have a feast and celebrate the lives of their dead, the Chief Druid caught her eye and winked.

“What was that about?”

This post references the events in this story:http://thelittlestdruid.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/the-littlest-druid-learns-about-loss/

and this one: http://thelittlestdruid.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/the-littlest-druid-learns-about-healing/

BunniHoTep learns about Samhain

Once upon a time a ship made its way into the harbor at the top of the Nile. It was visiting this harbor for a second time. The first time was after a mighty storm had brought them but this time they weren’t going to make it all the way home for their holiday and decided to visit BunniHoTep and spend it with her.

The ship nosed itself into the dock and a red haired little girl leapt off the dock and went streaking for a small temple at the end of Temple Row. Sesi flew like an arrow launched from one of her father’s bows along the avenue. She ran into the Temple looking around her for her friend. Where was she?

BunniHoTep was in her garden because here in the south they were still growing things in the garden. Her lovely pink lotuses towered over her by the edge of the pond and the papyruses nodded their heads in the slight breeze that was passing through. A late bunch of carrots were showing their shoulders in the garden patch as well as a nice crop of beets and cabbage and some leafy lettuce was starting up in the far bed. All in all it was a lovely big cornucopia of food and she was proud of it. Into this pond of calm came whirlwind Sesi who scooped the tiny goddess up and whirled her around making BunniHoTep quiet dizzy. One does not normally take physical liberties with a goddess even a small rabbit goddess so I guess it can be forgiven that BunniHoTep was confused for a moment.

“Sesi! Put me down.” BunniHoTep yelled.

Sesi dropped the goddess gently by the lotus pool.

“What are you doing here? You’re a long way from your island home, aren’t you?”

Sesi giggled. “Yes, but we couldn’t get back home before our holiday so I asked Mathair and Athair if we could spend it with you! We’ll head home right after!” Sesi was dancing up and down with excitement. She knew BunniHoTep would love it.

BunniHoTep was looking at her quite confused. “What holiday? We don’t have a holiday today”

“No but we do and it’s our New Year and you should spend it with good friends and people you love and you saved me and I missed you so we are here to spend it with you.” Sesi smiled at BunniHoTep but BunniHoTep still didn’t understand.

“We have a festival for Bast tomorrow and I usually watch her latest batch of kittens so she can party with Sekmet but it isn’t New Year’s for us.” BunniHoTep said.

“No, we have a feast for our dead on the days that are halfway between the equinox and winter solstice. It’s called Samhain.” BunniHoTep frowned at the strange word but didn’t interrupt. “That’s our new year and it’s when the dead come visit and we set the table for them and the faeries come and we bring in the last harvest and we eat and tell stories for 3 whole days and, and, and.” The words, as usual were flooding out of Sesi.

“Stop! What’s this about your dead coming to visit? The dead don’t visit us here on the Nile, we like our dead to stay dead in their tombs where we put them so they can prepare for their re-birth.” BunniHoTep looked at the little girl a bit apprehensively by now Sesi’s mother and father and siblings had caught up with the little girl. Sesi’s father picked her up and said. “Maybe we had better explain our holiday to BunniHoTep? She might not like all our customs.” He said raising an eyebrow at his daughter. “Maybe we can talk a bit before we ask her to join us?” and he lead the way over to the bench.

“We don’t treat our dead the way you do here.” He started stopped looking at BunniHoTep for a sign he should continue. BunniHoTep motioned for him to go on. So he did.

“Our dead stay with us and advise us after they are dead. We don’t mummify our dead we cremate them and keep their heads.” BunniHoTep looked a bit upset at this so he hurried on.

“Don’t worry they are at home where they belong in their niches.” He explained. “We’ll do something different this year, normally we invite them to our feast and we tell stories and treat them as if they were still here and let them know that they are still loved and remembered.”

BunniHoTep nodded. “I can understand that. When someone dies you miss them terribly it must be comforting.” And she motioned him to continue.

“We sometimes take them around to places they remember and also to scare any of the Fair Folk away that might have bad intentions.”

“Fair Folk?” BunniHoTep inquired.

“Beings that live in our country who can be mischievous and not always have our best interests at heart and at this time of year,  can lead people away and the people may never be seen again. They can drag you to live under our hills. They like creative humans and it’s best to keep away from them. They don’t always understand the love of families for each other.”

“All right, I’d love to celebrate your holiday with you but no heads traveling around here without their bodies, in fact no spirits at all. Can you honour them without that? I don’t want to be explaining to Ma’at why there are spirits around she hasn’t judged and it would confuse Ammit terribly and I don’t even want to know what Anubis would say.” BunniHoTep shuddered. She thought explaining to Isis would be bad enough but she thought Nepthys would understand.

“So what do we need to do?” BunniHoTep asked. “Get ready for a feast and a night of story telling?”

