SUBSCRIBE

Celtic Moon

October 1st, 2011

Celebrating Samhain

The coolness of Autumn has come to many of us.  We find ourselves drawing close to yet another year.  The wheel has come full circle and once again we prepare ourselves for the coming of a new year.

It is a time when the old God dies, returning once more to the earth; Only to be  reborn when Yule comes later in the year.  The time of the Goddess represented as mother is over. The long days of sun filled days of vibrant life and color have come to an end.   It is now the time of the Crone.  A time for self reflection. As the year ends and death comes, we turn ourselves inward.  We seek wisdom and good counsel for the time ahead, the coming new year.  It is a chance for new beginnings and a time to once again plant and grow in hopes of a future good harvest.  This is considered not only in a rational sense yet also in a fugitive sense.

Yet before we can start our journey into a new year, we prepare ourselves to celebrate the Celtic Festival of the Dead or Samhain as many know it. To many this is the most important of all festivals celebrated throughout the year.  This is a time when the veil which stands between the world as most know it and the Otherworld is said to be at its thinnest.  It is a time when the spirits of those passed on come and walk among us. It is a time when we pay homage to those who have led us, taught us, and loved us in times before.  It is a time of remembrance of those passed on.

Extra place settings  are set at evening meal tables  for those who may be expected to join the celebration even though they have not been physically among us for some time.  Candles are  placed in the windows to show such visitors where to come and where they will be welcomed.  Alters are arranged with photos and memorabilia of those passed showing respect and also acknowledging their presence as well as their welcomed participation in the evening festivities.  The feasting table is lined with special dishes prepared especially with the taste of those passed in mind.

This time always holds a special dearness to my heart as the spirits of the those who have come is always so strong.  It is as festive as any time of family and friends gathering can be. As well as the presence of those passed on, this is also a keen time to pay respect to the wee folk if that be something that you believe in.  The Fae (or fairy as many call them) are among us at all times yet always quite difficult to catch a glimpse of.  On Samhain when the veil is thin, it is also a good time to catch a glimpse of the delicate folk.  For those of you who tend a garden like myself, a small treat of cream, fresh butter, and some honey will tempt any fairy folk you may have to come out and spend a bit of time.  Although a mischievous lot, they can also be quite helpful and beneficial if befriended.  I give much of the credit to my wild garden near the woods to the Fae I know live just within the woods.  I have made it a point to acknowledge their presence and to make sure that I remember them at such times of the year.  They in turn help me to see that my garden is nurtured and bountiful.

As you prepare yourself for the closing of this wheels cycle, I wish you peace and calmness.  May your Samhain be filled with the presence of those who mean most to you, both near and already passed.  And may the coming year bring you new and eventful opportunities that will  bring you closer to knowing yourself as well as being the fulfillment of what it is you are meant to be.

Blessings

Mother Moon

Samhain Traditions & Folklore.

Its almost here, the best holiday of them all, in my opinion at least, I love Samhain (pron Sow in – for those unsure) I remember even as a small child Samhain was a celebration for me of people who has passed over, I am still unsure to this day where I gained that knowledge from considering my own parents are far from Pagan and really never spoken about religion or the history of the holiday, to me at least.

I have, to this day, certain traditions that I will always carry out and pass down to my own children, should they wish to follow them of course.  I think for me ‘Halloween’ is much more commercialised than I’d like it to be, more about ‘the kids’ or ‘candy’ or in some cases ‘money’ can you belive it!  But I am not going to focus upon the negative aspects that I can pin point instead I’m going to focus on the joy and happiness that fills Samhain.

One of the traditions I have been doing over the past couple of years, is an age old folk tale of ‘feeding the dead’ I take an apple, no particular type just an apple, I take mine from the apple tree in my garden but you can use one from your fruit bowl, and under the moon, bury the apple in the ground, it is said to nurish the souls of the dead that roam the earth at this time.  Another popular folklore tale is that if you bury thirteen leaves from a harvested apple tree on Halloween you would be guareteed a bumper crop the following year.  How fantastic is that. Another one I follow is to eat a full apple on halloween night before you go to bed as it is said that you will not suffer any illness within the next twelve months, and eating a slice from three apples on halloween night also ensures a year filled with good luck.  These are all folk tales but seriously why would you not try them out, thinking back to last year I did all of these and the results are very good indeed.

Another tradition we have is pumpkin carving, it’s great to do as a family and the pumkin can be then used for soup or pie so there’s no waste and if you dry the seeds out you can plant them next year and grow your own pumpkins.  Even better, free pumpkins for next year and just think of all that lovely soup you can make and freeze for throughout the year (pumpkin soup has been my favourite since I made my first batch about four years ago).

