Goddess Temple Newsletter
Read excerpts below…
Photo by Katie Player
Katie Player’s new photography book, Avalon Sunrise, is reviewed in this season’s edition of Goddess Temple News!
What does Samhain mean to you? I suspect any dozen people in this community would have a dozen different answers. Thinking back, I wasn’t brought up pagan, so the 31st October was All Hallows Eve. Later when my son was small it became Halloween which involved making spookily decorated cakes, carving pumpkins and handing out sweets to children at the door. The 31st as Samhain didn’t come until I became a pagan and witch in 2005. That year I tried to connect with my Welsh nan and English great-gran. It didn’t go well! My home was un-settled and things kept going wrong for weeks afterwards. I con- cluded that my nan – a Unitarian, and my great-gran who was C of E were not happy being called on, so I made an apology and things calmed down. After that, the marking of Samhain was limited to carving a Jack O’ Lantern and saying private prayers. In those early days on this path I didn’t really connect with a particular deity although I did sometimes call on Athena.
After my husband died my paganism intensified. I have contact with him and look forward to how the energy of the Sabbats makes that more tangible. It was still very personable though. It wasn’t until the day of the Frost Fair in 2016 that things developed. The Goddess Temple was still decorated for Samhain in black with Cerridwen centre stage. I was quite shocked when Cerridwen made herself known to me and set me on my current path. I had not contemplated wor- shipping any of the dark Goddesses as I was going through such a dark time myself and thought that I needed the light. But getting to know Her it became apparent that She who is a light in the darkness was exactly what I needed. She guided me on to Her course and by learning about Her I began to see that coming through difficult times wasn’t about glossing over them but about facing them square on with Her as a guide. A year later, having started the Cerridwen Priestess Train- ing I took part in a Dark Moon Ritual near Samhain. We gave thanks to lost loved ones and this began to show me what a public Samhain Ritual could be. Last year I was lucky enough to take part in a Samhain Ceremony at Goddess Hall, which was an amazing experience bringing together the living and the beloved dead.
So this year looking back, I see the truth of the symbol of life as a spiral. As the wheel turns the same events come round but we see things differently because of our new knowledge and growth. As I walk the land now with autumn fruits giving way to multi- coloured leaves I can see some plants dying back while others retreat into the safety of the Earth. The days grow shorter, the air is cooler; it’s the time for withdrawing to the warmth and safety of our homes, to do more inner work perhaps?
Samhain means all those things to me. The fun parties, the time of remembrance and the links with those who have gone before held by the Goddess of Life, Death and Re- birth. And so I will light a candle as a sign of the light in the dark, I will honour those who have gone before, I will feel the touch of a hand on my hair and know that our loved ones await us on the other side of the veil.
– Priestess of Cerridwen
Autumn Equinox has passed, Samhain approaches, soon to be followed by Yule. With each turn of Her wheel, northern air blows colder winds as the sun moves heat and light further away. This year, climate change has slowed down Her signals of an approaching winter: Canada’s usual blaze of red and orange, nature’s final gift before stark darkness, is lost among fading green. Frogs still jump underfoot, the crickets sing at night, and the earth beneath our feet has yet to freeze. The stray butterfly searches for her family, late for her migration, as summer-like air warms her wings. Yet the wheel keeps turning. Endings and begin- nings may be dressed in different gowns, but they still form the rhythm of our lives.
No matter how the elements play, the wheel of our life-span also spirals: babies, new-born into the spring of their lives, morph into lovers, passionate in summer’s dance; Harvest Mother shares her fertility, then winter’s Crone wisely gathers all the threads together before moving into Spirit’s centre, before giving birth to new life again.
Now, Crone’s time is drawing near. Crone within us slows down, dusts off endings from resting places, stokes fires of stories and memories, filling the stillness with wisdom.
We all have endings in our lives – losses to either mourn or embrace. And with them come beginnings – fresh starts to welcome or fear. However young or old we are, that is always so. Younger, our energy and lifestyles encourage new adventures, resiliently filling the spaces left behind. Mothers nurture empty nests with activities they now have time to enjoy. New friends bring new discoveries.
For Crone, there are more endings, fewer beginnings. Aging, we down-size our space, end fitness activities because of waning energy or ability, like the sun in the winter. Friends and siblings ail or die, bringing more loneliness and maybe solitude, like the butterfly left behind by her tribe. Now Crone goes within – to search for her real self underneath all the cloaks and masks she dressed up in since arriving naked, breathing her first breath on the turning wheel. The child, lover, and mother needed to play those roles to survive, to achieve success, gain strength to go on, to compassionately be there for others. But, now it is Crone’s time, to listen to her body as it asks for nourishment and creativity, to practise love for herself as well as serving others, to learn to accept as well as receive. She sheds the masks she no longer needs to truly live her own truth, know her true self, before transforming into Spirit.
I imagine her poking her fire of masks and gowns, eating a bowl of green, maybe humming a song of peace, maybe smoothing oils into her limbs. We need to love the aging crone within us. She absorbs our losses, comforts our wounds. She eventually will form the new ground of being that births new life.
Sometimes we discover the reasons for the endings that punctuate our lives – we tie off threads and wonder no longer, treasure the learn- ing that eventually accompanies each experience. But sometimes we never know, so we give our endings to Her fire, to She who is always with us, and within us – as the wheel keeps turning. Blessed Be.
Roz Bound, priestess, poet, gate-keeper, lover of all that there is.