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ÁLFABLÓT (The Sacrifice to the Elves)

November 1st, 2018

Brief description

International teacher of sacred art and Northern European Tradition shamanism Imelda Almqvist describes the small Álfablót (Sacrifice to the Elves) Ceremony she performed on her land in Sweden on October 31st in 2018. This is the indigenous Scandinavian version of (or closest thing to) Samhain/Halloween.

 

ÁLFABLÓT (THE SACRIFICE TO THE ELVES)

One day even our children (and their children) will be ancestors…

Today Halloween is celebrated in many English-speaking countries. It originated with the Celtic festival of Samhain.

I was in a large supermarket, here in Sweden, yesterday and the first thing I saw upon entering the shop, was an abundance of shelves stacked with Halloween decorations and sweets. That is a relatively new development!  Halloween is not indigenous to Sweden and the phenomenon only arrived in the 1990s. For good for bad, we live in a global village…

In the car on the way home there was a story on Swedish radio titled “Bus eller frukt” (meaning “trick-or-fruit”) Apparently some children had gone trick-or-treating over the weekend (a bit early by British standards!) and received mandarins for their efforts – they were not at all pleased and they had responded with trickery!

As a mother of three I understand that children yearn for scary costumes and collecting candy but, actually, Scandinavia has a perfect valid tradition of its own, for this period. It is shame that this has (largely) dropped into collective oblivion – though Heathen people have always kept the tradition alive and many Pagan people have rediscovered it today).

My students of Norse Shamanism often ask: “Did the Old Norse people have a festival or ritual comparable to the Day of the Dead, at this time of year?” The answer is yes, the Álfablót, The name literally means “The Sacrifice (or offerings) to the Elves”. This requires a bit of explanation.

The Elves (or Alfar) in the Northern European Tradition are not “fairies” but the souls of male dead ancestors who live on as nature spirits. They often live in burial mounds, though we also find them under big rocks, in caves or in the mountains. We can still communicate with them and making offerings is a respectful way of doing so.

By making offerings we acknowledge that they too once walked the land and that they have now become part of the spiritual Weave of the land. They do not (necessarily or automatically) fit a term often heard in core shamanism: “helping spirits”, though they can choose to be helpful. By honouring them we ensure that they are “on our side” and that we have their cooperation and protection during the harsh winter months (remember that Scandinavian winters are harsh and severe).

In the Old Norse way of thinking every gift (gåva) required a return gift (gengåva). There is nothing cynical about this, it follows the spiritual law of keeping all exchanges balanced. (Today we often speak of the principle of fair energy exchange).

In the past on farms animals would have been sacrificed and their blood poured out as a sacred offering (the word blót is the old Old Norse word for blood) but today many practitioners feel that alternative offerings are acceptable (seasonal foods, drink, the favourite food or drink of ancestors we used to know in real life, or other – as guided by the gods and spirits).

Let me also explain that the Alfar are the male ancestors. The female ancestors (Disir) have their own special day in the Yule period (Modranatt or Ancestral Mothers’ Night) as well as a Disablott (Offering ritual to the female ancestors) in the Spring.

The fertility god Freyr (twin brother of the goddess Freyja) is known as the Lord of the Elves and his otherworld domain is called Alfheimr (the Realm of the Elves)

When we bought our house in Sweden I promised the landvaettir (spirits of the land) and the “tomte of our tomt ” (the spirit of our property, not to be confused with Father Christmas – who also goes by the name of Tomte in Sweden!) that I would observe the ancient festivals and traditions as faithfully as my own understanding allows.

Over the summer I was guided to build a small cairn on our property. I carved a Bone Woman from antler bone and dedicated the cairn to her. (This was inspired by the Icelandic phenomenon of the Beinakerling

https://guidetoiceland.is/connect-with-locals/regina/laufskalavarda-add-a-stone-for-good-luck-before-entering-the-skeidararsandur-glacial-outwash

Today I waited for nightfall (which came at 4 p.m.) and made a small pilgrimage to this cairn. I brought my Rune Drum, a candle and offerings of ale and meat (the traditional offerings for an Alfablót).

