Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Blessed Samhain...

Your tombstone stands among the rest;
neglected and alone
The name and date are chiseled out
on polished, marbled stone
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn
You did not know that I’d exist
You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you
in flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled
one hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left
who would have loved you so.
I wonder if you lived and loved,
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot,
and come to visit you.

~Dear Ancestor {author unknown}

May you all feel that pulse and connection of this sacred time! A Blessed Samhain to you all! :)


Aymi & Laurel

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Time for the Dark: Samhain & Hallowe'en

A photo of artwork done by Sulamith Wulfing

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,
I heard a wisper wispering.
I heard a wisper wispering,
Upon this fine fall day…

As I went out walking this fall afternoon,
I heard a laugh a’laughing.
I heard a laugh a’laughing,
Upon this fine fall day…

I heard this wisper and I wondered,
I heard this laugh and then I knew.
The time is getting near my friends,
The time that I hold dear my friends,
The veil is getting thin my friends,
And strange things will pass through.

~The Veil Is Getting Thin by Wolfdancer

It has just dawned on me that I still haven't done a comprehensive post on the lore of my favourite holiday, Samhain. I have already done some on holidays such as Bealtaine and Lughnasadh, so I suppose this is a good excuse to do a blog post. ;)

Snap Apple Night by Daniel Maclise, 1833

Samhain is generally accepted to translate from old Irish to mean "end of summer" or "summer's end". At one time there were only two seasons observed in Ireland, Summer and Winter, or the Light and Dark halves of the year. Bealtaine heralded the beginning of Summer/Light half and Samhain the beginning of Winter/Dark half. {You can read more about the origins of the name and the Celtic year here.}

The Dark half was ruled by forces associated with Unseen, Otherworld, and Death. It was a time for divination, honouring ancestral spirits {and of course the Gods}, and the final harvest. It was also the start of a new year.

Besides also being Hallowe'en, there is Nos Galan Gaeaf in Wales, Hop-tu-Naa in the Isle of Man, Allantide in Cornwall, Día de los Muertos in Mexico, and All Saints Day for Catholics.

La ronde des Farfadets de Les Farfadets by David Ryckaert III, 1600's
Because it was thought that the dead roamed freely on this side around Samhain, some folks would leave meals prepared for their deceased loved ones. I have already talked about this a bit in other posts such as here and here.

But it wasn't only loved ones afoot! There were also other Otherworldy folk that one might run into who weren't as benign. According to Land, Sea & Sky travellers would disguise themselves in the hopes that they would be overlooked or would avoid being out at night altogether.

The text also mentions how people would kiss goodbye any leftover crops not yet harvested by Samhain, as they were believed to be spoiled or they were left out as offerings to the Faeries.

Just like Bealtaine, bonfires played an important role at Samhain. However, it would seem that Bealtaine bonfires were lit at daybreak, while the ones for Samhain were lit at sundown {The Gaelic Otherworld by John Gregerson Campbell}. Bonfires were probably seen as a symbol of renewal and purification, and no doubt was thought to protect the living from being harmed by supernatural forces.

Traditional Irish Jack-O'-Lantern
An iconic symbol of this holiday is of course the Jack-O'-Lantern. You can hear about it's supposed beginnings here, in a video I posted last year. Carving veggies into lanterns is a tradition that has quite a long history in Ireland and Scotland, but it wasn't made into a Hallowe'en tradition until the practice was taken up in America in the late 19th century. And while most folks make theirs out of pumpkins, veggie lanterns over the pond were usually turnips or swedes. You can learn how to carve a traditional turnip Jack-O'-Lantern here.
Another popular activity associated with this time of year is dressing up in costumes. As previously mentioned, folks would sometimes disguise themselves as a protective measure against malignant spirits.
In his book Hallowe'en, Nicholas Rogers remarks how in both Scotland and Ireland, there is a fairly strong tradition of guising at this time of year. Anywhere from an Irish traveller turning their coat inside out to avoid being nabbed by Faeries {The Year in Ireland by Kevin Danaher} to young Scottish men blackening their faces or wearing masks going out and about to cause mischief or entertain other folks in exchange for money, food, and drink. This is something you see at other times of year, especially around Yule/Christmas with Mummers. I suppose this was the beginnings off our modern trick or treating.
1920's Hallowe'en card
There are folks who feel that now is the best time for divination, making charms, and other magical practices. Many of these practices traditionally involve food {especially fruit and nuts}.
If you are wanting to leave a message for those who have passed, Robin Artisson suggests the following on the Tracks in the Witchwood blog:
Split an apple in two, and write a letter to that dead one you wish to communicate with on a small round of parchment, using Saturnian ink mingled with a dab of blood- then put it between the apple-halves and spear the halves “back into whole” with long, sharpened thin stakes of some Saturnian wood. Bury these messages in a ground that also has graves dug in it- or bury them under the roots of the Elder, the Apple, the Thorn, the Yew, or the Cypress. Thus, the deed is done. And this isn’t just a Hallows letter-writing; do it year-round, if you will.
Bobbing for apples, while seemingly just a game was also used as a form of divination. Over at the Tairis website it says that while dookin' for aipples in Scotland there was a penny added to the water and the finder would have luck in the coming year and that the apple caught was often used in other divination.
The website also talks about other forms of divination involving food as well, including nuts:

{in Ireland} Two hazel nuts, walnuts, chestnuts or grains of wheat were taken and named after the two potential lovers, and were then placed in the ashes or on the grate to see how they would behave. Spitting and jumping showed the couple were not meant to be together, whereas nuts or grains that burned happily together indicated an altogether happier fate.

