I decided to do these together not intentionally but because they go together very well. We’re Going to touch on Samhain/Witch’s New Year and the Thining Veil. I hope to give some great information on both of these subjects, and maybe inspire someone that has been wanting to start a little boost.
Most know Samhain as Halloween happens on October 31st each year right in the middle of Fall, but some would ask why would the pagans new year happen at this time? It has to do with how we view life and death. It also is old crops and vegetation die to be reborn in the spring as new life. Samhain is the time that the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is the thinnest. In ancient times it was believed that this is the time that our ancestors would return to visit us, to give help and advice. People set out lights in hollowed-out turnips to guide the spirits of the dead (the fore-runners of the modern Jack-o-lanterns) and put out food as an offering (which evolved to the modern tradition of “trick-or-treating”). Pagans are not afraid of the spirits of the dead. They are our friends and family. They are our ancestors who gave us life. We call them our “beloved dead”. Death is a natural part of life, in fact, a gift of the Goddess. If nobody died, there would be no room for new things to be born, not change or growth. Nobody really knows what happens when they die. Most Pagans believe that our spirits live on in one way or another while our bodies return to the elements and sustain other lives. There are many beautiful names for the place where our spirits go: Summerland (the place that is always summer and never winter), Tir n’a Nob (The Irish “Land of the Youth” where spirits grow younger and younger until they are young enough to be reborn) , Avalon (the Isle of Apples, where the dead wander in the orchards of the Goddess, where the trees bear fruit and flowers at the same time), and Heaven (where streets are paved with gold, and the spirits are transformed into angles and spend eternity in the presence of God). However we imagine this place, it is a place of peace and rest where we stay for a time until we are ready to be reborn again, perhaps as an animal or a tree or as another person. In each life, we learn new lessons, so our spirits are always growing wiser. Samhain is also our New Year’s Day. It may seem strange to have a new year begin in the fall when the days are growing shorter and colder. But death and birth are two sides of the same coin. It is the time of death and the time of new beginnings, when we think about hope and change and what the next year will bring. At Mabon, the God Lugh died in order for us to live through His abundance. During the intervening time, He has gathered the spirits of those that have died over the year and waits for the night so that they may pass through the gate to the other side. This is the time to revere our ancestors and to say farewell to those that have passed this last year. The abundance of the fields now gives way to the power and strength of the Horned God of the Hunt. This begins a time of darkness when the land begins its slumber and from now until Yule, the days grow shorter and darker. Winter storms begin to sweep, down from the north. The time when the earth rests is begun at Samhain. We celebrate the year passed and the year to come. We light bonfires and perform rituals to honor those that have gone before. A sacrifice of bread and wine are offered to the Gods as thanks for Their guidance throughout the past year and in advance for the year to come. Originally the “Feast of the Dead” was celebrated in Celtic countries by leaving food offerings on altars and doorsteps for the “wandering dead”. Today a lot of practitioners still carry out that tradition. Single candles were lit and left in a window to help guide the spirits of ancestors and loved ones home. Extra chairs were set to the table and around the hearth for the unseen guest. Apples were buried along roadsides and paths for spirits who were lost or had no descendants to provide for them. Turnips were hollowed out and carved to look like protective spirits, for this was a night of magic and chaos. The Wee Folke became very active, pulling pranks on unsuspecting humans. Traveling after dark was not advised. People dressed in white (like ghosts), wore disguises made of straw or dressed as the opposite gender in order to fool the Nature spirits. This was the time that the cattle and other livestock were slaughtered for eating in the ensuing winter months. Any crops still in the field on Samhain were considered taboo and left as offerings to the Nature spirits. Bonfires were built, (originally called bone-fires, for after feasting, the bones were thrown in the fire as offerings for healthy and plentiful livestock in the New Year) and stones were marked with peoples names. Then they were thrown into the fire, to be retrieved in the morning. The condition of the retrieved stone foretold of that person’s fortune in the coming year. Hearth fires were also lit from the village bonfire to ensure unity, and the ashes were spread over the harvested fields to protect and bless the land. Various other names for this Greater Sabbat are Third Harvest, Samana, Day of the Dead, Old Hallowmas (Scottish/Celtic), Vigil of Saman, Shadowfest (Strega), and Samhuinn. Also known as All Hallow’s Eve, (that day actually falls on November 7th), and Martinmas (that is celebrated November 11th), Samhain is now generally considered the Witch’s New Year.(by Mike Nichols copyright by MicroMuse Press)
Pumpkin, Apple, Nuts, Thistle, Chrysanthemum, Broom, Oak leaves, Sage
Apple, Nutmeg, Sage, Mint
Jack-o-Lantern, Photos of deceased loved ones, Apples, Fall leaves, Autumn flowers, Squashes.
