'Twas the evening of Samhain, and all through the place
were pagans preparing the ritual space.
The candles were set in the corners with care,
in hopes that the Watchtowers soon would be there.
We all had our robes on (as is habitual)
and had just settled down and were starting our ritual
when out on the porch there arose such a chorus
that we went to the door, and waiting there for us
were children in costumes of various kinds
with visions of chocolate bright in their minds.
In all of our workings, we'd almost forgot,
but we had purchased candy (we'd purchased a LOT),
And so, as they flocked from all over the street,
they all got some chocolate or something else sweet.
We didn't think twice of delaying our rite,
Kids just don't have this much fun every night.
For hours they came, with the time-honored schtick
of giving a choice: a treat or a trick.
As is proper, the parents were there for the games,
Watching the children and calling their names.
"On Vader, On Leia,
On Dexter and DeeDee,
On Xena, on Buffy,
Casper and Tweety!
To the block of apartments
on the neighboring road;
You'll get so much candy,
you'll have to be TOWED!"
The volume of children eventually dropped,
and as it grew darker, it finally stopped.
But as we prepared to return to our rite,
One child more stepped out of the night.
She couldn't have been more than twelve or thirteen.
Her hair was deep red, and her robe, forest green
with a simple gold cord tying off at the waist.
She'd a staff in her hand and a smile on her face.
No make-up, nor mask, or accompanying kitsch,
so we asked who she was; she replied "I'm a witch.
And no, I don't fly through the sky on my broom;
I only use that thing for cleaning my room.
My magical powers aren't really that neat,
but I won't threaten tricks; I'll just ask for a treat."
We found it refreshing, so we gave incense cones,
A candle, a crystal, a few other stones,
And the rest of the candy (which might fill a van).
She turned to her father (a man dressed as Pan)
and laughed, "Yes, I know, Dad, it's past time for bed,"
and started to leave, but she first turned and said
"I'm sorry for further delaying your rite.
Blessed Samhain to all, and a magical night."
Copyright (c) 1999 by Cather Steincamp
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Possessing the power to bewitch or bedevil humans with their illusions, known as glamours, fairies gradually found their way into the myth and folklore of many European cultures.
The inhabitants of pre-Christian Ireland also believed that Samhain was a time when a strange dark-skinned race of goblin like creatures with occult powers emerged from their secret hiding places. Resentful of the human race for taking over the land that was once theirs, they delighted in creating as much mischief as possible. Some were merely pranksters, while others were more evil natured and regarded as dangerous. According to legend, every seven years these creatures would steal human infants or small children and then sacrifice them to their god.
Because Samhain was a night on which the fairy mounds stood wide open, all manners of fairies, mostly baneful, were free to walk the earth. Also, any person careless or unfortunate enough to step upon an open mound would fall victim to permanent enchantment by a fairy spell and either succumb to madness or waste away from a mysterious and incurable illness. However, according to Celtic folklore, on Samhain night, when neither human nor fairy needed any magickal password to enter, an open fairy mound could, like quicksand, pull an unsuspecting mortal into the world of fairies, where he or she would be doomed to remain forever.
Samhain was more than a night when spirits walked the earth. Like the other great festivals dominating the old Celtic calendar, Samhain was also connected with fertility of the earth and its animals. It was a time when the final harvest was celebrated and when farmers throughout the land brought their livestock down from the pastures and made preparations for the coming of winter.
In Ireland, the Tuatha de Danann are active just before Samhain and will bless your home for a small portion of your harvest. But any crop left unharvested after sundown on October 31st is taken by the Phookas, baneful faeries who render the crop unfit to eat. Spelled Pwca in Wales, these baneful faeries remain active until spring.
Just before Samhain the final harvest had to be gathered in. Whatever was left in the fields after this time would be taken by malevolent faeries. But just in case some of these creatures wished to jump in early, bells were often tolled all during the day of October 30th, the last day of the harvest, to ward off encroaching faeries as the work was being done. An old Mother Goose rhyme reflects this ancient custom with the words, "The boughs they do shake and the bells they do ring, so merrily comes our harvest in..."
