Ancestor Shrine for Samhain 2011

My Ancestor Shrine

This evening I have just finished setting up a shrine to my ancestors for this year’s Samhain/Halloween. The last few days the change has certainly been in the air with the winds picking up, the leaves rapidly turning and tumbling down, a distinct chill in the air and a perception of the veils thinning.

After a number of years looking, I have FINALLY found the perfect tree to decorate for the season – so much so that I have decided it’s going to be up all year round and decorated accordingly to reflect the seasons.

My shrine, a transformed bookshelf, now contains many pictures of my ancestors from my late Granddad and Uncle Jay, through to older ancestors such as Great Grandad William Hughen and Great Great Grandma Mary Elizabeth Watkins together with a selection of led candles which I can leave on, bathing the pics in a soothing, warm glow – without the fire risk!

On the top of the shrine, beneath the tree, I have 3 mini pumpkins, some plastic skulls, a jack-o-lantern tealight holder, skull candle-holders with black/silver cobweb tapers, my ancestor candle and a witch doll (with scary flashing eyes).

My ancestors.

Under the tree.

The tree itself contains small, laminated pictures of some of my ancestors which I’ve decorated simply with some silver/red/gold decals and some small adhesive jewels. There’s a couple of skeletons, spiders, pumpkin and skull lights, and some autumn leaves that I got from a craft shop.

I’m really pleased with how this has turned out and will leave it up and decorated in this way until about a week before the Winter Solstice, and then I’ll decorate it again accordingly. Looks just as good in full light as it does in the dark with all the lights/candles lit.

Glowing with soothing, warmth and light.

‘With the gift of remembrance.
I remember all of you.
You are dead but never forgotten,
and you live on within me,
and within those who are yet to come.’

Covenant of Hekate Camping & Picnic Weekend

Our humble abode for the weekend!

This weekend I have been away in Yorkshire at a very enjoyable weekend set up by Tara Sanchez (author of “The Temple of Hekate“.

After resigning myself to not being able to attend two weeks ago and subsequently making other, more local, plans things all changed at the last minute and I found myself scrambling about attempting to be able to attend with less than 24hrs to go!

As luck would have it and thanks to the support and generosity of both Tara and my partner Darren, I was able to jump in a car with just a few things and zip off first thing Friday morning to Bredsbury to meet with Tara, help her finish getting everything together and then together with another attendee, we drove up to Sentry Circle in Yorkshire.

Bly our HGH (Holy Guardian Hound) - no Hekatean should be without one!

We were very fortunate on a number of levels from the glorious weather (28-30 degrees at end of Sept/beginning of Oct!!), a beautiful site, welcoming people and all round just great energy. Of note is the wonderful Bly, the owner’s dog who is a real sweet character and

very friendly. He captivated everyone and was dubbed our HGH or Holy/Hekate Guardian Hound. His personality was so much bigger than his humble little form but he was such a heart-warming addition to the weekend.

On the Friday itself there was just 4 of us to open up and once the tent was pitched and we’d had a rest we set up an altar to Hekate, situated by the campfire (that was left up day and night for the entire weekend) and performed an opening/gathering ritual.

Amazing people, amazing place, amazing time!

The night continued with good food, good company, and good wine; with conversation trailing well into the wee hours – Tara and myself talking until 4am (until the wine ran out, lol!) It was a first for me camping – and only a second occasion of a group gathering. In the early hours of Saturday I went up to the stone circle that was raised in accordance to the old ways back in 2008 and considering it is in effect a modern construct it’s look and energy feels like it has been there for 1200 years or more!

Each stone was alive with a different energy and personality and the whole circle felt protective, still and calm. Lying on the ground in the center and gazing up at the clear, star encrusted sky was just wonderful and I could have easily fallen asleep up there. The local nature/land spirit seemed to take quiet an interest in me also, tempting me to play “chase” with a Pan-esque energy that was quite familiar. For the entirety of the night I was aware of Him wandering around just

Our altar to Hekate, left day and night by the campfire

behind me, just out of sight.

The next morning, despite being late to bed I was still early to rise (just before 9am) although it was plain to see that it’d been a good night even if the morning was a tad rough! But the beautiful Mima was on hand with cuppa and a smile which helped get things moving and the weather was still glorious! After a breakfast of sausage, bacon and egg (more like elevenses because the cooker was a bit slow) we got on with the rest of the day.

