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Things to do Samhain

pumpkin samhain blessing

There are several things to consider doing during this time of the year.

  1. Take a meditative walk in a natural area near your home.  Experience yourself as part of the Circle of Life and reflect on death and rebirth as being an important part of Nature.
  2. Contemplate on what things have to die in your life so that other areas can live…ex:  habits, relationships, past, guilt, anger, grief, fear….  Then call forth what you want to replace it with.. self-control, positive outcome and future, love, joy, peace, etc….Meditate on it.
  3. Look for signs of death on your nature walk…. fallen leaves, fallen branches, flowers dying,etc..
  4.  You can do a genealogy research.
  5. Ancestors Altar: Gather photographs, heirlooms, and other momentos of deceased family, friends, and companion creatures.   Arrange them on a table, dresser, or other surface.
  6. Prepare a Samhain dinner.  Include a place setting at your table or nearby the altar of any deceased loved one.  Add an offering of each beverage and food being served to the extra place setting.  Invite your ancestors and other deceased loved ones who come in love to come dine with you.  After the feast, place the contents of the plate and cup outside in a natural location as an offering for your deceased loved ones.  You don’t want them to get to comfortable inside and decide to stay.
  7. Ancestor stories:  Learn about family history.  Contact one or more older relatives and ask them to share memories  of deceased family members.  Record them in some way and later write accounts of what they share.  Share what you have learned and have written with other family members and friend.  Feel free to share any of your favorite stories of the deceased loved ones as well and invite your kids and friends and family to share.
  8. Recall any of the characteristics, strengths, or attributes of your deceased loved ones that you can learn from or admire.  Go around in a circle or perform as a private meditation.
  9. 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 with you.  Place an offering of fresh flowers, dried herbs, or water.
  10. Do meditations to release the fear of death and just be at peace with it.  Envision when the time comes that it is a graceful and painless experience and you will have left this place fulfilled and happy with the life you have lived.  Where you view it as a transition into a lovely beginning of something wonderful and not just the end.
  11. Do a meditation where you try to contact a deceased loved one for guidance or to be at peace with their passing on.
  12. Divinatory Guidance:  Using Oracle cards, runes, scrying, or some other form of divination, seek and reflect on guidance for the year to come.  Write a summary of your experience and any messages received.  Select something appropriate to act upon and do it!  Give Thanks for the messages received!
  13. Sit outside and just marinate in the Samhain energy.
  14. Meditate on your positive transformation and the positive changes you can do that will promote it.  Make a list.  Look for new habits and things to do or people to hang out with.

blessed samhain quote

Samhain

Have blessed samhain

Samhain is the third and final harvest festival of nuts and seeds.  It is pronounced “Sah-win” or “sow-in”.  Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is also known as “Day of the Dead” or “All Hallows Eve”.  It is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, which is nearly halfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice.  Some modern pagans consider it the “witches new year”, though other traditions simply recognize Samhain as the end of the year.  It’s energy is death and transformation.  Customs include jack o’lanterns, spirit plate, ancestor altar, divination, and costumes.  The colors associated with Samhain are orange, black, and indigo.  Tools used during this holy day are votive candles, magic mirror, cauldron, pumpkins, and divination tools.

Traditionally Samhain was a time to take stock of the herds and food supplies.  Cattle were brought down to the winter pastures after six months in the higher summer pastures.  It was also the time to choose which animals would need to be slaughtered for the winter.  This custom is still observed by many who farm and raise livestock because it is when meat will keep since the freeze has come and also since the summer grass is gone and searching for provisions/food is no longer possible.  In may places, Samhain coincides with the end of the growing season.  Vegetation dies back with killing frosts, and therefore literally, death is in the air.