Apples, Nuts, Cider, Mulled wine, Pumpkin dishes, Cranberry
muffins, Herbal tea.
The Altar at Samhain can be covered with a black or orange cloth. Upon it, pictures of our beloved dead and things that remind us of them are very appropriate. Symbols of the season, such as pumpkins, pomegranates, gourds, Indian corn, and fallen leaves make wonderful and beautiful decorations.
THE FEAST OF SAMHAIN
Because the climate of the seasons was once so difficult to predict, Samhain was a celebration of bounty but also a time of fear. No matter how much preparation was done, one could never be sure what was to come or whether the provisions for winter would be sufficient. Oftentimes, an early frost was interpreted as otherworldly spirits blighting the vegetation with their breath. This type of “weather as omen” belief may have given rise to the notion of dead spirits cavorting about and faeries plotting to steal away human beings on Samhain night.
In faerie lore, Samhain is the night of the “wild hunt,” a notorious and rambunctious ride when scores of faeries come racing out from within their hollow hills to wreak havoc throughout the towns. Meandering mortals avoided traversing near the sidhe, or faerie mounds, out of fear of abduction. And if one did venture out during the wild hunt, it was only under the auspices of a protective charm, such as salt or iron. Turning one’s clothing inside out was another way to protect against faerie mischief. Faerie lore claims that a stone with a natural hole through it, dry but found near the water, would enable the wearer to enter the faerie realm and return from it unharmed. This same type of amulet was also believed to protect horses from faerie mischief and theft.
Perhaps it was the practice of wearing charms for protection that led Samhain to become a night for divination. Many different methods of divination were used by the Celts in order for young girls to learn the name of a future husband. Others sought to get a glimpse of the future and obtain information about a future occupation. Some of the techniques they used included burning nuts in the hearth fire and making assumptions based upon which nuts exploded and which did not; pouring molten lead into cool water, then interpreting the shapes that formed in order to get clues about a future occupation; and the baking of soddag valloo, or “dumb cakes,” a Manx Gaelic custom involving cakes, which were baked directly on top of the embers of the fire. Eating the cake in silence was thought to encourage prophetic dreams in young women seeking to learn the identity of their future husbands, provided that they left the room without turning their backs on the fire. Babies born on Samhain were thought to possess divinatory power and were often treated with special respect as well as fear.
Samhain is also the time when rituals were held to honor the dead. Benevolent spirits were beckoned and tempted with favorite foods that they enjoyed during life. Malevolent spirits were banished and kept away. The origin of the jack o’ lantern is rooted in the belief of wandering spirits and ghosts. The lantern’s glow was meant as a beacon for the spirits of the dearly departed, while the terrible faces carved therein were meant to frighten away any spirit with ill intentions. (from The Wiccan Year by Judy Ann Nock)
Myths and Misconceptions:
Contrary to a popular Internet-based (and Chick Tract-encouraged) rumor, Samhain was not the name of some ancient Celtic god of death, or of anything else, for that matter. Religious scholars agree that the word Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”) comes from the Gaelic “Samhuin,” but they’re divided on whether it means the end or beginning of summer. After all, when summer is ending here on earth, it’s just beginning in the Underworld. Samhain actually refers to the daylight portion of the holiday, on November 1st.
All Hallow Mass:
Around the eighth century or so, the Catholic Church decided to use November 1st as All Saints Day. This was actually a pretty smart move on their part – the local pagans were already celebrating that day anyway, so it made sense to use it as a church holiday. All Saints’ became the festival to honor any saint who didn’t already have a day of his or her own. The mass which was said on All Saints’ was called Allhallowmas – the mass of all those who are allowed. The night before naturally became known as All Hallows Eve, and eventually morphed into what we call Halloween.Honoring the Ancestors:
For some of us, Samhain is when we honor our ancestors who came before us. If you’ve ever done genealogy research, or if you’ve had a loved one die in the past year, this is the perfect night to celebrate their memory. If we’re fortunate, they will return to communicate with us from beyond the veil and offer advice, protection, and guidance for the upcoming year.