I drummed and called in the Deep Ancestors (whose names we do not remember), the Ancestors of Place, the Landvaettir, the animals ancestors of all local animal species and the ancestors that live on in local memory and stories.

As a teacher (and lifelong student) of Norse Cosmology I also called in the great skalds and the writers of the Eddic poetry (including Snorri Sturlason, who gave us the Prose Edda!)

I drummed and chanted. I poured ale over the cairn and offered the food.

Odinn’s name literally means “The Spirit” (Odr + the definite article “inn”) and he is associated with the wind, sacred breath and The Wild Hunt.

The most powerful thing about my small blót was that every time I called in a round of ancestors – the wind responded by making a howling noise and curling around me.

I felt that my Álfablót was well-received!

Imelda Almqvist, Kärrshagen, Sweden 31 October 2018

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About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books in 2016 and her second book Sacred art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where art Meets Shamanism) will be published in March 2019.  She was a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit in both 2016 and 2017 and is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She is currently in the editing stages of her third book “Medicine of the Imagination” and has started her fourth book “Evolving Gods: The Sacred Marriage of Tradition and Innovation”

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist (YouTube Channel with art videos and Rune Drum videos)

Natural Born Shamans – A Spiritual Toolkit for Life: Using Shamanism Creatively with Young People of All Ages on Amazon

 

 

Bright Blessings.

My favorite Sabbat is upon us soon. Samhain. 

Images of cute witches on broomsticks and the popular “The Witch is in” decorations hanging about come to mind. The popular saying “Ghoulies and ghosties, long leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night” comes to mind as well. Jack-o-lanterns- seances, and if course the Christian All Saints day. Not to mention candy and costumes are all some thin gs I hold sacred at this time of year. But Samhain is more, so much more than these awesome things.

This blessed High Day has roots in Pre-Christian Celebrations and is named in the famous Coligney Calendar from Ireland. Most any article you read about Samhain will tell you it was the beginning of Winter and they brought the livestock in from the Summer grazing fields and into Winter quarters. They slaughtered the last of the meat for the season. They had a big celebration, bonfires, did divination, asked blessings, and believed evil spirits had to be warded off to assure everybody survived the dark, cold Winter.

They were agricultural people, dependent on the land and animals to survive. Today, we just go to the grocery and do not think of all that goes into feeding us. They were very aware, and gave offerings to gods and goddesses of the land as thanks and asked for safe passage for Wintertime as the earth fell fallow. For us, we buy a bag of apples anytime- or meat- or milk- or whatever we need. It was not so for them. So assuring they had all they needed had high religious importance. This is how they were earth based in those days and the celebrations and rites that took place in Western Europe prior to Christianization were different than the ones we do now.

Animal sacrifice and sometimes, human sacrifice was a part of those celebrations. Today’s Pagans do not like to be reminded of this. There is stigma and it is looked down upon these days. There was practical reason for this, however. Sacrifice was given to the gods in prayer and as offerings to plead for survival. Itb was for protection from death, starvation, and illness wintertime brought. If you were going to give something to assure life- exchange of life for life made sense. You give the best to the gods- and human life was right at the top of the list as the best thing there was.

Since Christianization, we have forgotten how many people asked for the opportunity to have the great honor of being given to the gods to assure the people’s survival. It was not seen as devil worship or barbaric as it is today. It was a privilege and people willingly gave themselves.

Today, Pagans who sacrifice lives give their lives in service as living sacrifices to the gods.

Animal sacrifice had practical reason for being utilized as well. Without refrigeration, meat spoiled more easily. You wanted fresh meat for the harvest celebrations. The meat was profaned and the blood given to the gods, and also used to bless the people. Modern medical science has demonstrated that blood is actually the stuff life is made of. It carries oxygen and the necessary nutrients to the brain and all organs of the body. The old ones somehow realized this. The sacrificed animals created a meal the gods partook of with the folk.

