|A Samhain Dance
Author: Lady Wolfwind
The wheel turns. I can feel it. The angle of the light in the morning is different, glowing lower in the sky. The air is cooler. The earth is beginning to give up her heat. The cooler air meeting the warm soil has created a low-lying fog in the meadows. Droplets hang from the long grass. It won’t last long this time of year. Slowly, the rising sun will burn it away. For now it is quiet and it is mine to share with the creatures of the earth. I watch as the squirrels scamper, grabbing nuts and noisily run back up the tree. The birds are busy foraging for their share as well. I see a beautiful red cardinal, his beak full of seeds, land on a nearby tree limb. The yard is alive with activity. Even their frenzied activity tells me that a change is upon us.
This is my favorite time of year. I have anxiously waited for the harvest season. The changing light patterns signal changes in my body. I feel as though I need to prepare for something. Maybe it is an ancestral need to put up supplies for the winter. I feel as though I can take a deep breath, as if the time for rest is near.
Later, in the evening, I return to the yard and it is alive once more. As I sit under the moon, very gradually a vision appears before me. I can see the spirits of my ancestors celebrating around the balefire and they are beckoning for me to join them. The harvest festivals have begun. I hear the drumming and the laughter. I hear the whispered conversations. I see their faces glowing in the firelight. They’re strong, determined faces of people who have know joy and sorrow, of people who have worked hard and the struggle shows in the lines of those faces. I feel their eyes gaze upon me from time to time. They feel my presence as well. They know who I am and they are happy I am here.
Tonight, I sit and I watch. I feel as if I’m an intruder, watching something I shouldn’t. At times I don’t feel it is normal, these glimpses of the past that I am granted. I don’t speak of these things to many people for fear they would think me insane, not even my family. I quietly say a blessing and thank the Goddess for the gifts of insight She has bestowed upon me. I wonder how many people think of their ancestors and all they owe to them.
I sit and contemplate as I watch the dancers celebrate, as I listen to the music quietly suspended in time, meant for my ears to hear. I silently communicate and ask them to tell me about their life as they lived it. I hear snatches quietly whispered in my ear. They tell me of living by the wheel of life. They explain how babies are born and die too soon. They tell me that some years the crops are good and others the crops they rely upon don’t fill the pantries and the cellars. They tell me how it is to be hungry.
Others whisper about good fortunes and fertile cows that they’ve sold for some gold pieces that have increased the family’s standing, about buying more land, and building bigger, better homes for their families. They talk mainly about the harvest and the dark half of the year, of the cold and the boredom and the fear of disease. There is always talk of fear of the dark.
I sit for a while longer and watch. I promise them that I will return on Samhain. I will be ready and we (my children and I) will participate. I’ve always favored Samhain, even before I knew it by its real name or true reason of existence. We will be prepared.
In our home Samhain is a truly special time of year. My daughter and I cook a great assortment of foods. I tell them stories of my family and encourage my husband to do the same. Samhain is a day of feasting and of celebration. Not so much a celebration of the last harvest, but a celebration of our ancestors. I want these people to be remembered, even if it is not by name, but by the fact that they are the reason we are all here today. We build a bonfire and we invite people to our home. They usually are here to celebrate Halloween as they know it, but to us it is nice to have the energy of the living mingling in our midst.
My daughter and I have prepared the names of people who have passed this year and we have woven a grapevine wreath on which to put these names. As the clock tolls midnight we cast the wreath upon the fire and wish those no longer with us safe journeys on the continuation of their paths. We light candles and place them around the yard and the house and invite the wandering souls a quiet, safe place to rest for the night. The quiet, lost souls are always welcome here. I feel them and my daughter sees them from time to time. We both acknowledge their presence and say a welcome to them as long as they don’t cause any trouble.
After all the guests have left, we, as a family, gather together and talk about all we wish to see in the coming year. Samhain is truly the end of this one. I think this year I will speak of my vision and of the departed ones desire for us to participate in their festivities. I think we will throw another log on the fire and dance. We will dance a celebration of life and all that it brings. We will dance to the joys and the sorrows we have faced. We will dance in thankfulness for all that we have and stop longing for all that we think will make our lives better. Most of all, we will dance with all those who have crossed over, one more time. We will not mourn their loss but celebrate all that they have taught us. We will dance in celebration of lives well lived and the gratefulness of having had the opportunity to have crossed paths with these truly special people.
At dawn we will lie in the cool grass and say our farewells and feel overjoyed by the delightful time we have shared with those others have forgotten. The sun will begin to rise and the fire will only be small wisps of smoke. The children and I will look at each other and know that we share a secret, a magical one. We will be hesitant to leave and return to our mundane lives. I think my children have a deeper appreciation of all that it means to be Pagan. We’ve spoken of the Sabbats and we have honored the Goddess at the full moon, but they have never truly been blessed with the presence of the Old Ones reaching out to them. I believe that their lives will be forever changed starting with this new year.
I am thankful for the wisdom I now see in their eyes, wisdom I could never have imparted. They have both been securely set upon their path and I am so ever grateful for this. It gives me a sense of peace that I no longer need to worry about this area of their life. As Pagans I know they will live as kind and compassionate human beings.
Now it is time to look to the future and of the coming year. My children and I will grasp each other’s hands and head into our home to rest. It’s funny how our ancestors have helped strengthen the bond between us. How many people can say something like that? We’ve allowed the long line of family to help build the future. Not only have they helped build our future but also they have helped build it in a positive way.
I hope everyone out there is enjoying this harvest season. It is time to reap what you have sown, may it all be pleasant. If it is not, now is the time to set aside the negativity and allow the positive to flow into your life. A new year and a new start are upon us. You have the power to make this coming year into anything you dream of; you can reach goals you never thought attainable. Take the opportunity of the dark half of the wheel to plan and build your energies, to rest and to prepare yourself to put your plans in place.
I wish you all the greatest Samhain.
Love to all my fellow witches,