Every cell in our beautiful and amazing bodies contains the whirling wisdom of the universe. This is the journey of one witch remembering that, and celebrating the sacred and divine in beings of all genders and manifestations.
All morning, and through the afternoon, our Reclaiming Planning Cell readied the local Grange Hall for one of our biggest annual public rituals, Samhain. It is the Witches’ New Year, the time when the veil between the worlds is thinest and we spiral in step with our dead (some beloved, some not so much), and welcome all the new babies onto this side.
The Samhain before, during a lovely trance meditation piece, I’d had a surprise encounter with a very young version of my maternal great-grandmother. In life, she was a woman I experienced as old and rather unpleasant, and someone who my grandmother experienced as horribly abusive. The bright essence that joined me that night gave me a new perspective and accelerated the healing of multi-generational family wounds. It was, in some ways, the final piece in years of ancestor work I’d done with my mother’s family.
This Samhain was different. For the past year I had been immersed in the deaths of three close family members from the other side of my DNA: my wild and wonderful father, Don, and two cousins, Larry and Albert, brothers who were like brothers to me. The last Witches’ Year began with the sad gift of me midwifing my father’s death in the fall of 2012, continued with learning of my cousin Albert’s death in December, and progressed into spending time with my twin cousin Larry (born only two weeks before me), as he lay slowly dying. I worked with Larry to help him know his sons would be ok, so he could finally let go of life in February of 2013. After their deaths, I found myself returning north many times to be with my step-mom, as we supported one another in the journey of living without my dad’s physical presence. I also travelled south, where my cousins lived, to be present with their sons, young men who held my heart, wrapped me in family heirlooms, and let me share letters and stories and images of their fathers.
And so, as the pre-ritual drumming began for this Samhain, I assumed I’d have an encounter with my recent beloved dead. As we waded deeper and deeper into the ritual, grounding, casting the circle, calling the elements, and invoking the ancestors, I thought about my dad and my cousins whose names I had already added to our altar.
Then, one of our priestesses invited the Goddess Hecate, Keeper of the Crossroads, to lead us on our journey. A second priestess invited us to settle in for a journey to meet whoever it was we were to find waiting for us at those Crossroads.
I sat on the floor feeling Hecate pass before me with her lantern. I followed her to the Crossroads to see who would be there. Would be it my father? One of my cousins? Maybe all of them?
But on that dark night, in that place where all things meet, Hecate, shimmered into unexpected brightness and laughed and filled each of my cells with Her sacred brightness. I laughed as well, feeling a lightness of being I hadn’t felt since my father’s accident, and Larry’s stroke, and Albert’s battle with cancer. I felt my mourning lifted and I met Life, not my dead, at those Crossroads. Life took my hands and twirled me around. Life sang in my ear, “You’ve honored your dead well this past year my dear, now, come dance with me!” So we danced, and spun, and sang, and leapt with delight. Others came back from their Crossroads and I found myself continuing to cackle with joy as we finished our ritual. As we packed things away and cleaned the Grange Hall, I was giddy and higher than the Dark Moon in the sky.
Still, weeks later, each sacred cell in my body continues to vibrate with profound gratitude for the surprise of bright energy that I encountered at those Dark Moon Samhain Crossroads. Blessings on all who mourn, when the time is right, may your mourning, like mine, be turned into dancing. Blessed Be.
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