In general, baneful faeries are more active during the last quarter of the waning moon, and helpful faeries are more active at the waxing. Inland water faeries are generally friendly, while sea faeries are more malevolent, a concept which no doubt grew out of the dangers of sea travel. Good faeries are commonly more active from Beltane to Samhain, and the more mischievous ones from Samhain to Beltane.
To protect yourself from baneful faeries at Samhain, hang dried apples or dried heather over your doors.
A Fairy Spell
A spell to enable a person to perceive fairy rings and to hear the sound of fairy music calls for the following herbs to be gathered, diced, and then baked into a tiny oaten cake:
bay, mistletoe, rue, thyme, vervain, and yarrow.
Anoint the cake with a bit of honey and three drops of rose oil.
On Halloween night, as the moon of enchantment is rising in the sky above, place the sweetened cake under a tree or a bush in your garden as an offering to the fairy-folk. According to witches lore, if your magick is true and your heart filled only with sincerity, the fairies will open their secret and wondrous world to you right before your very eyes.
The other times of the year when such a spell is said to be effective are: at moonrise on Lady Day (March 25th), Easter, the first day of May (known as May Day, Beltane, and Walpurgis), the Summer Solstice (June 21st), Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
There were hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of different types of faeries who inhabited the ancient Celtic lands, but in Ireland (where it was once believed that all cats were actually fairies in disguise) it was the Phooka (pooka) that was particularly feared on Samhain, when it took great pleasure in tormenting humans. The supernatural’s of the night possessed the power to shape shift, and they were known to often take on the disguise of a black horse with hideous features.
The Celts devised numerous charms to protect themselves against the Little People. The ringing of bells (especially church bells) and the hanging of iron horseshoes above doorways were two methods believed to be effective in keeping spiteful fairies at bay. Many people in various parts of the world still believe that iron is a metal that repels and protects against all manners of fairies. It is commonly used in the making of magickal amulets and talismans for protection.
I hope you enjoyed the latest Samhain post.
The Celtic Witch
Friday, October 17, 2008
Samhain is known as the night when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest. It's a time to sit back and honor the spirit world, and call upon those ancestors who came before us. After all, if not for them, we wouldn't be here. We owe them something, some gratitude for their ability to survive, their strength, their spirit. Many Wiccans and Pagans choose Samhain as a time to honor their ancestors. If this is something you'd like to do, you can celebrate with a ritual or by hosting a seance or dumb supper in their honor.
In addition to these more formal rituals, you may also want to take some time alone for a quiet meditation. This is a point in the Wheel of the Year when the spirit world is a bit closer than normal, and if you've never tried to contact your ancestors before, now is a good time to do it.
When performing an ancestor meditation, people experience different things. You may find yourself meeting a specific person that you are aware of in your family history, maybe you've heard the stories about great-uncle Joe who went out west after the Civil War, and now you have the privilege of chatting with him, or perhaps you'll meet the grandmother who passed away when you were a child. Some people, however, meet their ancestors as archetypes. In other words, it may not be a specific individual you meet, but rather a symbol -- instead of adventurous great-uncle Joe, it may be a non-specific Civil War soldier or frontiersman. Either way, understand that meeting these individuals is a gift. Pay attention to what they say and do -- it may be that they're trying to give you a message.
Setting the Mood
Before you perform this meditation, it's not a bad idea to spend some time with the tangible, physical aspects of your family. Bring out the old photo albums, read through wild Aunt Tillie's diary from the Great Depression, get out your grandfather's old pocket watch that almost sank with the Titanic. These are the material things that connect us to our family. They link us, magically and spiritually. Spend time with them, absorbing their energies and thinking of the things they've seen, the places they've been.
You can perform this ritual anywhere, but if you can do it outside at night it's even more powerful. Decorate your altar (or if you're outside, use a flat stone or tree stump) with the symbols of your ancestors -- the photos, journals, war medals, watches, jewelry, etc. No candles are necessary for this meditation, but if you'd like to light one, do so. You may also want to burn some Samhain spirit incense, which of course I will happily provide you with at
www.thecelticwitch.com (sorry, had to get in a little shameless promotion)
Claiming Your Birthright
Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Think about who you are, and what you are made of, and know that everything within you is the sum of all your ancestors. From thousands of years ago, generations of people have come together over the centuries to create the person you are now. Think about your own strengths, weaknesses and remember that they came from somewhere. This is a time to honor the ancestors who formed you.
