In which I focus on my first public skindance with Kulta.
Bright Samhain blessings to those of you who are / have been celebrating. (And Beltane blessings to my friends in the southern hemisphere)
On Sunday 30st October, Kulta and I did our first public skindance together as a part of Tuatha de Bridget’s Samhain ritual. I honestly never thought I would be in a position where a) I would be confident enough to skindance, b) have someone to dance with and c) have somewhere outside of my home to dance.
It is frustrating for Kulta that his physical self is trapped indoors most of the time. Thankfully he is more comfortable in leaving his skin for a time to go out and explore on his own, but it is not the same as having flesh and bone. While I do have a garden, it is not private and I live in a ‘rough’ area so I wouldn’t want to draw attention to myself for fear of repercussions. People do seem to freak out at the sight of an animal pelt, but will quite happily eat meat and wear leather.
Thankfully, the people of Tuatha de Bridget welcome Kulta so at least four times a year (on the cross-quarter festivals) we can go out into the woods together, both present.
However, Kulta is a person in his own right and he made a request to have a more active role in Tuatha’s Samhain ritual, riding my body as he welcomed the Cailleach back after her summer slumber. Public shapeshifting and skindancing is a big ask, but a role was found for Kulta – he was to guard the Cailleach’s Hammer and then the Cailleach as she regained her power.
We spent many weeks working together on shielding and grounding, and working out a physical / visible que to indicate when I needed to step forward. As a general rule I tend not to shield as I prefer to be as receptive as possible to any potential totems or spirits, but I felt that while Kulta and I were one, we should temporarily prevent others from joining us.
We arrived at the site an hour ahead of everyone else. There was practical tasks to be done, such as checking for potential trip hazards and checking my visibility while wearing Kulta. Then came the spiritual tasks such as fortifying out shield, and inviting my deities and spiritual allies to watch over us as we worked, Once we were satisfied, we spent time exploring the woodlands while everyone else arrived. Being a Wolf in the woods was a wonderful experience – I was surrounded by people, yet invisible to all but one inquisitive child. To see the world as Wolf does was an honour.
The ritual itself was powerful. Having so many people gathered (human and non-human) at this time of year fills the air with electricity. As we guarded the Cailleach’s Hammer, the shapeshift began, from my fingers and toes the warmth spread upwards, down my spine to animate my tail and upwards where I could hear, taste and smell the beautiful woodlands we were in. Kulta and I were one, and we were Wolf.
As the Cailleach stirred from her slumber, the fur on my neck bristled. The Veiled One walked amongst us, and as she spoke I felt Winter’s touch cool the earth between my paws. I cast my gaze upon the celebrants, and they too knew that Winter was but a heartbeat away.
At her full strength, the Cailleach released Kulta from his role as protector, and we began the process of returning to our separate forms. I was expecting this to be a challenge due to the high emotion both of us felt, but we parted easily. Kulta left his hide to run free, while I grounded myself and returned my thanks to those who kept an eye on us as we worked.
How ‘convincing’ was the shapeshift for the participants? I don’t know, but I hope Kulta and I managed to return the wolves to Scotland, if only for a little while.