Since modernization, we do not raise and butcher our own meat. For folks who have never killed in order to eat, we often see these practices as inhumane and backwards.

Few Pagans condone live sacrifice at Sabbat. Some Heathen groups do in trying to keep modern practice as close to the old practices as possible. The debate rages as to whether it is useful even or necessary in modern times. We realize blood does not turn the wheel of the Year as was once thought. We realize the sun will rise and set, food will grow, life will go on, and the gods do not need to be appeased or evil spirits driven off so that we may survive Wintertime.

While the exchange of life for life may no longer happen, honoring the dead, which was very important is still a huge part of Samhain observances.

The old ones believed the veil between the land of the dead and the land of the living was super thin at that time. So they took precautions to assure nobody was carried off by the dead when they went back. Wearing costumes to “trick” the dead into thinking people were spirits was one way they protected themselves. People still dress in costumes at this time of year. Turnips carved into faces to ward off malevolent spirits were another way they protected themselves. This survives today as carving pumpkins.

Christianization brought changing Samhain into All Saints Day. The dead were still remembered and the Christian god became the harvest god who was thanked and asked to bless to hold the devil and his army at bay. The god changed, but the observances were still held sacred.
As Pagans reconstructing these observances, we don’t slaughter our own meat- we buy it. We don’t bring livestock in from the fields. We don’t ask protection from spirits. We typically invite the easier communication.
Times have changed, our culture has changed, but people have not. We still need that connection to the earth, and we need Sabbats to help us transition for the changes Wintertime brings. Like our ancestors from centuries ago, we need to celebrate and enjoy the bounty this final harvest brings, and we need to laugh at ourselves as well as memorializing our dead.
The folk I gather with always make a big deal out of Samhain. Always costumes. Always a potluck. And always a gathering inviting our beloved dead in. Every year, whoever gathers goes to an ancestor altar we build together, leaves a gift or lights a candle for our individual ancestors, and we have a very nice service.
Every year, the ritual is different somehow, as we take turns writing ritual. The year it was my turn, we created a path of flower petals we walked and invited our dead to walk, and each went up lighting a candle for our dead. Afterwards- we feasted.
Rather than write out a detailed ritual, I will write about how to create an ancestor altar.
Each tradition has beliefs about what colors are best, what is appropriate to give to the dead, and when and how you should do so. Unless you have strict guidelines you feel you should follow, put whatever matters most to you on your ancestor altar.
The basics are going to be
1) A space set aside for nothing but the altar, which can be a small shelf or a whole piece of furniture if you prefer. It can be enclosed in a box you put away for safekeeping or left out indefinitely. I have a chest of drawers I use. One drawer holds supplies, another has things I do not want to be disturbed so I can close the drawer. On top are things I keep out at all times.
2) Items that represent the dead. This can be pictures of them or even just something like papermache skulls. These things can be hung on the wall or set on or around your altar. Images of them you created seem to work best. I am not sure why. Perhaps creating a portrait of them with your own hands and energy creates a better connection. I have just found communication to be stronger if I create my images of the dead.
3) Things that were meaningful to them or belonged to them can be included as well. Pieces of clothing they wore can be reuses and made into things like altar cloths. Dirt from their graves, cremated remains, or even strange looking things like cuttings of their hair or their dentures can be used if you like. The more personal the item, the better it is. When my mother passed on, some of her jewelry was given to me by family. All of it went on the altar. Cards from funeral services are on my altar. Whatever you can put on there that holds meaning for you works for this.
4) Gifts. Whatever they liked is most appropriate. It seems universal to give the dead tobacco. This can be burned, or just left on the altar. A bottle of their favorite wine or soda works. Foods they loved. Perfumes. A sweater they might have liked. A book they would have read. Some traditions include setting a place for the dead at the dinner table certain times of the year or leaving offerings at their graves. Feeding your dead is not the same as feeding the living, but giving them something to show you remember them is always welcomed by them. You can even show their favorite movie in the altar room facing their picture. So much can be done to welcome them, and focus your own time on them outside formal ritual, thus keeping the connections strong.
And it can be as simple as that. I always keep candles on my altar and my dead love candy! I have some jewelry that belonged to my mother, cremains from a couple relatives, tobacco for relat9ves who smoked, and whatever may strike me as something they would like. Your ancestor altar can become the focus point for all communications with them and the more you build it and work near it, the stronger communication with them will be.
My ancestor altar has been set up for about six years now. I have lived three different places during that time and had two different pieces of furniture for it. I cannot express how important this has been for me and how much closer I have grown to living family members I visit with since I have my ancestor altar. I know an ancestor altar is not for everybody, but if you decide it’s for you, my above suggestions can help to get you started.
Below I wil add some articles online that have further info. Some of the articles discuss ancestor veneration around the world, and included are pictures of examples of ancestor altars. Since I have written this article, I know I probably ought to include photos of my own altar. It is a private, personal thing I do not want to post online, though. Please accept these other examples if you would like to draw inspiration and have a Blessed Samhain.

