44 Days of Witchery- Day 14: A favourite pagan holiday that you celebrate.

SAMHAIN

Also known as: Halloween, Ancestor Night, Feast of the Dead, All Hallows Eve, Hallowmass, Samana, Samhuinn, Samonios, The Feast of Sam-fuim, Geimhreadh, Shadowfest (Strega), Martinmas or Old Hallowmas (Scottish/Celtic)

Date: Generally October 31, but some traditions hold it on November 7, or on the first Full Moon in Scorpio

Symbols: Cauldron, Jack o’Lantern, Mask, Cauldron, Balefire, Besom

Deities: Crone Goddesses, Dying/Aging Gods, Sacrificial Gods, Death and Otherworld Deities

Colors: Orange and Black

Herbs: heather, mullein, patchouli, and sage my be burned; acorns, apples, pumpkins, oak leaves, straw, broom, dittany, ferns, and flax may be decorations.

History: 

Samhain (SOW-in or SAV-ayn) marked the beginning of the old Celtic new year, and many Celtic Pagans still observe Samhain as the renewal of the Wheel of the Year.

This was the night that the old God died, returning to the Land of the Dead to await rebirth at Yule, and a time when the Crone Goddess would go into mourning for her lost son/consort, leaving her people in temporary darkness.

As in days long past, Celtic Pagans believe that the veil between the world of the living and that of the dead is at its thinnest on this night, and that the spirits of our departed loved ones walk the earth, visit family and friends, and join in the ritual celebrations. This makes Samhain a prime night for any type of spirit contact rituals.

The feeding of the dead is a widespread practice, even in modern Celtic lands. In Brittany and Ireland food is always left out for these spirit travelers, and candles are placed in windows to guide them along their way, and these were the origins of the modern Halloween customs of the jack o’lantern and trick-or-treat.

Suggested Activities: 

  • Drink apple cider warmed and spiced with cinnamon to honor the dead.
  • Make resolutions and burn in a candle flame. This is not the same as ridding yourself of bad habits, but is more like New Year’s resolutions, as for many Samhain is the New Year.
  • Do divinations for the next year.
  • Make a spirit candle. This is a white candle anointed with patchouli oil. Say:.
  • With this candle and by its light,
  • I welcome you spirits this Samhain night.
  • Place it inside the jack o’lantern. This may be included in the Ritual, or done separately.
  • Set out a mute supper.
  • Enjoy the trick or treating of the season. 

Ritual taken from Wicca.com

Samhain Ritual 

Ancestor Night, Celtic New Year, October 31st 

Tools:

In addition to your magickal tools, you will need

  1. An Orange Alter Cloth
  2. Cauldron
  3. 1 Black Taper Goddess Candle
  4. 1 Black Taper God Candle
  5. 2 Carved Turnip Candle Holders
  6. 1 Black Votive Candle
  7. 1 White Pillar Candle
  8. 1 Apple
  9. A Bolline (or paring knife)
  10. A Plate of Fruit
  11. Vegetables and Breads
  12. Pictures or Mementos of Departed Loved Ones
  13. Samhain Incense (Mint, Nutmeg, Apple)

Preparation

Sweep area, moving in a deosil manner. Outline your circle with a black cord, fresh turned earth, or salt. Place the black taper Goddess Candle to the top left on altar. Place the black taper God candle to the top right on altar. Place the black votive candle in the cauldron, positioned on floor in front of the altar. Plate of Fruit, Vegetables, and Breads should be put in-between Goddess and God candles at top center of altar. Apple and Bolline should be placed in center of altar, on a Pentacle if possible. Arrange the rest of your tools and props according to personal preference. Bathe or shower for purification. If you have magickal jewelry or jewelry passed on to you by departed loved ones, this is the ritual to wear it all. Sit and meditate to ground and center. When ready to begin, play some appropriate soothing music for ambiance. 

