Posts Tagged With: Samhain

Samhain Eve 

Tonight the veils are thin. The dead, our ancestors, return home.  
Samhain Eve is my favorite night of the year.  It’s a pretty quiet one for me, but I find solitude to be the best way to spend this most sacred night. 

Quiet reflection on the year that has been, a very transformative one for me, this has been a year of growth and change.  A year of letting go and embracing the unknown. 
I sit quietly by candlelight and scry into my crystal ball.  I draw tarot spreads of reflection, studying the lessons that have been learnt. This year there have been many. 

I sit quietly among the spirits of my ancestors and listen for their words of wisdom.  I welcome the embrace of the Dark Mother and the lessons she has for me on this night. Having immersed myself in the cauldron of rebirth throughout this year, I feel ever closer to her.  

Blessed Samhain ūüéÉ

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Dark Work & The Seed Of Hope

I call the days of Samhain through to Yule, my void time.
During this time of ever-increasing darkness, spiralling inward toward the Winter Solstice; as the days grow shorter and temperatures plummet, is a natural time to draw inward.
My life, my interests, my active magical practice, comes to a lull, a pause.

Rather than focusing on the bright full moon, my joyous and happy full moon Esbats, I focus more and more upon the phases of the dark moon.
My ritual practise becomes quieter, more focused on meditation and inner work.
My circle is no longer a bright and joyous place, sparkling with candlelight and even fairy lights; now my circle becomes the dark and comforting womb of the Dark Mother.

Samhain - Season Of Hekate

Samhain – Season Of Hekate

Using the minimum candles I need for light, my circle becomes a place of quiet, a reflection of the waning sun and enveloping darkness.
After the formalities and invocations have been said, I often sit by the light of one black candle, dressed and consecrated to the Dark Mother.
I focus on that one candle, a single flame that shines a small pool of light around me.
Then I will snuff the flame, and allow the darkness to reign.
I find myself in the blackness of The Underworld, the womb of the Dark Goddess, her womb that is my tomb.
Darkness brings me comfort, I find solace in this place.
I can draw deep, deep within myself.
I sit at the feet of the Queen of The Underworld, Persephone, Ereshkigal, Hekate.
I lay at her feet and surrender to Her ways, to the unconscious realms, to the dark truths of who I am, to the fear and wonder of my mortality.

The Seventh Gate of a Ritual Of Descent

The Seventh Gate of a Ritual Of Descent

The Underworld, this time and place of darkness, is not all peace and quiet.
At times the work is very difficult.
Uncovering the truths of my darker self that I would rather keep hidden.
Putting aside the masks that we show to the world and to ourselves, we reveal parts of us that we may not even be aware of, or some we may be aware of but are unwilling to acknowledge.
Hiding from our truths is impossible in The Underworld, as truth, however unpleasant, is the business of this place.
Working with the Dark Mother, though sometimes very difficult, can also be rewarding.
It is a chance to learn about ourselves, to grow and to change for the better.
This is where we work the foundations for the person we most wish to become.

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My dark work during the days of Samhain is a large part of my path, but it does get very heavy.
During the lead up to Yule, the Winter Solstice, I find myself reaching more and more towards that spark of light in the darkness.
While Yule marks the height of winter, with plenty more dark and cold days and nights ahead, it does bring with it a sense of renewal, of hope.
Up until Yule, my Craft winds ever inward, getting deeper and darker as the days of Samhain pass.
I meditate.
I journey inward to the beat of the drum, I do a lot of shamanic work at this time.
I perform weeks long Rituals of Descent, journeying to The Underworld to come face to face with The Dark Goddess herself.
I undertake Devotionals to the Dark Deities and work together with them.
A lot of this work is very difficult and not something I could keep up with without the balance of light and shadow.

Reaching Yule, I can breathe a sigh of relief, that the hardest of my dark work is done for this turn of the wheel.
I have torn myself apart ritually, I have raked myself through the coals and analyzed all I have pulled up from the depths of myself.
Now, with my Underworld work behind me, I feel renewed and at peace.
Like a snake that has shed it’s skin, I feel sleek and shiny, ready to bask in the light once again.

