Thursday, 4 November 2010

Goddess Hall Samhain Rite Samhain 2010 - a personal experience

Greetings once again Seeker, welcome back to the Tale and our recent journey along the Crooked Path.

As I left you yesterday we had just left H and her husband in Glastonbury, after deciding that we would journey together to the Goddess Hall for the Open Samhain Rite that evening, so we'll take up the Tale from that point!

We decided we'd go and eat (again at the Lamb Inn), then pop back to the BnB to get changed and ready for the Rite, now normally when we practice by ourselves we dont use many tools (my Stang and my knife are the only tool I usually dont work without, I know tools are only that, they are not required to allow the practitioner to be effective, but sometimes a tool or two can be helpful), sometimes we use our cauldron, usually we will use incense, occassionally we'll use a few other things, but generally we will work in a non formal manner, using whatever is to hand and speaking directly from the heart without any formal script (although we have used formal rites ourselves and with various groups that we've belonged to), and although we do have ritual robes we dont generally use them (unless at a group rite where it is neccessary), so finding ourselves facing the prospect of going to a formal open Samhain Rite, with no formal dress and without our stangs was something of a problem (especially if like me you suffer occassionally with a low self esteem and dont like to stand out too far from the crowd, for the wrong reason of course! I have no problem with being an individual, nor of standing out when its on my terms, you cant really mind when you are a 5'13" woman with a fairly busty and powerful figure, lol!)

I know the Lady wont mind how you are attired, nor how you look, She is more bothered about your intent and what is in your heart, but I have to say I did feel a bit self conscious about turning up to the Goddess Hall in jeans, trainers, a thin top and a thick wooly jumper, especially as there was to be many Pagans of the local community attending in their full ritual wear! But there was nothing for it, and although those of us not in ritual garb were the exception, there were a few of us, so we didnt stand out like the sore thumbs I had worried about! Lol!

We set off in plenty of time from the BnB, being treated on the way with an Owl flying alongside the car, a Fox crossing the road and pausing to watch us pass and a Hare cross the road, all within a half mile fo the BnB! Travelling along the main road past numerous small villages we saw pumpkin after pumpkin and a fair few kids out trick n treating, something we always like to see when we spend Samhain at home (we normally decorate the house and garden and have a huge pot ot sweeties to give out!)

We arrived at the Goddess Hall just after 7pm, spying H in the queue ahead of us, and being joined by Robin from the Goddess Temple who said hello, making us feel very welcome (Thanks My Lady for that kind thought!). Outside the Hall was a burning Cauldron and a pile of wood for us to add to the cauldron, to release that which we needed by adding to the fire, I cast 'pain' (sciatica, nerve damage, knee and ankle problems) and 'excuses' into the fire, then as the doors opened we all trooped inside, divesting coats and shoes in the entrance lobby before entering the Hall itself.

The hall is a new space for the Goddess Temple, used for Ritual, workshops and as a general meeting place when there are too many attendees to fit comfortably into the main Goddess Temple, it is in the process of being refurbished in some ways, but also in the process of being decorated to do the Goddess the same honour that She is given in the main Goddess Temple. Although the space is new, the decorations for Samhain were excellent, and some of the more permanent fixtures (such as the Goddess pictures for each fo the 8 Goddesses of the 8 directions / sabbats) were already well in place. The site although new had an interesting energy, one that already possessed power, and the space soon filled up as almost 200 assorted Pagans entered the room (the majority being women, although there were a few men present, something Lee was glad about, he connects strongly with both the Lady and Lord, but has issues with anything being too Goddess focussed, preferring things to be balanced, as normally do I)  finding seating (around the outside of the room for those who would find sitting on cushions a bit more problematic) or a cushion in the room. H joined the 2 of us, near the center of the room, and everyone settled down to chat until the Rite began, ostensibly at 730pm, but as more folks were still arriving, it was a bit later than that!

Whilst we were waiting I sensed that the Energy within the room was well out of balance and mentioned this to H, she pointed out the 9 Priestesses standing amongst us in a circle, (each at one of the 8 points of the circle corresponding to the Goddess pictures behind them. The Priestesses were garbed in black with a dark circlet of flowers upon their heads) H said just wait till the Rite starts, thats what the Priestesses are here for, to ensure the energy remains balanced!