The afternoon was filled with laughter and frolics, with the “Covenant of Hekate Autumn/Winter Fashion Shoot” and the formation of Hekate’s Angels! The day continued with a shared picnic lunch (houmous, lavender bread, grapes, figs, sausages, cheese, antipasti, olives and so much more), lots of conversation and more wine. There were some other people who arrived on the Saturday, some who stayed and some who just came for a short

Hekate's Angels!

while. It was still very nice and during the winding down of the picnic, the land spirit (I think the name is Nur? Nor?) took a shine to a bag of apples which no one had touched. So I asked if anyone would mind if I got some food to offer to Hekate and also the apples to leave up by the circle for Him.

Night fell and the magick continued. I went back up to the circle eventually to offer the apples, despite feeling a little apprehensive because of the playful urgency with which the land spirit seemed to want me up there. Despite trying to offer the apples reasonably neatly, He just got stuck in; knocking apples from my hand and them rolling all over the place. I spent some time up there on my own and got a nice feeling overall and that He was very pleased with the apples (and my confrontation of my desire to run away) and I have promised that whenever I return, I will now bring Him apples.

The fire which burned almost continuously for the weekend thanks to the dutiful attendance of those present

Sunday morning, the heavens opened and the view of the previous two days had truly turned autumnal. In fact it was like we’d actually been camping in July and then fallen asleep for three months, only to wake up in the beginning of October cold, wet and gloomy. But it was still nice; fresh and natural. I had a last walk around, went up to the stones again, helped pack up and put the tent away and then it was time to say goodbyes and head on home.

I was fortunate enough to be able to get my copy of Tara’s book signed by her too, so I was made up with that. Icing on the cake! During my time at the campsite, I was drawing a card from my Mythic Oracle deck every morning and I found it mildly amusing that the card Eros~Desire was drawn on each morning; the description of the cards meaning echoing my experiences perfectly…”He represents the almost ethereal and ecstatic state of desire that is evoked within us when we feel a reconnection to nature and divine, to life and death, to eternity and change rather than the fixed and mundane.”

Sentry Circle, Yorkshire

The weekend was a triumph and I miss the place and company already! I’ve met so many lovely, genuine souls; laughed very hard and had some very profound experiences on a personal level. It’s looking to be that this camp will now become an annual event which will be brilliant and can only go from strength to strength!

 

The first sighting of the crescent moon just breaking over the hills

(Photos courtesy of Tara, Kath and Myself)

Persephone’s Descent

Autumn is my favourite time of year. The slight chill in the air, the darker mornings and nights, mist dappled fields, the golden-green pallete of the plants and trees, the harvest, the quiet, the reflection, Halloween, the last blaze of summer sunshine. So many things that make me look forward to this particular time of change, but it all starts with a descent…

Persephone says farewell to her mother, Demeter, as Hekate prepares to guide her into the Underworld.

Heading into September, you can feel the changes starting. Winds pick up and the leaves change and before you know it you’re walking down the street, zipping up your coat, and kicking through piles of crisping leaves – it always brings back memories of childhood.

On a personal level, this time of year sees the descent of the goddess Persephone as she returns to the Underworld to be with her lover and husband, Haides. The changing season comes from her mother, Demeter’s, mourning at the loss of her daughter and we head into the darker, harder times of winter.

Hekate, good friend and guide to both Demeter and Persephone, accompanies Persephone on her journey to the Underworld; where the seed of the Grain Mother will be nurtured and strengthened by her time in the quiet, darker depths of Haides’ realm, to be reborn anew come the Spring when mother and daughter will be reunited and the world will burst with colour, fertility and life!

At the time of the Autumn Equinox this year I carried out a simple ritual that involved a slight “reennactment” of Persephone’s descent.

I decorate my main altar with red and gold cloth, vases of wheat and a “fake” fruit-filled urn. I placed my statues of Demeter and Persephone together and recited some verse to mark their farewells. Next, my statue of Hekate was placed between them and Hekate readied Persephone for her journey into the Underworld.

Once Persephone and Hekate had left for the Underworld (which I had set up under a small table across the room, my statue of Haides waiting by the flicker of a single tealight), Demeter doned her mourning shroud. This black piece of cloth remains on my Demeter statue from the time of the Autumn Equinox until her daughter returns at the Spring Equinox.

Once at the threshold of the Underworld, Hekate guides Persephone through the gates to be reunited with her husband, Haides. Hekate also remains with Persephone as a companion and guide during these times. And as the season changes we reflect on the quieter times of reflection ahead of us, we take stock, harvest what we have cultivated so far in the year and all attention turns inward; nurturung the seeds within ourselves until they can sprout and bloom in the Spring.

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