Samhain/Hallowmass 2008 - Uffington White Horse, Glastonbury, Stanton Drew and Avebury

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Samhain/Hallowmass in 2008. This celebration - centred on 1 November - sees the sun rising increasingly further towards 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 early with the full moon in mid-October followed by a visit to Uffington White Horse on 26 October. Then it was on to Glastonbury Tor for the Samhain sunrise and a large water collection. Later that day there was an event at Stanton Drew and in the evening it was back to Glastonbury for a private event at Chalice Well. This was followed by a brief trip to Avebury and then a day with students from Bournemouth University.

The Hunters' Full Moon - October 2008

The season mostly offered bad weather but I had a chance to grab the following two images during the time of the Samhain full moon.

The Gorsedd of Rhiannon and The White Horse - 26 Oct 2008

On Sunday 26 October a small group gathered in the car park of the Uffington White Horse at the Wiltshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire border for the Samhain Gorsedd of Rhiannon and The White Horse. Just after midday the group processed through the field at the east of the car park, to be within sight of the monument. Kestrel opened the event and then asked Willth to perform the call of peace. The quarters were then opened by four people in the circle. The ancestors were invited to join us and the three worlds of land, ocean and sky were accessed through Rainbow’s words. Everyone was asked to express what they found inspiring about the three worlds. Each of us was then asked to name something that we wanted to leave behind. There was also an opportunity to say prayers for those who have passed over or who were in need of healing. We then queued up to take a ‘seed’ from a small cauldron to take with us as was passed through a dark veil to the other side.

Next came the opportunity for people to step forward for a bardic initiation into the Gorsedd of Rhiannon and The White Horse. Two people took this opportunity and they stood in the centre facing outwards with linked hands. Kestrel performed the rite and then asked the outer circle to tone the Awen three times. With the rite complete the two new initiates re-joined the main circle and Rainbow asked the complete group to tone the Awen three additional times. Following this it was time to bless the cake and mead. While these were being passed around I gave my Samhain poem its first reading of the season. Willth followed with a couple of contributions written by young Chloe the Bard (also present). Willth then offered everyone a fresh organic apple that had been picked from his tree that morning. Amazingly he had brought along exactly the right number. With that it was time to thank the ancestors and close the quarters before processing back to the car park.

Getting ready in the car park

Getting ready in the car park

Processing through the field

Back at the car park after the event

Samhain Sunrise on Glastonbury Tor

The sunrise was cancelled! Giving me more time to top up my water containers.

Dobunni Grove of OBOD at Stanton Drew - 1 Nov 2008

The group gathered in the Stanton Drew car park and processed to the North East Circle to set up. Everyone was then called to gather at the nearby tree to hear a short talk about the season. The large group then began processing through the avenue towards the circle. The way was barred initially, before permission was granted to enter. Everyone picked up a piece of dark ribbon before passing through a black veil. The sun was honoured at its rising point upon entry to the stones and the circle formed up around the direction flags. The call for piece was performed and the circle was then cast. Everyone in the circle was blessed with water and ‘fire’ prior to the four quarters being opened. Someone in each quarter was then asked to speak about the meaning of the season to them. This was followed by the call to the ancestors.

With that the Dark Lady and Dark Lord appeared from nowhere and ran into the circle. The Dark Lady made her proclamation and then the Wreath Bearer appeared to make hers. I had the role of Bearer of the Cauldron. I had to fill it with seeds, make my own proclamation and then enter the circle to hand the cauldron to the Dark Lord. The Dark Lady then invited everyone to step forward to place their black ribbon on her wreath, with the ribbon representing something to be discarded. She then charged at the wreath with her sword to remove its energy. The Dark Lord then asked everyone to come up and take some seeds from the cauldron to scatter on the land. At the same time he asked me to step forward to read my Samhain poem. After this the apple juice and cake were blessed and the bearers stepped forward to begin their distribution. It was then time to close the quarters and close down the circle. We each picked up a plant sprig as we left the circle, exiting under the dark veil just as we had entered. It had been a very cold session and so no one stayed around for very long, with most heading to the Druid’s Arms for something warming.