Cast the circle and call Quarters…… invoke the Crone aspect of the Goddess by lighting the black taper Goddess candle and saying: 

“Dark Mother, ruler of the night, Goddess of death and rebirth, Hear and behold Your child this night as I honor Thee and Thy realm. I stand humbly before Thee, asking for Thy blessing and favor. Lift, now, the Veil between the worlds, as this time-out-of-time begins, That I may commune with my ancestors as they journey to the Summerlands.”

Step back from the altar and concentrate on the Goddess candle’s flame. Should it rise and flicker, proceed. If not, silently project your wish to commune with your loved ones that have passed on. When you feel that your wish has been acknowledged, invoke the God by lighting the black taper God candle and saying: 

“Dark Father, aged Consort of the Crone, Lord of the Underworld, Hear and behold Your child this night as I honor Thee and Thy realm. I stand between Thee and Thy Lady, asking for blessing and favor. As this time-out-of-time approaches, stand ever guard as the Veil lifts, Keep safe my ancestors, and all of my loved ones As they journey to the Summerlands”

Step back from the altar and concentrate on the God candle’s flame. If it rises and flickers, proceed. If not, silently project your wishes that your loved ones be kept safe on their journey. When you feel that your request has been acknowledged, step back up to the alter and pick up the apple, saying: 

“Tonight as the barrier between the two realms grows thin, Spirits walk amongst us, once again. They be family, friends and foes,  Pets and wildlife, fishes and crows. But be we still mindful of the Wee Folke at play, Elves, fey, brownies, and sidhe.”

Cut the apple crosswise with the Bolline to reveal the symbolic pentagram at the core. Take a bite of one half of the apple and set it back on the Pentacle. (This apple and others will be buried outside later, after the ritual is done) Continue: 

“Some to trick, some to treat, Some to purposely misguide our feet. Stay we on the paths we know As planting sacred apples we go.”

Now take your wand in your projective hand to bless the “Feast of the Dead”. Wave it over the plate of fruits, vegetables, and breads, saying: 

“This Feast I shall leave on my doorstep all night. In my window one candle shall burn bright, To help my loved ones find their way As they travel this eve, and this night, until day. Bless my offering, both Lady and Lord Of breads and fruits, greens and gourd.”

Replace the wand on the altar, step back and bow your head. Stay silent for a minute or two as the blessing is given. Proceed by lighting the black votive candle in the cauldron and saying: 

“Dark Mother Your cauldron is a well of death and rebirth, Dark Father Your sword both protects and annihilates. Hear me now as the past year slowly dies, only to be reborn again. Today, the last of the Harvests is complete.

 This symbolic harvest is of my thought-seeds, Planted and nurtured throughout this past year. May the good come to pass and the bad be cast aside. With Your divine guidance and protection, I step into the New Year, May I have good health, prosperity, and happiness.”

With the flame of the black votive candle light the white pillar candle, saying: 

“As the New Year is born, we are all reborn With new hopes and dreams. Guide me in the future as in the past. Give me strength and courage, Knowledge and fulfillment, Assist me as I attempt to achieve my goals.”

Snuff the black votive candle and replace it. Remove the white pillar candle from the cauldron and place it in the center of your altar. Stare in to the flame and think about the goals that you are setting for the upcoming year. When done, say: 

“Every beginning has an ending, And every ending is a new beginning. In Life is Death, and in Death is Life. Watch over me, my loved ones, and all of my Brothers and Sisters, here and departed,

Who, tonight are joined together again for Fellowship and celebration. Bless us all as we light our bonfires, our hearth fires, And the eternal fires in our hearts. Guide us and protect us, Tonight and throughout the coming year. Blessed Be! Blessed Be!”

As you say “Blessed Be!” stretch out your arms over your alter as if to embrace all of your ancestors, your departed loved ones, and everyone on Earth. As you say “Blessed Be” again, embrace yourself with a reborn love and pride. 

It is now time for meditation and spellworking. Associated spellworkings would include those for protection, self-confidence, and dissuading harm. If there is no spellworking, celebrate with Cakes and Ale, then release the Circle. Clean up. You are done. Leave the white pillar candle burning somewhere it won’t be disturbed. Some use it as the single candle in their window, but I leave it on my altar and use an electric candle in the window to dissuade a fire! 

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