 

1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veneration_of_the_dead
2) A google search reveals multiple images and examples- https://www.google.com/search?q=ancestor+altar&es_sm=93&biw=1366&bih=635&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=Ua8ZVMatDcX4yQTTm4LYCw&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ
3) What discussion of ancestors would be complete without an article about the Day of the Dead? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Dead
4) A tidbit from a Catholic article- that mentions Samhain! Their All Saints Celebration is worth learning about. http://www.catholic.org/saints/allsaints/
5) There were sites the dead were said to emerge from at Samhain in Ireland- this lists a few. Because we are in 2014 CE, we will never know all the sites the old ones held auspicious, but we know a little bit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rathcroghan#Oweynagat

The Samhain Season

I love Samhain.

Like most kids Halloween was one of my favorite times of the year. Growing up in Texas it was especially nice because it usually meant a much needed change in the weather was coming – cooler days and longer nights rode in on the wings of costumes, trick-or-treating and free candy.

I didn’t know about the spiritual side, however; I was raised in a very Christian household. I honestly don’t think my family knew much about it either based on what they ignorantly said about “Devil’s Night” and such. In hindsight, I’m surprised we were allowed to trick-or-treat at all.

Since I’ve become Pagan, I’ve learned about the symbolism and the spiritual side of Halloween; the traditional celebration of the last harvest of the growing season and the preparations for the coming Winter months as well as remembering those that have passed on from this life into the next.

I can really only imagine the good times had by those with a good harvest as the hard work of the summer wound down. It’s not something I’m likely ever to experience. I have a modest garden that yields some produce but I’m definitely not dependent upon it. I focus instead on the spiritual seeds I planted earlier in the year during Imbolc and Ostara. I look at what they have yielded in my life and find there is still room to celebrate. I worked on parts of my path that resulted in some very positive changes in my life.

I also learned about the thinning of the veil between worlds and communicating with the dead. I first experienced this a couple of years ago at a Samhain meetup near my home. The group facilitated a beautiful ritual where we each sent a message to a departed loved one. I remember feeling suddenly connected to that person – a very close uncle of mine. I was flooded with memories of him and could truly feel him with me. It was an amazing experience.

Every year Samhain seems to fly by way too quickly for me, especially when compared to other Sabbats like Yule. Yule seems to last for weeks – beginning with Thanksgiving and ending on New Year’s Day. I feel like I spend most of October just getting ready for the 31st only to have it abruptly end when I finally get to sleep.

I met someone who felt the same way at our Ostara gathering earlier this year. We talked about some different things that we can do to extend it from just one day to a whole season. It turns out it isn’t difficult to do. There are a few other things that happen at the end of October and early November.

Several other cultures also have holidays to remember the dead near October 31st. One is the Latin American holiday Dia de los Muertos. Although my family didn’t celebrate it, growing up I knew some people who did. It also begins on October 31st. The three-day celebration of Dia de los Muertos coincides with the timing of the Catholic Christian holidays of All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, holidays for honoring Christian saints and remembering departed family members. This is obviously not a coincidence but that discussion is for another article.