If you want to celebrate Samhain in the Celtic tradition, spread the festivities out over three consecutive days. You can hold a ritual and feast each night. Be flexible, though, so you can work around trick-or-treating schedules!
Try one — or all — of these rituals to celebrate Samhain and welcome the new year.
Celebrating the End of the Harvest
Samhain Ritual for Animals
Honoring the Ancestors
Hold a Seance at Samhain
Host a Dumb Supper
Honor the God and Godde<contributed by Oeflili (Beth Baker) 10-16-13>
4 quarter candles
stone, feather, water
large basket with apples or nuts
cakes and wine (good non-alcoholic choice here is apple cider)
container to dispose of apple cores
Cast the Circle
East, South, West, North! Let the people gather forth!
Air, Fire, Water, Earth! Sacred circle now sees birth!
Call the Quarters
EAST: (Lights Eastern candle)
Let there be a light kindled from the spirit.
Blessed be this Eastern Gate and blessed be the element of Air.
SOUTH: (Lights Southern candle)
Let there be a light increasing and illuminating the South.
Blessed be this Southern Gate and blessed be the element of Fire.
WEST: (Lights Western candle)
Let there be a light radiating in the West.
Blessed be this Western Gate and blessed be the Element of Water.
NORTH: (Lights Northern candle)
Let there be a light reflecting in the North.
Blessed be this Northern Gate and blessed be the Element of Earth.
Casters: Let these powers be as one.
All: So mote it be.
Here are other things you can do to celebrate Samhain:
Samhain Nature Walk. Take a meditative walk in a natural area near your home. Observe and contemplate the colors, aromas, sounds, and other sensations of the season. Experience yourself as part of the Circle of Life and reflect on death and rebirth as being an important part of Nature. If the location you visit permits, gather some natural objects and upon your return use them to adorn your home.
Seasonal Imagery. Decorate your home with Samhain seasonal symbols and the colors of orange and black. Place an Autumnal wreath on your front door. Create displays with pumpkins, cornstalks, gourds, acorns, and apples. Set candles in cauldrons.
Ancestors Altar. Gather photographs, heirlooms, and other mementos of deceased family, friends, and companion creatures. Arrange them on a table, dresser, or another surface, along with several votive candles. Kindle the candles in their memory as you call out their names and express good wishes. Thank them for being part of your life. Sit quietly and pay attention to what you experience. Note any messages you receive in your journal. This Ancestors Altar can be created just for Samhain or kept year round.
Feast of the Dead. Prepare a
Samhain dinner. Include a place setting at your table or at a nearby altar for the Dead. Add an offering of a bit of each beverage being consumed to the cup at that place setting, and to the plate, add a bit of each food served. Invite your ancestors and other deceased loved ones to come and dine with you. To have this as a Samhain Dumb Supper experience, dine in silence. After the feast, place the contents of the plate and cup for the Dead outdoors in a natural location as an offering for the Dead.
Ancestor Stories. Learn about family history. Contact one or more older relatives and ask them to share memories of family members now dead. Record them in some way and later write accounts of what they share.
Give thanks. Share what you learned and have written with another family member or friend. Add names of those you learned about and wish to honor to your Ancestors Altar.
Cemetery Visit. Visit and tend the gravesite of a loved one at a cemetery. Call to mind memories and consider ways the loved one continues to live on within you. Place an offering there such as fresh flowers, dried herbs, or a libation of water.
Reflections. Reflect on you and your life over the past year. Review journals, planners, photographs, blogs, and other notations you have created during the past year. Consider how you have grown, accomplishments, challenges, adventures, travels, and learnings. Meditate. Journal about your year in review, your meditation, and your reflections.
Renovate. Select an area of your home or life as a focus. Examine it. Re-organize it. Release what is no longer needed. Create a better pattern. Celebrate renewal and transformation.
