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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Samhain

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
13 Samhain Superstitions

Boy, for a non-believer, I sure do have a lot of superstitions about Samhain; I suppose that any Time that marks an End-Beginning will acquire its due share. Many seem to be of a sympathetic magical nature, on the premise of As you begin, so will you continue. Some are just plain weird.

Forthwith:

 

The rent should be paid.

All bills need to be paid.

The gas tank should be full.

You should have some money in your pocket.

The house should be clean.

There should be a fire on the hearth.

All garbage should be taken out of the house before sunset. (Otherwise, you'll just be dealing with old garbage all year.)

The back door needs to be closed and locked by sundown on Samhain Eve, and needs to stay that way at least until sunrise the next morning.

You need to have these things in the house: bread, salt, potatoes, onions, garlic. (Actually, you should always have these things in the house, anyway; but at Samhain, it's particularly important.)

There should be more food on the table than can be eaten. (This for abundance through the year to come.)

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Two Octobers ago my last grandmother died, my last living grandparent. As the leaves turn to red and gold once more, I wake thinking of her each morning. I wake thinking of my maternal grandmother too, who died five years ago, in springtime as the iris bloomed. I dream of my husband's grandfather, he stands shoulder to shoulder with my oldest son, white hair flashing as he compares their heights and laughs.

We've just returned from a two week long trip to Florida and have arrived back in Missouri to a life in full b2ap3_thumbnail_73311891_2462875420591332_173510902027386880_o.jpgswing, parties to attend and plan, new products to develop for our shop, old requests waiting for our attention. But, the leaves will only be this color for a moment. The air will only be this sweet and pleasant for a moment. The sun will only glint across the cedar branches in this way that brings my soul to life right now, the colors of the day so sharp and vivid, clear and bright to my eyes, that it is almost like stepping into another reality. We have only this moment to join hands and slip off into the woods beneath the early morning sun, stepping past pools of slowly dripping water, over sharp and uncertain stones, soft green moss, and carpets of fallen leaves. It is only this moment in which we will hear the hawk's cry ring out across the trees. Only now in which we will turn over leaves and discover shining mushrooms, gleaming in the October sun.

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A Samhain Tale: Hecate and the Crossroads of Choice

At Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is thin and the mysteries of the sacred dark permeate the mundane world, Hecate calls to us. Never before has Her voice been so loud, so urgent. She speaks to us not only in our dreams and ritual magic, but also in the stark language of wildly erratic weather patterns, dying oceans and barren lands, and in the cold despair and hungry hopes of our own warm, beating heart.

It`s not easy to heed Her call. She raises our own spectral fears about the fate of our human society and planet home. Environmentally, socially, politically and spiritually, we are destroying the fabric of our physical and social world. We have reached a critical tipping point, and if we continue on this trajectory, things are not going to end well.

But how do we change? How do we shift from denial, apathy and despair into a place of hope and inspiration? How do we turn this destructive momentum into an evolutionary, birthing moment? And what is our personal part in weaving a better world into being?

“Come to my crossroads,” Hecate whispers on the wind, “Come and you will find the answers you seek.”

Take a deep breath, summon up your courage and say, “Yes, Hecate, I am coming. Guide me to your crossroads.”

In the world between the worlds, where the mysteries lie in wait, you will find Hecate. She appears before you in Her Crone form, with a thick mane of moonlight silver hair and intense, amethyst eyes that shine bright with Her ageless presence. She wears a cloak of midnight black that shimmers as She moves, as if brushed with starlight. An aura of light surrounds Her, a way-showing beacon in the enveloping darkness to guide travelers to Her crossroads. Her arms open wide to welcome you, casting a circle of illumination that draws you into its center. 

With a sweep of Her hands, two roads appear before you.

To the left is a neglected path, overgrown with the luscious fecundity of the wild realm.  Memories arise within you of the feral innocence of childhood with its simple pleasures of play and wonder in your dance with the outer world. And beneath this, older, ancestral memories percolate, of a time when humanity lived in loving, sensual communion with the powers and mysteries of the Mother Earth.  

To the right is a paved-over surface that obscures any trace of the living land under an unforgiving, tar black sheen. This path exudes a deadness that lays bare the tear in our human psyche from the natural world and our true, beautiful essence, and echoes with the keening pain of our battered souls and broken hearts.

“Behold the crossroads of these Great Turning times, where humanity faces a critical, precarious juncture in its spiritual evolution,” Hecate says, “Before you are two ways of living and dreaming.”

“One path holds the good dream of humanity where you walk the Earth in accordance with my life-centered ways and your best nature of love, generosity and communion with others. The second path holds the bad dream where your worst instincts of dominion, fear and greed lay barren the wild realm and the heart of your human society. It is this second path, reeking devastation on the living world, that rules humankind.

“Both of these paths exist inside of you and in your greater society. Humanity is neither good nor bad, but some complex weaving that includes the best and worst of your nature.”

With another sweep of Her hands, the two paths merge into one.