My wife is Christian so this overlap of traditions around remembering the dead is an opportunity for us to share our October holidays with each other.

I also did not know that the actual cross-quarter day is rarely, if ever, on October 31st. This year, for example, it falls closer to November 6th. We plan to mark that day with a small fire ceremony.

~

So, again, I love Samhain, even more now than I ever did. It still has that childhood pull for me when I watch my kids get excited about picking out their Halloween costumes, carve our pumpkins, and rush home from school to get ready to go trick-or-treating. But, as I’ve gotten to know more about it as a Pagan, it’s taken on a much deeper meaning for me. I like remembering and spending time with those I miss on the other side while marking the turning of the wheel.

The signpost for me is to also remember to take a break from all of the hard spiritual work I’ve put in over the past year and celebrate a good spiritual harvest. In my home this year we’ll be doing Samhain-related things all month long. We’ll start by decorating the house in seasonal colors and setting up an altar to remember those who have left us. We’ll pick out costumes, carve some pumpkins and go trick-or-treating with our kids. We’re also hosting a Dia de los Muertos celebration with some family and friends. I’ll end our Samhain season by marking the astronomical cross-quarter on November 6th, just in time to start preparing for the next holiday.

How do you celebrate Samhain? What plans are you making?

(Digital Downloadable Samhain Print & Samhain Gift Set available for purchase by Moonglow Magic Shop on Etsy)

 

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

Homemade Apple Pie for Samhain

I always make a sweet treat out of apples for Samhain. It is one of my long-cherished traditions. If I have the time and enough apples, I like to bake an apple pie. I have been baking apple pies for October 31 long before I celebrated Samhain. I used to enjoy a nice slice of warmed apple pie with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream melting over it as I waited for the doorbell to ring on Halloween evening. Trick’r’treaters don’t come to my door anymore nor do I celebrate Halloween like most Americans do. But I still enjoy a piece of luscious apple pie on the thirty-first of every October.

Apple pie is one of those things that I have been making for so many years that I no longer need to use a recipe anymore. That includes making the pie crust. I had to really think about what I was doing as I was making the pie this time, so I could write down the proper amounts for each ingredient, in order to write this recipe. You know how it is when you “just know” how to do something – you just do it. It’s good to really have to think about what you are doing and why are you doing it every once in a while.

The first thing I do when I am baking any pie is make the pie crust. I learned how to make pie crust from my mother. My mother always used Crisco shortening for her pie crust. I always hated Crisco. Not because of its bland tastelessness but because it was just a pain in the ass. It stuck to the measuring cups, to the spoons, to your fingers. I know that in terms of calories and cholesterol, using a vegetable-based shortening is probably the best choice when it comes to making pastry. But I just don’t like working with it.

I know people who swear by using lard; I used to work in a butcher shop and I would never use pig fat for my pie crust. However, I’ve eaten pies with crusts made with lard and they’ve been wicked good. But the only shortening I use is butter.

I have heard that it’s harder to work with butter than with a vegetable-based shortening – I have never found this to be the case. In fact, since you want all your ingredients to be as cold as possible when you are making a pastry dough, it seems to me that using butter really makes more sense. But to each their own.

The other thing is salted butter versus unsalted butter. Most recipes call for unsalted butter. I use salted butter and reduce the salt in the recipe. But again – to each their own. Some people might even use margarine (!!)

Pie crust is really simple. It’s just flour, a little salt, cut with tiny pieces of butter or some other kind of shortening until it’s uniform and then enough cold water added in to make a pliable crust.

I always put a cup of cold water into the freezer before starting to make sure that the water is as cold as possible. Remember – when you are making pastry crust, cold is your friend. I know people who have marble or granite counter tops because they stay cold. You can also get marble rolling pins. You can chill pie crust for up to three days in the refrigerator and a whole three months in the freezer! So you can make it up ahead if you need to and store it.

The next thing I do is measure the flour and salt into my sifter and sift it into my bowl. For a two-crust pie, I use two and a half cups of flour and one-half teaspoon of salt.

