It is at almost this exact time every year that it hits me. Samhain is not only upon us, but we can feel the Veil at its thinnest. The house must be prepared for welcoming the Ancestors as the coven convenes for our Highest Holy Day. It is the New Year for us. It is the time to mourn, the laugh, to comfort one another. It is the time for stories and for magic and for divination. This warms the hearts of our coven because we come together now, in solidarity, in love, and in grief for those we lost this year.
In a very real sense, “covenstead” means home to us. It is the place we gather when we need family and the Gods. The house itself glows and pulses with the love of the coven and the rituals we perform there. Complete strangers remark that they “love being in our house,” and I smile knowingly, because it’s the love they feel. Our modest townhome feels larger than it is, feels powerful, feels meaningful. Because it is all those things. It is a covenstead.
There is cleaning to do, there is cooking, there is the preparation for the ritual itself, the preparations for the vigil to follow, and the space to clear. Ancestor water is made. The Ancestor altar is created with space for pictures, mementos, and names of our departed loved ones. There are spaces for the Mighty Dead, whom we claim as honored kin, though they are no relation by blood. There is the large hourglass with sand quickly running, demonstrating that our time, too, is limited. There is the meal to be prepared, and shared with our departed Dead. So much to do for so reverent a time.
The candles will be dressed and set
The dead will be called home
We lay to rest our galled regret
And dust the graveyard stone
All hail, all hail the Mighty Dead
And feed them well with meat and bread!
So sing the names in the blessed dark
And live your life to make your mark
As we are but of flesh and bone
Here for now, then seemingly gone
Until such time as new reborn
We wake and dance in the gathering storm
All hail, all hail the Beloved Dead,
For they are waiting to be fed!