A montage of the complete event

Processing to the North East Circle

Setting up

Russell shows off his skulls

Introducing the season

Processing through the avenue

Processing through the avenue

Collecting black ribbons and passing through the veil

Forming up the circle

Forming up the circle

Forming up the circle

The call for peace

Casting the circle

Blessing the circle with water

Calling the quarters

The east quarter speaks

The south quarter speaks

The west quarter speaks

The north quarter speaks

Calling in the ancestors

The Dark Lady arrives

The Wreath Bearer makes her proclamation

The Dark Lord with his cauldron

Adding the black ribbons to the wreath

Preparing to break the energy held in the wreath

The Dark Lord invites people to get some seeds from the cauldron

Blessing the cake and apple juice

The cake and apple juice make their way around the circle

Closing the quarters

Closing the circle

Passing back through the veil

WES Samhain Event at Chalice Well - 1 Nov 2008

The WES Samhain event took place during private access to Chalice Well on 1 November. We got there for 17:00 and Alison was on the door to check us in. I stopped to catch up with Alison as I hadn’t seen her for a while. It was a dark and wet evening but this did not detract at all from the event. In fact it added to the atmosphere. The group assembled under the Yew Trees, which provided some shelter. A remembrance altar was available here and everyone was asked to bring photographs and momentos of those we wished to remember. While we were waiting for the last couple of people to arrive I read my Samhain poem by torchlight with the group gathered around me. I could only see the poem and had no idea how close everyone was! With the rest of the people now present we formed a circle. Heidi welcomed everyone to the event and described what would happen. Alison then joined her in singing a song, with the helping ritualists joining in on the chorus. With the song fading those with roles took their positions around the garden. Everyone else gathered by the altar awaiting his or her call.

I decided to go first and I was led to the old yew tree by the door, the one that has grown apart at the base. I was asked to think of the things I wanted to release. I then headed to Arthur's Courtyard, where Alison (holding the energy of Cerridwen) asked if I was prepared to cut my ties to the present. The rope I had with me was then cut in two and I headed to the meadow with Peter to place the rope in his fire. I then headed to the Lion's Head to be met by Heidi (holding the energy of Hecate), where I drank Chalice Well water and confirmed her verbal statements. It was then on to the Sanctuary for a quiet reflection. Next was the Wellhead with Michael, where I had to stand on the grid of the Wellhead to let the ancient knowledge of the Lady of Avalon flow into me. Michael drew symbols around me with a smudge stick. I then walked around the back path and across the top of the meadow to meet Sue on the swing seat. She got me to pick a card from her Tarot and immediately saw me as an earth sign and got the actual sign right on the first attempt. She saw the people problems I face and how I need to be ever stronger in dealing with them. Down to the Vesica Pool and it was time to cross over - a short step over the bridge. For my new growth I had to take as many seeds as I thought I needed - and consume them there and then. The transformational journey was now complete and I was given a flower to symbolise the new me.

At the beginning of the event I heard some ‘whooping it up’ from the revitalised White Spring. I visited the site but by this time it was locked although still lit up inside. I peaked through the letterbox to see how the Well House now looked with many of its internal structures removed. This made me look forward to my next event there. The following day was to be a day of transformation in Glastonbury, with the official reopening of the White Spring at midday and then a procession heading off from the Goddess Temple at 19:30 down Benedict Street for the opening of the new Goddess Hall. Transforming times for Glastonbury.

Remembrance altar at Chalice Well

The Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri - 2 Nov 2008

The event was cancelled due to Morgan's illness. It had been hoped to arrange something for the afternoon and this was publicised through the Druid Network. Unfortunately news of the cancellation spread rather quicker than expected and so no event took place. There was still time for a bid of druid chat but it was a dull, wet afternoon.

Filming With Bournemouth University Students - 3/4 Nov 2008

Four students have been making a film about the energies of Glastonbury Tor, as part of their coursework at Bournemouth University. For advice the group contacted Trevor Jones, proprietor of the Witchcraft Shop, the Cat & Cauldron and the Magick Box in Glastonbury and he recommended they link up with Matthew. One of the group - Katie Costain - came to visit Matthew to get some ideas about what might go in the video. Shooting took place on 3/4 November in Wellhouse Lane, the Fairfield, on the Tor and in two further visits to Matthew's house. Katie was directing, with Megan Coker as assistant director, Rob Price on sound and Louis Blair on camera. Filming started with Matthew collecting water from the red (Chalice Well) and white springs. The White Spring building was still being altered at this point and so there was no access to the water from the street. Fortunately the owners of Wellhouse Cottage were offering a feed from their supply via a hosepipe at the left of the site. The group went on to film Matthew performing a poem about the energies of Glastonbury as well as views of the surrounding landscape as they climbed the Tor. Back at the house the group filmed Matthew doing a Reiki treatment on Katie, performing a poem about the Glastonbury waters, dowsing and using his sound healing tools and crystal skull. He also talked about his life as a healer, druid and bard. The film itself will hopefully appear online later in the year.

Matthew filming in Glastonbury with Bournemouth University students (Western Daily Press, 21 Nov 2008)

Filming water collection at the red spring (Chalice Well) outlet in Wellhouse Lane

Filming water collection at the red spring (Chalice Well) outlet in Wellhouse Lane

Filming water collection at the red spring (Chalice Well) outlet in Wellhouse Lane

Filming at the base of Glastonbury Tor

Filming at the base of Glastonbury Tor

Landscape shots about half way up

Landscape shots about half way up

Filming St. Michael's Tower

Setting up in Matthew's treatment and training room

Katie gets ready to be filmed having a Reiki treatment

Katie taking a well-earned rest

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Page last updated: 05 Jan 2009