“This is my middle path,” Hecate says,” it holds the opposing paths of the good and bad dream of humanity. A mirror path exists inside of you that contains the joy and sorrow, and beauty and wounding of your life story.

“To transform yourself and your world, you must walk this middle path. To travel its ways is to accept and take responsibility for all that you are and all that you have experienced, and from this greater awareness choose whether the good or bad dream of humanity will hold sway in the core of your being. You must choose whether love or fear will rule you.

“Love is the way forward for you and your human kin — love that can hold and heal the sorrow and wounding that burden your soul and the world soul — love that chooses generosity over greed, and communion over dominion  — love that can turn the destructive momentum that threatens this world into a positive new beginning.

“This love is my way, the way of the sacred feminine, that is awakening within you and leading you home to your Deep Self and a better world.”

As Hecate speaks, the light that emanates from Her being shines brighter and brighter. This wondrous luminosity is the very love that She speaks of, offering a beacon of guidance and hope in these turbulent, Great Turning times. Hecate, the sacred feminine, all life on this stunning Earth, your life, are woven of this love. 

Hecate turns to you, taking your hands and squeezing them tight.

“Time is running out. Do not turn away,” She says, “By your choices, and those of your human kin, will your destiny and that of your Earth home be decided.”

She folds Her arms inward, drawing Her brilliant light back into Her body until She is gone, and you find yourself alone under a star-studded sky. Your hands still tingle from Her touch and the responsibility She has bequeathed to you shines strong and bright within you.

After the crossroads vision is done, the real magic begins. With your every thought, every word, every action, you choose which path your lives serves, and the kind of a world you want to create. Never have the stakes been higher; life as we know it hangs in the balance. To change this world, you must start with yourself.

Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Tarot for the Ancestor Altar

There are many traditions for the celebration of Samhain, or secular Halloween. One of my favorites is the creation of an Ancestor Altar. That is, a special altar that honors your ancestors, and assists them in communicating with you during this time of the thinning veil.

The ancestor altar is present in many cultural traditions. In some cultures, offerings of food, tobacco and libations are left for the ancestors upon the altar. In others, the altar is a place for photographs and special mementos of our loved ones in spirit.

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You’re invited to a Samhain ritual

You’re invited to a Samhain ritual. It will be held via teleseminar (group phone-call). Simply dial your phone, and you’re in. No other equipment needed. Attendance is free.

 

Dial-in number and other details for this one-hour ceremony are in my upcoming newsletter. Subscribe for free: https://outlawbunny.com/newsletter/ 

 

Samhain is a major holiday for many Pagans. The holiday has various aspects. Here are a few: 

* It is similar to the Mexican Day of the Dead, in that it is a time to honor and visit with ancestors.

* It is a harvest festival.

* Many Pagans celebrate the New Year at this time, instead of on January 1.

 

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Day of the Dead and Cultural Appropriation

With Samhain just around the corner, its relation with Day of the Dead is an issue of some importance to many Pagans. Taos, where I now live, is famous for the ubiquitous presence of decorated Day of the Dead skulls in many shop windows, all over town, all year long.  Of course, Day of the Dead themes have been integrated into Halloween celebrations as well, even though Mexicans are a small part of the population. The dominant Hispanic community had been here for centuries when Mexican people brought Day of the Dead with them. Since then, elements of it have caught on, particularly with the White population. 

As it has, the issue of cultural appropriation has arisen.  Cultural appropriation is when the dominant culture, or members of it, borrow and use aspects of minority cultures outside of their intended context. Recently, Aya de Leon offered a thoughtful critique of Anglo celebrations of Day of the Dead as cultural appropriation.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. diZerega, Thanks for your thoughtful contributions on a sensitive subject.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Samhain Song from the Celtic Revival

Irish Revival writer James Stephen's dazzling little 1924 novel  In the Land of Youth, though largely forgotten today, is nothing short of a modern pagan classic. In it, Stephens takes up an ancient Irish literary genre, back-stories to the Táin Bo Cuailinge, and recounts, in shining, lapidary prose, his tales (and tales-within-tales, and tales-within-tales-within-tales) of human and sidhe, of This World and the Other, and of the intercourse between the two.

The Song of Death is drawn from the novel's second section, “The Feast of Lugnasa,” but in this Season of the Ancestors it is the novel's first half, “The Feast of Samhain,” which I commend to the reader and which, in my opinion, richly deserves to become to the modern Samhain what Dickens' Christmas Carol has become to its eponymous holiday.

In the royal hall at Cruachan, on the Eve of Samhain—when gates between worlds swing wide—Ailill the King proposes to his assembled heroes a pastime while waiting for the feast to be made ready: that on this night of terrors, one of them should go out alone to tie a withy around the ankle of one of the dead men hanging from a nearby tree.

Two men go out, two men fearfully return, deed undone. Then Nera the Hero goes out into the night's darkness, withy in hand.

But things are not as they seem, for Ethal Anbual, King of the Sidhe of Connacht, is that very night proposing to raid and burn the royal hall at Cruachan....

 

The Song of Death

(James Stephens)

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