Recite your genealogy, aloud if you like, as far back as you can go. As you say each name, describe the person and their life. An example might go something like this:
I am the daughter of James, who fought in Vietnam
and returned to tell the tale.
James was the son of Eldon and Maggie,
who met on the battlefields of France,
as she nursed him back to health.
Eldon was the son of Alice, who sailed
aboard Titanic and survived.
Alice was the daughter of Patrick and Molly,
who farmed the soil of Ireland, who
raised horses and tatted lace to feed the children...
and so forth. Go back as far as you like, elaborating in as much detail as you choose. Once you can go back no further, end with "those whose blood runs in me, whose names I do not yet know".
If you happened to meet a certain ancestor, or their archetype, during your meditation, take a moment to thank them for stopping by. Take note of any information they may have given you, even if it doesn't make sense just now, it may later on when you give it some more thought. Think about all the people you come from, whose genes are part of you. Some were great people some, not so much, but the point is, they all belong to you. They all have helped shape and create you. Appreciate them for what they were, with no expecations or apologies, and know that they are watching over you.
Samhain was a significant time for divination, perhaps even more so than May or Midsummer’s Eve, because this was the chief of the three Spirit Nights. Divination customs and games frequently featured apples and nuts from the recent harvest, and candles played an important part in adding atmosphere to the mysteries. In Scotland, a child born at Samhain was said to be gifted with an dà shealladh, “The Two Sights” commonly known as “second sight,” or clairvoyance.
At the heart of the Celtic Otherworld grows an apple tree whose fruit has magical properties. Old sagas tell of heroes crossing the western sea to find this wondrous country, known in Ireland as Emhain Abhlach, (Evan Avlach) and in Britain, Avalon. At Samhain, the apple harvest is in, and old hearthside games, such as apple-bobbing, called apple-dookin’ in Scotland, reflect the journey across water to obtain the magic apple.
Dookin' for Apples
Place a large tub, preferably wooden, on the floor, and half fill it with water. Tumble in plenty of apples, and have one person stir them around vigorously with a long wooden spoon or rod of hazel, ash or any other sacred tree.
Each player takes their turn kneeling on the floor, trying to capture the apples with their teeth as they go bobbing around.Each gets three tries before the next person has a go. Best to wear old clothes for this one, and have a roaring fire nearby so you can dry off while eating your prize!
If you do manage to capture an apple, you might want to keep it for a divination ritual, such as this one:
The Apple and the Mirror
Before the stroke of midnight, sit in front of a mirror in a room lit only by one candle or the moon. Go into the silence, and ask a question. Cut the apple into nine pieces. With your back to the mirror, eat eight of the pieces, then throw the ninth over your left shoulder. Turn your head to look over the same shoulder, and you will see and in image or symbol in the mirror that will tell you your answer.
(When you look in the mirror, let your focus go "soft," and allow the patterns made by the moon or candlelight and shadows to suggest forms, symbols and other dreamlike images that speak to your intuition.)
Posted by Magickal Enchantments at 4:55 AM
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I was browsing through my collections trying to decide what to share with you on my blog and decided on Celtic Women’s Spirituality by Edain McCoy.
This is without a doubt one of my favorites books.
So grab yourself a cup of tea and sit for a spell.
Here is a small copy of her writings on Samhain, the italicized parts are me.:)
So much has been written about this popular festival that it seems redundant, as well as daunting, to try to compress it all into a brief description emphasizing the women's aspect. This is primarily the celebration of the new year and a feast of the harvest ending, and a reaffirmation in our beliefs in the eternal cycles of death and rebirth. On Samhain we celebrate the spirit world and honor our ancestors. This festival may even have roots far back into pre-history, to a time when unity through mother blood bound tribes together, and worship of female ancestors formed the basis of their spiritual orientation.