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Balance is essential to Witchcraft.
I see the Witch not as White, nor as Black, but as Grey.
For only when we can draw from the depths of ourselves, can we even begin to reach for the higher consciousness of the light.
Dark work, and the Dark Gods and Goddesses, are not at all evil, this is not evil work.
This is the work of the self, of the axiom ‘Know Thyself’.
Yet to work with the darkness all the time, would be to become burdened and weighed down by it.
At the end of the summer, it is always a relief to slip back into the comfort of the shadows, but also, at the end of winter, it is joyous to step back out into the light.

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Yule may not be a return to the light, just yet, but it carries that seed of hope within.
The hope of re-emerging after the long winter period, to bask the renewed and cleansed soul in the light of the sun.

 

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Shades Of Samhain

This is my Samhain:

Life held in death

Life held in death

The beautiful cloak of Autumn

The beautiful cloak of Autumn

Food is a big part of Samhain, and pumpkin pie is delicious

Food is a big part of Samhain, and pumpkin pie is delicious

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Samhain is sacred to Hecate.

Samhain is sacred to Hecate.

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Traditional turnip Jack O lantern

Traditional turnip Jack O lantern

Categories: The Sabbats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Samhain ~ Summers End

Samhain is both an ending and a beginning.

It is truly Summers End, as Samhain was known by the Celts, as the shorter days and colder temperatures will attest.
The end of the sun, which has now retreated North of the equator, the end of the long light-filled days of summer, the end of heat and warmth.
It is the end of the fertile growing and harvest season of the Great Mother.
Samhain is Winter, the Dark Goddess drawing her black cloak down over the land.

Dark Cloak Of The Goddess

Dark Cloak Of The Goddess

Samhain is also a beginning, as well as an end.
Samhain is the ‘Witches New year’.
The year ends, and begins, in the womb of the Dark Goddess.
Her womb which is the tomb, death, slumber and solitude.
The great cauldron where all life begins and ends.
We begin in darkness and we return to darkness.

Samhain is great beauty.
Before the arrival of winter, we experience the earth cloaked in the splendor of her Autumn robes, gold, red, orange and brown.
Leaves, resplendent in colour, fall from the trees that have nurtured them throughout the year, carpeting the ground in a rich tapestry of autumnal colour.

Autumn Splendor

Autumn Splendor

The magic of Samhain floats on the chilly breeze, the smoke of many burn-off and home woodfires, the horizon a hazy fugue.
There is also the homey smell of winter stews and comfort foods, greeting us as we return home.
The welcoming warmth of home contrasting with the chilled Samhain winds.

Samhain is relief and reprieve, as the Autumn rains begin to fall, replenishing the parched and dessiccated land.
Land that has not seen rain in many moons, is once again, finally, flushed with green.
In Australia, even in the midst of death, there is new life.
The green shoots of fresh sprung blades of grass, a testament to the resilience of nature.

Samhain is the last of the three harvest Sabbats.
This is the season of apples, pumpkins and potatoes.
Growers rush to bring in these final harvests before the ground freezes, under a layer of the seasons first frost.

Lord Hades and Cerberus ~ Artist Unknown

Lord Hades and Cerberus ~ Artist Unknown

The Horned God has made his descent, he is Hades, Lord of The Underworld.
His Queen, the dreadful and dark Persephone, at his side.
They rule over the shades of the dead and their subterranean kingdom.
The bright Sun God is now the Dark Shadow Lord, returned to the womb of The Goddess to await his renewal.

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The Goddess is also in her shadow aspect.
She is Hekate.
She is Dark Persephone.
She stirs her bubbling cauldron, brewing atop her Samhain fire.
She is old and soon to be barren, but yet, she holds that seed of life within her belly.
The seed she was given at Beltane, as she lay with her lover.
Life within death, light within shadow.
She prepares to rest before she begins the eternal cycle once again.

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As Samhain is a Sabbat of shadow, we can also use this time to remember those that have gone before us.
Samhain is a time to honor our departed loved ones and our ancestors, whose blood flows through our veins.
It is traditional to place a candle on the windowsill for those we have lost, a light to guide them home.
If I have lost a loved one throughout the year, I will set them a place at our feast and extend the invitiation for them to join us.

