I remember my first Samhain after realizing that I was a witch. I was invited to attend ritual with the group I had found in my little Wisconsin town and was looking forward to the experience. we were told to bring a knife with us to the ritual and have an imagination. As everyone arrived, we were hand a pumpkin and instructed to carve it as a gift to someone who had passed. As we sat carving, others arrived and I met some extraordinary women. One had recently lost a son in the pediatric ICU where I worked and her story brought the carving to a standstill while we all cried with her.
Soon, our host announced it was time for the ritual to begin. Now, in Wisconsin it is usually cold in late October, so we convened to the basement after changing into our ritual garb. As we were smudged, the lights slowly dimmed, and a haunting song began to softly filter into the room. We took our places and called to the watchtowers to join us. The deities were invited in and we sat quietly for a time, thinking on those who were no longer with us. Soon, the lights brightened slightly and there was a fog hanging in the air. We became aware of a presence with us and a voice began to speak. An old crone was glimpsed in our midst, telling us of the tradition of using the thinning veil to speak to our ancestors and loved ones. She told that their wisdom was available to us on this night and urged us to seek guidance from them.
One by one, we began to speak of those who were on the other side waiting for us. We asked them to impart their knowledge to us and were answered. Stories of those we missed were shared and the threads of companionship were woven. I was a time before we realized the crone had vanished and the music had ceased. The deities and watchtowers were thanked and released as they wished.
The assembly filed upstairs to our banquet where places were set for those gone before us. As the night came to a close, the feeling of closeness remained. As we took out leave, the young mother said that her heart was lighter and she felt her son’s soul was now at rest. It was a very moving night for all involved.
I felt something take root in me that night that has only grown in the years since. We may be many miles apart in body, but with the exception of one, those women are still my family in heart.
May you have a blessed Samhain night.