And that both in Ireland and Scotland people would put various charms in food such as pies or potato-based dishes.
A way for a girl in Lewis to bring her chosen lover to her was to use a dumb cake:
Girls were each apportioned a small piece of dough, mixed with any but spring water. They kneaded it with their left thumbs, in silence. Before midnight they pricked initials on them with a new pin, and put them by the fire to bake. The girls withdrew to the farther end of the room, still in silence. At midnight each lover was expected to enter and lay his hand on the cake marked with his initials. {The Book of Hallowe'en by Ruth Edna Kelley}

In various places a young woman could find out who her future husband was by looking in a mirror on Hallowe'en, where she was supposed to see him.

If you are looking to erect an altar or shrine, some items you might want to consider putting on it besides that nifty turnip Jack-o'-Lantern I hope that you all are going to make { ;) } are photos or belongings of deceased loved ones; representation of animals such as owls, deer, crows, ravens, hounds, and horses; food and plants such as apples, pumpkins, pomegranates, nuts, dried roses, dried leaves, poppies; also items to place offerings on {i.e. bowl, cup, incense burner} are of course suitable.
Here are a few luverly photos from other people for inspiration:

by kightp

by Raul D

by Katie Cowden

by autumndragyn

by FreeCat

by Great Beyond

by Carlitos

by LoopZilla

by Avia Venefica
Also, here are a few previously posted videos that might be of interest in regards to altars, as well as other things for Samhain/Hallowe'en.


Plants for the Dying & Deceased:



Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monoliths of Europe

A pretty video for you all to watch by LilysApple. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Luverly of the Week: Haunted Wood by theroamincatholic

A beautiful photo of a spot at Hardwood Lookout in Algonquin Park Provincial Park of Ontario, Canada. Photo by theroamincatholic. {Be sure to click the peekture to enlarge!}.

Ancestral Offerings

As my household gets ready for Samhain, I get to thinking about what would be good offerings for our Gods and Ancestors, as well as the local land spirits and the other spirits we work with.

We do make regular offerings to all listed above, and what we offer depends on the personal taste of whoever we are offering it to. Things such as tobacco for local land spirits, mead for the Gods, and whiskey or flowers for our Ancestors all seem to be appropriate offerings in our case.

During certain times of the year though {like Samhain} we also make offerings that take a little more thought, time, or effort. For example, I am making a fruit cake using the recipe of an Ancestor as an offering to her. I have never made a fruit cake before, so I will have at least one practice run before presenting one to her. The ingredients would have been a lot more expensive for a farmer's wife back during the Depression compared to now, but we still need to budget a little for it.

Besides actual tangible offerings, we often find that making donations {whether it be monetary, goods, time, or talent} to certain causes or organizations to be very fitting. We are already pretty active in our community, so these offerings would generally be something outside of this. An example would be making a donation to an organization that we would not have thought of supporting before, but do so because they helped out a particular Ancestor, or it is an organization that they supported themselves.

The whole idea of offerings and sacrifices probably seem very odd to many folks, and for people who think this way it can be very difficult to explain why we do it and have it make sense to them. So I usually just say that the ritual of offering and sacrifice is a sacred one to us and we benefit from it as well, even if it only makes us feel closer to Those we leave the offerings for.

For my household, it is one of the ways of showing how thankful we are for the blessings that we receive. A gift for a gift.

Anyhoo, I suppose that is enough nattering for now. Here are a few nifty resources on the topic:

Making Offerings and Types of Offerings from Tairis {a Celtic Reconstructionist site, but may be helpful to others as well}.
The Dumb Supper on Free Thoughts of Free Dragon blog {a great source of info for Ancestral offerings}.
Ancestors podshow on New World Witchery {the whole show is definitely worth a listen and they have info on offerings in the show}.
Contacting Our Ancestors on the blog of Carolina Gonzalez {a great post with a focus on Hoodoo and there is info about offerings}.
Feel free to share your thoughts on offerings and any good resources that I have missed! :)


Friday, October 15, 2010


Photo from César Astudillo

There seems to be a trend of me catching wind of scary food around Hallowe'en. And as if McDonald's food wasn't scary enough, apparently the Happy Meal defies the laws of Nature when it comes to decomposing. I pray to the Gods that this is a hoax!



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Celebration & Mourning

I love Autumn. The smell of rotting leaves and wood smoke, all the colours, the plentiful harvest. I believe that all the seasons are sacred, but this one is the most sacred to me.

For many of us it is a time to reflect on everything we are grateful for. We have the bounty of the fields and the wild, and we are also reminded that nothing lasts forever by the falling leaves and decay.

As with other cities and towns, the Canadian Thanksgiving marks the last weekend for our local Farmers' Market. So I went to go stock up on some garlic and preserves and I also went to Board's Honey Farm and got enough honey to last at least a little while {about 14 pounds!!!}.

I had a luverly dinner on Sunday with some family, where we enjoyed some good whiskey, laughs, and the colours in our yard.

Yesterday we drove around to enjoy the colours elsewhere and to visit my Grandparents’ grave {and those of some other Ancestors too}.

I definitely have a lot to be thankful for and I hope that you all do too! :)



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cårven Der Pümpkîn ;)

A little Muppets to get you all into the spirit of the season! ;)



Luverly of the Week: Horse Container from Margaret Wozniak

This is one pretty, pretty piece of art!

Margaret Wonzniak has other wonderful luverlies over at her Etsy shop. Here a few more of my favourites:

Tree brooch

Bear sculpture

Birdie brooches

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


we have some who have fallen...

and we have some survivors...

{and some Photoshop tinkering of course}.