Last Saturday the Setantii celebrated our Samhuin ritual, it was a bit extra special because Bracken has recently completed the Ovate Grade and has become a Druid (well done Bracken!).This means in means in turn, that our Seed Group, now having two Druid grade members, officially qualifies as a fully fledged Grove, woot!
Samhuin is one of the most complicated rituals of the year and is usually divided into two parts, Honouring the Ancestors and having a sort of psychic end of year tidy up, culminating in tossing those no longer needed attitudes or behaviours into the cauldron. We decided that as well as these two aspects we would like to mark our transition to Grove status in some way, and as a result we rewrote the Ceremony into three sections. Simplifying the ritual a little in order to make it less complicated for everyone. We had a little less of the usual choreography during the Ancestor bit, but still managed a moving connection with our dear departed. Instead of manifesting the Cailleach, this year we had a Balefire in the centre of the circle into which we cast our symbolic slips of paper – there was some serious shit being cast in there I can tell you! It burned merrily throughout and we all smelt deliciously smokey by the end of the afternoon.
After these two traditional parts of the Ceremony we added an extra bit to mark our becoming a Grove, in which everyone was given the opportunity to speak about what the Setantii means to them and to dedicate themselves to the Grove for as long as it should feel right to them. Bracken had arranged brass pendants for all, with a tree design, as a Grove gift. We were a bit spoilt as Mark, one of our Ovates and a wonderful craftsman with all things wood, had made us all an Awen pendant too, created from coconut shell, mango stone or bison horn. I have nicked his photo of them, (see top) I chose the triangular coconut one in the centre. I’m rather fond of coconut shell and have the top of one as my portable water container. It used to be a bird feeder and years in the garden have given it a wonderful smooth, dark patina – it reminds me of a piece of skull. I have pinched Craig’s photo of his pendants so I can show you the Grove tree, he chose a horn Awen.
I have no photos of the day as my camera battery died on the way over. It’s a shame as it was a wonderful autumnal day. I took the train/tram to Heaton, and had a lovely walk across the park to the Grove in the sunshine, crunching through the fallen leaves. There were plenty of squirrels about, but not many people, which probably explains why they seemed to be shooting out of the undergrowth every couple of steps. They’re so used to being fed by everyone that they’re incredibly tame. At one point I could hear rustling behind me and the hairs on the back of my neck started to stand up. When I turned round there were eight of the blighters following behind me. I made the mistake of stopping and a couple of them practically fell on top of the plastic bag I was carrying. I had visions of them trashing the bunch of dried yarrow I had in there so legged it! At the Grove we had three or four running around during the ritual (encouraged I might add by certain members of the Grove who seemed to have bought bags of hazelnuts especially 🙂 ) There was one which had lost his tail and only had a little tuft left. He was the fattest squirrel I’ve seen (well, meaty really) if he’d had longer ears you would have mistaken him for a rabbit. He was immediately christened The Squabbit.
Craig W found a carved pumpkin on his way through the park and we used this to decorate the altar, reminding us of last year’s pumpkin carving contest and Gio’s fantastic flaming pumpkin. Mark had made us all some fantastic pumpkin pie and pumpkin scones to enjoy afterwards with homemade berry jam and gingerbread and Sarah treated us all to a glass of Cava to celebrate our Grove status.
We had a beautiful Ceremony, and although it was cold it kept dry and mostly sunny. As one of the Setantii said on facebook later, it was the BEST RITUAL EVER!