Honorable Shamans and Fellow Pagans, Hurricane Season is coming, and we will have a Ceremony at 12:15 pm (local time) on August 5th, 2018. This will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers, Florida. Feel free to join us, where ever you are in our ceremony. Here is what we will be doing.
Our sacred space will be in a screened porch. We have a central altar table, and lots of chairs. Sit where you like.
The Altar will be covered with a blue plastic tarp which will be anchored with duct tape. Under the tarp, there will be ceremonial objects, of course, like candles, feathers, water, rocks, statuary to honor dieties, and, gifts to honor our local totem Animsls: Wild Turkey, American Alligator, The Manatee, and, the Florida Panther, as well as relics to honor our Ancestors.
But there will also be objects at each of the four directions, related to Hurricane Planning: communications devices, road maps, lighting devices, water containers, gas cans, the local evacuation shelter guide books, canned food, and many other items that people should have as they go into Hurricane Season.
We’ll sing songs, rattle to raise energy, greet the Elements, Animals, Ancestors.
Then, we will talk about what the animals and plants do, before/during/after a Hurricane, and, talk about the Spiritual lessons of Hurricane Season, which are many. Faith beats Fear.
Then, we will take a Shamanic journey to work with the energies and connect to our Guides.
After that, we will talk a bit, ground ourselves, thank and return the Invited Ones, and close the Ceremony.
Then we will eat. Please bring a covered dish to share. Also, please bring your own water to drink.
After the Ceremony, Whale Maiden will be on hand to tell *humorous* stories of “The Great Evacuation Road Trip for Hurricane Irma (2017), ” and other hero’s journeys.
This event is sponsored by CUUPS of Fort Myers.
(c) 2018 to present, Whale Maiden for the Earthways Shamanic Path. All rights reserved.
In a short amount of time a few weeks ago, I attended the Halloween Costume party for families at the UUCFM, followed by the Samhain Celebration led by the CUUPS group there and then attended the Sunday church service, honoring our beloved dead. I’ve realized there is deep meaning for all these events, and they all serve very different purposes.
In the Earthways Shamanic Path (Florida Wheel) I’ve so far only identified four holidays so far: the beginnings of Rainy Season, Hurricane Season, Dry Season, and Fire Season. I was trying to see if we could do without the Days of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltaine, and Lunashgh. Or to see how they play out organically, here in Southwest Florida.
The Halloween Costume party, provided a fun, kid friendly gathering for people in my Church Community. This party started with a community dinner prepared by one of our church members. She prepares a wonderful meal each Wednesday. After the food and dishes were cleared away, then the party started. This party was organized by the RE Director, and she did a fabulous job. There were people in costumes, and people who choose to not be in costume. We had fun activities, and entertainment. I was in costume; and had a wonderful time, however, I couldn’t stay for the whole party. This party was decorated with pumpkins and cut out paper bats and paper mice. They were whimsical decorations, more festive than ghoulish. It was perfect.
The Samhain Celebration was held outside at the amphitheater on Saturday evening. I stopped at a store on my way to the ceremony, to get some cookies for the pot luck, which was held after the ceremony.
When I left the store, it was humid, slightly overcast, and approaching twilight. I realized that it was later than I thought, that I was running late, and that it was going to rain soon. I hastened to the Ceremony. It was growing darker. There was a fire glowing already and people were seated around the amphitheater. I brought my midnight blue heavy cloak, but didn’t wear it; it was too hot out. After I put all my things down, I brought my Ancestors Box and teddy bear to the altar table, which was set up to one side of the fire. Other celebrants had placed mementos of their departed loved ones on the altar.
We joined hands and sang a song. This promoted a cohesive feeling, and was energizing: I love being in Ceremony outside at night time. My Friend led the Celebration, asking us to rise and name our beloved dead, that they might be remembered,. As each person said a name, the rest of us would respond with the person’s name and then sing, “those who have gone before us, rise up and call their name.” I named my parents and a cousin, and my recently departed cat. Then I pointed to the Teddy Bear and said that was for the Florida Bears, since the hunting season had just opened earlier that week. Many bears had been “taken” in the hunt, among them lactating momma bears. As each person stated their beloved dead’s name, we chanted, “those who have gone before us, rise up and call their name.” This was very moving, yet comforting to be with each other, as we went through this ceremony of shared remembering.
Next, we each took two pine cones, and placed them in the fire. One was to release something that wasn’t working for us any more, the other was to signify something we wanted to draw to us. It was a Full Moon, still, so this was a great use of the energies of Samhain (to harvest) and the Full Moon, at the same time.
After that, some of us walked over to the newly rocked Labyrinth. The cobblestones lining the Labyrinth are easy to see in moon light, (even if overcast) and we all walked the circuits with ease. Then we walked back to the the people who were still at the amphitheater, sang some more songs and closed the circle.
It began to rain, and I felt that I had held the rain off, personally. After that, we went to the Hall and had our pot luck. It was fun to see people and chat with them. Some I hadn’t seen in a while, others I have.