Rituals include bonfires, dancing, divination, healing, honoring ancestors, thanksgiving, releasing old, foreseeing future, understanding death and rebirth.  Bonfires were lit on hilltops at Samhain and there were rituals involving them.  It is believed that the fires (as well as the smoke and their ashes) were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers.  In some places boys asked for bonfire fuel from each house in the village.  When the fire was lit, one after another of the youths laid himself down on the ground as near to the fire as possible so as not to be burned, and in such a  position as to let the smoke roll over him.  The others ran through the smoke and jumped over him.  When the bonfire samhain candlesburnt down, they scattered the ashes, competing eagerly with each other who should scatter the most.  Sometimes, two bonfires would be built side by side and the people, sometimes with their livestock, would walk between them as a cleansing ritual.  The bones of slaughtered cattle were said to have been cast upon bonfires.  People also took ashes from the bonfire back to their homes.  In northern Scotland, they carried burning fir around their fields to protect them.  In some places, people doused their hearth fires on Samhain nights.  Each family then solemnly re-lit its hearth from the communal bonfire, thus bonding the families of the village together.

Samhain is seen as a good time to perform any divination as well.  The bonfires were also used in divination rituals.  A ring of stone was laid around the fire to represent each person  and everyone who ran around it with a torch.  In the morning, the stones were examined and if any was mislaid it was said that the person for whom it was set would not live out the year.  At household festivities throughout the Gaelic region and Wales, there were many rituals intended to divine the future of those gathered, especially with regard to death and marriage.

Seasonal foods such as apples and nuts were often used in these rituals.  Apples were peeled, the peel, tossed over  the shoulder, and its shape examined to see if it formed the first letter of the future spouse’s name.  Nuts were roasted on the hearth and their behavior interpreted… if the nuts stayed together, so would the couple.  Egg whites were dropped in the water, and the shapes foretold the number of future children.  Children would also chase crows and divine some of these things from the number of birds or the direction they flew.

Herbs used at this time included: Rosemary, for remembrance of our ancestors, Mullein seeds, for abundance, Mugwort to aid in divination, rue, calendula, sunflower petals and seeds, pumpkin seeds, apples and apple seeds, turnip seeds, sage, wormwood, tarragon, bay leaf, almond, hazelnut, passion flower, pine needles, nettle, garlic, and mandrake root.  Stones associated with this time are:  black obsidian, smoky quartz, jet, amber, pyrite, garnet, granite, clear quartz, marble, gold, diamond, iron, steel, ruby, hematite, and brass.  Decorations include gourds, pumpkins, apples, Autumn leaves, and nuts.

pumpkin houseSamhain is one of the original festivals behind the holiday we know as Halloween.  Some of Halloween’s most common traditions are rooted in Samhain’s harvest festival roots, such as the carving of pumpkin and bobbing for apples.  The traditional illumination for guisers or pranksters on this night in some places was provided by turnips or beets, hollowed out to act as lanterns and often carved with grotesque faces to represent spirits or goblins.  They may have also been used to protect oneself from harmful spirits.  In some places, young people dressed as the opposite gender.  In Scotland, young men went house-to-house with masked, veiled, painted, or blackened faces, often threatening to do mischief it they were not welcomed.  This was common in the 16th century in the Scottish countryside and persisted into the 20th century.  It is suggested that the blackened faces comes from using the bonfire’s ashes for protection.

Irish and Scottish immigration, which popularized Halloween in North America, had a strong tradition of disguising and pranks.  As it was believed that faeries, witches, and demons roamed the Earth on Samhain, food and drink were customarily set out to make them less hostile or angry.  later on, people began dressing up as these creatures and claiming the goodies for themselves, sometimes performing antics or tricks in exchange for food and drink.  This practice called mumming evolved into trick-or-treating, or it may have come from the custom of going door-to-door collecting food for Samhain feast or fuel for Samhain’s bonfire and/or offerings.

