Tag Archive | samhain

It’s Samhain and Hecate is here

I am ordained to three Goddesses, one of whom is Hecate. I don’t worship her. I work with her when she asks and when it is time she is there. I’m going to be doing it again very soon. It is an honour to be asked to priestess the death of a friend. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much. Life is full of pain and anyone who works with Hecate is a warrior. You have to be to face the veil. Being a warrior is painful, you have to suck up your pain and face it and go through to do what you need to do but you also have to acknowledge that it is hard and you really don’t want to do it because you know what the outcome will be and it’s a bit selfish because you don’t want to lose the person you love so much.

But you have to do it, she will not be in pain any longer. She will not be alone in her head anymore because that is all she has left. She will not have to struggle to communicate what she needs. But yet again her partner and we, her fellow priestesses have to find our way without her except as a memory or as a thought  or presence when we plan anything without her from now on. We know she will be there but losing her hurts like a son of a gun.

It’s not the first time I will do this and it won’t be the last and I won’t be doing it alone. I will be doing it with Di and I know Laura will be standing waiting for Mary on the other side. She will never be alone except when she passes through the veil. There are only two times we ever are truly alone in our lives, when we are born and come through the veil to this existence and when we die and leave this plane but on either side there are people who are waiting to greet us.

Working with Hecate is not for the faint of heart. The day she claimed me I realized she had always been there. Death has been a companion all my life but the day she appeared to me stands out and it always will.

We were up at the West Coast Women’s Music Festival in Yosemite. When all the witches around me  and myself started to feel this awful feeling that I still can’t quite describe and it was clear that person was dying and was terrified. A bunch of were distressed enough to call a friend from the pay phone that we knew had AIDS and we were sure it was him. What we got was a really pissed off high priest who was not dying and berated us mightily because that would not be the way he was going to go.

We were thoroughly chastened and still feeling whoever was broadcasting and broadcasting at the top of his lungs, there were 6 of us who decided to do a circle up at the campfire while everyone else was down at main stage. We sent my Catholic lover at the time away. She couldn’t figure out what the hell we were by that time crying about and was annoying the hell out of all of us. So the six of us went up and sat, 3 empaths and 3 grounders. We sat every other one so every empath had a grounder on either side and we grabbed each other’s hands. We started singing “We all come from the Godddess” to try and get some sort of connection and when we started the verse about Hoof and Horn we got the picture. Two gay men had gone off the road in their car somewhere in the mountains near us. One was dead and the one that was left was screaming to high heavens and every sensitive around could hear something. So we kept singing every soothing chant we could think of and sending energy and peace as much as the 6 of us could. All 6 were very experienced priestesses and that was a lot of energy. By nature grounders do not generally see things, they tend to sense but not see. The three of us empaths looked up and SAW. The campfire area was on the edge of a cliff. It was straight down into a gorge on the other side from where we were sitting and we looked up and saw a hooded woman in black from there. She came toward us and we knew who she was. She came towards us stopped and nodded in a slight bow of acknowledgement and turned and disappeared over the cliff edge. All the energy she we had raised and sent was gone and the broadcasting stopped. Every bit of energy we had was just gone but we knew we had done something special and sacred. It took us a long time to get together enough energy to get back to our campsite. Kate took my lover aside and explained what we had been doing. My lover besides being a staunch Catholic was also a scientist and her scientist brain went into overdrive. She wanted us to do it again so she could see how it worked. That was the minute I decided it was over and I was never going to date a non-pagan again.

The next morning we talked to all the pagans and witches we knew that were there. They had all felt it and some had gotten terrible headaches because of it but we 6 were the only ones to do something about how we felt.

For weeks afterward I searched the news but a car going off the side of a mountain is not big news. I happens every weekend down here in the Angeles National Forest and I can’t imagine it’s any different up in the Sierras. Most of the time unless it’s a really slow news day you never hear about it and I never found anything but it was pretty much pre-internet so it wasn’t going to be easily findable anyway.

That experience was why I became on call hospice clergy at the Pasadena AIDS Service Center.

Hecate has me when she needs me and this Samhain, she will really have me and stuff is already happening at home. Samhain can be so much fun.

The Littlest Druid learns about loss

Dedicated to Beth Van Dyke and Cameron Robb  and now Mary – journey well

Once upon a time the littlest Druid was sitting by the stream outside the village. It was the only place she could go where the water would drown out the sound of her sobbing.

She wanted to be brave and she wanted to look forward but at the moment her heart was broken. Her best friend was gone and she didn’t understand why it had to happen. She felt even more alone than she normally did.

When she had arrived at the Druid school two sun rotations before she had arrived at the same time as another student, Beith was the same age as Aisling but as different as night was from day. Where Aisling was red haired and freckled and with a fiery temperament to match Beith was cool and calm like the tree she was named for Birch. She was fair with dark hair and dark eyes but they might as well have been sisters. In fact, when they were allowed to pick a soul friend their first year, their anam cara. They had chosen each other. They were supposed to pick some one older who could advise them but they had chosen each other and their teacher and the Chief Druid had agreed to it.

No two spirits could have been closer. The two were together whenever their chores and studies had permitted and maybe if they had been allowed to do their assignments together Aisling wouldn’t have been so creative in the trouble she got into but that is for another time.