As the veil between the worlds is thin at Samhain, all forms of divination have a great power on this night.
Tarot readings are especially insightful, scrying is more effective than usual.
It becomes easier to contact the other side, to tap into our intuition.
This can work both ways though, so take care when interacting with the spirit world on Samhain night, as it is not only benevolent spirits that have easier access to our world.
This is where the traditional jack-o-lantern comes in, as it’s frightful face is said to scare away those mischievious spirits.

Samhain altar, guarded by turnip Jack~O~Lantern

Samhain altar, guarded by turnip Jack~O~Lantern

In Australia, we don’t have access to easy to carve pumpkins, not at this time of year anyway.
Unless you fancy trying to carve into a tough old Queensland Blue (which is possible, but very difficult), a good alternative is to use turnips.
Turnips are much easier to hollow out and carve a face into.
They are also where the jack-o-lantern tradition began, before it reached America.

Samhain is a time of winding down, the earth preparing for her barren slumber.
This extends to people too, as nights in front of the tv and fire take the place of social activity.
We exercise less, we eat more, we sleep later in the mornings (or wish we could).

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Samhain is year’s end, time to take stock of what we have achieved throughout the growing season.
What goals and plans have come to fruition?
What do we need to put aside to work on again in the coming year?
This is a time for self-evaluation, celebration of the year that has been and exploring the darker parts of ourselves.
A time for meditation, trance work and scrying by the fire.
It is a time for pause and rest, to take stock and be still before the year begins anew.

Samhain Incense-

  • 3pt Frankincense
  • 2pt Myrrh
  • 1pt Rosemary
  • 1pt Sandalwood
  • 1pt Juniper

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Colours-

  • Orange
  • Black
  • Purple
  • Deep Red
  • Brown

Deities-

  • Hecate
  • Persephone
  • Hades
  • Ceridwen
  • Ereshkigal
  • Herne
  • Psyche
  • Lilith
  • Anubis
  • Cernunnos
  • Demeter
  • The Morrigan
  • Nephthys

Symbols-

  • Pumpkins
  • Apples
  • Besoms
  • Autumn Leaves
  • Waning Moon
  • Acorns
  • Black Cats
  • Skeletons
  • Snakes
  • Bats
  • Spiders
  • Crows
  • Pomegranates
  • Bones
  • Divination Tools
  • Oak Leaves
  • Scarecrows
  • Scythes

Stones & Gems-

  • Jet
  • Obsidian
  • Hematite
  • All black and dark stones

Scents-

  • Sandalwood
  • Myrrh
  • Patchouli
  • Benzoin
  • Sage
  • Wormwood
  • Heliotrope

Herbs-

  • Rosemary
  • Deadly nightshade
  • Mandrake
  • Oak Leaves
  • Apple
  • Bay Leaves
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Pine Cones and Needles
  • Mugwort
  • Nettle

 

Categories: The Sabbats | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Incense in Wiccan Practise

Incense is a powerful tool of the Witch. It is used for purification, consecration, preparing sacred space and honoring Deities.

There is nothing more witchy than mixing up herbs and resins in a mortar and pestle, then sprinkling them over a burning charcoal. Wafts of fragrant smoke rising upwards into the air.

For me, incense represents the element of air. For some it is earth or fire. Yet, this is what makes incense so versatile. It holds connections to all four of the elements.

Incense is air, upon which it lays smoke and scent.

Incense is fire, without the flames of which it would not burn, nor release it’s sweet and woody aroma.

Incense is also firmly rooted in earth. The resins and herbs that are it’s very essence, are drawn from the soil as herbs, trees and bushes.

In a round about way, and an example of inter-connectedness, Incense is also water. The moisture contained within the herbs and also the source that, without which, they would never have grown.

Incense is also used to honor and invoke our Gods and Goddesses. With each herb and resin carefully selected to please and correspond with a particular deity or season of the Great Wheel.

Incense is used to cleanse and purify. White Sage being a widely used herb to prepare sacred space or cleanse our homes of unwanted energies.

Incense is used to open the mind to the astral realms or prepare the body for Shamanic journeys. Mugwort being particularly useful for dreams and visions.

Frankincense and myrrh are a good starting base for most incense mixes.
Sandalwood is a great stand-in for hard to find resins or herbs. Being the ‘white candle’ of incense.

