The Samhain ritual is a celebration of circles - the circle of sacred space which is created for the ritual; the circle of life which is recalled as we honour the departed; the seeds of hope which are planted for the next cycle of the year.
It is also a time of letting go, of casting into the Samhain fire all that has nourished us in the past but now no longer brings growth or that which shackles us to the old year or binds and limits us.
Also, as I celebrated Samhain, I was keenly aware of the way in which the ritual forged a connection to the earth. As the sacred space was woven we honoured the energy of the Life around us, in the place where we all stood:
Here in this place we honour muntjac deer, robin and squirrel;
Magpie and owl, fox and badger, blue tit and chaffinch
...the mighty cedar in whose shade we meet...
Throughout the ritual I felt that what we were celebrating was rooted in that very place, in that garden, amongst those trees, with that group of people. As I reflect on the celebration I am aware of the intimacy of the ritual and of the way in which it drew on the experiences of those who were partipating in it.
And although I had met the majority of the group only half an hour earlier, I felt a belonging and that what we were doing together mattered. This resulted in a connection and a rootedness which I find so often sadly absent from our weekly celebrations and services in church. Is this because our Anglican rites fail to take account of who is present, of the holy place in which we are meeting, of the connections we have to one another?
After the celebration was complete, we took refuge from the cold and gathered indoors for the gorsedd. Again, the power of this came in the meeting and sharing of those who were present. Poems were shared in celebration of the Earth, sacred songs were sung and drums were played. As the first fire of the season leapt in the hearth, a sacred rhythm drew us together and, again, a connection was made - the sacredness of the place.
Before departing, we shared thoughts about the next step for this gathering: should it be made public, an open invitation? Or is the gap between this group and traditional Church too wide for many to easily move from one to the other? I am still pondering this and I have no answers. However, I feel clearly drawn to this path of celebration and wonder if, for some at least, it may be a new route (?root) on the journey of life and faith.