Samhain (like Beltane) was the time when the doorways to the Otherworld opened, allowing the spirits and the dead to come into our world and this facilitates contact and communication with the Dead.  That is when it was believed that demons, faeries, and spirits of all kind would freely roam about.  Some would perform tricks, like the spirits of those who were murdered and who were looking for revenge.  The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes.  Places were set tat the dinner table or by the fire to welcome them.  Some celebrate Samhain with a ritual to guide the dead home by opening a western-facing door or window and placing a candle by the opening.  many pagans still follow this tradition to this day.

samhain AncestorsBut while Beltane is a festival for the living, Samhain is essentially, a festival for the dead.  In the simpler yet brutal times that so many early people lived in, death was commonplace, whether it was the death of livestock through disease, the extremely frequent deaths of women during childbirth, or the death of young infants from common childhood illness.  There was always a lot of deaths going on in a given year.  Samhain was a time to really sit down around the fireplace, connect with your surviving loved ones, and pay tribute to those beloved members of your “tribe” whom you lost over the past year.  For some, Samhain is when we honor ancestors who came before us.

It’s easier to talk to the dead, have lucid dreams in which you connect with the dead, and to spiritually commune with those who have passed during Samhain.  The connection or “veil” between the physical world and the spiritual dimensions is thinner, which makes this type pf psychic contact much easier.  The only other time when this is easy are the three days after someone dies, because for three days their spirit is still hanging out on the earth plane and they will often have a lot to say if you can sit down and get past your own grief and “listen” to them.  For those who have lost loved ones in the past year, Samhain rituals can be an opportunity to bring closure to grieving and to further adjust to their being in the Otherworld by spiritually communing with them.  This is the perfect time to celebrate their memory.  Hopefully, they will communicate back with you to offer any advice or guidance.

You could find yourself remembering people you have had major relationships with.  Relationships which have ended, even if that person didn’t actually die.  maybe the relationship “died” and you’re still processing the emotions related to the experience.  You could be going back and forth emotionally, feeling love for the person one minute and anger the next.  Try to center yourself, connect with “Great Spirit” or your “Infinite, Eternal Self”, or loving the energy of the Universe and reach a place of emotional equilibrium.  Let go of hatred, release fear, and try to expel the toxic energy of anger and grief from your system as best as you can.  Some words to meditate include: remember, appreciate, love, release, transform, and transmute.

samhain decoration

Autumn Equinox

autumn equinox

The Autumn Equinox, occurring around September 21-23, is the second harvest festival, of the fruits.  Its energy is appreciation and harvest.  It’s about seeing results from all the hard work and the “seeds” you have been planting through the year.  It’s a result-oriented time of year, during which, if you focus hard and remain clear many wonderful things can manifest in your life.

The colors associated with the Autumn Equinox are orange, red, brown, and purple.  Customs associated with the Autumn Equinox are offerings to land, preparing for cold weather and bringing in harvest.  The tools that symbolize the Autumn Equinox are cornucopia, corn and harvested crops.

Autumn food include:  squash, corn, pumpkin, grain, nut bread, apples, seasonal vegetables, and apple cider

cornicopiaDecorations include:  Autumn flowers, gourds, acorns, corn sheaves,and Autumn leaves

Incense and plants associated with the Autumn Equinox include:  pine, sage, sweet grass, myrrh, and marigold, passion flower and fern,

Stones associated with the Autumn Equinox are:  clear quartz, amber, peridot, diamond, gold, citrine, yellow topaz, aventurine, and cat’s eye

Herbs associated with the Autumn Equinox are: rue, yarrow, rosemary, marigold, sage, aloe, walnut leaves and husks, mistletoe, saffron, chamomile, almond leaves, passionflower, frankincense, rose hips, bittersweet, sunflower, wheat, oak leaves, maple leaves, dried apples or apple seeds.


During the equinoxes the plane of the Earth’s equator passes the center of the Sun.  At that instant, the tilt of the Earth’s axis neither inclines away nor towards the Sun.  On the Equinox the Sun rests above the equator and day and night are equally divided giving us 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of moonlight.  In actuality though, the balance of light and dark occurs a couple days after the Autumn Equinox and precedes it a couple of days before the Spring Equinox.