Bonfire Magic. Kindle a bonfire outdoors when possible or kindle flames in a fireplace or a small cauldron. Write down an outmoded habit that you wish to end and cast it into the Samhain flames as you imagine release. Imagine yourself adopting a new, healthier way of being as you move around the fire clockwise.
Divinatory Guidance. Using Tarot, Runes, Scrying, or some other method of divination, seek and reflect on guidance for the year to come. Write a summary of your process and messages. Select something appropriate to act upon and do it.
Divine Invocations. Honor and call upon the Divine in one or more Sacred Forms associated with Samhain, such as the Crone Goddess and Horned God of Nature. Invite them to aid you in your remembrance of the Dead and in your understanding of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. If you have lost loved ones in the past year, ask these Divine Ones to comfort and support you.
Transforming Expressions. If you encounter distortions, misinformation, and/or false, negative stereotypes about Paganism and Samhain in the media, contact the source, express your concerns, and share accurate information. Help eradicate derogatory stereotyping with courteous, concise, and intelligent communications.© 2013 Circle Sanctuary, Inc. All rights reserved. https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/celebrating-the-seasons/celebrating-samhain
Crafts that you can do this time of year:
Make a Scrying Mirror
Samhain is a time to do some serious divination – it’s the time of year when the veil between our world and that of the spirits is at its thinnest, and that means it’s the perfect season to look for messages from the metaphysical. Scrying is one of the best-known forms of divination and can be done in a variety of ways. Basically, it’s the practice of looking into some sort of reflective surface — such as water, fire, glass, dark stones, etc. — to see what messages, symbols, or visions may appear. A scrying mirror is a simple black-backed mirror, and it’s easy to make one yourself.
To make your scrying mirror, you’ll need the following:
· A clear glass plate
· Matte black spray paint
· Additional paints (acrylic) for embellishment
To prepare the mirror, first, you’ll need to clean it. Use any glass cleaner, or for a more earth-friendly method, use vinegar mixed with water. Once the glass is clean, flip it over so that the back side is facing up. Lightly spray with the matte black spray paint. For the best result, hold the can a couple of feet away, and spray from side to side. If you hold the can too close, the paint will pool, and you don’t want this. As each coat dries, add another coat. After five to six coats, the paint should be dense enough that you can’t see through the paint if you hold the glass up to a light.
Once the paint has dried, turn the glass right side up. Use your acrylic paint to add embellishments around the outer edge of the plate — you can add symbols of your tradition, magical sigils, or even your favorite saying. The one in the photo says, “Thee I invoke by the moonlit sea, the standing stone, and the twisted tree.” Allow these to dry as well. Your mirror is ready for scrying, but before you use it, you may want to consecrate it as you would any other magical item.
To Use Your Scrying Mirror
If your tradition normally requires you to cast a circle, do so now. If you’d like to play some music, start your cd player. If you’d like to light a candle or two, go ahead, but be sure to place them so that they don’t interfere with your line of vision. Sit or stand comfortably at your workspace. Begin by closing your eyes, and attuning your mind to the energy around you. Take some time to gather that energy.
When you are ready to begin scrying, open your eyes. Position yourself so that you can look in the mirror. Stare into the glass, looking for patterns, symbols or pictures — and don’t worry about blinking, it’s fine if you do. You may see images moving, or perhaps even words forming. You may have thoughts pop spontaneously into your head, that seem to have nothing at all to do with anything. Perhaps you’ll suddenly think about someone you haven’t seen in decades. Use your journal, and write everything down. Spend as much time as you like gazing into the mirror — it may be just a few minutes or even an hour. Stop when you begin to feel restless, or if you’re getting distracted by mundane things. When you are finished gazing into the mirror, make sure you have recorded everything you saw, thought and felt during your scrying session. Messages often come to us from other realms and yet we frequently don’t recognize them for what they are. If a bit of information doesn’t make sense, don’t worry — sit on it for a few days and let your unconscious mind process it. Chances are, it will make sense eventually. It’s also possible that you could receive a message that’s meant for someone else — if something doesn’t seem to apply to you, think about your circle of family friends, and who the message might be meant for.
Spirits in the Smoke
Before you get started, be sure to brush up on your Incense 101.
By the time Samhain rolls around, your herb garden is probably looking pretty sad. Now’s the time to take all those goodies you harvested and dried in September, and put them to good use. This incense blend is perfect for a Samhain seance, divination session, or for any other autumn working.
