Samhain 2011 - Aes Dana Community Gathering and Celebration

The most ancient tradition of our people, most likely pre-dating our settled life as farmers, divides the year into two halves, Winter and Summer. Summer began with the marriage of God and Goddess on May 1st, and ends on October 31st when Winter begins. It is these two fire ceremonies that partitioned the year in terms of energy or spirit with summer (male rule) winter (female rule).

On the transition between summer and winter it is believed that the spirits of the dead, our ancestors and friends, can return to look in on us. Witches and Druids would go out into the night to seek these spirits and guide them home, for our ancestors are welcome among us. We do not fear those we love, and we believe their presence to be a blessing. Doors and windows would be left open and lights placed to guide them back to us.

This is all far removed from the modern Halloween where the church has demonised the witches as being figures of ugliness and fear, the spirits as being spooky and frightening, and Hollywood has added serial killer and zombies into the mix. This is unhealthy.

Our community wished to celebrate in the traditional way.

The chosen venue was the Sustainability centre in Hampshire which sits high on the south downs with woods, hill forts and barrows nearby.

Around 35 grove members and close friends would gathered to celebrate the passage of summer into winter.

Not so spooky pumpkin lights the way, originally we might have used turnips.

Just before dark, Jill and Claire are first to arrive >>

Before feasting we held ceremony. The men folk went outside to open a circle representing the fallen summer, the light of which has now faded. We stood alone in complete darkness. The ladies, having their own group in the power of the goddess, processed out to the mens circle, with each women bearing a candle (the light of the earth). After encircling the mens circle and demanding right of entry, they shared their light with the Men. United we will see through the winter, nurtured by the earth, under the protection of the goddess.

This was a ceremony in keeping with our tradition, led by the women of our community.

Sparklers are great !!!!