Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times for October 2020
After a very hot, muggy end to Summer, cool weather has set in. I have not heard anybody complain about that. By the first week of September, local folks were busy buying pumpkins, mums, cornstalks, and gourds to liven up their yards, patios, porches, and to celebrate the beauty of Fall.
Here in central Ohio, not only do we get brilliant foliage, but gorgeous apples! We celebrate with apple and pumpkin goodies! This is the first fall in 44 years I will not be partaking of such delicacies. I’ve had to give up a lot of foods for the sake of my health, and my taste-buds sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. Seemingly everybody else gets all they want of the pumpkin spice coffees, apple fritters, pumpkin pies, and I get none.
The number one thing I looked forward to- besides cider and candied apples- was Reese’s Halloween candy, which has been proven to taste better than regular Reese’s candy. They say their new recipe is better than ever!
Grumble, grumble, grumble.
As many will tell you, it is helpful to replace one habit with another when trying to change. Instead of replacing treats I can’t have anymore with other treats, I have had to replace my treats with reminding myself how much better I feel, how much my health has improved, and how I can never, ever go back to feeling the way I did when I ate all I wanted.
What a new way of life for me! A new way of being! It has its ups and downs, but I have embraced it, and you can see in my photos I am sharing how much of a difference it Has made! Not only have I lost weight, but my bloodwork is great for the first time in years. I’ve added years to my life, and those years are going to be better quality than if I would have continued being less healthy.
Samhain, called by many the Time of New Beginnings on The Wheel of The Year is a perfect time to change a way of being and create a new way. The help of our ancestors is strong, as the veil between the worlds thins, and one of the most popular use of magic is for personal transformation. What better time than Samhain to use magic to bring about these changes, or at least start? This will be the focus of our working this time, and it will be a solitary ritual.
But first, some about Samhain itself!
What She Said!
As a change of pace, I will share what two elders of Wicca had to say about it, the beautiful, illustrious Doreen Valiente, and Gerald Gardner.
An early Priestess of Wicca’s founder, Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente stood up to him, refusing to allow the authority of the Priestess to be subject to the Priest, and eventually left Gardner.
She wrote a great many publications for Wicca, which she referred to as Witchcraft, and in one of her books, Witchcraft for Tomorrow, in the chapter on “Witch Festivals”, she writes,
“ The four Greater Sabbats of the Witches’ year are Candlemas, May Eve, Lammas, and Hallowe’en, “ … called it Hallowe’en instead of Samhain!… “ Alignments radiating from stone circles, or through other mark-points, indicate the place of sunrise or sunset, either at the equinoxes or solstices, or at the beginning of May or November.” She goes on to say the basic eight days which are equinoxes, solstices, and half quarter days “ are in fact, the eight ritual occasions of the witches.”
Hallowe’en, as she calls it, fell at the beginning of November proper.
In the book, Charge of the Goddess, a collection of poetry with information about subjects covered in the poems, a team formed, and some of Valientes poems together for readers to enjoy. One such poem titled Fire-Rhyme for Halloween, said,
“Halloween, or as witches prefer to call it “Samhain” (pronounced Sow-in) is the ancient Celtic fire festival associated with The Otherworld, when spirits and the dead roam abroad. Samhain actually means “Summer’s End”, the New Year starting November 1.
Ritual bonfires are lit for the first week of November to burn out all negative influences. During the Celtic era, the Druid priests would have orchestrated these rites.
Modern Witches meet on this night and conduct a ritual of the dead, a serious, but not solemn affair that may involve (according to certain traditions) placing written messages into a cauldron. This is done in order to speak to the souls who have gone before. One must bear in mind that to Witches, like the ancient Celts of times past, death is just another plane of existence and certainly not to be feared.
Coven members closing down a Samhain meeting are invited to jump over the fiery cauldron to bring luck in the forthcoming year. This poem makes reference to all these points, and has a jolly, uplifting cadence.”
And here is the poem:
Fire-Rhyme for Halloween
Fire red, Summer’s dead,
Yet it shall return.
Clear and bright in the night,
Burn, fire, burn!
Fire’s glow, vision show
Of the heart’s desire,
When the spell’s chanted well
Of the magic fire.
Dance the ring, luck to bring,
Now the year’s a-turning.
Speed the game, leap the flame,
While the fire’s burning! ”
All of this echoes what early Wiccans did in the last century. More can be found in the Gardnerian Book of Shadows, which is accessed for free on Sacred-Texts.com. This rite from 1949 can be accessed from this link:
You can see the fraternal nature of this rite, as it’s different that what various open to the public groups do. These words spoken by the Priestess state clearly the purpose for this rite, “Dread Lord of the shadows, god of life and the giver of life. Yet is the knowledge of thee the knowledge of death. Open wide, I pray thee, thy gates through which all must pass. Let our dear ones who have gone before, return this night to make merry with us. And when our time comes, as it must, O thou the comforter, the consoler, the giver of peace and rest, we will enter thy realms gladly and unafraid, for we know that when rested and refreshed among our dear ones, we shall be born again by thy grace and the grace of the Great Mother. Let it be in the same place and the same time as our beloved ones, and may we meet and know, and love them again. Descend, we pray thee, upon thy servant and Priest.”
Reading these words had me bawling. Many of Gardner’s rituals were edited by Valiente, and she was very much the Mother of Modern Witchcraft, as she is called today.
