Samhain/Hallowmass 2009 - Glastonbury and Avebury

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Samhain/Hallowmass in 2009. This celebration - centred on 1 November - sees the sun rising increasingly further towards the south east and only rising to its quarter way point. The days will continue to get shorter until the low point of Winter Solstice. The season is the third of three harvest festivals and is the time of the closest link between the living and dead worlds. The season started with a visit to the White Spring in Glastonbury. The following day it was off to Avebury for the Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri, preceded by the handfasting of Stuart and Nicola. Back to Avebury the following day for the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri, following by a previously-arranged blessing and then a Hunters' Moon photography session in the garden later that night when back home.

Update 7 Nov 2009: One photo added to Avebury Gorsedd of Bards section.
Update 9 Nov 2009: Three photos added to Avebury Gorsedd of Bards section.

Samhain at the Glastonbury White Spring (30 Oct 2009)

The White Spring held its Samhain event on Friday 30 October. It was already dark by the time the event was due to start and the outside of the building was decorated with various lights. There was also a small fire burning in the courtyard area with lots of people sat around. The main event was happening inside. It was absolutely packed as things got underway, with the calling of the directions and the welcoming in of deities. Lisa was kind enough to ask if I was in the building and I made my way through the crowd to the centre to give my Samhain poem its first reading of the season. Merlin of the Woods then led the group in some chants as it broke up ready for a night of bardic performances. A temporary performing area had been created in front of the main entrance. Merlin went first, with one of his professional performances. He then put out a call for Tim Hall to perform. While all this was going on Max was kept busy serving food treats. The building work over the last couple of months sees the arrival of several amazing pools at the back of the temple. Thanks to Peter Wood and friends for all their hard work on this. The White Spring has been totally transformed over the last 18 months. And all for the love of it.

Lights outside the White Spring, near the water collection area

An old friend greeted visitors

The temporary performance area in front of the main door

Bardic performances get underway

The new internal pool structures

The new internal pool structures

The Handfasting of Stuart and Nicola at Avebury (31 Oct 2009)

The handfasting of Stuart and Nicola took place prior to the Free and Open Gorsedd. Kim and Kes conducted the ceremony in front of a good-sized crowd and under lovely weather for the end of October.

The handfasting circle

Robyn y Glas performs a song for the couple

Robyn y Glas performs a song for the couple with Kes carrying out a secondary role

The happy couple with hands tied

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri (31 Oct 2009)

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri took place on 31 October. The group processed from the Red Lion directly to the Sun Circle. Willth noted the event was running an hour behind schedule. He performed the Call For Peace and asked for each of the four quarters to be opened. He then asked everyone to link hands to perform three recitals of the Druid Vow and three tones of the Druid Mantra. Before the bardic performances Terry stepped forward to talk about the importance of the occasion and to give details of that night’s Walk Of The Dead. He also pointed out how the shadows on the two large entrance stones align to form a division between the living and dead worlds. Robyn y Glas then came on and led the group in his new Samhain chant. Following some general banter about memorising texts, I went on to debut my new 80-line poem about Worries - just right for the coming dark days.

Apples are used to represent spirits passing over in the ritual that was to be performed that night. Willth passed around an apple for everyone to focus their intention on. There was an opportunity to name someone who had passed over during the year, with that energy entering the apple. I did my dedication for Elaine Cottell, someone I miss so much. The piece of fruit was to be taken to the Sanctuary that night. Willth readied the mead for distribution around the circle. Due to the size of the circle there was time for additional bardic performances. Robyn y Glas returned with his Samhain song and also a poem. Lou Purplefairy stepped in to the centre to perform a wonderful recitation of a poem. Willth then began the distribution of the cakes and bread around the circle. Jim borrowed a guitar from Robyn y Glas and performed his Samhain song. Gordon entered the circle to perform the well known Mary Elizabeth Frye poem Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep. Kim followed with another text and then I re-entered the centre to perform my Samhain seasonal poem. The group joined hands again for three more tones of the Druid Mantra, followed by Terry leading in the Druid Prayer. Willth revealed that he had something for all the children present. They were asked to step forward and they were allowed to choose from a selection of seasonal toys such as skeletons, claws and teeth. With that it was time to close the quarters once again and for Willth to declare the event over.

A montage of the complete event

Processing to the Sun Circle

Forming up the circle

Willth welcomes everyone to the event

Willth performs the Call For Peace

Terry opens the East Quarter

Gordon opens the South Quarter

Opening the West Quarter

Kes opens the North Quarter

Terry talks about the stone shadows

Robyn y Glas introduces his new Samhain chant

Matthew debuts his Worries poem for the coming dark days (Photos: Jane Easton, Lori Aberle, John C and Trish Conniffe)

Willth passes an apple around the circle

Everyone has the chance to honour someone who has died this year

Willth wonders how many bottles it will take to fill the mead horn

Lou Purplefairy reads a poem

Robyn y Glas returns to perform his Samhain song and a poem

Willth prepares to pass the bread around the circle

Jim performs his Samhain song

Gordon performs Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep

Kim performs some text for the season

Matthew returns to perform his Samhain poem (Photo: Jane Easton)

Willth says he has a surprise for all the children

All the children present had the chance to collect some seasonal toys

Terry closes the East Quarter

Gordon closes the South Quarter

Closing the West Quarter

Kes closes the North Quarter

Willth declares the event over

The Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri (1 Nov 2009)