Cerridwen and the Cauldron of Inspiration
Not long after this a gong was chimed and the room fell silent, an introduction to the Samhain Rite was made, warning folks of the intention to call down a part of the Goddess into everyone present, and that the Goddess we were going to be working with was a Dark Goddess, Cerridwen, but that Temple Priestesses would be on hand if anyone had any problems! Cerridwen is a Goddess we have worked with for the past 10 years, so not someone we are unfamiliar with (nor She us I hope), nor find usually unduly daunting, but for some of those present their expressions told otherwise! As the introduction was finished the Priestesses balanced the Energy within the room, it almost audibly and visually snapped into a perfect balance, held there by their focus, weaving all our separate energies onto the tapestry of the whole, 1 Priestess immediately to the front of us was holding it like this for most ofthe ceremony, even when the others were busy doing other things. To you, unknown Priestess I give thanks!

The program of events told us there would be a soundscape, Invocation of the Wheel, Poem, Guided journey to the Isle of the dead to meet up with our Beloved Dead, a chance to approach the Altar and light a candle for our departed witnessed by a Priestess, then once the soundscape ends (at a time when it naturally does so) a slow dance led by Katinka and then the closing of the circle and announcements.

The Morrighan, akin to Breagha, the Dark Goddess of Old who was known as Brigantia, Bride and the Morrighan
Next came a quiet time, with gentle soundscape, all the more moving for its dark focuss, centering our internal focus on the time of year, the place we were and the darker energies we would be working with. As this ended we were bid to stand, and the Priestesses called in the Goddesses, as we faced Brigit /Bride I tingled all over, and knew that one of my Patrons, Breagha, was coming forth from the amalgram of Goddesses that Bride / Brigit represents, with my eyes closed I saw a glowing elongated circle, made up of small figures, possibly of  all the women of the past weaving their circles together, overlapping one another to create a tableaux of sensory overload. The Ancestors were with us!

Upon having completed the Invocation we were bid to sit and the soundscape resumed, followed shortly by some breathing exercises and then the start of the Guided Journey to the Isle of the Dead.
The Tor surrounded by water, similar to my vision, but this is not as it was, it was beautifully dark, lit by countless stars in the sky, yet everything had that absolute clarity that can come on dreams, an almost hyper-reality
 The Journey started at night, on the shores of the lake surrounding the Isle of the Dead, for me personally it appeared to be the Tor itself, as it once was when surrounded by water, with a boat gliding towards us. The boat was described as possibly having fae lights, or perhaps a single lantern, possibly as couloured, but for both Lee and I it was a stark black and rough hewn craft, with a dragons head prow and rowed with multiple sets of oars silently towards us, for us both there were no lights, nor did their need to be, the starlight illuminated the scene clearly enough in the still dark of the night! The soundscape of rainsticks, gongs, bells, whispers of voice and silence added to the atmosphere, even the noises from some of those practitioners present were no distraction, more the whole became something much more than the sum of its parts!

On reaching the shore the Priestess in the boat gestured for us to enter, which I did, acknowledging her with a smile, a hand from heart open gesture and heartfelt bowing of the head as I spoke softly 'My Lady', to which she returned the gesture and honoured me with the same! The boat moved swiftly and silently, halfway across the mere the mists descended and the Priestess called down the Power to part them and reveal the Isle of the Dead.

On the shore was an Inn, with a wharf next to it, which the boat reached almost without effort, stepping from the boat it was to be greeted with the desolation of the place, it was cold and frosty, the Inn was dark and foreboding and above us through the trees was the darkly lit Tor itself!

Waiting on the wharf were some of my Beloved Dead, gamboling around were the 2 dogs, Lady and Willow, who passed over the rainbow bridge within a month of each other and whose presence can never be filled (although our rescuse GDxAlsatian, Belladonna does her best and is loved in her own right by us both), who both were happy to see me, much wagging of tails and licks of face. Beyond them were my StepGrandad Roy, who acknowledged me and left with a smile on his face, fading away to nothing more than a breath of mist, then Alison, a friend and fellow follower of Breagha, who smiled, greeted me and also left with a smile on her face, behind her were the Ancestors, reaching back up the hill, nameless and multitude of those who came before, but whispy and only half seen, and as they departed I was left thinking is that all there is, do I mean nothing more to anyone else, is my life so lacking in love and connection that those who came forth stayed but moments before fading into the mists?

Yet there was another figure, a small boy standing at the end of the wharf, who looked at me expectantly and said, 'Mother? Why havent you seen me for soo long?' I hugged him, holding him tight in my embrace, letting my love for my unborn and lost son flow out and enveloping him in my love. Tears were streaming as I experienced this, and again now as I write it, he was never born, was lost to me almost before I knew he existed, and never before has he come to me, never before has he had a face or any connection that I was aware of, yet here he was looking for me, without sanction or regret! Obviously something about the Rite or the trip to Glastonbury or the renewed connection with the Lady has brought down some barrier within me!

