Sunday, November 2, 2014

Líithi Lushede Coven Public Samhain / Día de los Muertos Ritual 2014

A note that this article has extreme forms of appropriation.
I am not associated with Liithi Lushede or anyone who wrote this article - I just take the photographs.
That being said, I've chosen to keep this ritual in my sabbat lists as a reminder of what not to do - to recognize that appropriation exists.


On Saturday, November 1st, Líithi Lushede Coven held their public Samhain / Samhein ritual at Aquarius in downtown Kansas City, MO.  This year, the coven offered a cultural perspective of the celebration of death and the dead by presenting a Dia de los Muertos celebration.  The attendance was impressive!  While we were unable to get a headcount, it was certainly more than last year.

Click the picture above for a larger version!
Prepare yourselves for brightly colored pictures, as would be appropriate for the festivities!

On one side of the room, the coven members set up a large and beautiful altar to female Mexican saint Santa Muerte. Associated with the less fortunate and the downtrodden, she offers respite and aid to the destitute and the needy.  Santa Muerte relies heavily on justice but is also a healer and protector, and has become a patron folk saint for those primarily in Mexico and the Southwest US.

Of course, all of this was explained by High Priestess Gwenhwyfar who, like her coven, was dressed appropriately for the celebration.

The altar included a variety of lights and decorations that related directly to Santa Muerte and to the holiday itself.  It also included pictures of recently departed major figures of the pagan community.

The cultural celebration Líithi Lushede based their ritual off of indicated that everyone should provide an offering to the altar.  With so many in attendance, that certainly wasn't possible.  However, designated people brought items of significance, such as incense, alcohol, tobacco, flowers, food and more.

As they stepped forward, they explained the significance of each item, then placed it on the altar.

Erecting the altar and placing offerings upon it replaced the standard elemental circle opening.  The altar itself created a sacred space within the room and the culture negated the need for a circle.

Then, with the help of the bard, John Mitchell, we called upon Santa Muerte herself to join us. Here's a small portion of the song he played for your enjoyment!

Once the song was played, we were allowed to celebrate in a relaxed fashion.  There were several activities available, such as asking Santa Muerte for help by writing your needs on a paper and placing it in a bowl to be burned later.

Sugar skulls, or calaveras, were available to eat or to take home to place upon a personal altar.

There was also a beautiful ancestor and memory altar for everyone to place pictures or trinkets related to friends, family or loved ones who had passed through the veil.

Once you placed your item on the table, you could also light a candle for your departed.

Of course, I lit a candle and placed an object on the table.  This year, I've been honoring a friend of mine who passed away in 2006 during ritual.  He was the first person I dreamed of after the equinox and I felt he came to visit me with purpose.  Here's to you, Nate.

In addition to all of this, the ritual was a potluck dinner which provided everyone with a hearty meal.  After all in attendance had finished dining, a raffle was held with a multitude of prizes ranging from a skull ring to an aloe vera plant; from a painting by Urban Crone to an Ouija board personally carved by Jason; a hand-crafted wand to tickets to the upcoming Metaphysical fair; and a mystery box which contained beautiful skull-themed dishes - enough for a picnic for two!

I want to thank Gwenhwyfar for giving me a personal shout out at the end of the celebration for my volunteer photography work! It was even followed by loud cheering!  The shout out and cheering was certainly not expected and I blushed more than I have in a long while.

It's hard to imagine that, exactly one year ago, I crawled out of my shell to finally join in the Kansas City pagan community by attending my first Líithi Lushede public ritual.  On the next public sabbat I attended, I snuck a few quick photos of altars, and eventually starting taking my first official photographs for Líithi Lushede on Beltane of this year.  So much has changed since Samhain of last year. I'm a member of a different circle and have a new group of friends.  I added our adorable cat Apollo to our pets, at the time just a kitten, and we eventually would move from the terrible apartment we lived in to our new and amazing rental house.  Sometimes I don't realize just how many transitions and challenges I've survived.

But there's been one constant in my life since last year: Líithi Lushede Coven's public rituals.

So before I end this post, I'd like to return the favor.  Thank you so much, Líithi Lushede, for all your hard work, your writing, your energy, your efforts.  I will never know how hard it is to plan a ritual for 100 people, but you all manage to pull it off flawlessly.  Here's to another year of amazing ones!

I hope you had a wonderful Samhain!
Coming Soon: Circle of Fountain's Samhain ritual and celebration.