Each equinox and solstice period is a “power time” and loads of intense spiritual energy or “Earth chi” comes flooding forth. It’s really easy to access this energy in prayer, meditation, or psychic work.  It’s also a great time for any creative work whether you come up with grand ideas or and it’s a super time to do healing work or receive healing work.  There are multidimensional gateways of energy that open up at these times and the indigenous people celebrated and used the energies that are available at those times.

cherokee autumn equinoxThree days before and three days after the Autumn and Spring Equinox, the ley lines of the Earth give off a heightened electromagnetic charge.  This can make you feel a bit hyper or unsettled but if you can ground the energies and apply it correctly, this is an amazing time for healing, meditation, cleansing, and any type of power prayer, manifestation, and/or psychic work.  These cosmic occurrences  are interpreted as the need to seek balance in ones life, find your center, and re-align yourself.

The Autumn Equinox is a very powerful time when subconscious messages, information from your spirit guides, and spiritual  information can easily break through and inspire you.  It’s also a lot easier during this time to do any type of psychic work which requires finer sense perception.  Psychic readings will be uncannily more accurate.  Holistic health treatments will be more effective and on target.  The truth seems to penetrate more readily  during this time where too often we can become mentally cloudy or emotionally unbalanced.

The Autumn Equinox signals the beginning of Autumn.  It signals the need to balance light and darkness within us.  Far too often we only adore the light and fear the darkness. But when you can befriend your inner darkness it becomes less of an enemy and more of a place of nurturing for slow and steady growth. The sun is moving into Libra, a balanced and measured sign which is famous for being fair in issuing balance where blame is due.  It is a time for harmonizing what is off balance before the end of the year.  I find that this can be a challenging time because it may come out weird and unusual, especially if you have been off balance for a while.  It may bring up anger, especially with people that need to be addressed.  You may feel resentment and a sense of “you can’t take it anymore”.  This is how your stuff is showing up.  This is what you need to focus on because this is what is calling your attention to seek balance.

autumn equinox sun centerAs the plane of the earth’s equator passes the center of the sun this too is an opportunity for us to re-align and find your center.  Far too often, we get so caught up in our life and forget to center ourselves.  We lose track of our directive and may steer off course for a bit.  This is an opportunity to re-align yourself with your purpose, dreams, and goals, or even just to re-align with yourself.  Spending time around people is great but their beliefs, thoughts, actions, and even language can become imposed on you from being around them so much.  So it’s very important to re-align yourself with your true nature… who you really are and all you were meant to be.  Re-align yourself with your intention or change and integrate new information or experiences to re-define your intention.  Center yourself.  Find your center.  Define your center….your connection to Source, the magick within, your spiritual connection.

For centuries, the Autumn equinox has been a way to recognize the blessings of life.  Before the days of supermarkets and the convenience of readily available food, life was hard.  People farmed the land and provided sustenance for themselves. Weather, as always, has often been unpredictable as one of the many events that could destroy an entire mainstay of existence.  Other problems such as mass insect infestation may have left weary crop farmers wondering how they would survive.  So it’s no wonder that when harvest was bountiful, gratitude became important.  Hence, many celebrations of thankfulness cropped up.  These were heartfelt sources of joy.  This is the time of rituals regarding thanksgiving, harvest, and introspection.