I heard about some ‘Moon Omens’ that I want to share with you  – If the Moon is New on Halloween  it indicates that the coming year will be firtile ground for new beginnings to take place such as a new project, career or a new way of thinking.  If the moon is Waxing on Halloween it means good luck throughout the coming year it also indicates growth and an increase of all things that are of a positive nature.  A Full Moon on Halloween could mean a wish made at midnight will be realised within the coming year, it also insures that the powers of all forms of magic and divination practised will be at their greatest.  A Halloween Waning Moon this can be an indication of an omen of good or bad consequences.  If the moon is in its ‘Dark Phase’ on Halloween its believed to be a very negative omen, advise for extreme caustion in all your endevors over the coming twelve months and it wouldn’t hurt to protect yourself by carrying a talisman designed to ward off bad luck and misfortune.

I love the folklore that surrounds Samhain, I can just imagine sat around the fire in a field surrounded by good friends  toasting marshmellows and telling folktales, what a perfect Samhain that would be.

Do you guys have any traditions that you follow?  Maybe trick or treating with you children or something else, I ould love to hear from you and what your traditions are.   Whatever you do celebrate this festival with love in your hearts and smiles on your faces but above all be safe and look after eachother.

Brightest Blessings

samhain

Other Names:
celtic ~ Summer’s End, pronounced “sow” (rhymes with now) “en” (Ireland), sow-een (Wales) – “mh” in the middle is a “w” sound – Greater Sabbat(High Holiday) – Fire Festival Oct 31-Nov 1(North Hemisphere) – Apr 30-May 1 – The Great Sabbat, Samhiunn, Samana, Samhuin, Sam-fuin, Samonios, Halloween, Hallomas, All Hallows Eve, All Saints/All Souls Day(Catholic), Day of the Dead (Mexican), Witches New Year, Trinoux Samonia, Celtic/ Druid New Year, Shadowfest (Strega), Martinmas or Old Hallowmas (Scotttish/Celtic) Lá Samhna (Modern Irish), Festival of the Dead, Feile Moingfinne (Snow Goddess), Hallowtide (Scottish Gaelis Dictionary), Feast of All Souls, Nos Galen-gae-of Night of the Winter Calends (Welsh), La Houney or Hollantide Day, Sauin or Souney ( Manx), oidhche na h-aimiléise-the night of mischief or confusion(Ireland), Oidhche Shamna (Scotland)

Rituals:
End of summer, honoring of the dead,scrying, divination, last harvest, meat harvest

Incense:
Copal, sandalwood, mastic resin, benzoin, sweetgrass, wormwood, mugwort, sage, myrrh or patchouli

Tools:
Besom, cauldron, tarot, obsidian ball, pendulum, runes, oghams, Ouija boards, black cauldron or bowl filled with black ink or water, or magick mirror

Stones/Gems:
Black obsidian, jasper, carnelian, onyx, smoky quartz, jet, bloodstone

Colors:
Black, orange, red

Symbols & Decorations:
Apples, autumn flowers, acorns, bat, black cat, bones, corn stalks, colored leaves, crows, death/dying, divination and the tools associated with it, ghosts, gourds, Indian corn, jack-o-lantern, nuts , oak leaves, pomegranates, pumpkins, scarecrows, scythes, waning moon

Foods:
Apples, apple dishes, cider, meat (traditionally this is the meat harvest) especially pork, mulled cider with spices, nuts-representing resurrection and rebirth, nuts, pomegranates, potatoes, pumpkins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds, roasted pumpkin seeds, squash.

Goddesses:
The Crone, Hecate(Greek), Cerridwen(Welsh-Scottish), Arianrhod(Welsh), Caillech (Irish-Scottish), Baba Yaga (Russian), Al-Ilat(persian), Bast (Egyptian), Persephone (Greek), Hel(Norse), Kali(Hindu), all Death & Otherworld Goddesses

Gods:
Horned Hunter(European), Cernnunos(Greco-Celtic), Osiris(Egyptian), Hades (Greek), Gwynn ap Nudd (British), Anubis(Egyptian), Coyote Brother (Native American), Loki (Norse), Dis (Roman), Arawn (Welsh), acrificial/Dying/Aging
Gods, Death and Otherworld Gods

Herbs and Flowers:
Almond, apple leaf , autumn joy sedum, bay leaf, calendula, Cinnamon, Cloves cosmos, garlic, ginger , hazelnut, hemlock cones, mandrake root, marigold, mums, mugwort (to aid in divination), mullein seeds, nettle, passionflower, pine needles, pumpkin seeds, rosemary (for remembrance of our ancestors), rue, sage, sunflower petals and seeds, tarragon, wild ginseng, wormwood