The crone, as Goddess and ancestor, is the supreme deity of this festival. Samhain is the night when the old God, her son and lover, dies, and she goes into mourning for him until she can transform herself into the virgin who gives him rebirth. The images of her as the Halloween hag stirring her bubbling cauldron comes from the Celtic belief that all the dead souls return, like the God, to her cauldron of life, death and rebirth to await reincarnation.
To celebrate this Sabbat you can follow an old Irish custom and place candles in your windows to illuminate the spirits travels. "This is one of the traditions that I also incorporate into my own celebrations as well"
Because the doors to the other times and places are wide open on this night, it is a goot time to try some past-life work. This can be done alone or with a group. If you are not familiar with any of the methods for doing this, now is the season for discovery.
You could also mourn the dead God with the traditional women's keening wail, and offer comfort to the grieving Goddess.
"Now this last suggestion really called out to me, give comfort to the grieving Goddess? I could actually offer her something beneficial? Something other then worship? It made me realize that I pray to the Goddess, I show her love and praise. I trust in her and I request aid from her as well. However I had never thought to offer my comfort to her! So, this Samhain I will incorporate this into my ritual in my own way. Just some food for thought ya all...:)"
I also thought you would enoy these poems...
(poem by: Elspeth Sapphire)
It is the time of burning leaves,
The crispness of the air has awakened
Memories both dark and hidden,
Memories of past feasts partaken.
I sit comfortly in this silent room
Computer keyboard beneath my fingers
Yet...my mind is never frozen here
In times past it wants to linger.
I 'see' a bonfire raging on a hilltop
With my people all gathered around
Our prayers to the Gods I shout,
Yet, in my dreams I hear not a sound.
The drums beat, the people dance
Wildness fills the autumn night.
The Other Side is so very close--
The Veil just beyond the fire light.
I reach, I feel, I almost touch...
Spirit fingers entwine with mortal
Then dawn's first light appears
And seals again the fragile portal.
I turn away from the cold ashes
Let the wildness leave my aching soul.
Another year til another Samhain...
On that night again I'll be whole.
(poem by: R. A. Melos )
A Witch's Words To Her Familiar On Samhain
Still your mind,
and still your soul,
heed the words that make you grow,
listen to the winds of the sages,
learn the wisdom of the mages,
handed down to us from the ages.
Time is ours,
but only fleeting,
hear the wings of eternity beating,
soon enough we'll all be meeting,
and each of us merrily greeting.
The moon will be full,
And we'll be wisked away,
in the dead of night.
To the place we are meant to be,
to learn and grow,
and maybe see,
a spectre of what we should be.
Time is ours,
frozen, but brief,
allowing us to release our grief,
to open our hearts and minds once more,
and step through the sacred door,
of time and space, and futures past,
to teach us the spells to cast.
So we may once again be free,
to live and love and blessed be.
So still your mind,
and still your soul,
and open your heart,
and set yourself free,
on this Samhain, I challenge thee.
Learn the truth from mages old,
the truth which was foretold.
The time is right, the night is new,
we can learn what not to do.
Warnings from the great beyond,
we'll heed them or all cry,
for lies can no longer be told,
when you look me in the eye.
I've learned a lesson, bold and true,
and now there are but a few,
who understand the depth of change,
and how we all must rearrange,
our thinking and goals,
for times anew,
if the world is to survive,
for me and you.
We've got our work cut out for us,
And we must not fail,
before the end,
or all will be lost,
and fate will be no more,
and finally the great beyond,
will close the door.
Time and space will exist no more,
we must work to prevent war.
Peace must prevail for ten thousand years,
and we must make sure it does.
Our souls eternal bond will hold,
as our bodies grow old.
Fear not the great beyond,
for it is a beginning,
not an end.
Our work will continue for eternity,
until everlasting peace shall set us free.
(poem by: unknown )
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.
So that was the latest edition of the Samhain blogs.
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed your read.
Posted by Magickal Enchantments at 7:55 PM
Thursday, October 9, 2008
On the last day of October, when the darkness of night drapes the sky like a shroud and the crisp air grows sweet with the aroma of fallen autumn leaves, magick and mystery abound. This is the night when the shadow realm beckons and the veil that seperates the world of the living from the world of the dead grows most thin. The great wheel of the year has once again completed its cycle, and the time of endings and beginnings has arrived.