Then I take the butter out of the fridge and I cut it up into tiny pieces. I never used to do this – I used to just chop the butter into quarters or eighths or whatever. But over the years, I have found that cutting the butter up into tiny pieces before adding it to the flour-salt mixture makes it easier to cut in with the pastry cutter.

Put the pieces of butter into the bowl with the flour-salt mixture and, using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like small peas. This takes a while and some might complain that it’s tedious work but my attitude is that it’s meditative and spiritual. Working with any kind of dough makes me think of the various grain goddesses and how vital breadstuffs were to the people who worshiped them – so much so that Isis, for instance, was called “The Lady of Bread”. Bread was life.

When the butter is cut into the flour-salt mixture properly, it should look like this:

Now you want to add the water that’s been chilling in the freezer. You want to add a tablespoon or two at a time, no more than that. I know it seems like there’s barely any water being added to the butter-flour mix at all but believe me, if you add all the water at once, the dough will be tough. You also want to mix the water in quickly and with as few strokes as possible. Add the drops of water around the butter-flour mixture, always dropping them on the driest parts of the dough before mixing quickly.

This is what it looks like when the water is half-way mixed in:

The last thing I do before putting the pie into the oven is cut slits into the top crust to let steam out while it is cooking. Since this pie was being made for Samhain, I made a triple Moon on the top crust. I am not much of an artist, obviously!

The oven is always preheated to 425 degrees. I always put a pizza pan on the rack below the pie, in case the pie drips over during the baking process. This has saved me a lot of cleaning hassle in the past. I leave the pie in the 425 degree oven for five minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees for the rest of the cooking period. It will take about an hour to bake, depending on your oven and the amount of apples you put into your pie and how dense they were. You’ll know when the pie is done. The crust will be golden brown and the apples will be glistening inside the slits you made. And the aroma! There is no mistaking that heavenly smell!

The finished pie.

I waited as long as I could and then I cut myself a nice big piece – you know how the first piece never wants to come out in one piece! – and then added a nice scoop of French vanilla ice cream on top of it. OH SWEET GODDESS HOW YUMMY IS THAT?

So. This is my Samhain Apple Pie. I hope you like it and maybe will try it for yourself. I personally think that this turned out to be one of the very best pies that I have made in a long time. The crust was to die for. I never used to be a “crust person” but now I could eat the crust and leave the filling! I just love that buttery, flaky crust!

Until next month, Brightest Blessings and happy cooking!

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About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

 

 

 

Family/Ancestor Memorial

 

Celebrating the Life and Death of deceased love ones with a new tradition.
The Moment your Love one has their Final breath you will miss them, then grief will set in its common to have 7 stages of grieving. Some deaths are quick and sudden, other’s, a long slow process. Death has been with us since the beginning of time. We’re born, we grow, maybe have a family of our own, then reach old age. We pass on to the next journey in life.  

The spirits of other worlds can come and go anytime with enough energy. Others wait till the veil between both worlds are thin then they can burst through. Around Mabon/Autumn equinox & Samhain/All Hallow’s Eve. There are other times spirits can move freely during the year like Beltane and Midsummer eve.

I grew up a weird combination of Irish/Scottish and Salvadoran. My father was white Irish/Scottish and mother was from El Salvador.  Growing up my dad was older he was a quiet man, didn’t speak much. But he was always into the paranormal. My mother was open with Spanish Catholic traditions. She was gifted. She told me of spirits appearing in her life and how they affect things and those around. My father adopted her 6 children from there and brought them to the USA. Life in El Salvador, deep down there, was beautiful jungle and countryside, coffee, plantains and other types of farm land. Where she was from you could see more primal life force spirit still worshiped with New Christian Gods. The Native Indians of her lands had traditions handed down.


This opened a door for many of my mother family and relatives to come here to the USA. For a new way of life to support those down in El Salvador or those here. I know my parents home was a portal, so many have come and gone they felt safe and loved mostly. Here I can’t count the times my mother would get anxious feelings and would call late to El Salvador. We would find out a relative was very sick or passed away. My mom would send money, light a candle, pray to certain saints and the virgin de Guadalupe for support. She used herbs for relatives in need here within our home to help heal them. There were many stories of my mom helping others.

