The first thing I should say is that I’d really like to find a better name for this than Samhain in the future. I like the wheel of the year, but I feel as though the obviously Celtic name and the perennial “It’s not a real high day” that seems to crop up in Pagan social media each year just dampen my enthusiasm, as much as I love the idea of a high day honoring the ancestors and — now, as you’ll read below — their queen.
So, for next year: learn more about Roman holidays or think of my own name.
You might have guessed from the introductory paragraph that I wasn’t really enthused about the high day. I was, however, enthused to finish my Dedicant’s Path. So, I resolved to get it done. However, my lack of motivation made it difficult to set time aside for a full-on ADF ritual. As the deadline (within one week of the ‘calendar’ holiday) approached, I told myself that I didn’t have to do the full ADF thing, I got to celebrate four high days in non-ADF ritual.
That’s what I did.
In the woods, in the middle of a run, I stopped and caught my breath by some water and began to speak to my ancestors. I began with my ancestors of place, and acknowledged that many may not have welcomed me, but said that I would strive to value this place. Then, I invoked my ancestors of the blood and spirit and then, finally the path.
Feeling myself considerably in the presence of my ancestors, I spontaneously asked them to stand with me as I invoked Persephone (I used the Greek name! Generally, I worship with the Roman name!) and I spoke to her.
Here, I don’t know that I felt she particularly heard me. But I did get the sense that I should address her on Olympus, rather than in the underworld (palms up, rather than down). I told her that I knew the separation from her mother was not her choice and that I felt for her not having any voice in the whole matter, but hoped that she’d learned to find some joy in her husband.
Then, I felt called to speak to Hades (again, the Greek name!) and turned my palms around. I acknowledged not feeling drawn to him, or connected to him, but I said I knew that I knew that this was a joyous time for him and that as we moved into the ‘season of dark’ (pretty sure that was a direct quote — this was two days ago) I would try to learn to appreciate his joy, as he, too, was entitled to it.
Finally — again, without a script — I felt called to speak to Proserpine again, and I suddenly realized that my sense (is that what UPG is?) of where she was had changed. I felt more compelled to address her in the underworld.
That’s the thing about my Samhain. I really got the sense that my task was to celebrate her return to her husband, to be happy for him, to wish her happiness, and to celebrate them both and, of course, their subjects, my ancestors.
The improvised ritual continued for a while, with me trying to get all the things said that I thought should be said in that moment.
TL;DR: Basically, I wound up enjoying a ritual I didn’t expect to, but mainly because it was my first real experience of UPG and I suddenly felt like the holiday had a meaning to me.