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Rite and Ritual

Samhain

“When the night drifts into stillness, past the witching hour’s toll,

Where the shadows fall in silence and darkness reaches for my soul.”

I stand before the large iron cauldron, waiting. Colder, heavy air settles down upon my robe and I breathe deeply. Patiently I wait, my senses spreading out, reaching into the night searching for the moment, listening for Her ancient whisper. Slow are her old ways, subtle is her deep touch as she presides over the decaying memories of yesterday. I imagine her walking through the forest laying her hands upon the trees she passes, reminding them its time to sleep. The last few golden leaves drift unseen, down to the forest’s floor to become forgotten as she continues her lone walk. I can feel the forest resign to its shadowed fate. I can smell the transformation of energy as all that the Sun has forgotten yields its essence back to the Earth. I’ve found my connection. I am within the moment. Nothing is moving as my self imposed boundaries fall away and the veil between the worlds fades before me. I strike my staff to the earth 3 times and call out…

“Deep between the worlds I call

Through the veil and down the halls

Within the other realms, my words heard true by all.”

Again I strike my staff 3 times saying out loud,…

“Through the above and through the below

Through the Quarters do my words now flow

Moving within, moving between

The realms of existence

Beyond what is seen”

3 last times I strike my staff, calling out ….

“Keeper of midnight, in shadow’s hold

For the Crone’s dark blessings and the secrets of old

Ancient ones, spirits of dark and light

All who have walked this path before me

I call to you this Samhain night”

I remain still for a moment before lighting a black candle and using it to ignite the wood in the cauldron. As it catches and the flames begin to dance above the cauldron I pull a list of names I wrote on a piece of parchment from my robe pocket. The fire illuminates the deep night just enough so I can read the names of those whose recent crossings have touched me. When I have thoughtfully read their names I give the parchment to the fire. I turn my thoughts to my own ancestors and make an offering of sage and incense into the cauldron. I stand alone in the quiet of the night but I feel surrounded. I drift between smiling and crying, between hope and despair, over what I want and those things that do not seem fair. Looking, reaching, almost begging to learn of the mysteries that move just beyond my comprehension, I feel the weight of the unknown upon me. I realize that I am wrapped in the cloak of the Crone. Her dark mantle feels so heavy as to seemingly slow my heart. That is exactly what is necessary in order to see into her world.  It is a world that lies hidden beneath what is easily seen by most. A world of patient strength and timeless support that transforms memories into new dreams, is the realm over which she watches.  Hers is the world that comforts the tired and the broken until they are ready to begin their journey anew. From so simple a thing as a golden leaf falling back to the forest floor, so do all things ebb and flow upon this great circle of life and death. It is here within the darkness where I best realize the sacred importance of all that quietly inspires life’s splendor and then welcomes it back when its beauty has withered. I do not know how long I have stood leaning on my staff before a dark cauldron but I sense dawn is near. The weight has left me and as I take a long deep breath I draw inside a small piece of the darkness. Maybe it will help me to see beyond the veils that so often distract me and keep me from seeing something more.