I am inspired by our founding elders and their words and creativity to create a solitary ritual for you for Samhain.
Saoirse’s Solitary 2020 Samhain
Light some form of fire, and have something that represents a cauldron. You can use a candle and an ashtray, a torch and a fire-pit, or even a fireplace and a fireproof plate.
This can be as simple or as elaborate as you like, and most anybody can do this as long as they have time and space for the fire.
Get paper, pencil, and take the time to sit down and think.
Think about what you want to transform within yourself.
For each person doing this, it will be something different.
But to make that change, you are going to have to give something up. There is a cliché that goes ‘If you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always got!’ Change is hard, and it’s a pain in the ass, but it’s necessary. What will you change to get what you want or need?
For me, I needed to be healthier, so I gave up certain foods. Don’t think I don’t miss them, but I made a decision, and I have stuck to it very well.
I know somebody who needed out of a toxic relationship and to move forward with their life, and although they were very much in love, they left that relationship.
One person I know has crippling anxiety and have never lived on their own- and guess what? To gain the independence they wanted, they moved out!
Another person I know wanted more space in their home, so they purged many possessions, and are keeping the open space OPEN although they liked the things they got rid of.
Your change might be deeper than the physical. But whatever it is, it’s very personal, very scared, and a change you are absolutely able to make when you are ready.
Think of an ancestor or friend who has passed whose help will support you, encourage you, and who you would like to reach out to during Samhain. Make sure this is somebody you already keep contact with. I know many Pagans advocate “working with” a spirit or deity for a spell, tossing some offering, and then forgetting about them after the working is complete. They forget a relationship is needed for such things. It would be like if a friend you never heard from anymore tossed a gift at you if you promise to do them a favor! If you have no ancestor to work with, you can always reach out to a deity or spirit guide you have a relationship with.
Cast circle and call the quarters however you prefer to do so, or do this open circle if you like.
Light your fire, and call out to the mother goddess and father god to bless this sacred fire on this most holy of Sabbats. Use your own words. Speak from the heart to the gods.
Next call to your spirit or deity you are asking for help, and talk to them about your desired transformation. Say you are like me and want to change your body to be healthier, you could say something like this “Granny, you weren’t unhealthy a day in your life. I need your help. The family genetic issues of heart disease, high cholesterol, and high stress are within me not because of alcohol or drug abuse like so many of our family members- but because of the wrong foods I put into my body- and this is something I have done for a very long time. My addiction is bad foods. I need your strength, your willpower to say “no” to these things. I have to stop telling myself I’m deprived when I don’t overeat or eat what is bad for me. I want to have a long, full, healthy life , unhindered by health issues. I have decided to make these changes, and I know that nobody can do this for me. Just whisper encouragement in my ear from time to time, and help me to be as strong and persistent as you always were. I miss you Granny, and I know I will see you on the other side. Thank you. I love you.”
Then write on your piece of paper what you are giving up to make this change happen.
Burn that in your cauldron, and as it burns, here is the most important part- state aloud before your mother goddess, father god, and helpful spirit what you plan to DO to make these changes you want, and when you will start!
Thank mother goddess, and father god, take down circle, and dismiss quarters as you like. I have not included a banishing of the helpful spirit because they are one you have a relationship with and you can say farewell in your own way- if you say farewell at all. If not, thank them in advance for the help you trust them to give. Release the ashes from your fire to the wind, and pout everything away.
Then, whatever your changes are, I wish you well in your endeavor, and new way of being.
About the Author:
Saoirse is a practicing witch, and initiated Wiccan of an Eclectic Tradition.
A recovered Catholic, she was raised to believe in heaven and hell, that there is only one god, and only one way to believe. As she approached her late 20’s, little things started to show her this was all wrong. She was most inspired by the saying “God is too big to fit into one religion” and after a heated exchange with the then associate pastor of the last Xtian church she attended, she finally realized she was in no way Xtian, and decided to move on to see where she could find her spiritual home.
Her homecoming to her Path was after many years of being called to The Old Ways and the Goddess, and happened in Phoenix, Arizona. She really did rise from her own ashes!
Upon returning to Ohio, she thought Chaos Magic was the answer, and soon discovered it was actually Wicca. She was blessed with a marvelous mentor, Lord Shadow, and started a Magical Discussion Group at local Metaphysical Shop Fly By Night. The group was later dubbed A Gathering of Paths. For a few years, this group met, discussed, did rituals, fellowship, and volunteering together, and even marched as a Pagan group with members of other groups at the local gay Pride Parade for eight years.
All the while, she continued studying with her mentor, and is still studying for Third Degree, making it to Second Degree thus far.
She is a gifted tarot reader, spellworker, teacher, and was even a resident Witch at a Westerville place dubbed The Parlor for a time.
Aside from her magical practice, she is a crocheter, beader, painter, and a good cook. She has been a clown and children’s entertainer, a Nursing Home Activities Professional, a Cavern Tour Guide, a Retail Cashier, and a reader in local shops. Her college degree is a BA in English Writing. She tried her hand at both singing and playing bagpipes, and…well…let’s just say her gifts lie elsewhere! She loves gardening, reading, antiques, time with friends and soul kin, and lots and lots of glorious color bedecking her small home!
On the encouragement of a loved one several years back, she searched for a publication to write for, and is right at home at PaganPagesOrg.
She is currently residing in Central Ohio with her husband, and furbabies.
Saoirse can be contacted at [email protected].