|Statue of Badb|
|Skulls on the altar|
Next year I would like to incorporate my figure of an Ankou - a type of psychopomp spirit, very much like the Grim Reaper, but also like a Dullahan in some ways - a corpse (skeletal, usually, but sometimes as an undead old man) that drives a cart or wagon. Like a Dullahan, an Ankou is not a personification of death, or a death deity, but a psychopomp spirit that is subordinate to Death itself. There are various different stories about who became an Ankou and why. The Ankou figure I have is hand-made clay, quite simply designed, and is also a cone-incense burner, where the incense smoke comes out from under the hood, and he holds a 'soul' (a greenish marble).
|Samhuinn altar, frontal view. |
I would also like to put a representation of The Cailleach on my altar next year, as she is the Gaelic (especially Scottish) Goddess of the winter, who spreads her cloak of snow across the hills, and we get ice and snow from November through to February in varying amounts (it's actually between Winter Solstice and Imbolc that we get the most snow, and there's sometimes still snow on the hills in April and May!). Samhuinn marks the transition between autumn and the depths of winter. In the last decade, it's been noticeably wetter, warmer and less snowy in the Highlands, a result of climate change; putting a representation of the Cailleach on my altar will also be a reminder of what we as a species are doing to our planet.
The purple card at the front of the altar has a sigil a friend within our Open Circle designed to reflect our group being connected, even though we couldn't actually meet up on Samhuinn for a ritual this year due to clashing schedules.
As I am Goth, it is very easy for me to decorate my altar for this holy-day of death, as skulls and black fabric are part of my normal household decor for other parts of our home. As a Gothic person, I probably contemplate mortality and death more than the average person, and have a fascination with the macabre, which I think makes it easier for me to connect with this holiday in the abstract sense, rather than as grieving or honouring anyone specific, although some of my deceased family that I knew as well as ancestors who died before I was born and the historical people who have inspired and influenced me are honoured elsewhere.