We have been actively working and expressing… putting ourselves and our ideas out into the world, growing and changing. Now is the time to pause and go within, and take stock of how far we have come.  Our inner work, our growth, is our harvest.  Time to honor our journey and the rebalancing that has taken place within us.  Notice the seeds we planted and how they have blossomed thus far.  Lets open our hearts in gratitude.

mabon altar

 

Things to do during Lammas

lammas blessings

    Things to do during Lammas

  • Making corn dollies
  • Baking bread
  • Braid onion or garlic charms
  • Gathering late summer fruit or the first harvest
  • Getting crafty
  • Go to a craft festival or any festival
  • Meditate on the completion of a goal or project
  • Perform a ritual for prosperity, generosity, continued success, and abundance
  • Write your regrets on pine cones or corn husks and burn them
  • Find visualizations that represent your farewells and burn them in a bonfire as well
  • Make a list of all that you have harvested this year
  • Make preserves
  • Make memory preserves.. think of all the sweet memories you would like to savor
  • Make a bonfire as it is a Fire festival
  • Make a list of all the abundance in your life

Beltane Activities

 

 

beltane candles

  • Spells to ensure abundance, prosperity, protection, love, and conservation
  • Gather the first wild herbs of the season
  • Go to the woods or fields to gather wild flowers
  • Go on a picnic
  • Wash your face in dew at sunrise for beauty in the coming year
  • Braid your hair in flowers
  • Get your hair wet in the rain for blessings
  • Go A -Maying and make love in the woods or outside your home
  • Commune with the faeries/devas or nature spirits
  • Divination of all sorts
  • Decorate your house with flowers
  • Bless the waters around your land or collect water for future use in a spell
  • Make May bowl drink
  • Eat oatmeal or dairy foods
  • Prepare a May basket by filling it with flowers and goodwill and then give it to someone in need of healing and caring, such as a shut-in or elderly friend.
  • Form a wreath of freshly picked flowers, wear it in your hair, and feel yourself radiating joy and beauty.
  • Dress in bright colors.
  • Make windsocks
  • Dance the Maypole and feel yourself balancing the Divine Female and Male within
  • On May Eve, bless your garden in the old way by making love with your lover in it.
  • Make a wish as you jump a bonfire or candle flame for good luck.  (Fire Spell)
  • Make a wish and tie a ribbon to a tree. (Air spell)
  • Charge your crystals.  Look up best stones to charge during this time.
  • Create Sacred Water and charge under sunlight.
  • Recharge amulets, crystals, magickal trinkets and creations under sunlight.
  • Connect to the Sun
  • Call on the power/energy of LIFE to places in our lives and parts of us that need growth, life, and for things to flourish…goals, dreams, visions… DREAM BIG, EMBRACE JOY, EXPECT GREAT!
  • Welcome in the May at dawn with singing and dancing.

 

beltane flowersbeltane oil

 

 

 

Beltane

may eve

Beltane is the last of the three Spring fertility festivals.  Most commonly it is held on April 30 but sometimes on May 01.  Beltane is a fire festival that represents the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer. It celebrates fertility of the coming year.  Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community. In spring time, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a fruitful year for their families and fields.

Beltane and Samhain are the two greatest festivals of the solar year.  They both are celebrations of life and death… at Samhain emphasis on death and at Beltane the emphasis is on LIFE.  LOVE is in the Air!  Earth energies are at their strongest and most active. All of life is bursting with potent fertility and at this point in the Wheel of the Year, the potential becomes conception. On May Eve the sexuality of life and the earth is at its peak. Abundant fertility, on all levels, is the central theme. It is about sexuality and sensuality, passion, vitality and joy. And about conception. A brilliant moment in the Wheel of the Year to bring ideas, hopes and dreams into action. And have some fun…..Being a fertility festival sexual pleasures were common often occurring outside on the Land to bless fields, herds, and homes. May Bowl was the beverage of choice, a punch (wine or non-alcoholic) made of Sweet Woodruff blossoms.

maypoleThe Maypole is an important element to Beltane festivities, it is a tall pole decorated with long brightly colored ribbons, leaves, flowers and wreaths. Young maidens and lads each hold the end of a ribbon, and dance revolving around the base of the pole, interweaving the ribbons. The circle of dancers should begin, as far out from the pole as the length of ribbon allows, so the ribbons are pulled tight. There should be an even number of boys & girls. Boys should be facing clockwise and girls counterclockwise. They each move in the direction that they are facing, weaving with the next, around to braid the ribbons over-and-under around the pole. Those passing on the inside will have to duck, those passing on the outside raise their ribbons to slide over. As the dances revolve around the pole the ribbons will weave creating a pattern, it is said that the pattern will indicate the abundance of harvest year.