This recipe is for loose incense, but you can adapt it for stick or cone recipes. As you mix and blend your incense, focus on the goal of your work. Do you wish to contact the spirit of a long-dead ancestor? Are you hoping to bring some visions your way in a dream? Or are you may be looking to enhance your own meditative abilities? Focus your intent as you blend your ingredients.
· 2 parts Cinnamon
· 1 part ground cloves
· 1 part Dragon’s Blood resin
· 1 part Hyssop
· 1 part Patchouli
· 2 parts Rosemary
· 1 part Sage
· A dash of sea salt
· Mixing the Magic
· Add your ingredients to your mixing bowl one at a time. Measure carefully, and if the leaves or blossoms need to be crushed, use your mortar and pestle to do so. As you blend the herbs together, state your intent. You may find it helpful to charge your incense with an incantation. For example, if you were going to use your incense during a seance, you could use this:
· The veil has thinned, the moon is bright
and I blend this magic on Samhain night.
Celebrating life and death and rebirth
with these herbs, I’ve harvested from the earth.
I send my intent by smoke in the air
and call on those whose blood I share.
I ask my ancestors to guide and watch over me,
As I will, so it shall be.
· Store your incense in a tightly sealed jar. Make sure you label it with its intent and name, as well as the date you created it. Use within three months, so that it remains charged and fresh.
Make a Witch Bottle
The witch bottle is a magical tool that has been reported in use for centuries. In early times, the bottle was designed as a way to protect oneself from malicious witchcraft and sorcery. In particular, around the time of Samhain, homeowners might create a witch bottle to keep evil spirits from entering the home on Hallow’s Eve. The witch bottle was usually made of pottery or glass, and included sharp objects such as pins and bent nails. It typically contained urine as well, belonging to the homeowner, as a magical link to the property and family within. In 2009, an intact witch bottle was found in Greenwich, England, and experts have dated it back to around the seventeenth century.
Around the Samhain season, you may want to do a little bit of protective magic yourself, and create a witch bottle of your own. The general idea of the witch bottle is to not only protect yourself but send back the negative energy to whoever or whatever is sending it your way. You’ll need the following items:
· A small glass jar with lid
· Sharp, rusty items like nails, razor blades, bent pins
· Sea salt
· Red string or ribbon
· A black candle
Fill the jar about halfway with the sharp, rusty items. These were used to deflect bad luck and ill fortune away from the jar. Add the salt, which is used for purification, and finally, the red string or ribbon, which was believed to bring protection. When the jar is halfway filled, there are a couple of different things you can do, depending on whether or not you’re easily repulsed.
One option is to fill the remainder of the jar with your own urine – this identifies the bottle as belonging to you. However, if the idea makes you a bit squeamish, there are other ways you can complete the process. Instead of urine, use a bit of wine. You may wish to consecrate the wine first before using it in this manner. In some magical traditions, the practitioner might choose to spit in the wine after it’s in the jar because — much like the urine — this is a way of marking the jar as your territory.
Cap the jar, and make sure it’s sealed tightly (particularly if you used urine – you don’t want any accidental spillage), and seal it with wax from the black candle. Black is considered handy for banishing negativity. If you’re having trouble finding black candles, you may want to use white instead, and imagine a white ring of protection surrounding your witch bottle. Also, in candle magic, white is typically considered a universal substitute for any other color candle.
Now – where to stash your bottle? There are two schools of thought on this, and you can decide which one works best for you. One group swears that the bottle needs to be hidden somewhere in the home – under a doorstep, up in a chimney, behind a cabinet, whatever — because that way, any negative magic aimed at the house will always go straight to the witch bottle, avoiding the people in the home. The other philosophy is that the bottle needs to be buried as far away from the house as possible so that any negative magic sent towards you will never reach your home in the first place. Whichever one you choose, be sure that you’re leaving your bottle in a place where it will remain undisturbed permanently.
If you do believe someone may be trying to harm you or your family with malicious magic, be sure to read about Magical Self Defense.
I hope you all enjoy this I tried to get as much information in this as possible and hope that maybe it can inspire someone this Samhain. Love and Light. Blessed Be )0(