This past weekend I got to attend and participate in Circle Sanctuary’s 2018 Samhain festival. It was cold and muddy with an intermittent drizzle, but at least it wasn’t snowing! Many people tent camped, including us, but our friend has a large canvas tent with a cast-iron wood-burning stove in the middle that can get that thing to stifling hot. So… we were really #roughingit
I was staff for the event so I took time for downtime and community, rather than running from work to workshops and back again. The workshops were awesome, though and I wish I could’ve attended more. The Death Midwife panel on Sunday morning was phenomenal! So much to know about this burgeoning profession. I don’t know that this would ever be something I could do for anyone, but I was so moved by the sincerity of this panel. At one point, when answering a question I posed, Moonfeather modeled how she would respond to someone by meeting my eyes and speaking the words – and I about started bawling on the spot. I felt so seen. And that’s the biggest piece that I took away – a Death Midwife is an advocate. They’re here for the dying and they’re here for the family as they all experience the transition together and in their own ways.
The main ritual Saturday night was stunning and incredibly moving, and the self-guided labyrinth that followed was beautiful. We were invited to write messages to Beloved Dead on small cards and place them into a tiny linen bag. That bag was then tied to ropes that were anchored to the bonfire, each held by a volunteer. When they asked for a ritual volunteer during ritual, I didn’t really know what it entailed, but I felt Called so I went. We unwound the cords and formed a spoke’d ‘web’, to which individuals tied their bags. I felt so moved as I watched people choose their cord. I recognized people I know and love, and I felt an added sense of purpose in the moment. I was conveying their messages to their Beloved Dead, as I wound my cord and their messages around the bonfire.
Perhaps they chose my cord because it was me. Perhaps it was closest to them in the Circle. Perhaps I was Called to that cord because those were the people who were going to choose the cord. Whatever the order of operations, I felt an immense sense of gratitude to be a part of this ritual, to be a vessel even in a small way. This is what Service to Community is about, in my opinion. Call it servant leadership, call it being a bridge, call it what you will. This feeling of knowing that you are supporting others and knowing that they’re supporting you in return. The flow of energy, the flow of love and gratitude and yes even succor. That’s magick. So much magick.
We also pulled cards for our coming year. I received “Follow the Moon”. The card pictures a beautiful woman in a medieval style gown, standing on waves which are in turn the folds of her dress, with a full moon shining brilliantly overhead. An excerpt from the guide book on this card: “Follow the moon cycles and take note of how you think and feel as her light increases and decreases. Take time to explore and understand her influence upon both your body and your emotions.”
I’m still ruminating on this. It feels very binary and woman-centric, for starters, so I don’t love that. The obvious link is the female flow and the moon cycle, but I don’t have a bleeding cycle anymore thanks to my IUD. As someone with depression and anxiety, while I don’t discount the impact heavenly bodies may have on me, there are many, many other factors that affect my body and emotions to the point where it would be nigh impossible to separate out what is just the subtlety of the moon waxing and waning. I would think, then, that this card would have to lead to deeper personal practice on the full and dark moons?
All in all, it has been a powerful Samhain season, with a bit more yet to come. I have one more prison ritual to facilitate, am still contemplating doing a full divination spread of next year, as well as possibly a vision board. I also start a new job on Monday, so that is an amazingly perfect piece of synchronicity!
Blessings to you in this time of the Beginning of the Dark, of the Beloved Dead, of Descent, of Samhain, and of the milkweed seedpods.
Dancing with milkweed,
Soft seed parachutes tickling my neck.
Sharing giggles with the wind,
Effervescent joy overflowing.
Butterflies come in Summer,
But at Samhain I frolic with fluffs