Animals:
Stag, cat, bat, owl, jackal, elephant, ram, scorpion, heron, crow, robin

Mythical Beings:
Pooka, goblin,medusa, beansidhe, harpies

Essence:
Magick, plenty; knowledge, the night, death & rebirth, success, protection; rest, new beginning; ancestors; lifting of the veil, mundane laws in abeyance, return, change

Dynamics/Meaning:
Death & transformation, Wiccan new year,wisdom of the Crone, end of summer, honoring, thinning of the veil between worlds, death of the year, time outside of time, night of the Wild Hunt, begin new projects, end old projects

Work:
Sex magick, release of bad habits, banishing, fairy magick, divination of any kind, candle magick, astral projection, past life work, dark moon mysteries, mirror spells (reflection), casting protection , inner work, propitiation, clearing obstacles, uncrossing, inspiration, workings of transition or culmination, manifesting transformation,creative visualization, contacting those who have departed this plane

Purpose:
Honoring the dead, especially departed ancestors, knowing we will not be forgotten; clear knowledge of our path; guidance, protection, celebrating reincarnation

Rituals/Magicks:
Foreseeing future, honoring/consulting ancestors, releasing the old, power, understanding death and rebirth, entering the underworld, divination, dance of the dead, fire calling, past life recall

Customs:
Ancestor altar, costumes, divination, carving jack-o-lanterns, spirit plate, the Feast of the Dead, feasting, paying debts, fairs, drying winter herbs, masks, bonfires, apple games, tricks, washing clothes

Element:
Water

Gender:
Male

Threshold:
Midnight

Our Family’s Samhain Traditions

Samhain is my favorite of the eight annual Sabbats that my family and I observed as part of the Wheel of The Year. It is a time for us to let go of the old and look ahead to the new, to break out of negative habits and to begin a healthier way of being. We understand that in dark silence comes the whisperings of new beginnings. We reflect on nature’s cycle of life, death, and rebirth as it marks the end of the harvest season. Samhain is our spiritual new year.

Our family celebrates this festival together. The children begin to look forward to it as soon as the weather turns cooler because they are aware that this sabbat is special. If Samhain falls on a week day then we keep them out of school so that we can spend the day together my husband if needed will also take the day off from work. My sister, her boyfriend and children celebrate with us. This sabbat is a family affair.

Our celebration begins around nine o’clock in the morning with everyone arriving at our house for a leisurely breakfast that I lovingly prepare for everyone. We discuss our scheduled plans for the day and what the children have decided to wear for that evening as they will be donning costumes to pass out the treats to the anticipated Trick-or-Treaters.

After we are all finished eating breakfast and the dishes have been washed, dried and put away, we head out to the local park to collect twigs, leaves and acorns. These items will be used to craft Sentinels (our gaurdians) that we charge with the energy of protection. We do this each year removing the old Sentiels from above the doors and windows and replacing them with the new ones we craft that day.

From the park we visit a local produce stand where we chose at least two large pumpkins perfect for hollowing out and carving to look like protective spirits. We also purchase a few small gourds which we will leave at the graves of our ancestors. The boys and men happily discuss how they will do the pumpkin carving, what the faces should look like and what technique they will use, as they examine our chosen pumpkins.

This is a time to celebrate the lives of our ancestors, family members, friends, pets and others whom we loved and cared about who have transitioned. We welcome their visits for we view death as a natural end to life. With this belief in our minds we pay a visit to the cemetary where our (my sister and my) Grandmother, Grandfather and Meimei are buried. We visit each grave lighting a candle, burning some incense and extending an invitation to each loved one, to come to our home and join us that evening as we hold our ritual ancestoral dinner. We take a few moments to meditate and feel the energy that is so available to us at this time of year. We leave behind one of the small gourds that we purchased.

From there we travel home as we have a lot of things left to do. We need to set out the white candles in the first floor windows to mark the way for our invited spirit guests, set up our ancestor altar with photographs and personal items of those we wish to honor on this night, craft our Sentinels, carve our pumpkins, bake pumpkin bread, make hot apple cider and begin preparing dinner. Dinner usually consists of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn and dessert; my Grandmother’s favorite meal.

We set an extra chair and place setting at the table for our ancestors whom we invited to dinner. Our carved pumpkin becomes the centerpiece for our table. We are sure to enjoy dessert before the main entrée in honor of our Grandmother. Dessert first or you may not have room later, was her motto. During the meal The Remembrance Cup is passed from family member to family member as we recite our genealogy line. We also share memories that we have of each of our grandparents. We do this with love, honor and respect. The setting is left in place on the table overnight.