The spring before when Aisling and Beith were running together on the moors chasing the sheep, Beith had fallen suddenly and had had trouble getting up again. Aisling had to find the shepherds to carry Beith back to the village. Beith would never run with Aisling over the moors again.

For some awful reason she wouldn’t heal and there was nothing the Druid healers could do for her. They tried every herb they knew. They tried to sweat it out. They tried all the special rituals they knew but Beith got weaker and weaker and began to have trouble breathing.

They let Aisling visit all the time and never kept her out and they allowed her to be part of the rituals so she knew what was happening to the sister of her soul but nothing had worked. They finally sent a message to Beith’s parents to come and say goodbye. That was rather unusual because once someone joined the Druids, the Druids were their family but Aisling thought they had done it because Beith wasn’t a full Druid yet or they could have just been being kind but they had arrived a few nights ago.

Aisling was sitting alone with Beith when she opened her eyes the last time and smiled. “Don’t cry, I’ll be back,” she said and slipped away. Aisling had called for the healers but there was nothing they could do. Beith was off on her voyage to the Summerland and Aisling had lost the sister she had found.

So Aisling was sitting on the banks of the burn mixing her salty tears with the cold clear water when someone came and sat by her on the bank.

“Why are you crying?” said a soft voice.

“My friend is gone and I miss her.” Sobbed Aisling.

“Ah, the wee one who left for the Summerlands this morning,” The voice said.

Aisling looked up startled and saw a beautiful older woman with hair that looked soft like owl feathers sitting by her. She was dressed all in green and wasn’t much taller than Aisling was.

“How did you know?” asked Aisling.

“It’s my job to ken when souls need to leave on their journey. I saw you there. What did she tell you?” asked the woman.

“She said she’d be back and not to cry.” answered Aisling.

“And so you’re crying out where no one can see you or help you.”

“How would it help to be where people would pity me? We’re supposed to be happy when people die. They say they are happy now and not in pain. They tell us that they have been reborn in the Summerland and that they will come back soon. They would just tell me to be strong and happy.”

The woman sat for a moment and said. “I’m sure some would understand the hurt of losing your friend and anam cara. They’ve lost people too and loss hurts no matter how we tell ourselves it shouldn’t. Someday the pain stops and you just remember the love. Then it’s easier to be happy.”

Aisling looked up at the woman. “Do you think I should go back now?”

“I think maybe you should go hug Beith’s parents. They know she is on her journey now but it will still hurt them for her to be gone. They did name her for the first tree or beginning of the journey, you know. They will understand.”

“I guess,” Aisling whispered. She really didn’t want to go back.

“And when you’re parents named you, Aisling for dreams and visions, they knew what they were doing too. Be patient, wee one.”

The woman started to slip away and began to change into an old woman and disappear. Aisling heard the soft call of an owl in the twilight of the deep forest and it dawned on her that she had just had a chat with the ban sidhe and gave a shiver. Aisling got up and headed back to the village.

Hecate

The rattling bones sound from the Golden Rain tree seedpods follows me as I walk

The low tok tok tok of the ravens in the tree as he looks at me with cocked head

The low fog disappearing as I walk through the morning

I thank the Hecate for mornings that remind me of her

I walk in the between times of autumn

Leaves of flame from the liquidamber

Leaves of dust from the guardian sycamore

Leaves of green from the oaks I pass

Breezes that stir the leaves on the walk

Winds that clatter the fronds in the palm trees

Gusts that push you in front of them like sail

Colours of gourds in shining piles

Pumpkins with toothy grins and leers lurking on walkways

Sheaves of wheat and corn piled in doorways guarding, always guarding.

Hecate, guard the crossroads that I walk each day,

Show me what is to be feared and respected

And what needs no fear.

I see you in the eyes of the raven

Or the eyes of the shy cat hiding just under the bush

I hear you on the wind and in the leaves

I smell the dry dust of fallen leaves and in the crush of rosemary

I touch the brittle softness of leaves fallen and about to fall

Hecate, I know you are here now

This is your time of year and I listen.

Beloved dead

image

Edit: This is my Liathfaol (Gaelic for grey wolf) She had to be put to sleep last fall because at 15 she had gotten old and was having trouble moving. She was a Maine Coon and their average life span is 12.5 years because they are so big. She was my love and I still miss her so much.

Our family’s favourite Samhain cookie

Owl Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter ( 1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
chocolate chips, about 3 to 4 dozen (or use other candies for eyes)
cashews, about 3 to 4 dozen
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar; beat in egg and vanilla, beating until smooth and creamy.

Gradually blend in dry ingredients. Remove about 2/3 of the cookie dough to a floured surface. To the remaining dough, add the cooled melted chocolate, blending well.
Roll out half of the vanilla dough to a 10- x 4 1/2-inch rectangle. Shape half of the chocolate dough into a roll 10 inches long; place on the vanilla dough portion. Wrap the vanilla dough around chocolate dough; wrap in foil. Repeat with remaining vanilla and chocolate dough; chill rolls for about 2 to 3 hours.

Cut rolls of dough into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Place two slices together on a greased cookie sheet; pinch upper edge of each cookie to make ear tufts and place a chocolate chip in the center of each chocolate dough eye section. Place a cashew at the bottom connection of the two cookies to make the beak. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Bake owl cookies at 350° 8 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet and let cool on racks. Store between layers of waxed paper or foil in tightly covered containers.