A Visit From The Ancestors

I've been wanting to knuckle down and write something for ages but life has been even more hectic than usual, with Samhain looming I saw the perfect opportunity to get my act together at last. I dreamt up a ritual at a beautiful local sacred site for my local Pagan circle last weekend and then planned a solo ceremony for Samahin itself,  I really should have known better shouldn't I?  
One day I'll learn, I promise....

As usual the Goddess had other plans, as time ran out for preparing something new for the group ritual, I resigned myself somewhat dejectedly to reusing the one I wrote last year, hoping desperately not to disappoint anyone with such a simple and basic format. As it turned out it was actually just right (of course) and people merrily joined in with their own contributions of poems, songs and words weaving their magic round the bones of my simple ritual and bringing the voices and memories of the ancestors to life at the peaceful and enigmatic longbarrow nestled in the shelter of the North Downs.
The Coldrum Stones

Several new members turned up and we had the joy of meeting a lovely young lady called Katie who had spontaneously driven down from Cambridge just to visit the stones and meditate that day. She was actually delighted to bear witness to our ritual and then play her ukulele and sing us some of her own songs. What a surprise blessing, topped off with a cheeky half pint of cider!

The lesson of simplicity still ringing loud and clear in my ears, my total sum of planning for my solitary Samhain itself (himself was away trucking about in Wales and The West Country this week) was to buy yellow roses and visit the ancestors where they lay a few miles away, have a quiet hour with them.... that was working right up until the day before when I sneezed, and didn't stop. 
Laid low by a stonker of a cold (a mild form of the plague no less I suspect) it became clear that getting dressed wasn't an option, much less leaving the house and traipsing about in a cold and chilly church yard. 

Instead of wafting about in a churchyard scaring the locals, my Samhain was spent wrapped up in my dressing gown, sipping a lemsip, poring over my family tree. Using an incense aptly called Kentish Roots, I recited aloud all my known ancestors by their names, before taking each name in turn and talking to them, recalling cherished memories of those I knew, scrabbling in the darkest depths of my memory to remember their voices, spending time with them and experiencing the utter joy of remembering long forgotten detail of moments with them.
Pausing to scour my memory for all the little details; the cold tiles of the fireplace, the ticking of the mantle clock, the ridged pattern of the settee covers, the rusted hole of the washing line pole, the earthy smell of the veg patch, Grandad's chuckle, banging on the wall for Nanny Next Door at coffee time, listening for her to knock back and scattering cats flying through the cat flap as I rushed in past the old blue 50's dresser....

Those I didn't know personally, I recalled the scant facts about them that I know, a great, great grandmother who died 4 months after her baby was born aged just 21, leaving her aged and widowed mother to rely on parish relief  to care for him, another great grandmother who brought all her younger siblings up when her own mother died young. It was good to spend time with them, seeing and feeling them as real people, not just names on a tree.
Later I spent a long time meditating, watching all the much loved familiar faces coming to mind, faces from photos coming to life, listening out for their wisdom, thinking about what I may have inherited from each individual, what words they may have had for me, a laughing voice rang through my head - ' We've come to see you!'  and you know what? I rather think they did.

Blessed Samhain x x x


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