This week for Watery Wednesday we take a look at Japanese Halloween, Wiccan "churches," and beginner Pagan's book lists.
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Halloween. First part sounds like hallow, which preserves the original sense of the festival, derived from Old English hælig, “holy thing or person, saint.”
This is how I grew up pronouncing the word in Western Pennsylvania, and how I still pronounce it.
Which means, of course, that this is the correct pronunciation.
Helloween. Feast of the Goddess of Death and the Underworld (= Hell), observed only by the bluest of British blue-bloods. Raw-tha.
Hilloween. Southern hemisphere festival observed in New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. Named for the Hill o' Ween, where Australia's first Bealtaine bonfire was lighted in 1794.
For those who wish to extend their Halloween/Samhain party celebrations, here's another notion for you:
Mexican Day of the Dead Party
The artwork and decoration for Dia de los Muertos (traditionally Nov. 1st and 2nd) has always been naturally festive. This sacred practice has more to do with customs and community rather than a particular organized religion. It is the answer to the Celtic origins of Halloween, but more so: The Mexican festival is truly a public celebration, not just a private affair. The Catholics may have All Saint's Day, but this Mexican custom, like many native cultures, is a blending of ancient pagan practice intermeshed with the adoption of Christian symbolism and saints. In many of the whimsical and often beautiful altars on display, there are images of the Virgin Mary or Jesus interspersed amongst the whimsical sugar skulls.
I have one word for you here: skeletons, skeletons, skeletons! You could even recycle some Cinco de Mayo wall hangings if you like, to mix in with the bones. Decorate little sugar skulls and add to your altar/treat table. Have each guest bring a memento from a recently departed loved one to add to the altar space. Light a candle for each, and offer a favorite treat to all of them.
Speaking of treats, whip up some Mexican Hot Chocolate, and have a salsa bar with several degrees of hot to sample with some spicy tacos, nachos, and tortilla chips. Let Mariachi music ring out over your speakers. If that gets too scary for some after a spell, switch over to the Gypsy Kings. Share some tarot readings and ask for advice from a departed loved one. Keep it in the tradition of this honored day. Remember that Halloween can be sweet in more than one way.
MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE
(from Rachel Ray)
4 cups whole milk
1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) chocolate chips
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and 1 cup of water over a medium heat. Whisk constantly but do not boil- about 8 minutes. This makes 4 mugs, so double or quadruple recipe accordingly. To spice things up, add a shot of rum to each mug!
For more Dia de los Muertos ideas and sugar skull instructions, visit:
The wheel turns. Our youngest son turned one yesterday. His pregnancy and birth was so closely aligned with the wheel of the year and my pregnancy with him was an incredibly generative time for our business (I wrote and published the Womanrunes book as well as sculpted more than twenty of our sculpture and pendant designs while pregnant with him). I can hardly believe he is one now! Instead of leaping right into my to-do list when he was napping, I sat with my cards and my Divination Practicum workbook. I’m really enjoying the many ways the course I am currently teaching dovetails with the prompts in the 30 Days of Hecate course I am currently taking. Yesterday's assignment was to do a tarot reading using Joanna’s “Elder of Fire” layout. I did it with the Gaian Tarot combined with Womanrunes. I felt like doing this layout was exactly what I needed. I’ve been feeling scattered, drained, touched out, and stressed lately. My kids are all sick and we’ve been what feels like nonstop busy and I’ve been craving down time, solitude, and space to think. My list is a mile long, but I made space for this work first instead of saving it for the oft-elusive “later.” This Elder of Fire layout feels like a really, really powerful layout to do at this time of year and I encourage you to try it yourself this weekend! I was also very interested to see that the rune of the day for me was The Cauldron and then The Cauldron was also the first card for my Elder spread. That is very Hecate-riffic.
It’s that time of the year again: Samhain, undoubtedly many Pagans’ favorite festival is here and the veil is thinning. Time to get out your candles, dust off your broomsticks, and make the appropriate offerings to your deceased ancestors. It’s also, of course, Halloween, which is easily one of the most popular holidays in Western culture and therefore also a time for merry trick or treating, costuming, and creepy stories about ghosts and monsters.
In our annual megapost for Samhain, we’ve got plenty of both, both from PaganSquare as well as some of our favorite places on the web. Browse through to your heart’s content (though feel no compulsion to read them all), though be forewarned some content isn’t for the faint of heart!
H/T to our blogger WeMoon for the wonderful Samhain image!
So last week I picked up a copy of Marcus Katz's 'The Ghost Train,' and I'm working through it. While Marcus actually recommends that you make it a study running up to the ending for Halloween, I'm doing it according to my traditions, and incorporating All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day, with the final part ending (for me) on Monday.
Even though this is recommended for over the Samhain period, this exercise can be done at any time of year. All you need is the book (available through Amazon Kindle), and your favorite deck of tarot cards. It uses 'gated' tarot spreads, meaning that each spread must be experienced before moving onto the next one. It's a very well thought out process, and one that allows the querent to gather an in-depth way of experiencing clarity and deeper self-awareness. This particular book links the past to the present, helping the querent to better understand past experiences, in order to use them as a foundation for future awareness....
The island lies at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. To the Dakota, old in the land, it marked the Center of the World.
That's where we gather for Samhain.
In the river valley, the Sun sets early. By late afternoon, people have already begun to gather at the stone-built fire-hall, and kindled a fire in its central hearth. At sunset we close the doors.