This post by John Beckett reminds me of my own experience for Samhain this year. We, in my Grove, often go on a procession to meet the Ancestors in the mists, and receive messages from them. Not everyone chooses to go on the walk, so we run a concurrent experience at the hearth, where those participants meet the Ancestors in a meditation to similar ends. Last year’s rite was stellar, easily one of the best that I’ve written, but this year… everything fell flat. Whatever I wrote wasn’t working, and as the day came closer, I realised that we would be having our rite under a big, bright Sun. No mists, no shadows, nothing that would lend itself to our “standard” Ancestor walk.
When I plan my rites, there comes a point where I “know” what is the correct thing to do. The best analogy is that I’ve received a “download” because from that point, I know exactly what needs to be done. Whether that’s a result of synthesis of the ideas I’ve been playing with over the previous days, or whether it is divine inspiration, it’s irrelevant, because it works. This time, it didn’t happen.
Worried, now, because the rite was just a few days away, I set out to ask exactly what I should be doing, in ritual and trance. The answer I received was simple — that they wanted a good meal, and for candles to be lit in a particular manner. Even then I worried, because it isn’t what’s expected of me at Samhain — I had even advertised the event by saying we would go on an Ancestor walk. But, finally deciding to go with what was asked, I told my Grove, and resolved to tell them to take it up with the spirits if they didn’t like it. I’m quite thankful for my Seer friend who understood my dilemma, helpfully explaining it as inviting friends to your house, when you often go to theirs.
I gathered up some songs, learned some new ones, recruited Grove members at the last minute to also learn them, and wrote the rite in the proscribed way. And, despite a pretty rough start from all involved including myself, it went well. We gave them the meal that they requested and lit their candles. We repeated the names of our friends’ honoured ancestors, we called to them with song. And from among the trees bordering our ritual site, they came, their presence announced by a Grovemate who felt them rush towards us as we sang to them to join us in peace. We didn’t have mists, or shadows, or a spooky walk through the woods, but our relationships that we build in druidry are for each and every day, and this rite was exactly how it needed to be.