“Exactly.” said Sesi’s dad and they went into the Temple. BunniHoTep calling for her priestesses and sending the running to harvest the vegetables and start one of their lovely soups for dinner. Other priestesses were sent to set tables in the big temple chamber. They were airing the linens and beating the carpets that all would sit on. The Temple became beehive of activity. The smells of honeycakes and rich, warm cooking smells were found throughout the Temple and BunniHoTep couldn’t take it anymore so she took them for a tour of Temple Row and to see the eternal flame they had taught her about last time that resided in Isis’ Temple.

She was also trying to think of a way for them to honour their dead with out those nasty skulls. The very thought made BunniHoTep tremble but she was starting to have an idea that might work. Sesi’s family had contributed some vegetables to the feast from the place they came from and she has seen something that gave her an idea.

They walked around a long time and BunniHoTep suggested they all take a nap before dinner in the cool chambers of the Temple. They just weren’t used to the heat of an Egyptian day.

So while her guests were napping BunniHoTep went to work. She selected what she needed from what they had brought and took it to her workroom and set about it. She tried several different ways until she found one she liked and she was very pleased with it. She just hoped they would like it too.

Soon it was nightfall and time for the feast. After the gods and goddesses had been thanked for their presence and they had given prayers of thanks for the food, BunniHoTep brought out her creation from under the low table and placed it carefully at a place setting she had made. “I know you don’t have your family here to have a meal with us but I was hoping this might do.” She unveiled her creation. The family stared and then started to cheer and laugh and BunniHoTep relaxed. This was going to work after all.

BunniHoTep had taken a vegetable they called a turnip and had hollowed it out and carefully carved a face in it that looked a lot like Sesi’s father. She had carefully placed a tiny candle and put the top back on. It sat at its place glowing with a pleasant smile like it was bestowing a blessing on all that were at the feast.

Sesi’s family thought this was an admirable solution to what had seemed a big problem. The feast went on and when the celebration was over they family headed back to their ship in the harbor. Sesi clutching the turnip carefully so that it shown their way home.

Sesi’s parents thanked BunniHoTep immensely. It was a kind gesture to a family missing their loved ones and quite frankly, a lot cheerier than having Uncle Hamish at the table.

And so the Jack O’ Lantern was born in a land far away. Bet you didn’t know it came from a bunny.

A Samhain blessing and journey


This weekend was hard, it was beautiful, it was chaotic, it was terrifying, it was so painful and sometimes so loving it’s hard to describe.

Mary is gone now and off to whatever adventures we can’t follow on. She is no longer in pain but we are because she left a huge hole in our hearts.

She smiled at each of us before we sent her on her journey and I will treasure that smile for the rest of my life. I was honoured to spend time with her Friday just holding her hand and being with her. She was going in and out of being present but she knew I was there and that was enough.

Saturday we gathered the family and said our goodbyes. We decorated the altar and her bed. We covered her with her green cloak and the wings of Isis I brought along with BunniHoTep sitting on the end of the bed. It made her smile. We brought her favourite ritual tools and goddess images and the Brighid’s cross from the living room. She was surrounded with love and when we started the rite she was paying attention. Di, S, her step daughter, although I hate to call her step, she was her daughter and I did the rite that Caroline had written for us so beautifully. It was so hard to read it. I’m glad I wasn’t doing to alone. Denise had asked me to do it since she knew she couldn’t and I was supposed to do it alone originally since we had no idea that the others would come but they did.

It’s one thing to priestess for a stranger or someone you don’t know well but for someone you consider your sister, it’s sooo hard. Mary, Denise and I began the Grove together with Laura. We’ve taken every step along the path together from Grove creation to Companion to Bard and then to Druid and finally, Arch Druidess. Along the way we added our sister Diana who is now our Bard and we have Companions in the Grove but for the three of us, it was our dream and we created it together. You don’t get to create many dreams with people you love so much and I’m so lucky that we did.

It was a gift to do the rite and it was a gift to sing her way home to the Summerlands. Talking later after it was over we all saw the same thing but from different angles. I know I saw Laura and Lady Olivia reach out to her and take her hands and then she was gone. It took a small interval that felt like an eternity for her body to stop fighting to breathe but we all knew the instant she was gone and her body was no longer the Mary we loved but an empty vessel.

So on that holiest of days of the Druid calendar, Mary passed from our sight. We will be together again. We’ve all been together many times. We will play together and sing together. We will have ritual together and who knows maybe we will create other Groves together. But the love will always remain and the love will always bind us together. All we need to do is follow the ribbons of love that bind our hearts together. For only love remains.