Other times in my parents home spirit might make it self known banging on window, cold breezes moving things, or they would just appear sitting on the couch in the living room. When a relative passed away, she would use the bedroom or kitchen corner by the sink and light 7 day candle, put a photo, glass of water and maybe sometimes she would put some sweet bread.  She said the spirit will need a place to come replenish their energy, to feed from so they could continue their journey to pass messages, or visit living relatives.

For me being Wiccan, being Celtic, I remembered reading about dumbsuppers, to open your door to spirits and ancestors of your family. Share your meal with them. My mother did similar traditions from her home. They would celebrate Dia de Finados, dearly departed. They would make flower arrangements or wreaths to go in the cemetery (tombs above ground). They cleaned tombs, decorated them with flowers and spent the day there. Growing up after my dad died in 1992 we would go to the cemetery and put flowers on my dad’s grave, some on grandparents graves and we’d bring big colorful blankets, food and since we could park 12 feet away, we’d have music playing. Then say prayers for them to bless them. Then talk about the moments we shared with the deceased. Which we continue to do now that my mom has passed on.

With Samhain approaching I wanted to share my story and maybe some ideas to consider. When working with spirits of loved ones, you want them to find their place of rest be it heaven, Summerland, over rainbow bridge, or an other eternal resting place. Look to other articles and books about other resting places. I’ll mentioned a few later to consider. Combine, adapt, create your own unique way to honor departed loved ones or ancestors. Share photos, meals, memories they loved. Write them down in your journal everything you can remember. Don’t be surprised if a spirit makes itself known in your presence.

Do a divination with tarot cards, pendulum, or my favorite crystal scrying to gain wisdom or guidance at this moment in life or the beginning of the new year.

I find a cheap battery candle from the dollar store to light on the altar with the photos of love ones who passed on. I use the battery activated candles to be safe in case my active toddler tries to climb up on my altar or one of my cats get too curious.


Decorate your altar with mementos, flowers, incense, favorite gemstones, even some sweet treat to enjoy, and maybe a glass of their favorite drink. Ask your Patron Goddess or God to bless them in time of rest.

After Samhain if you still sense the presence of departed loved ones, here is a Goddess that lent me help move them to their more appropriate  place: I asked Hekate to help me move my older, playful, black Dog Cholee to her resting  place. She would not leave. She’d been lingering  around our home and back yard for over a week. When working with any Goddess or God Be Respectful,  Give an Offering for their help.

 

Finally I wanted to share a few boxes from my boutique, these boxes are a Memorial for your Dearly Departed Love Ones and Pet/Familiar. We provide Spirit Votives, 4 Gemstones for Crystal Healing – Grieving, and 1 twin soul crystal point, and ideas to celebrate their life in remembrance. We will be adding more items for  Samhain Inspired Memorial Gifts. Blessings of love and light – Norma

Psycho Pomps – Those whom guide the dead to the afterlife:


Valkyries – Norse

Banshees

Hounds of Annwn – Celtic

Hekate

Persephone

Hades

Hermes

Iris

Charon

Charos – Greek

Agwe

Sirene

the Barons -Voodu

For information on celebrating Samhain with the dearly departed and other customs look to the following books:


The pagan book of Halloween -Gerina Dunwich
Halloween -Silver Ravenwolf
Llewellyn Sabbats Alamanc -(Any Year will do)

For More spirit ,Goddess, Gods to help with the deceased, a good book is:

Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses -Judika Illes

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About the Author:


Norma Clark I’m Wiccan, My style follows my spiritual path, and what comes to mind.. I live in a small rural town, Paris, Idaho. I share my life With my
Wiccan husband, 2 hyper Children, and gang of critters. I love to create new designs by looking at nature, cultural ideas for my Jewelry and create unique Metaphysical items. COME Sit For A  Spell or Two , And See the Magick of Forevrgoddessboutique

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