By Samhain of 2002, I was ready to try again on finding my proper spiritual path. My friend and then-teacher Wendy was in a NROOGD coven that was presenting a public Samhain ritual. I got all ready to do that, but got the date wrong! I went home, dejected, and performed as much of a Samhain ritual as I could muster with my limited knowledge and whatever I had around the house. I set out a glass of water and some cereal with a candle on the kitchen table and tried not to cry too much. In retrospect, I did just fine, but at the time it seemed wholly inadequate.
So I was depressed again, but for once my dismay and confusion was visible on social media – namely LiveJournal. So Lorrie (of Hrafnar) invited me to Fellowship of the Spiral Path’s Samhain ritual, which was all about the Ancestors.
I hesitantly attended, and was comforted when I saw several people I’d known from Hrafnar and related groups participating. I felt more welcome, but still an outsider. The ritual was simple, and beautiful, and easy to participate in. They sang a song I remembered from camping as a kid.
We come from the mountain,
living in the mountain,
go back to the mountain,
turn the world around!
Singing is always both calming and euphoric for me. Really, I should always sing before doing trance work. Preferably at full breath, and with a room full of people singing with me! (Although I admit, I prefer quiet for the trance work itself.)
Then they passed around the cakes and ale. When I tasted the red wine and ginger snaps, the wine took me right back to Episcopalian Communion, “Take, drink, this is my blood…”
“Oh NO!” I thought, apparently loudly, “No no no! Not Christianity! The others will be offended if I bring that into the circle!”
And I heard, “What? I’m a dead guy too, aren’t I?”
To say I was startled would be an understatement.
“…. Jesus?!?!” I replied, dumbfounded. “You never talked to me when I was an acolyte!”
“You never listened when you were an acolyte!”
To be honest, the way I conceptualized God when I was going to church, listening as-such made no sense.
We were supposed to be naming our Beloved Dead, but I didn’t have any at that time, so I just waited.
Then, eyes still closed, still tasting red wine and ginger snaps…
“MAOW!” My sister’s very dearly beloved cat had a very distinct voice while she was alive, so I recognized her immediately.
“Tell HER. Stop crying! I’m RIGHT HERE!”
I had the image of the black and white kitty sitting, as a phantom, right next to my sister as she cried, dismayed at her inability to comfort her devoted human.
“I will tell her, I promise!”
And that was that.
That was the last ritual I went to with Laurel and Andy before they moved away to Baltimore. After the ritual, we gathered with several other people, including Lorrie and Diana, to have a farewell dinner for them. They all asked how I had been, and when I explained why I’d been gone, and running about in confusion, they collectively ordered me back to Hrafnar. In particular, Lorrie asked Diana if I might be allowed to attend that year’s Odin devotional trance ritual, and Diana agreed that I seemed ritually competent, and would be welcome.