Friday, 27 December 2013

In Which I Catch My Breath and Catch a Cold

Every year the madness that is my silly season begins a week before Samhain/Hallowe'en/Last Harvest and continues to 27th December. By this time, I am usually recovering from the immense physical and emotional stress and swearing I'm never doing it again.  This year, I sat with my feet up on the sofa, CraftyCat One on my lap, toys and games piled up on the floor, a pile of washing to be folded and put away at my side, and feeling remarkably chilled - and dare I day it, actually SMUG - about how well it's all gone.

There's a first time for everything!

It didn't start off that well. All the decorations for  Samhain/Hallowe'en/Last Harvest went up (and looked fab; if I do say so myself), and I was all ready for the Witchlets' annual Hallowe'en party when they both went down with 'flu. Yes, proper 'flu, not a nasty cold, real, horrible, bone-achingly painful 'flu. For a whole fortnight.  Party got cancelled, school was missed, sleep was a luxury nobody got much of. Normally this would have thrown me completely out of whack, but they recovered well enough to go out trick or treating for half an hour, all dressed up warm under costumes, although they didn't really want to eat their haul of sweets for another three days. (How to tell if the Witchlets are REALLY poorly - if they refuse chocolate, make sure you've got Calpol on hand.)

My solitary ritual to call back the Ancestors was due to include a full night's vigil, but after two weeks of broken sleep that wasn't a sensible proposition. I've given up beating myself around the head for not being able to give the gods and spirits what I want to give them, including time, because that's all I end up doing - giving myself grief because I think I should be doing better. One thing Hekate really has managed to drum into my head is that She doesn't want me as her Devotee, that my path isn't as her Priestess. There's more to come on Her plans for me, but that's for another post.  Anyway, this year's ritual was extra important as it was the first Last Harvest since my Grandad died, and I needed to call him and my Nana back - I've missed both of them terribly since she left her ethereal post hanging around my kitchen to escort Grandad from this world. 

I set up a space for them in my bedroom, somewhere I would have to make the effort to go and spend time. I didn't want it to be in the kitchen, although that is my usual spot for the ancestors, it had to be a little more special. Each night for a week before Last Harvest itself, I would spend a few minutes sitting quietly with their photos, Nana's Swiss Cottage music box, Grandad's Little Mermaid ashtray, along with the names of as many of my ancestors that I know.  Finally, after sunset on the 31st October itself, I lit the candles, burnt a smidgen of ancestor incense (from the marvellous House of Ellegua, now Camino de Yara) and called back the ancestors, and specifically Nana and Grandad.

Never in my entire life has an empty room become so crowded. And there, just at my shoulder, they stood. Nana and Grandad, side by side. Welcome back, dear ones. 

Last Harvest Supper was prepared to be a feast for all the family, Witchlets included, and we delayed it until the weekend after the 31st to give the poorly little ones time to fully recover. Presided over by a grinning pumpkin, we ate roast chicken, the last of the sugar snap peas, roast swede wedges, roast potatoes, carrots, a and the obligatory Yorkshire Puddings (Witchlet Two doesn't consider it a feast unless there are Yorkshire puddings), and home-made wine and a plate of food was left for the ancestors to enjoy. We told the Witchlets stories of all their ancestors that we know, and made them laugh, (the tortoise in the tree, how I really believed that dachshunds were really greyhounds that had run too far and worn their legs down, and how to pick a five year old up by her ears) and go wide-eyed with wonder at how many years ago some of those stories were from. 

Things continued apace with lots of school activities, birthdays, and frantic Yule prep. The Hubster now works for a different company which shuts down for two weeks at Christmas, so the Witchlets were delighted to have him home. The Solstice was celebrated with feasting, candles, and a procession around the house with (battery-powered) candles in lanterns, and of course a visit from the Yule Faerie. (It's our Yule, I have absolutely no qualms about making up new traditions to mix in with old ones if it makes it more magical for the Witchlets!)

So, there's a brief recap. Oh, and I got a cold (you try keeping up with all the madness I put myself through between Last Harvest and Twelfth Night without YOUR immune system saying "Fuck this, I give up!") but hey, it was worth it. 

And I started this post three weeks ago. Bad BlogWitch. So I'm going to post this before I lose another three weeks!

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