Below is my own recipe I use for Samhain. It honors the season, smelling similar to autumn leaves, especially if mixed and stored in an airtight jar for a few days.

It also pays homage to Hecate.

Frankincense, myrrh, Bay, mugwort, sandalwood and pepper are all sacred to the Dark Goddess.

Samhain Incense

1 part Frankincense

1 part Myrrh

1 Bay Leaf

1/4 part Mugwort

1/4 part Sage

1/2 part Sandalwood

1/4 part Patchouli

pinch of Black Pepper

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Samhain Eve

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Happy Halloween Southerners!
It is now Samhain Eve here in Australia. I love this Sabbat, so have no problems spreading it out over two nights.

My altar is aglow, and looking wonderfully dark. I found some Autumn leaves online a while back, and I am glad I remembered to pull them out anddecorate my altar with them, the finishing touch.

Turnip Jack O Lanterns came up wonderfully too, so glad I thought to look into the origin of the tradition.

I have had a wonderfully atmospheric night. My solitary Samhain ritual was amazing, I ended up spending three hours in the circle!

I also prepared a delicious pumpkin soup with cob loaf, that went down a treat with my family. The house is aglow with candles, and shrines dedicated to loved ones that are no longer with us.

All is going really well, and I can easily see why this Sabbat is my favorite. The atmosphere alone is like no other. I also like the rememberance aspect, and the balance of life and death.

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Samhain

Samhain marks the end, and the beginning, of the Pagan year. The end of a year, the start of a new one and the commencement of the dark half.

Samhain Leaves

Samhain Leaves

 

We remember and honor those we have lost, and acknowledge that without death there can be no rebirth.
With so much meaning held within, this is the most significant and sacred day of the year.

Samhain is a celebration, recognising the achievements and successes of the year just gone, and the promise of a new one beginning. Samhain is endings and beginnings, death and rebirth and remembering those that have gone before us.

The Magick of Autumn

The Magick of Autumn

Samhain marks the beginning of Autumn. Samhain is crisp and colourful autumn leaves, cooling days and chilly nights. It is the scent of smoke on the air, from wood heaters and farmers burning off the harvest stubble. It is the earth growing old, dark and still, shorter days and longer nights.

I love this time of year. The beauty of autumn, the end of the long, hot days of summer. But also because this is the season of the Witch, you can feel the magick in the air, can easily imagine the Crone Goddess, presiding over her cauldron. Her presence is everywhere, in the earth, the skies, the air and the trees.

Season of Hecate the Crone

Season of Hecate the Crone

Samhain is also the season of Hecate, now in her aspect of the Crone, aged, wise and ready to impart her mysteries upon those who seek them. Hecate is also known as the Goddess of Corpses, very fitting for the Feast of the Dead, as Samhain is sometimes known.

The Horned God has passed on, descended to the Underworld to take his throne . He is Hades, Pluto, God of the dead, Ruler of the Underworld. His trusty, three-headed dog, Cerberus beside him. As is his wife, Persephone. At the turn of the year, she returns to the Underworld, the Queen of Souls.

Hades and Persphone

Hades and Persephone

Samhain is a time for introspection and drawing inward. This is the time when the veil is thin, it is possible to catch a glimpse and gain knowledge from other realms. Tarot cards are especially insightful, this is a great time for readings. The Death card represents Samhain, giving Death its literal meaning at this time.

Scrying is another act of divination that works particularly well at Samhain. Using a black mirror is the best method for this Sabbat of darkness.

Samhain is also good for meditation and trance work. Looking inwards, contemplating your own mortality and what might lie on the other side of death. Samhain aids deep thinking and contemplation.

Rememberance

Remembrance

Samhain spans two days and nights, beginning on the 30th April. On this night, I lay out a great feast, where the close of the year is celebrated. I also set candles in the windows, one for each person, and animal, I have loved and lost. I think of the time I had with them as I light each particular candle. I scatter their photos around the house, a reminder of their life. Honoring the dead is my main focus during this Sabbat.

Bonfires are also a favorite. What better way to farewell the waning sun than a roaring big fire of heat and light?

