I’ve been writing about my journey as a Pagan transwoman since January, but this month I feel called to write about another subject, the season of Samhain, my Sister Shirl, and my goddess Hekate. Although I enjoy the Autumnal Equinox and the Fall Season I have never been a big fan of Samhain and the honoring of the ancestors. Coming from a very dysfunctional family, I never had the intention of honoring my dead relatives. Why would I honor and remember those who have caused me so much pain? But I recently had a change of heart.
Three weeks ago, my youngest sister Shirl, who is Pagan friendly and open minded, moved from New York to Wisconsin, to share an apartment with me. So far, so good. We’ve been getting along very well and working on making the apartment ours.
Before Shirl moved here, my friend Mary offered me a chest of drawers, but could not deliver it right away because of her work schedule. I had given my chest of drawers to Shirl and was without one for a few weeks. Mary came over on a rainy Sunday afternoon. She and I unloaded the chest of drawers from her truck while Shirl held open doors and directed. It fit perfectly in the space I had reserved for it in my bedroom. I was very happy to have a place to store my things again!
Mary asked if Shirl and I were coming to her silent supper potluck to Honor the Ancestors in a few weeks. I wasn’t sure if Shirl would want to attend as she’s not Pagan and has not talked much about our ancestors. Mary explained the ritual part of the silent supper to us and that one eats in silent supper to us and that one eats in silent reverence having a conversation with the honored dead. She said if messages come to you, write them down. After the meal is over, we gather in the living room and if we want, we can share information about our ancestors and the messages we received. Shirl and I agreed that sounded like something we would like to do, so we told her we would come.
The three of us then chatted for a while longer. Mary wanted to know a bit about our past and our ancestors. Very rarely do I talk or write about any positive feelings I have for them. One exception is when I talk or write about Shirl. We generally get along quite well. We both have been living by ourselves for over a decade now. She is a widow, I choose to be pretty solitary. Both in my craft, and whom I choose to associate with. Being a transwoman, it’s much safer for me that way. Although my circle of friends is increasing, thanks to the time I spend at Circle Sanctuary.
I mentioned to Mary I received a message from my mother the previous week. She came to me in the middle of the night, the witching hour, around 2:30 am. My mother said to me that she was happy now. Happy that Shirl was finally with another family member. Someone who would care for her, the way Shirl cared for our mother until she crossed over. My other siblings did not help take care of mother, and would not care of Shirl now. It was meant to be. A message from Hekate.
A few weeks later, we went to Mary’s for the Samhain Ritual and Silent Supper. As I greeted Mary, I told her that her guest Willy was not going to attend. She looked surprised I knew that and asked how I knew, as she had only received a message from him minutes earlier that he was having car trouble. I explained that I had been awoken with a message from Hekate sometime in the middle of the night again with the knowing that Willy would not be coming. I was told that there were only going to be 5 living in attendance and they would all be female.
And there were only five of us there that were of this world, with at least that many ancestors and dearly departed loved ones gathered from the other side. We all brought photos for the altar and placed them on the Ancestor Chair. Some personal effects from the ancestors were placed on the empty chair to honor the dead as well. Mary cast a circle of protection, I called in the elements and welcomed the ancestors, another invitee read a poem of Thanks and Gratitude and then Mary rang the bell.
We filled our plates in silence, placing an offering of food on the ancestor plate, and we ate in silence and communed with the invited and honored dead. As messages came to us, we wrote them down. After we were done eating, Mary rang the bell again, and we moved into the living room where we shared our deeply moving experiences. Afterwards we burned those in a ritual fire outside and took a walk to place the ancestor offering in a location the coyotes, rabbits, and other critters that live near Mary’s place could find it. We returned inside, cleaned up the meal and then we each drew cards from The Dark Goddess Tarot, while Mary read the accompanying explanation of the cards. Each of us drew cards that were exactly right for us.
The entire experience was a very Spiritual experience for me. Until a week ago, I really did not like to think about Samhain. Especially about honoring my dead ancestors. But it was very healing and cathartic to share in that trusted circle of friends. I felt nourished, safe, and spiritually satisfied.
When Shirl and I came home, I immediately started an ancestor and dearly departed altar, on top of the dresser that came from Mary’s. As an altar cloth, I used a handwoven rug from Taos, New Mexico, a special place I lived in for a short time in 2005 and 2006. Shirl gave me a small wooden box with a necklace she said Mom wanted me to have. Along with a scarf and the photos I took to the Silent Supper, these items became part of my new Ancestor Altar.
My spirit is now in tune with Samhain. I have a trusted circle of friends and Hekate to thank for that!
Until next time,
Mighty Hekate, Queen of the Witches,
Blessed am I,
To call myself one of Your chosen.
(Above used with permission from Cyndi Brannen..with many thanks and love)