A Hallows prayer

A Hallows Prayer

I honour my ancestors

Both the ones I know about and those in the far past

I honour my ancestors

The warriors, the bards, the bakers, the wise women

I honour my ancestors

The pagan, the Christians, the earth lovers

I honour my ancestors

The writers, the artists, the explorers

I honour my ancestors

The farmers, the gardeners, the animal tenders

I honour my ancestors

The doctors, the healers, the herbalists

I honour my ancestors

The midwives, the nurses, the apothecaries

I honour my ancestors

Of moor and mountain

Of fjord and sea

Of meadow and fields

Of plains and plateaus

Of hills and vales

And valleys and glens

Of creek and brook

Of river and stream

Of fire and wind

I honour you.

I honour my ancestors

I am the sum of your lives

I am the sum of their loves

I am the end of my line.

I honour my ancestors

In memory, in blood, in the face I bear

I honour my ancestors

In the body I wear

I honour my ancestors

In the day

In the night

And in the between times.

I honour you.

Blessed Samhain

Blessed Samhain, Samhuinn, & Hallows!

Originally a celebration of 3 nights to a week to allow for travel time and the moon to move since this festival was originally determined by the moon. The idea of months is relatively new to the Gaelic peoples. The Gaelic words for the months are a new addition to the Gaelic language. They went by seasonal names and groups of days not a day at a time on the calendar. The word weekend for instance is an American invention from beginning of the last century. In Britain, fortnight and sennight instead a week or two weeks spans. So Samhain is simply the word for Summer’s end. There is no Lord Samhain some nitwit with no knowledge of Gaelic made that up and now Christians use it in tracts to defame pagans. Repeat: THERE IS NO LORD SAMHAIN! And by the way it is not pronounced Sam Hane like some strange man. It’s Sow-in in Ireland and usually Sav- in in Scotland. MH dipthong is pronounced as a “v”. So is BH, by the way although if in the middle of the word they may be silent.

So for the Gaels it was a matter of honouring their family dead and setting a place for them at the feast. It was also a night of fear of the Fae. Not pretty Victorian fairies but full size or bigger and dressed for the Wild Hunt. If you didn’t pay homage to them you were liable to be taken away or hunted by the Wild Hunt and never seen again. Alone on the moors in the Highlands was no place to be on Samhain Night.

So light the bonefires and know that if the crops are not in by now they are the ransom paid to the Fae and no longer belong to you. Farmer, you had best be sure to have the last of the turnips and beets in. This is the harvest of the root vegetable, the harvest of nuts from the woods and the harvest of the animals you can’t feed through the winter. Tonight is the feast to prepare us for tomorrow’s winter. We celebrate the eve because we know that light follows dark as spring follows winter. We know that loss comes before gain and indeed from death comes life.

This is the time now for stories. Summer is for play and for work outside, Now we enter around the fireside and listen to the tales of the Seanchai or Fili. Listen to the tales of your tribe, the tales of the wise Druids, the tales of the heroes and heroines, listen to the words of your ancestors. Listen to the wind outside for their tales too. Roast the nuts and watch the women waulk the cloth. Listen to the songs of the people who came before you and rest. Your heavy work is done.

Listen to the piper, listen to the Bodran and the whistle. Come bring the bairns and watch the smoke rise from the peat. It’s Samhain night, It’s Samhain Night, IT’S SAMHAIN NIGHT!

What is remembered lives

What is remembered lives

Help me always to remember

What is remembered lives

Let me see their shining faces

What is remembered lives

Let me hear their loving voices

What is remembered lives

Let me hear their laughter

What is remembered lives

Let me catch their unique scent on the wind

What is remembered lives

Let me see their shadow pass by

What is remembered lives

Let me hear their footsteps

What is remembered lives

Let me feel their touch

What is remembered lives

Let them always be in my heart

What is remembered lives

Let them always be in my memory

What is remembered lives

Let me know that someday I will join their shades

What is remembered lives

What is remembered lives

What is remembered lives

Kat 2015


A prayer

Hallows winds blow ’round me
Hallows winds protect me
Hallows winds go with me
I take this journey out of love
Be with me as we do difficult things
We travel in love
Carrying with us the blessings
Of sisterhood
We are sending a sister
Into your arms, dear Brighid
Kind Hecate
Healing Quan Yin
Let us be her strength
Let her know she is loved
Let her be calm knowing
She is never alone
She is being born again
in the Summerland
May a new sun shine above her
May a new moon watch over her
May the new stars guide her
Let the loved ones who meet her
Know she was loved to the end
May they greet her with welcoming arms
May they teach her new ways
May she remember us
We will miss her
We have loved her
We have held her spirit
And it is beautiful
May she feel no pain
As she passes from us
May she be healed
In her new body
May she be blessed
Bless us as we hold the space
Bless us as we do hard things
Bless our tears
They are because she is loved
Bless our tears
We will miss her
Bless our tears
And let them cleanse us
Death is a passage
We can’t walk yet
It is not our test yet
So we watch for her
So we protect her
So we love her
Let the wings of Isis enfold her
Let the cloak of Brighid cover her
Let the ways of Elen guide her
So mote it be.