So here we are again standing on this shore of one year with waves of a rising tide swirling around our feet..... soon it will begin to recede and leave us standing on the shores of a new year. But for a few moments - a day - we are between these years and these worlds. Standing in the sea and on the land and not completely in or on one or the other. The winds of winter are starting to blow against our faces - it's cold and bracing and wakes us up. Wind also carries these ancient voices - just there- on the edge or hearing.... all you have to do is listen. We can smell the sea and feel the spray as it splashes off of the stones of the shore - the waves flow back and whisper that crawling gravel sound as the water washes back into itself.
There has also been our annual rising tide of Samhain posts and blogs. Some of them are completely false and some are very well informed. Folklore here.... fakelore there.... Not going to throw a hat into the ring of posts... don't want to dance around the hat..... too many dancers...... too many hats.... There are already so many pages about ancient Gaelic gods and traditions... too many to count. Ancient lore and tradition are important certainly.... we live on it.... consume it like the candy that the kids are out seeking in their disguises...... "trick or treat"... some pages are the trick.... some are the treat.
What about tonight?......What do we do now in order to connect and experience?.... What are the customs that we have?.... Do we have customs at all?.... Really?.... Are our groups developing modern customs that feel in tune with the ancient ways?..... We do live in this world..... we should walk in this world.
I can only speak for one Poball (People) but here are some things that we do - some things that we share and experience......
We do a rite - doesn't everybody....... we will put out the old fire and then we will call to the dead... name by name... tears and smiles... loss and love.... it hurts but memory is alive and so the pain is sweet because we can touch them again through it. They answer..... they stand there .... just in the darkness.... with us again. Then there is a new fire... future..... hope... light...flickering to life in the eyes across from us.... sometimes there are more eyes than people??? ..... but that's just fine.
We pass a breac (hard oat bread) with a marked piece and the person with the marked piece is supposed to be especially dedicated.... this year.
Then we feast we will set a place with pictures of loved ones.... pass a horn of mead (made by our mead maker for this purpose) ... toasts are made. Sitting at the same table... sharing cups and quaichs (that was redundant but you know what I mean) we eat together with stories and songs... we laugh.... sometimes cry..... even sometimes argue .... but we are together... and that's nice. Sometimes we even give a gift or two... little things.... but giving is a great way to start a new year. then there is the tea cake..... three gifts hidden inside.... three blessings for the new year... head.... hand.... heart.... we tear it apart with our hands..... kind of violent but we laugh... and three lucky souls get the blessings. Sometimes a child gets their tribal bronze ring or a first tartan sash.... or a household may get their quaich.
Then we wait and make it last a long time...... hugs.... everyone heads home. The firepriest will collect some coals from the new fire to use in the other fires for the new year.
This is what we do here.... I hope that everyone has some things to do - some new customs and traditions of doing - some people to do it with.