This is Halloween.
Known by many names~Samhain, Shadowfest, Old Hallowmas, All Hallows Eve, Festival of the Dead~ this special night of the year is the most important of the eight annual Sabbats. It is a time when the spirits of deceased loved ones and friends are honored, as well as a time to gaze into the world of things yet to come.
For Pagans around the world, Halloween is, among other things, a night of ancestors, a harvest festival, a time of magick and mirth, and a New Years Eve celebration.
Halloweens roots are undeniably pagan however Halloween and its celebrations should not be restricted to witches and others who identify themselves as neo-pagans.
As a new era begins, the pagan path is shining its light on more and more people who are experiencing a growing spiritual need to reconnect with Mother Nature and the ancient ways.
So, in honor of my favorite holiday, all of the new blogs will be devoted to Samhain. They will be filled with history, lore, poems and spells all based on Samhain, so sit back and enjoy for Samhain is near....
Superstitions and Omens:
Unwise is the person who sits or sleeps beneath a hawthorn tree on Halloween, for on this day of the year, when malevolent spirits roam the Earth, fairies are said to hide within hawthorns and cast their strange enchantments upon the mortals who unknowingly rest beneath these trees.
If a cat of the most sinister shade of black should cross your path on Halloween, this is said to be one of the unluckiest omens you could ever receive. This superstitious belief, which is widespread thoughout the United States, Spain, Belgium, is less common on the British Isles, where black cats have long been regarded as the harbingers of good luck.
Rowan Tree Protection Spell
To keep yourself safe on Halloween from bewitchment, ill wishes, or the evil doings of supernatural beings, cut a branch of a rowan tree that is covered with red berries. With a red thread, attach it to your clothing or hair as you thrice recite the following magickal verse:
"Rowan Tree and red thread,
Gar the Witches dance their dead."
The rowan tree has long been regarded as the most magickal of all trees, and its protective powers are legendary. However, if you are unable to find a rowan tree to complete this spell, you can still protect yourself on Halloween simply by wearing something that is red. According to occult folklore, the color red works exceptionally well in keeping sorcerers and supernaturals at bay. And that is the reason why I use red thread in my protective witchballs...:)
2 quarts apple cider
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup apricot brandy
In a large pot, combine the apple cider, confectioners sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. Simmer slowly on low heat for about 15 minutes. Take care that the cider does not boil. Add the apricot brandi and then serve the cider while it is still warm.
Refrigerate any leftover cider.
That was the first edition to the Samhain blogs and I hope you enjoyed your read.
The Celtic Witch )0(
Posted by Magickal Enchantments at 4:16 PM
Monday, October 6, 2008
As fall rushes in and I finish the last of my harvesting from my summer garden I look for things that are growing this time of year. Fall brings us an abundance of magickal items to collect, many found at your local gardening store or right in your own neighborhood.
I thought I would share some of these items with you and their magickal uses.
Chrysanthemums~ In flower magick this flower invokes protection. At this time of year as we come closer to Samhain when the veil between the world is thin this is a handy flower. This flower is available in many colors and each color carries its own magickal meaning.
Yellow~ joy and cheer
Purple~ power and passion
White~ invokes truth
Bronze~encourages a happy and peaceful home
Think about setting some of this flower out in pots around your home to invoke their own powers and here is a charm you can use while performing this:
"The chrysanthemum is a magickal flower indeed,
It brings love, joy, and protection with all possible speed.
In this season of Autumn, I spin this fall flower spell,
Believe in this natural magick and all will be well."
The Chinese brew a tea from the flowers to reduce fevers.
You could separate the petals of this flower and sprinkle them to stop an argument and to calm fiery tempers.
Sprinkle the flower heads into a warm bath to get rid of a bad mood.
Mums are also the flower of choice for decorating your altar for autumn rituals.
