Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Feast of Samhain, 2013

Feast of Samhain, 2012
I'll be celebrating the "The Feast of  Samhain" again (November 1st), with a place set at the table for the Guest of Honor, the Ancestors and the Beloved Dead.  As last year, it will be a candlelit night of sharing stories of those who have passed away but remain in our hearts, our memory, and our bloodlines. What is remembered lives. 

Decor will include, of course, pumpkins, to commemorate also the Last Celtic Harvest Festival (there are 3), All Hallows Night, before going into the darkness of Winter.  And November 1st is also the Witches New Year, as well as Dia de Los Muertos, something widely celebrated here in the Southwest, and in Tucson, with a famous parade (and just in case you don't believe the Spirits come to join the Celebration, check out Ginny's "Orb" photo below from last years parade.

Photo by Ginny Moss
I don't feel that I can say anything more eloquent about this High Holy Day than I have in previous years, so I copy below musing from a previous year..........and also a post I did on Dia de Los Muertos can be found HERE.  I  Wish all a very wonderful Samhain!

Mariachi Wedding from All Soul's Procession, Tucson
© dominic arizona bonuccelli | AZFOTO
 I remember  the Spiral Dance, which I participated in a number of times in San Francisco (I created the Masks of the Goddess for the 20th Annual Spiral Dance).  I also brought this beautiful ritual to Tucson in 2000 with the help of Priestess  Macha NightMare.   When one has danced the Spiral Dance and come face to face with each participant in the course of the dance, you leave changed.
November 1st has been called the "Witches New Year", and what comes to mind. of course, is the universal image of the  "Witch and her broom". The Broom is associated with many folk traditions of "sweeping away the old bad energies" - purification rituals for the home and Hearth (Heart). Traditionally this was the time to celebrate the last of three Celtic Harvest Festivals before going into the dark of Winter.   It is the closing of the old year,  a time to honor the ancestors, the harvest, and the gifts of the year past.  When I lay out the Feast, I always imagine many generations laying out the last fresh apples, the treasured honey mead reserved only for special occasions, and toasts raised  to the invisible ones,  their plates heaped high as well. Inherent in this celebration was a profound respect for the Spiral wheel of the year,  cycling the natural cycles of death and re-birth.

Here is my gratitude to the year that is soon to pass away, and to all of those who have passed away from my life as well, people who have gifted me and created with me and loved me, and I them.  Blessed Be!

Sometimes we don't realize, because things manifest through time, the ways that our wishes have often been granted.  Thinking of the Spiral Dance, and Reclaiming, I remember another one of those stories of Grace and Magic, and want to tell it, although, as all true stories are, it's part of a much larger story that is woven into the fabric of my life, and lots of other lives.  I think when we tell  these stories we get a glimpse of how seamless "reality" really is.  And Magic is always afoot, although I don't believe it has anything to do with wands.  I think it's much more about Weaving and being Woven.

"Gaia" (1986)
When I was in graduate school, I began reading "The Spiral Dance" by Starhawk.  It was such a revelation, the way she spoke about the Goddess, and a theology of Immanence.  It became the central inspiration for one of my shows while in Grad school.  When I graduated I went to live in New York, and married, and then in 1997 got divorced.  My ex and I were very involved with the Pagan community on the East Coast, and when we divorced I felt like I lost my community.   In those days I was doing Renaissance Faires, so I packed up my van and became a nomad.

I had a booth in the fall of that year at the Maryland Renaissance Faire, and I happened to hear of a holistic health practitioner who also did shamanic work and "soul retrievals" in the area.  I figured it couldn't hurt, so I made an appointment.  We lay down on the floor, he "journeyed" for me, and "blew my soul pieces" back into my chest.  I didn't know what to think, but as he described his impressions, among them he told me that there were two things that would show me that my old life, were over.  One was a magenta flower, a Cosmos.  The other was a little terra cotta angel.

In November I packed up and went to Arizona to spend the winter in my trailer.  By March I was  wondering where to go next.  I had recently discovered the Internet, so I looked up just about everything I was interested in - Goddess, ritual, mask theatre, transpersonal psychology, etc.  Every single time it came up Berkeley, Marin Country, or San Francisco!   The clincher was when I was looking for the email for something called the Center for Symbolic Studies near New Paltz, New York.  I knew Stephen and Robin Larsen, and wanted to get a recommendation from them. Up came the Center for Symbolic Studies in Berkeley, California!  And the Center was the creation of a Jungian psychologist named Robert H. Hopcke  who had just written a book called There Are No Accidents: Synchronicity and the Stories of Our Lives!

Well, that was enough for me, so I packed up the van when the show ended,  and headed west to California, back to the Berkeley I remembered so well but hadn't seen in over 20 years.  I decided I would sleep in my van if I had to, until I could find a place to stay (and fortunately for me, I had no idea of how hard it can be to find a place to stay in Berkeley now.....)

Arriving finally, I looked around for a familiar landmark, and found the Cafe Mediterranean.  I didn't know anyone anymore in Berkeley, but for old times sake I parked the van nearby and went in for my first Cappachino since the 70's.  As I stood in line, someone tapped me on the shoulder and said "Are you Lauren Raine?"  It was my old friend Joji!  I couldn't believe it.  He bought me a cup of coffee, asked me where I was staying, I told him I had just arrived and planned on moving back to Berkeley, and he invited to stay at his house where he had an extra room.  I didn't have to sleep in my car for even one night!
Judy Foster

And when I went to his house that evening, in his living room was a big, framed close-up photograph of a magenta Cosmos.

When, two months later, I found a room to rent with Judy Foster, the first thing I encountered when I walked into her house was an altar with a terra cotta angel.  And as it turned out, Judy was one of the founders of Reclaiming and the Spiral Dance, and a close friend of Starhawk.   The universe put me exactly where I needed to go, a Spiral Dance.


Broomstick Chronicles said...

Thanks for this, Lauren.

Just for the record, Judy was one of the founders of NROOGD, but not of Reclaiming. She was an early member of Reclaiming Collective; I remember because I was the person who proposed her and everyone cheered. Judy began the tradition of mega-altars for the Spiral Dance.

Blessed Samhain to you and yours!


Lauren said...

hey Macha, Blessed Samhain! I remember when you led the Spiral Dance here in Tucson!

Here's Macha's website, and I'm putting the link in my article above as well: Macha is one of the founders of Reclaiming, author, and international Priestess.

Valerianna said...

Sahmain Blessings, Lauren... I saw your beautiful mask at my neighbor, Ellen's house the other day. May your year be bright and beautiful.