Category Archives: Ancestors

Post Samhain Musings

Samhain has become increasingly important to me as the years go by. And although my celebrations are still far from over, for nowadays the festival seems to spill over into days rather than hours, to fit around complex working patterns and the need to co-ordinate many people, I still hold Samhain night as the most sacred.

Last night I chose to spend time with a lovely group of people honouring the ancestors in a way that couldn’t have been more perfect for me if I tried. For mere miles from the town where my father and grandfather grew up we performed a Despatcho ceremony. A ritual quite literally from the land of my paternal ancestors.

A Despatcho is in essence a living prayer bundle, used in a number of ways. It can be for healing, emotional or physical, gratitude, honouring or even celebrating such as blessings for births, deaths and marriages.

A mandala is built up slowly over time, with each item representing something the participants wish to pray for, or honour. Last night we gave thanks for the land we live in, all the peoples of this world, human, animal, vegetable and mineral. We gave praise and thanks to our ancestors and offered up Kintus sets of 3 leaves which we infused with our intent. I chose my leaves very carefully. One Sycamore, one Bay, one Ivy. Make of that what you will ­čśë

We also honoured our ancestors with sound, participating in drumming in the winds and spirits of the directions, the spirits of those above and below, the spirits of place and Mother Earth. Followed by a Gong bath that allowed us to fall into trance and if the ancestors wished it, receive messages and guidance. It was terribly moving. And I truly felt a weight lifted and a child like delight return to me after the Despatcho was passed over me.

However, I would dearly love to know who┬áMichelle is, for whilst in trance a young boy came to my side, knelt down and told me to say to Michelle that she will not find the stone for her ring. Not very mystic I know, but hey we don’t get to dictate what the spirit world offers us. Obviously its very important to somebody somewhere or they wouldn’t have bothered breaking through into my reverie. If this relates to you, please, please tell me, my curiosity is eating me up.

 

For my Father

When I sat down this morning to write, it was going to be an academic treatise on Cults and festivals of the Dead and how they relate to or can be adapted to working with the Lady Hekate, and perhaps I will write it still, although maybe not today. All things considered, today seems like a good day to muse upon those that have gone before.

I am not a Wiccan, nor have I ever been, and although my other great love is the stories and tales of the land we now know of as Wales, neither is my path specifically a Celtic one (although I actually hate using the word Celtic, because it doesn’t really mean much); that being said, this time of year has always held a special signifcance for me, it has always felt different and never more so than in the last decade since my father, my first mentor, passed on around this time.

He taught me many things (although at the time I am not sure I appreciated quite what he was teaching me), not just to walk and talk or to ride my first bike, he taught me the names of the flowers and the trees, to eat hawthorm leaves and call them bread and cheese, to gauge just right how many slightly under-ripe cob nuts I could eat without getting the colly wobbles, how to make cider, to garden, and even to knit, crochet and sew, he told me stories and tales some awe inspiring, some frightening, some just down right ridiculous, we used to laugh and call him our font of useless information, a talent I can now proudly say I have inherited.

He called himself a heathen, although he wasn’t one in the way most people use the word now, he didn’t know about fancy groups and troths, although he had a deep one with the land, he knew of course of the Aesir and Vanir for his knowledge of old stories was phenominal, but they weren’t his gods, to use his words, he worshipped only at the altar of the compost heap.

He was an honorable man, a quiet man, a gentle man, loved by everybody who knew him; he talked many times of his funeral in the years before his passing, he said he always wanted a Viking funeral, or failing that to be buried “face down and bum uppards holding a bottle of whiskey”. Of course such schemes were to never come to pass, although plans are in place, his ashes safely stowed for a future time, when he and my mother will be sailed out on a flaming balsa wood boat across lake windermere, one of his most favourite places in the world.

And as the sun goes down tonight, I shall light a candle and pour him a glass and think of all the gifts he gave to me and I never thanked him for.