by Kathryn Dyer ©1991
Once upon a time there was a little girl named Meagan. Meagan had a mommy and a daddy. Meagan had a big brother named Corwin. Meagan also had a beautiful black cat named Starweaver.
Meagan's mother made her bring Starweaver in every night. It was getting close to Halloween and some people were scared of black cats. Sometimes people who are scared do things they wouldn't do if they weren't so frightened. Meagan made sure that Starweaver came in at night where he would be safe and warm.
Meagan was excited about Halloween. Her parent's always held a big party. People would come in all kinds of costumes and they would play games. Many of them would come and go, leaving to go to other parties to show off their costumes. But there were a few people who stayed. After a certain time Meagan's parents would start cleaning up and making sure that their guests got home safely. The special guest would stay and help. Soon, only Meagan, her family and the special guests were left.
Now Meagan got even more excited. For Meagan and her family Halloween was more than just a time to dress up and play games. It was also Samhaine. Meagan and her family were Pagans and Samhaine was an important holiday for them. It was also their New Year. It celebrated the end of the Summer season and the beginning of the Winter. Tonight, her family and their friends would bid good-bye to the reign of the Lady and bid welcome to Her Consort, who would hold rule over the winter until the Lady came again in the spring at Beltaine.
This was the first year that Meagan was old enough to stay up and watch the rituals. Her parents had been teaching her about many religions so that when she grew up she would make a wise choice about how to worship. She was very excited about being allowed to watch the Samhaine ritual. She had taken a nap in the afternoon so that she would be able to stay awake.
Meagan went into her mother's bathroom. Meagan's mother Elizabeth was taking a bath in preparation. Elizabeth got out and put on her special robe. She always wore this robe to rituals. Meagan knew that some covens wore robes and some wore special costumes and some wore everyday clothes and some didn't wear anything at all! Meagan's mother said, "Are you ready Meagan? Why don't you take a quick shower and then I have a surprise for you." "What is it?, asked Meagan as she took off her Halloween costume. "You'll see when you're done," said her mother, "now hurry, you don't want to be late!"
Meagan turned on the water and stepped into the shower. And who should jump in with her but Starweaver! "Momma!" Meagan cried, "Look! Star wants to go to the ritual too!" Elizabeth laughed with her daughter, "Starweaver is more than welcome to come to the ritual. It wouldn't be the first time for him." Meagan looked at her cat, "Why didn't you tell me Star? You know all about it already!" She finished her shower and dried off. Meagan's mother held out a beautiful new robe, just Meagan's size. "Oh, Momma! A robe of my very own!", Meagan exclaimed. She felt very happy and proud as she slipped it on. Then she followed her mother out to the little grove in their backyard.
In their backyard was a little circle of trees. In the middle her parents had put up a stone altar. Usually the altar was empty but now there were things on it. Meagan stepped closer to see. Already on the altar were two chalices or cups, a sword, a book, a vessel of water and one of salt, a censor to hold incense and the God and Goddess figures which usually stayed on the little altar in her parent's bedroom. One of her parent's friends was placing a horned helm on the altar. "Would you like to help decorate the Circle?" he asked. The Circle had already been marked on the ground with a spear. Meagan asked, "What are we putting around the Circle?" Meagan's brother Corwin said, "We are putting autumn flowers, pine-cones and pumpkins." She remembered having seen some pumpkins in the garage earlier and had wondered what they were for. Meagan and Corwin placed the flowers and pine-cones around the Circle. Some of the pumpkins were too heavy for them to lift by themselves so the adults helped put them around too.
Soon the grove was ready. Everyone was wearing a robe. Meagan's mother was wearing a white robe and so was their friend Jeremy. This year Elizabeth and Jeremy had been chosen by the Coven to be Priestess and Priest for the group. Each Coven has different rules about who is in charge of things and what they wear. In the Coven that Meagan's parents belonged to the Priest and Priestess wear white and the others may choose from green, yellow, red or blue. Meagan's robe was green and Corwin's robe was blue just like their father Michael's robe.
Michael would tease Meagan and Corwin saying, "I wear blue so that no one can see me in the shadows." He would always smile when he said it. Some of the Coven members wore beautiful jewelry. Jennifer was wearing a silver circlet and a pentagram necklace. Robert wore a torque, which is a kind of neck decoration, and several rings with funny writing on them. Meagan recognized some of the letters as runes. She was studying runes with her father.
Soon a horn sounded and the ceremony started. Meagan paid close attention. Her favorite part came at the end which was called Cakes and Ale. Everyone ate little cakes and drank mead or juice. They all sat around and talked about the things they were studying and what they would like to learn about later. Meagan asked about the incense they had used. Jennifer told her that it was made by a Coven member who couldn't be there that night. She said that they would grind together different herbs to make incense that they burned on a special kind of charcoal. Their Coven had a different kind of incense for every kind of ceremony. Meagan remembered that her parent's had special incense for the house too. They would burn it during the day and it made the house smell good.
Sometimes Meagan's friends would ask her why her house always smelled so good. Meagan had to be careful sometimes about what she said to her friends. Her parents had told her that not everyone liked the way that Pagans worship. It was better for her to be careful about what she said until she knew how her friends felt about other religions. She would not want to make her friends upset or to make them feel bad. Meagan had one friend, Cindy, that she could talk about her religion to. Cindy and her family were Christians but her mother was also an herbalist and didn't mind the things that Cindy learned about at Meagan's house. Meagan's parents would trade herbs with Cindy's mother and Meagan sometimes heard them talking about religion together.
When the ritual was over everyone helped to clean up the grove. Meagan was very happy to have been allowed to stay up. Her mother said that she could come to the next ritual which would be a Full Moon ritual. They would also have a guest who was interested in the Pagan religion. Some Covens have rules that their rituals cannot be spoken of to those who have not promised to keep them secret. Some of these rules came from the times when Pagans were outlawed or hurt by some Christians. The Coven that Meagan's family belonged to did not have any rules like this but they were still very careful about who they shared their rituals with. Some people are afraid of Pagans and as you know, people who are afraid sometimes do strange things.
Meagan went inside as people were leaving to go home. She took off her robe and got into her nightgown. Elizabeth came to tuck her into bed. "I'll go put your robe in the place we keep ours so it will be ready for the next ceremony. Did you enjoy yourself tonight?" she asked as Meagan snuggled under the blanket. "Oh yes, Momma. It was wonderful. I think I want to be a Pagan when I grow up." murmured Meagan. Her mother laughed, "Well, now is not the time to decide such an important issue. I think you can wait a few years. You may change your mind later. Sleep tight and dream well little one." She kissed Meagan good night and turned out her light. Meagan sighed as she thought about the good time she had had at the party and at the ritual. Just then Starweaver decided to jump up on her bed. As Meagan curled up on her side to go to sleep Starweaver nestled into the pillow beside her and began to purr.
It had been a good day.