Sunday was the day to honor our beloved dead at church. I brought a friend to church and we arrived late. When there was a good opportunity, I brought my pictures of my parents and my cat, and the bear, to the table that had been set up to hold these items. There was music and readings. We wrote the names of our loved ones down on slips of paper. Those slips were collected. The Youth read the names. I wept for my parents and for my cat.
Now that my parents are departed, I feel their presence; they have become my Ancestors, and provide comfort and guidance.
As I listened to all the names being called out, I remembered more and more people from my Church family. I wrote their names down to be read out loud. I realized that I have been in this Church Family for so long, I may be the only one who remembers some of these people. I know the names of our Church’s ancestors. I must call out their names, so they will be remembered. Next year, I will prepare myself ahead of time, and make a list before Church.
As you build your Wheel of the Year following the magic in your land, consider how you will remember your Ancestors.
Although the Earthways Shamanic Path is based in Florida, it can be celebrated anywhere. You just need to explore the magic of your land. What is it saying to you? What are the seasons, where you live? What do they mean to you? How are they celebrated?
I have developed what has become a very complicated relationship with Halloween and Samhain. But first, let’s talk about the Full Moon. I love watching the Moon change over time. There is something so quietly sacred about this simple process, which we watch and are part of. Month after month, year after year, it is a natural process, it is a spiritual process.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t understand why Halloween didn’t occur on a Full Moon each year; I thought that only made sense, because of Easter and its connection to the Full Moon. But all the grown-ups would say was, “Halloween has always been October 31st.” I grew up in a Unitarian-Universalist household, and we didn’t celebrate All Saints Day or All Souls Day on November 1st. But I had friends who were Catholics, and they did. But all they could say was, “it’s all in Latin…” so they didn’t understand it, either. We were just kids, of course. Yet, on a basic level, I knew the whole time frame of the end of October and the beginning of November was somehow special, sacred even. At least to some people.
Halloween was special to me as a kid, because I got to design and dress up in a costume, and go outside walking around outside at night, and get candy. Each of these features was a rare opportunity in my childhood. I think Halloween should be kept as an event for children, as a right-of-passage.
As I grew a little older, I went through the phase where I felt I was too “grown up” to go trick-or-treating. And then, I grew a little older and began to find Halloween parties and other occasions where I could dress up in costume. Since Halloween wasn’t tied into the cycle of the Full Moon, it gradually became all about dressing up and partying to me. The partying was mostly indoors, so the connection to nature at night, was severed. And I watched as Halloween became just another over-commercialized consumer–oriented event in our economy, one where in 2014, it was “estimated that Americans will spend $350 million just on pet Halloween costumes…” And as the costumes for adults became more and more sexy/provocative or violent. And I gradually quit celebrating Halloween.
As a kid growing up, my connection to my Ancestors was an on-going lesson in History, since my Mom spent so much time researching our genealogy. Yet, it wasn’t presented as, ‘these are your beloved dead.’ Due to circumstances in my family, the deaths of my grandparents was treated in a somewhat remote fashion. I collected mementos of my grandparents to maintain connections to them, small objects that I carry with me to this day.
In my on-going spiritual path, I met some Native Americans. One was an Algonquin, and he shared with me the concept of Great Spirit, and how we were connected to all beings, and these were, “all my relations,” and I liked that, because I felt connected to all the animals and plants and rocks and trees and the Moon and the Stars. And also in my Spiritual path, I learned to SEE the energies of the fey and connected with the spirits of the animals.
And then I met my Wiccan and Druid friends, and was invited to my first Samhain. These rituals were celebrated outside and that was wonderful, to be outside at night time. And I liked the connection to the Spirits and the acknowledgement of our Ancestors and our Beloved Dead. I liked the idea that the “veil is thin at this time of year,” where we could make contact with our Ancestors and Beloved Dead.
After a year with that coven, I gradually felt that it was important to me to identify the holidays of my place here in Southwest Florida and to celebrate those holidays. So I left the Wiccan coven and went off on my own. I developed the Earthways Shamanic Path, and in Southwest Florida that is expressed as Rainy Season, Hurricane Season, Dry Season, and, Fire Season. Those holidays have “spiritual meanings,” and accompanying rituals, to be sure. But none of these holidays as yet address the deep spiritual need people have to connect to our Ancestors and Beloved Dead, and to do it in community.
In my Shamanic practices, I readily connect with my Animal helpers and guides, spirits. And with the Fey. And I can certainly connect with my Ancestors and Beloved Dead, at my Altar space. And as we are all getting older, and my Parents are now across the veil, I feel deeply, the need to honor them, to connect with them. This morning, I rearranged the things on my altar, the feathers, rocks, special objects and photographs of my parents and departed cousins. I lit candles and I lit some rosemary, to remember…
But what about that shared community experience? I belong to several spiritual communities. The Wiccans and Druids I met years ago are still my friends, and they have open Samhain gatherings. These are spiritual gatherings outside and at night, which satisfies my Earth-based needs, too, I’ll go to that tonight. And then tomorrow morning at my Unitarian Universalist Church, we have a ceremony honoring our Ancestors and our Beloved Dead. I’ll go to that, too.