The Grove, October 31st.
We all arrived just about at the same time, and as we drove into the welcoming space of the Grove site, we all noticed a lone car. Thinking nothing of it, we assumed it was something to do with the owners of the land.
Greeting each other and donning our robes, yep, myself, Ladymorgana and Briseilid had been requested to wear robes upon request by Cthuludruid. I provided two calico robes that were from a set of four used in the hand fasting of my Wife and myself. Briseilid had a long real velvet cloak of green, which looked black in the Autumn dark and because Tatterhood said the calico robes gave the impression of me and Ladymorgana being Jedi, we joked Briseilid was the Sith in the group (I told you she talked about her dark side, har, har, har!). Cthuludruid asked us all to write upon pieces of paper anything negative we wanted to rid ourselves of, or anything to request, or a message for the spirit world. This would be part of the ritual later.
We assembled our kit and headed to the Grove’s Heart, where it became apparent we weren’t alone…
In the night I could just about make out a dull flame, and a white shape moving about. Was it a wandering spirit seeking help? Was it Jack O’Lantern himself come to light the way? T’was neither, it was Greenwinterking, who had been there for an hour already and asked that we came no further; a barrier was in place and he was sentinel being on watch. We like Greenwinterking; he is a very deep and sage-like fellow who isn’t always able to make it down all the time. I have only met him twice, the first time at Samhain last year, and the Beltane just gone; that’s whose car it was!
We had to individually approach him and answer his questions of whom we were and why we had come, before being allowed to enter the Heart. This was not usual practice and indeed something ritualistic was afoot.
Once all were worthy of entering, Tatterhood was asked to lead Myself, Ladymorgana and Briseilid back to the car park, she then returned to the Heart leaving the three of us alone.
That was ok, us Bards talked amongst ourselves and looked on as in the distance, the circle was made and ritual was being performed, the more experienced Grove members looking like a stone circle glowing in the dark as the flames licked their luminescence about them.
A dark shape was heading our way, Tatterhood had returned and summoned Ladymorgana to join her. We watched as Tatterhood blindfolded Ladymorgana, and then took her on a twisting and winding path to the circle. Briseilid and me got to know each other a little more and discussed the element of Water; did you know that in the Chinese system, Water is represented by Winter? Me neither, though I often believed it should and makes more sense to do so.
After about 10 or so minutes, Tatterhood returned once more and asked me to step forward. I was invited to be initiated into the Corieltauvi (That explains all the ceremonial air). I was blindfolded and led on a similar winding path to the circle. I had never experienced the mystery part of any tradition before, so I was quite excited and honoured to do so. I surrendered myself completely in both love and trust with my tribe’s people. I was asked to answer all questions with truth from my heart. I won’t reveal too much on this as A: I don’t want to spoil the surprise for any new members we receive, and B: I can’t remember all that I said in response. All I will say is that I felt a bit of a tit when I was asked by CthuluDruid to swear upon the Sword and the Stone, I did so, but totally misheard him saying something about a ‘backbone’ and was fumbling about looking for a piece of animal spine that wasn’t there. Swearing complete, I was allowed to remove my blindfold and was welcomed into the Grove as a member and took my place within the circle.
Watching Briseilid’s initiation, I knew what she felt as I too answered from the heart, but will admit that in some instances I had to really rack my brain as some answers couldn’t be expressed with words, I think I winged it.
So there we were, three newly initiated Bards of the Corieltauvi, present with our fellows in celebration of Samhain. Cthuludruid led the ritual tonight, he declared which three ancestors he wished to honour this night and invited them to join him in a feast of bread, salt, honey and mead. We all did the same; I remembered my Nanan Knight, the people of Japan who died earlier this year, and the Cat, Seska, whom I saw killed by dogs in my own alleyway at home. Wasn’t my cat, but she was loved by everyone on my street.
Cthuludruid then called upon the Cailleach to hear our requests and take our messages as we burned them on the fire. As he did there was a great gust of wind, indeed the Cailleach was listening. The paper flared up and burned instantly, a nice pyrotechnic effect, I thought. Tatterhood gave everyone a candle as a gift, I think on behalf of one of our members who was ill and couldn’t make the evening.
Actually, thinking about it I think it was Tatterhood’s way of keeping us all pleased as she chose to remain as Herald and also claimed the role of Sword-Bearer… she now has absolute power and we are her slaves…
When all was done, we closed the circle and made our ways back to the cars where we drank mead, ate cake (especially as we also celebrated Tatterhood’s birthday!) and made many jokes about the Raspberry Beaver… now that is a secret we can’t reveal.