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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in halloween
Samhain in the Forecourt: The Rite of Three Crones

When the horns of sunset sound, we gather with unlit candles and lamps in the great mound's forecourt. Between its tall stones, the gateway gapes.

Then he is among us, singing. I am here, I am right here among you. He shines, his antlers shine. We light from his torch and gather around him in a great wheel of fire. We sing.

Shadows slip between us and our song. Three? Nine? One by one, they snuff out our lights.

One by one, until only the god's torch still burns. They converge from all directions then, like silent hounds on a stag. He struggles, but they bring him down and kill his light. He falls. He is dead.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Annie and the Flowers of the Dead

Why do we give flowers to the dead?

Well, I think I know.

I used to work with a woman named Annie: tiny, nearing retirement but undiminished.

Croatian, born in the then-Yugoslavia, Annie fell in love with, and married, an American GI. Her family disowned her for it. Annie gave up much for love and America.

Not long after they married, her husband asked when her birthday was. She told him, surprised that he should want to know. In Croatia, no one celebrates birthdays. The day to celebrate is your Name Day, the feast day of the saint that you were named for.

So when, a few days before Samhain, her husband burst through the door with an armful of chrysanthemums and Happy Birthday on his lips, she was both dumbfounded and horrified.

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Good Witch vs. Bad Witch: Lord Samhain

At the risk of asking a silly question, I have heard of the Lord of Samhain. Does he or she exist or is it an urban legend?

—Blessings, Sally from Seattle

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The Food it Wouldn't be Samhain Without

It's the quintessential Irish Samhain food: colcannon.

The name means “white-head cabbage”: col (as in “cole slaw”) + ceann (as in Kennedy, “black head”) + finn (“white”), but cabbage is only one of the autumnal triumverate that make up this classic of the peasant kitchen, onions and (of course) potatoes being the others. Before the coming of the spud, likely turnips—that other classic Samhain root vegetable—would have been the third.

How many foods do you know that have (and deserve) their own song? You can hear Mary Black singing its praises here. We sing this song every Samhain. Then we dig in.

Colcannon is good, hearty winter food, but the Samhain batch is special because then you put in the divinatory tokens before you serve it: the coin (for money), the ring (for love), the thimble (some say, spinsterhood; others, creativity).

One Samhain my covensib Kay got the coin. “I could certainly use the money,” she said, “but it doesn't seem very likely; I'm already at the top of my pay grade.”

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I love the way that holiday foods carry memory. An anthropologist friend of mine once quipped, "Tell me what your family eats at C
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I don't think I've ever tried Colcannon before, but it sounds interesting. For myself I take the last Saturday in October to make
  • Carrie-Anne
    Carrie-Anne says #
    A bit confused, Samhain was replaced by All Hallows around 800ad, and potatoes weren't introduced to Ireland until the mid 16th c
  • Mabnahash
    Mabnahash says #
    I didn't realize my poor Irish ancestors of a few generations ago didn't count as peasants. Why are more modern foods not legitima
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I can think of numerous examples of divination (or selection) by means of tokens served in food. Plum puddings usually have a sixp

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Fall Reflections

Samhain or Halloween, the year is waning. The sun is out less and less (in the northern hemisphere).  The weather is more unpredictable (depending on where you are).  The dark of the year is coming. 

What does this mean?  What are we meant to do with the dark of the year?  It’s a time to harvest all the things you’ve been doing for the spring and summer.  It’s a time of year when you start to pull your energy into yourself to reflect on how you’ve been doing, where you are with your goals, and life in general.

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Celebrating Halloween in Spring

 

Halloween is tricky business in Australia. For those who wish to indulge in the treat of dressing up, eating lollies (the more common term for 'candy') and celebrating all things spooky, there are a few barriers to hammer against. Luckily for those who have gazed at the event with envy overseas, those barriers are slowly crumbling and Halloween has made its presence felt down under.

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The Blessing o' the Bats

So far this fall, we haven't had any bats in the house. Around here, that's unusual.

Most years, in the weeks before Halloween, I find at least one wheeling through the halls. We've got a bat house mounted on the wall outside—bats eat mosquitoes, so they're a valuable asset to have nesting nearby—but come the cold and the end of bug season, naturally they start looking around for a nice, cozy cave to over-winter in.

These days, I'm the household bat-catcher. Old Simmycat is gone now, but in her heyday she did the job masterfully. Like most Manx—in compensation for the lack of tail, I suppose—Simmy had powerful hindquarters and was a noteworthy jumper.

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