The Samhain ritual of the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri was held at Avebury on Sunday 1 November. The group formed up at the National Trust Cafe. Morgan welcomed everyone and roles were nominated. The silent procession to the Entrance Stones then began. Pauline took on the role of Avebury Guardian and led the group, ending by sitting in the Goddess Seat. Morgan led a few minutes of drumming to allow everyone to tune into the site. She then stepped forward to be first to ask for permission for the group to enter the site. Everyone else then took turns to make an offering. Liam, who I had met at the 12 September Open Mic Night, made incredible sounds here and at other times with his didgeridoo. The Guardian granted permission and myself and Ray formed an archway with staffs for everyone to process through to the Ring Stone. Morgan welcomed the now-expanded group. As it was raining hard at this point she decided that there wouldn’t be time for everyone to say individually “I Am” and the archetype they represent as part of the Round of Amergin. So everyone did it together and it seemed to be a good way of saving time. The strong wind meant any rain soon blew away. Part-way through Morgan decided to move to the other side of the circle so the wind could carry her voice. Things stopped briefly for the group to watch an unusual rainbow-coloured cloud formation.

I joined Morgan for the Call For Peace in English and Welsh from North clockwise, with the rest of the group confirming. Finishing with a call to all the worlds seen and unseen. The four quarters were then opened, with me taking South. Morgan talked about the season and its themes. The group linked hands to tone the Awen and perform the Druid Vow three times each. Morgan talked about the story of Taliessin, getting various members of the circle to play the parts. It was then suggested the group should draw in around the Ring Stone. This helped to provide some shelter from the cool winds. At this point everyone had the opportunity to name somebody that had either passed over or who was in need of healing. These people were then honoured as the mead and cakes were blessed and distributed. The bardic performances then began. A visitor from The Netherlands sang a song about remembrance. Robyn y Glas led the group in his Samhain chant and eventually got everyone to remember it! He returned later with his Samhain song. I performed my Samhain seasonal poem and by this time a recording of it had been released on Shamanic Freedom Radio Podcast 47, starting at the 51-minute point. Other poems were read and Pauline talked about her role as the Guardian on this day. With that the quarters were closed clockwise from North. Morgan asked everyone to add their voice to the Avebury landscape. And it just remained for the area to be cleaned up before people started to make their way home.

I stayed on as about a month earlier I had agreed to bless the wedding rings of Marcus and Louise, who had informed me they would be taking part in the ritual on this day. I had originally encountered them just over a year earlier when they approached me to bless an important object for them. This time we linked hands around the Ring Stone, established a circle and requested help for the highest good. The two rings were then placed in a velvet pouch and into one of my singing bowls. As the bowl was played the rings were blessed with a strong intention and then returned, before the circle was closed again.

Montage of the complete event

Meeting up at the National Trust Cafe

Meeting up at the National Trust Cafe (Photo: John C)

Processing to the Entrance Stones

Processing to the Entrance Stones

Processing to the Entrance Stones

Processing to the Entrance Stones

Forming up around the Goddess Seat

Pauline acts as Avebury Guardian

Morgan ends the drumming

Offerings are made to the Guardian

Offerings are made to the Guardian

Offerings are made to the Guardian

Offerings are made to the Guardian

Liam gets out his didgeridoo

Ray and Matthew form the arch (Photo: Tatjana van der Lubbe via Celtic Inspiration)

Liam raises the vibrational rate (Photo: Natasha and Mario at Celtic Inspiration)

Setting up around the Ring Stone

Offerings on the Ring Stone

For the first time everyone stated their archetype at the same point

Opening the East Quarter

Opening the West Quarter

Morgan talks about the season and its themes

Morgan moves to the other side of the circle to see if the wind will carry her voice

The event stopped briefly for people to observe a rainbow-coloured cloud formation (Photo: John C)

Morgan gets individuals to act out the story of Taliessin

Morgan gets individuals to act out the story of Tallyessin

Morgan gets individuals to act out the story of Tallyessin

Closing in around the Ring Stone for remembrance and healing

Blessing the mead

Blessing the mead (Photo: John C)

Blessing the cakes

Pauline distributes the mead

Robyn y Glas leads the group through his Samhain chant

Matthew performs his Samhain poem (Photos: John C)

Another poem performed

Robyn y Glas returns with his Samhain song

Pauline talks about her role as Avebury Guardian on this day

Closing the East Quarter

Morgan asks everyone to leave their voice in the landscape

Getting ready for a group photo (Photo: John C)

The group at the end of the event (Photo: Tatjana van der Lubbe via Celtic Inspiration)

Afterwards Marcus and Louise have their rings blessed by Matthew

Afterwards Marcus and Louise have their rings blessed by Matthew

The Hunters' Moon (1 Nov 2009)

The Hunters' Moon viewed in Matthew's front garden (12x Optical Zoom at 80% full resolution)

The Hunters' Moon viewed in Matthew's front garden (12x Optical Zoom at 80% full resolution)

The Hunters' Moon viewed in Matthew's front garden (12x Optical Zoom at 80% full resolution)

The Hunters' Moon viewed in Matthew's front garden (12x Optical Zoom at 80% full resolution)


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Page last updated: 16 Dec 2009