Waning Sun

Waning Sun

Another Samhain tradition, and the origin of the epithet, Feast of the Dead, is laying a place at the dinner table for your deceased family members. It is never a good idea to actively invoke these souls, but it doesn’t hurt to lay open the invitation. They may just take you up on it.

If you choose to cast a circle on Samhain night, or eve, invite your ancestors to attend. But be sure to cast your circle with great intent and power, there are a lot of mischievous spirits roaming around on these nights.

The most obvious Samhain tradition, is the Jack-O-Lantern. These carved pumpkins are said to guide your love ones home, but they also scare away any unwanted entities.

In Australia, Halloween is catching on. But like all the other secular and mainstream religious holidays, it is held on the Northern Hemisphere date of October 31st. This is a bit of a challenge for Southern Hemisphere Pagans. Celebrating Halloween in spring, it just doesn’t¬†work at all.

Pumpkin Carving

Pumpkin Carving

Unfortunately, this is the only time I can get my hands on pumpkins of the carvable kind. Carving a big ol’ Queensland blue pumpkin, now that takes some skill! Not to mention strength!¬†Although, I have done just that, since Dad showed me how to do it as a kid. (Thanks Dad!)

Now, with Halloween catching on, the supermarkets import carving pumpkins from the USA. My carving skills get better each year, it’s just a pity it’s at the opposite end of that year!
Sadly, they don’t seem to grow here either. The seeds I have planted come to nothing.

The tradition of pumpkin carving actually started with turnips. So, this year, I think I might just give that a try. Though it sure won’t be my elaborate carving of pumpkins, it will have the same effect, welcoming and protecting my home from wandering spirits.

Happy Halloween!

End of a Solar year

End of a Solar year

 

*Tarot Cards are from the ‘As Above’ Tarot

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Daily Tarot

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From the Halloween Tarot, Queen of Pumkins and Ten of Bats.

The Queen of Pumpkins has been making a regular appearance these last few days. She is the earth-mother type. Happiest in the home, caring for her family and creating beautiful, yet practical things.

The Ten of Bats is one of those dreaded cards. Betrayal, hurt and finality. Yet, it also carries a message of hope. The worst is over and you can now be at peace. The darkness will not last forever, the sun will rise again, bringing with it the promise of a new day and a fresh start.

With my focus set firmly on Samhain, I can’t help but notice the similarities. We can look at the Queen as the Goddess, Demeter. She is now in mourning for her daughter, Persephone, lost once again to Hades and the Underworld.
As Demeter laments her loss, she refuses to fertilize the Earth, effecting the barren months of winter. Demeter is more traditionally depicted as The Empress, but the Queen of Pumpkins seems to fit just as well.

The Ten of Bats is the earth laying dormant, Demeter no longer active. We could look at this card literally as well, you can easily see Persephone, seemingly descending under the Earth.

The Ten of Bats does not depict physical death, residing in the airy suit of swords, the realm of the mind. But in this instance we will read it as such. Acknowledgement of the cycles of death and rebirth, and honoring those that have gone before us, is a huge part of Samhain.

The number 10 depicts the end of a cycle, in this interpretation, this cycle is the ending of the solar year. And yet, we know, the sun will soon enough return to us, nothing lasts forever, and that includes winter.

Happy Halloween!
As

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Traditional Jack-O-Lantern

My makeshift turnip Jack-o-Lanterns have worked a treat. A lot can be said for researching the roots of a tradition.

Turnip Jack-O-Lantern

Turnip Jack-O-Lantern

Categories: Halloween | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hecate’s Gift

Well, we’re almost there. Samhain is only 20 hours away!

My favorite Sabbat, and one I put a lot of thought and effort into. My house and altar are ready, so bring it on!

Hecate's Gift

Hecate’s Gift

I made this decidedly witchy looking mobile, from bones and feathers I have collected. The bones mysteriously appeared, on a natural altar in a tree, right at the top of my driveway.

Bones, crossroads, Samhain, I think I was paid a visit from Hecate herself. So I took them and made this to hang by my front door. The herb at the top is Mugwort, recently harvested from my garden. Mugwort is sacred to Hecate and aids dreams and visions. It is a key ingredient is Witches flying ointment, probably due to its hallucinatory properties.

Categories: Halloween | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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