Once the ritual dinner is completed, the children scamper upstairs to change into their costumes. I prepare a Reading table for my guests. Earlier in the week I was sure to send out invitations to my Samhain Open House. This evening time and space are temporarily suspended; the Veil between here and there is the thinnest allowing those who have transitioned to communicate with those who are still on this physical plane. Knowing this I offer my friends, family members and clients Tarot Readings. I schedule appointments beginning at seven o’clock and ending around midnight. I offer them homemade pumpkin bread and the hot apple cider that we prepared that afternoon. It is always such an amazing experience.

A Thin Veil

Towards the end of October it seems that everyone has ghosts on their mind with Halloween just around the corner.  There are many traditions and superstitions that have carried over many years.  Some we have barely modified and some have taken on a life of their own.  Many carry on these old traditions without knowing how or why they came to be.  Even for those who do not believe in the paranormal, Halloween turns almost everyone superstitious for one night.

The holiday we celebrate today is a large blend of different beliefs, religions and folklore that accumulated over the years.   The Celtic belief, over 2,000 years ago, was the night before their new year, November 1st, the veil between the living and the dead was very thin.  On October 31st they celebrated Samhain .  The Celts believed that on this night the dead would return to earth and potentially damage their crops.  There was also the belief that druids would return and share knowledge about the future.  To celebrate, the Celts would build huge bonfires and dress up in animal skins.

Later around 43 AD the Romans combined their festivals with the Celtic celebrations.  One Roman festival was to honor the Roman Goddess of fruit and trees Pomona, whose symbol was the apple.  This is one explanation for the tradition of bobbing for apples that is performed at many Halloween parties today.

Depending on the culture and traditions, this Holiday as always been about either communicating with or warding off spirits.  The belief that this is the best time for spirit interaction has stayed strong for thousands of years.

Not until the second half of the nineteenth century, many immigrants came over to America and helped to popularize Halloween, mixing many Irish and English traditions.

Since many believed ghosts walked among us on this night, they would go out disguised as spirits to blend in.  The tradition of trick or treating was also brought over.  During the All Souls Day celebration in England, poor citizens would beg for food and money.  Families would give them pastries called “Soul Cakes” in exchange for a promise they would pray for their dead relatives.  This practice was more welcomed by the Church than the older tradition of leaving wine and food out for roaming spirits.

The belief of the dead returning was so strong, it wasn’t uncommon for people to set the dinner table in hopes of welcoming back a deceased family member.  Food and candles were left on doorsteps and along the roads for the spirit to find its way.  Many forms of divination were performed on this night as well, since the veil was so thin many hoped for a glimpse of their future.

There was a belief many years ago that a young woman should name a hazelnut for each of her suitors, and then toss them one by one into the fire.  The nut that completely burned to ashes, without popping or exploding was the one named for her future husband.  Young women would also peel apples and toss the peel over their shoulder to reveal the initials of their true love.  Scrying was also popular on Halloween night.  Many would drop egg yolks into a bowl of water and peer into it, or stand in front of a mirror in a dark room holding a candle.  Staring long enough into the mirror would bring the vision of a face over your shoulder.

Many Pagans still celebrate Samhain and honor the old ways.  We who practice the Craft and Magic understand this history and keep it alive.  The Witches New Year will soon be upon us and for one night many people of many different backgrounds will celebrate.  This holiday is centered greatly on spirits and superstitions but it is also a symbol that wherever there is death there is always new life.  The circle will always continue.