The Maypole dance is an important aspect of encouraging the return of fertility to the earth….it’s symbolism.  It’s not just an insinuation of  sex (the union of male and female which creates new life) but also is the connector of the three worlds. Dancing the Maypole during Beltane is magical experience as it is a conduit of energy, connecting all three worlds at a time when these gateways are more easily penetrable. As people happily dance around and around the pole holding the brightly colored ribbons, the energy it raises is sent down into the earth’s womb, bringing about Her full awakening and fruitfulness.

bonfire beltaneFire is still the most important element of most Beltane celebrations and there are many traditions associated with it. It is seen to have purifying qualities which cleanse and revitalize. People leap over the Beltane fire to bring good fortune, fertility (of mind, body and spirit) and happiness through the coming year.  Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening. These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn.  Other festivities involved fire which was thought to cleanse, purify and increase fertility. Cattle were often passed between two fires and the properties of the flame and the smoke were seen to ensure the fertility of the herd.

The three days before and the three days after Beltane are super powerful times for healing work, psychic meditation, and setting intentions/affirmations into motion.  Beltane is a time of divination and communion with Fairy Folk/Nature Spirits.  Long ago the indigenous people saw how the energy that runs through the “ley lines” of the Earth (power points or meridians) gets stronger and more intense at the equinox and solstice and mini-equinox or mini-solstice times. The electromagnetic field of the Earth is intensified, creating a rich atmosphere for tapping into the energy part of your being. . .the spiritual side or psychic side. This aspect of you is more readily available during the three days leading into one of these times and for the three days afterwards.

The May waters were also seen to have magickal influence.  A common Beltane tradition included Rolling in May Eve dew or washing your face in pre-dawn May Day dew for health, luck, beauty.  Also, getting your head and hair wet in Beltane rain to bless the head.  A common practice was Blessing springs, ponds, other sacred waters with flowers, garlands, ribbons, and other offerings.  People would collect sacred waters and scry in sacred springs, wells, ponds, and other waters.

There would be gatherings and exchanges of Flowers and Greens on May Eve, pre-dawn May Day, Beltane.  People would decorate their homes, barns, and other buildings with Green budding branches, including Hawthorn. Yellow flowers such as primrose, rowan, hawthorn, gorse, hazel and marsh marigold were set at doorways and windows.  Making and wearing of garland wreaths of Flowers and/or Greens.  May Baskets were given or placed secretly on doorsteps to friends, shut-ins, lovers, others.  Oatmeal and dairy products was the food of choice during this time also used for offerings to nature spirits or faeries.

beltane32Beltane is a popular time for pagan weddings or Handfastings, a traditional betrothal for ‘a year and a day’ after which the couple would either choose to stay together or part without recrimination. Today, the length of commitment is a matter of choice for the couple, and can often be for life. Handfasting ceremonies are often unique to the couple, but include common elements, most importantly the exchange of vows and rings (or a token of their choice). The act of handfasting always involves tying the hands Handfasting (‘tying the knot’) of the two people involved, in a figure of eight, at some point in the ceremony and later unbinding. This is done with a red cord or ribbon. Tying the hands together symbolizes that the two people have come together and the untying means that they remain together of their own free will.

However, in addition to sexual fertility, Beltane is also about abundance, in many forms. Don’t just focus on material gains… it’s about the growth of the earth and its bounty, and it’s about increasing your own spiritual and emotional wealth.  Overall, it is a good time for celebration, play, creative activity, and real “magic.”

 

 

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