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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Samhain

Today we celebrate Samhain, and I'm drawn to think of my ancestors, my mothers bloodline and my fathers, back to the beginning, and as I step out to the threshold of my home, darkness gathering about me like a shawl, I give thanks to Gwyn ap Nudd, my patron god, lord of the wild hunt, and I give thanks to those that stand we with me unseen at the liminal places, who have seen my victories and my sorrows, and held my hand soft as the mist that caresses my cheek. I give thanks for each of them, my ancestral guardians, my beloveds, those whose bones are now a part of the rock and soil, those whose ashes are scattered on the wind, and whose memories are dust in the barrow mounds upon the hills, those who walked this long road before me. I remember you and you live in me, always.

Each year I bake a gift for the spirits, either barm brack or soul cakes, which I place out with a candle and a whiskey, for those who pass by on the wind. 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Seed Charm for the Ancestors

Seed Charm for the Ancestors

This charm is for honouring those that have passed over, it can be for humans or animals.   The seeds are grown in memory of your loved ones.

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Dining with the Ancestors: A Modern Minoan Rite

We're approaching Samhain here in the northern hemisphere, so my thoughts naturally turn toward the Ancestors. The Minoans didn't celebrate Samhain - it's a Celtic festival from a time many centuries after the fall of Minoan civilization and a place a great distance away from Crete. But the Minoans did honor the Ancestors and the spirits of the dead. In fact, as far as we can tell, that's something all ancient cultures did in one way or another.

The Minoans appear to have performed dining rites, something along the lines of a Dumb Supper, a meal where the spirits of the dead are invited as honored guests. The image at the top of this blog post is a fascinating terracotta model from the Minoan tholos tomb at Kamilari. It depicts four people in a dining shrine, seated with little tables in front of them. Two of the tables hold what appear to be loaves of bread. In front of the tables, two human-like figures are rising up out of the floor: the spirits of the dead.

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Samhain Teaching: Born Into Life, Born Into Death

The natural world and our human psyches turn toward the mysteries of death at Samhain. Cold and darkness descend upon the land, and the wild world shifts into decay and a death-like sleep. In many cultures, this time of year is marked by offerings and rituals to honor the dead, our beloved ancestors.

Usually we don’t like to think about death. Most of us run as fast as we can from the frightening specter that decline and death conjure in us. It is the ultimate irony that the moment we are born into life, with our very first breath, we are also born into death. And we must live every moment, every breath, knowing that we will die, and that everything around us, all that we love and cherish, will eventually come to decay, to death, to dust.

Samhain teaches us that there is no hiding from death. It comes in the falling of leaves, the lengthening darkness and the cold grip of Winter. It comes in our remembrances of our beloved ancestors that have passed on. It comes in the wrenching of our heart as we witness a dear one slip from this world into the next. It comes with the graying at our temples, the sagging of our flesh and the unstoppable march toward our last breath.

And death comes with gifts in hand if we have the courage to show up raw and naked to our pain, losses and fears.

Death strips us to the basics:
that every breath is a miracle not to be wasted;
that each person, each creature and life form, is worthy, precious, sacred;
that life is oh so hard and oh so exquisite;
that pain and loss help us remember what we cherish most;
and that love, at the end of all things, is what remains.

Love is death’s most precious gift to us. Love, not money, possessions, career, social esteem and the many other alluring outer trappings of life, is the balm that soothes us in the face of death. Love is what connects us to those who have passed on. Love calls us to reach out and hold each other in our grief. Love is what joins us heart to heart and soul to soul to another. Love is our best offering from our Deep Self to the world.

Samhain is a time to contemplate the mysteries of death, not from a place of fear and resistance, but from an acceptance of death as a teacher and guide for the living. Yes we are born into life and born into death, and it is this very, inescapable fact that makes every moment so precious, fragile and bittersweet beautiful.

Death isn’t a summons to fear, it is an invitation to love, deeply, wildly, joyfully. And when death seeks us out at the end of our days, let our last breath be a prayer to love.

Photo Credit: Chris B on Unsplash

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Samhain Is When They Count Us

Samhain is when they count us.

That's what my old high priestess back East always used to say.

Samhain is when they count us. And if there are more of us this year than there were last year, then next year we'll be even more.

And if there are fewer of us than last Samhain, then next year we'll be fewer still.

So. If you're wondering whether or not to make the time in your busy, busy life and get your butt out to the ritual this year after all, then I say to you: Do it. It's important. It's a matter of Peoplehood.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Witches, Fairies, and Hallowe'en

 When people think of Halloween, or from a more pagan perspective Samhain, the image of witches comes quickly to mind and it may be the single day of the year most strongly associated with witches in Western culture. Yet there is another layer to Halloween that also intersects with witchcraft and witches but isn't as commonly acknowledged in mainstream culture and that is fairies. Halloween and the general period of time around Halloween has long been known in the folklore and folk practices of the various Celtic-language speaking countries to be a time when the Good Folk are more active and more present.

The connection between witches and fairies more generally is complex and multi layered. Scottish witches who were brought to trial mentioned dealing with fairies as often as dealing with demons and were as likely to say they had sworn themselves to the Queen of King of Fairy as to the Christian Devil. This is discussed in Emma Wilby's books 'Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits' and 'The Visions of Isobel Gowdie' and touched on in Davies 'Popular Magic' which all review various material from the Scottish witchcraft trials in which confessed witches talk about their connections to the fairies. We also see references to both Irish witches and mná feasa [wise women] who learned their skill from the Good Neighbours, as well as specialists called fairy doctors in English who were supposed to have been taught by the fairies (Daimler, 2014). This overlap, briefly summarized here, was one where the witch might both serve Fairy and also be served by it. 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Ask the Dark Mother,
faceless in her beauty
to open the portal
of self-compassion
to those whose scars
keep them hidden.
excerpt © Jennifer Lothrigel 2016

 

Samhain

Maenad moon gathers all souls,
sends then dancing into the wind

Light dims, cold moves over, roots reach down to the core where life coheres. We draw inward, grow reflective, slow to the pace of dreaming and remembering.

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