Merry Meet! It is October!..the favorite month of the Year for most Witches, including this one! The wheel of the year has turned, Mabon has passed and October has come, bringing cool crisp days, brilliant foilage of reds, golds, rusts and browns, jackets and sweaters are coming out of the back of the closets, garden centers are loaded with Mums, pumpkins, gourds and corn stalks, the smell of woodsmoke hangs in the air, and the Witch’s heart and soul quickens…for Samhain is coming, the New Year…the thinning of the veil….and there are things to be done for the favorite night of the year! I’m so excited!
“A white lace of frost webs the sidewalk a kaleidoscope of leaves. Hillsides are ablaze with flame-colored trees, fields lie fallow and dark, and cornstalks dry to the color of bone in the low golden sun. The sky promises rain tonight and winds rise to torture the clouds. Fog swirls down the darkened street, shrouding the candlelit grin of a glowing jack-o-lantern, and the veil between the land of the living and the land of the dead grows as thin and insubstantial as the mist.” from Simple Wicca by Michele Morgan
I love this description…it is so perfect for this time of the year. Samhain (pronounced Sow-en) known also as All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween is the third harvest festival of the year. The God has died, returning to the Underworld, to wait to be reborn at Yule. The Goddess is a Crone, mourning for him, leaving the world in darkness for a time. It is a time to honor our departed loved ones and the night when it is believed the veil between the material world and the Spirit world is at its thinnest and that the dead return to commune with the living.
In ancient times, Balefires burned on every hillside and great feasts were held. A place was set at the table for family members who had passed on to the Spirit world. For the Celts, tis was New Year’s Eve. In some traditions, Samhain marked a “time out of time,” the ending of the old year, the new year not beginning until the Sun’s rebirth at Yule. Samhain is considered the oldest and most sacred of the Sabbats because it honors the cycle of Life and Death.
*Symbolism— Death and transformation, Witches New Year, wisdom of the Crone, end of summer, Honoring our ancestors, thinning of the veil between worlds, death of the year, time outside of time, night of the Wild Hunt, begin new projects, end old projects, Magick, knowledge.
*Symbols/Tools/Decorations— Jack-O-Lanterns, Balefires, Masks, Besom, Cauldron, the Waning Moon, black altar cloth, oak leaves, acorns, straw, black cat, Crescent Moon, grain, bare branches, pictures of ancestors, candles.
*Herbs— Allspice, broom, comfrey, dandelion, deadly nightshade, mugwort, catnip, ferns, flax ,mandrake, dragon’s blood, sage, straw, thistles, oak, wormwood
*Incense/Oils— Frankincense, basil, yarrow, lilac, camphor, clove, wood rose, wormwood, myrrh, patchouli, apples, mint, nutmeg, sage, ylang ylang
*Colors— Black, orange, indigo,
*Stones/Crystals— Black stones, jet, obsidian, onyx, carnelian
*Customs/Activities— Carving jack o’lanterns, spirit plate, ancestor altar, costumes, divination, the Feast of the Dead, feasting, paying debts, drying winter herbs, masks, bonfires, apples, tricks, bats, cats, ghosts
*Foods— Apple, pumpkin pie, pomegranate, pumpkin, squash, hazelnuts, corn, cranberry muffins, bread, ale, apple cider and herbal tea.
*Gods— Horned Hunter, Cernunnos, Osiris, Hades, Loki, Arawn, Anubis
*Goddesses— The Crone, Hecate, Cerridwen, Arianrhod, Caillech, Baba Yaga, Bast, Hel
*Spellworking/Ritual— Honoring/consulting ancestors, releasing the old, foreseeing the future, power, understanding death and rebirth, entering the underworld, divination, dance of the dead, fire calling, past life recall.
How can you celebrate Samhain?..besides of course trick or treating, visiting corn mazes and haunted houses, hayrides and Halloween parties? One custom of this Sabbat that I love is the “Dumb Supper.” This is setting a place for the spirit of your departed loved ones at your table and lighting their way to your hearth with carved pumpkins and candlelight. I have done this for several years now and it’s really a special thing to do. You can set a picture at the place setting or settings of the person you are inviting to join you. Turn off all the lights and just have candles lit at the table. Make it a silent meal..no talking….just focus on your loved one you are remembering, and maybe THEY will have something to say to you!
Dress up for the occasion..whether you wear a costume or put on your best witchy clothes, hat, robe… It’s your night…dress for it! Have a bonfire under the Moon. Throw your dried harvested herbs in to make the smoke even more magickal. All forms of divination are paramount on Samhain Eve. Dark mirrors for scrying, Tarot cards, runes, or pendulums are all perfect tools to take advantage of the heightened spiritual energies at this Sabbat. Set up a table by the fire and do some tarot or rune readings for your friends and family or just see what the Universe has to say to you on this night. If you are blessed to have some time alone, contemplate the coming winter, and use this time out of time to let die old ways of thinking, outworn beliefs, and negative patterns.
Leave some bread and wine outside as an offering to the wandering souls and the Faeries. Make sure you have some jack o-lanterns or luminaries lighting the way for them to your home! The grinning pumpkins provide protection as well 🙂
One of my favorite things to do just before Samhain, is to have a Harvest Soup Party. I invite some friends and family over, telling them to be sure to dress warm. I set up about 3-4 crockpots of different soups…like chili, veggie, potato, and corn chowder. I have bowls of toppings such as crackers, shredded cheese, bacon bits, sunflower seeds, sour cream, croutons. I have a pumpkin tureen filled with warm spiced cider..some vodka or rum can be added for the adults. A couple of desserts such as pumpkin pie and apple crisp round off the menu. A bonfire is going, bales of hay with fleece blankets are great for extra seating, and bandannas in orange, black, brown and red are great to use as napkins! You can have a table set up for pumpkin carving for the kids..with the adults help of course. Tell ghost stories and roast marshmallows to finish up the evening. Everyone loves a great night outdoors with good food and good company….they will look forward to your party every year!
I’ve got my Autumn decorating mostly done today…decided I needed to shop for a few new things for the house and the weather will be perfect this week to go pumpkin and mums shopping and apple pickin is on the agenda too. I’ll be making my famous Amish Apple Pies this next week as well. Yummy!!
October is a wonderful month and it seems to go so so fast..at least for me it does. LOL! Be sure to enjoy every minute of it…take a walk or a drive and take in the brilliant color. Visit an apple farm and have a caramel apple or sip on some apple cider. I love to bake and cook this time of year. When you do cook or bake, make up some extra and take it to a neighbor or someone you know would love it. Don’t forget the critters! Put out Indian corn, peanuts, and bird seed for those who are gathering for the long winter ahead. Bring in the last of your harvest before the first frost. I have herbs to get in and I need to do it tomorrow as we have frost warnings already!
I’ll post blog soon with some of my favorite Autumn recipes. In the meantime, enjoy the cooling weather and the change of the Seasons….Happy October!
“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”
Bright Blessings, Autumn
*Sources..my BOS & Simple Wicca by Michele Morgan. Pictures from the internet.