With such an emotional and intense experience going on I found myself called back to the boat and transported away from the Isle in a fairly short time, without being able to say much to my unborn son, I dont even know his name, but the Lady was wise in this, stopping me from becoming obsessed, yet giving me a reason to seek out the Isle again in the future, I know who will be amongst those waiting for me next time, until then I know the Mother and Alison will watch over him and he will be free to play with the dogs, Lady and Willow!

I returned to myself fairly quickly, certainly a lot quicker than most, and sat back to ponder and soak up the atmosphere, then again shut my eyes and communed with the Lady, going deep to find myself wrapped in Her Dark Embrace, wordlessly feeling the comfort and peace, knowing I am accepted for whom I am and what I am, that there need be no regret, life is for living, not for worrying about what could have been.

The guided journey / meditation and soundscape continued on for a long while after this, perhaps for me a little too long, but it was good just to sit their and soak in the atmosphere, looking round to see the Priestesses balancing the energies and that many folks were getting something more from the extended time. One mother brought her 2 young daughter to the Rite, both of who had gone to sleep during the guided journey and remained so for a long time after that part of the Rite ended, despite the sheer power and volume of what was to come next!

With a sounding of the Gong the guided vis was brought to a close, the Priestess officiating guided those still on the Isle back to reality, and following this most of  the Priestesses sang in beautiful harmony, yet one did not sing and retained her focuss on the energy, balancing it throughtout!

Next we were bid to stand, and a slow dance and song session started with 'Oh Dark Mother', 'Stone, Bone Crone' and another song, with the energy being raised and our movements increasing in both speed and vigour as we shook the lethargy from our bodies and raised our voices in Her name!

Normally I am quite reserved when it comes to dance, I find it difficult to let go, being too self conscious, but in that place and atmosphere I danced and sang my heart out, even though all this was going on, the children at the center of the room remained asleep, I wonder what dreams they had?

After this the energy was high in the room, and on closing the circle it was grounded in the Goddess Hall, helping to build the power structure on which the Temple is based.

A few announcements and time to leave, the long queue to exit as folks search for their shoes and coats in the massive pile and then out into the blessedly cool night air, a clear night with the stars shining brightly!

The Crone Goddess and the entrance to the Otherworld, where our Beloved Dead and Ancestors reside until their turn for rebirth as a spark from the Cauldron returns to Earth, born once more as Witch in Her name!
We said goodbye to H, after thanking her for being in the Rite with us, it was great to feel her staunch presence next to us, her solid energy there at our side, she had grown exponentially since we last worked together! All 3 of us mentioned the fact that it felt as if the time was right for us to be working again together, along with another friend, Bear, the former HP of the currently defunct Circle of the Moon teaching Coven to which we once belonged, so I said Id try and organise something of a get together in the very near future so we could discuss the possibilities!

After saying our goodbyes whilst walking back to the car Lee shared some of what he had experienced, being asked by the Goddess, 'Why are you here?' to which he replied to bring Sue, to get her a new bag and some earrings, to enjoy our wedding anniversary, to connect and feel the connection, and was told, 'No, why are YOU here in Glastonbury?' A metaphorical slap on the wrist followed as he was told to treat himself to the Stag / Greenman top he had seen, and a few steps further on as we neared the car park he spotted a £20 note on the floor, half the price of the top he had fallen in love with from the Goddess and Greenman shop! 'No excuses' came the reply! Guess we were going to have to return to Glastonbury on the Monday for some additional purchases!

All the stars of the Milky Way, like the fires of our ancestors, and a shooting star, a spark from the Cauldron, a Witch to be reborn!
We returned to the BnB, stopping outside to gaze at the starscape, the fires of the Ancestors decorating the sky, with the Milky Way easily being visible, something we dont see at home due to the light pollution from nearby Manchester. A shooting Star split the night, and the words of one of our former teachers came to mind, 'A spark from the Cauldron, A Witch to be reborn this night!'

I shall stop here for today Seeker, and recount the Tale of our final day in Glastonbury tomorrow, if I get the chance, we have a Bonfire / BBQ to prepare for at the allotment tomorrow, ostensibly a Guy Fawkes night celebration, where we bring along food from our harvests (Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Chilli are what we shall be taking, which we need to make today), but deeper down we all know its a Pot Luck to follow the Ancient Fire Rites that we now celebrate on a new date here in the uk, but that have their roots in a much older and darker practice!

Thanks for reading, for bearing with my tale, I hope you find it of use and will return once more to read as we move forwards on our Crooked Paths!

Dark Dreams

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