What is fall without pumpkins? The original idea behind jack-o-lanterns was to frighten evil spirits away. Its a good idea to incorporate a pumpkin into a spell to remove or block any negativity or bad luck that may be surrounding you or your home. Carve your pumpkin into any witchy design that you like, place a black candle inside and as you light the candle repeat this charm three times:
"Bright pumpkin that glows and candle of black,
Send bad luck away, turn negativity back.
By all the enchantment of three times three,
Lady hear my spell, Blessed Be."
Here are some other late summer and fall blooming flowers to keep your eye out for to use in your Flower Magick...
~ Morning Glory (Ipomoea) - The morning glory is an old-fashioned, fall-blooming annual vine.
I have this flower surrounding my home, it grows on my lamppost, my stair railings, my fence and on my garden trellis. It is one of my favorites and the colors are vibrant and beautiful.
It is available in a wide range of colors from white, pastel shades of pink, and blue to true blue and deep purple. In the language of flowers, the morning glory “greets the new day.” Also any truly blue flowers are sacred to the goddess Aphrodite. For flower fascinations, use the blue blossoms for love, peace, and for promoting mental health. The morning glory is associated with the planet Saturn, which means that foliage, vines, and blossoms can and be incorporated into protection spells. Try the deeper blue and purple colored varieties to safeguard your home or property. Morning glories grow well in full to part sun. Be sure to keep them well watered during the hot, dog days of late summer.
~Aster (aster hybrids.) - The flower of the Goddess. Also known as Michaelmas daisies, asters come in gorgeous shades of blue, white, pink, and purple. The aster is sacred to most of the Greek pantheon, and attracts butterflies to your yard. I have the purple variety in my yard and they are still blooming now. According to flower folklore the aster conveys the message of variety, delicacy, and patience. Incorporate asters into spells and charms to enhance loving vibrations and healthy emotions. Adding these beautiful flowers to your garden brings love and contentment to your entire household. The aster prefers a sunny location and likes moist, well-drained soil. USA cold hardiness zones 4-9
~ Black-eyed-Susans (Rudbeckia) - These drought-tolerant perennials thrive in sunny spots and are a wonderful addition to any garden by providing bold splashes of golden color from summer through fall. I have a few of these still blooming but not for much longer however they did bloom just about all summer and they are a joy to look at.
In the language of flowers they symbolize “justice.” So they would be ideal to add to any spells where this was an issue. The seed heads of the black-eyed-Susan's are attractive to songbirds, so don’t cut these back in the late fall, let the birds have them. USA cold hardiness zones 4-9
~Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata) - In the language of flowers, the clematis stands for the beauty of the mind and ingenuity. Work a tiny blooming cluster or two this fall into enchantments that call for a little cleverness and resourcefulness. This free-flowering vine blooms in tiny snow-white clusters of fragrant blossoms in the autumn months. The 15-25 foot vines are aggressive and grow quickly, so keep it trained on an arbor or fence. If it starts to get away from you, it can be clipped back to a manageable size in the spring. This plant blooms on new growth, in the fall. USA cold hardiness zones 4-8
~Pansies (Viola) - These cool-temperature-loving flowers are sacred to Eros/Cupid. Pansies have many folk names including, kiss-me-at-the-garden-gate, love-in-idleness, Johnny jump-ups, and heart’s ease. According to legend, the god Eros accidentally shot one of his love-inducing arrows into the pansy, causing it to smile. The happy face of the pansy has been grinning ever since. These sassy, multi-colored flowers are incorporated into garden witchery spells and charms for easing a broken heart and for spreading cheer. Pansies are wonderful in the garden or tucked into pots and containers for seasonal color. If planted in the ground in the fall and then mulched with leaves in early winter, pansies will bloom again the following spring. Here’s a fun Garden Witch tip; during the fall months look for the “Trick or Treat” variety. These pansies are a mixture of orange, black and purple colors, and absolutely enchanting to add to your garden just in time for Halloween/ Samhain.
My next blog will of course be devoted to Samhain as it if my favorite holiday. I will also be running a Samhain contest for a free Oracle Reading. Details coming soon...
Until then brightest blessings and I wish you all well,
The Celtic Witch
Posted by Magickal Enchantments at 5:00 AM