A Thin Veil Towards the end of October it seems that everyone has ghosts on their mind with Halloween just around the corner.  There are many traditions and superstitions that have carried over many years.  Some we have barely modified and some have taken on a life of their own.  Many carry on these old traditions without knowing how or why they came to be.  Even for those who do not believe in the paranormal, Halloween turns almost everyone superstitious for one night.      The holiday we celebrate today is a large blend of different beliefs, religions and folklore that accumulated over the years.   The Celtic belief, over 2,000 years ago, was the night before their new year, November 1st, the veil between the living and the dead was very thin.  On October 31st they celebrated Samhain .  The Celts believed that on this night the dead would return to earth and potentially damage their crops.  There was also the belief that druids would return and share knowledge about the future.  To celebrate, the Celts would build huge bonfires and dress up in animal skins.      Later around 43 AD the Romans combined their festivals with the Celtic celebrations.  One Roman festival was to honor the Roman Goddess of fruit and trees Pomona, whose symbol was the apple.  This is one explanation for the tradition of bobbing for apples that is performed at many Halloween parties today.      Depending on the culture and traditions, this Holiday as always been about either communicating with or warding off spirits.  The belief that this is the best time for spirit interaction has stayed strong for thousands of years.       Not until the second half of the nineteenth century, many immigrants came over to America and helped to popularize Halloween, mixing many Irish and English traditions.        Since many believed ghosts walked among us on this night, they would go out disguised as spirits to blend in.  The tradition of trick or treating was also brought over.  During the All Souls Day celebration in England, poor citizens would beg for food and money.  Families would give them pastries called “Soul Cakes” in exchange for a promise they would pray for their dead relatives.  This practice was more welcomed by the Church than the older tradition of leaving wine and food out for roaming spirits.      The belief of the dead returning was so strong, it wasn’t uncommon for people to set the dinner table in hopes of welcoming back a deceased family member.  Food and candles were left on doorsteps and along the roads for the spirit to find its way.  Many forms of divination were performed on this night as well, since the veil was so thin many hoped for a glimpse of their future.      There was a belief many years ago that a young woman should name a hazelnut for each of her suitors, and then toss them one by one into the fire.  The nut that completely burned to ashes, without popping or exploding was the one named for her future husband.  Young women would also peel apples and toss the peel over their shoulder to reveal the initials of their true love.  Scrying was also popular on Halloween night.  Many would drop egg yolks into a bowl of water and peer into it, or stand in front of a mirror in a dark room holding a candle.  Staring long enough into the mirror would bring the vision of a face over your shoulder.       Many Pagans still celebrate Samhain and honor the old ways.  We who practice the Craft and Magic understand this history and keep it alive.  The Witches New Year will soon be upon us and for one night many people of many different backgrounds will celebrate.  This holiday is centered greatly on spirits and superstitions but it is also a symbol that wherever there is death there is always new life.  The circle will always continue.

*The Hedgewitch lives in the space between the Village and the Forest. Between the mundane and the magical. S/He lives with a foot in both worlds.

This column is dedicated to the Hedgewitches of the planet earth.
Mindfulness, Meditation and the Thinning Veil
This is the time of year, as the Wheel turns round once more, the Veil between Worlds is at its thinnest. Visions, dreams and premonitions abound. Communications between the sides comes easily, and clarity is so pronounced.
I very often use this time to use the abundant energy to enhance my divinatory abilities, and find my dreams to be more vivid, my perceptions more accurate and my visions more precise.
As part of my personal development, I have spent a lot of time learning some Buddhist concepts, and applying them to my Path. This year has seen my practice of Mindfulness becoming more serious and practical; and as I practice it becomes more natural to be present in my body.
As an unexpected “side-effect” of this practice, I also find my clarity in divinatory matters to be greatly increased.
While in the present moment, reflecting clearly what is, I find my inner-eye, my ability to perceive the subtle shifts in energy around me, to be significantly enhanced.
It began so simply, breathing in and thinking, “I am breathing in”. Breathing out, and thinking, “I am breathing out”.
These are the most basic meditations, but they are so powerful for bringing the focus back to the breath and to the present moment.
I practiced a simple set of meditations which led, one to another, and ultimately led me to mastery of my own strong emotions. Mastery, in the sense of being able to attend to these powerful emotions, while maintaining my equanimity.
Each meditation is three in breaths, and three out breaths. (feel free to repeat more than 3 times, if desired)
*Breathing in I am a flower, breathing out, I feel fresh and new
*Breathing in I am the mountain, breathing out, I am solid and strong
*Breathing in I am calm, still water, breathing out I reflect clearly
*Breathing in I have space, breathing out, I am free
These simple mantras, while mindfully breathing have given me an arsenal of defensive weapons to use against my tendency to want to be very reactive.
As I find myself more calm, reflecting clearly, I also find I reflect clearly Unseen things, as well.
My dreams have been vivid and meaningful. My sleep is deep and restorative. My readings have been more accurate and profound. My visions more clear.
Connecting with a Universal spirit is an organic and very natural experience, when we can gain control of our emotions and physical sensations. We are more than just our emotions. We have the power to control ourselves and our response to things. Being mindful gives us an opportunity to “take a break” from the battles that rage around us, emotionally, physically, materially, and allow us to go within ourselves.
When we do, we are bathed in the radiant energy that animates and binds us all.
As I walk my Path, this Season of Samhain, and remember my Honored Dead, I will do so mindfully. I will be open to the abundant messages of the Spirit which desire to make Itself known to me.
I invite you to take a moment, take three breaths, and find a place of mindfulness. In the stillness, I know you will find the hidden resources of your Spirit, and see and reflect clearly what is, for you.
Blessed Samhain to all!

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply