“A year of beauty. A year of plenty.
A year of planting. A year of harvest.
A year of forests. A year of healing.
A year of vision. A year of passion.
A year of rebirth.
This year may we renew the earth.
This year may we renew the earth.
Let it begin with each step we take.
And let it begin with each change we make.
And let it begin with each chain we break.
And let it begin every time we awake.”
– Starhawk, Reclaiming Samhain
OCTOBER – BLOOD MOON
October is the tenth month of the year, its name derived from the Latin word meaning “eight,” as it was the eighth month of the Roman calendar. Its astrological sign is Libra, the Scales (September 23 – October 23), a cardinal air sign ruled by Venus. In October we enter the glorious late afternoon of the year. Bittersweet berries turn brilliant orange, and the woodland blazes with vibrant colors reminiscent of a Persian carpet. As October passes the door to the otherworld opens wider. We become more receptive to spiritual energies and feel drawn to bond with our ancestors. The main holiday of October, and one of the most magickal nights of the year, is Samhain or Halloween. This is a traditional time to honor our ancestor. Many seasonal decorations can help do this. The jack-o’-lantern illuminates a path so the spirits of our ancestors can find their way. Apples are used to feed the dead, so leave an apple near your door or a plate at your table. The name of October’s Full Moon, the Blood Moon, comes from this urge to connect with ancestors. When the Blood Moon rises, it smolders like an ember in the autumn sky. She is a beacon for spiritual energy. Thank her by leaving an apple beneath a tree, or by burning some dried wormwood in a dish and meditating on your deceased loved ones.
THE BLOOD MOON
The Blood Moon is the last of the harvest moons, and the one closest to Samhain, the time when the veil between this world and the Otherworld is thinnest. Also known as “moon of the changing seasons” and “failing leaf moon,” the Blood Moon represents the death of one cycle and the birth of a new cycle. Blood is te life force that flows through your physical body. The Blood Moon ritual gives you the opportunity to give thanks and celebrate this life force.
Correspondences for the Blood Moon
Colors: Dark blue, black, purples
Gemstones: Obsidian, amethyst, tourmaline
Trees: Apples and yew
Gods: Herne, Apollo, Cernunnos, Mercury
Herbs: Apple blossom, pennyroyal, mint family, catnip, Sweet Annie
Wiccan Spell A Night: Spells, Charms, And Potions For The Whole Year
Blood Moon Correspondences – Patti Wigington, About.com
CORRESPONDENCES FOR OCTOBER
NATURE SPIRITS : Frost and plant faeries
COLORS: Deep Blue Green
FLOWERS: calendula, marigold, cosmos
SCENTS: strawberry, apple blossom, and cherry
STONES: Opal, tourmaline, beryl, turquoise
TREES: Yew, cypress, acacia
ANIMALS: stag, jackal, elephant, ram, scorpion
BIRDS: heron, crow and robin
DEITIES: Ishtar, Astarte, Demeter, Kore, Lakshmi, The Horned God, Belili, Hathor
POWERS/ADVICE: A time to work on inner cleansing, letting go, karma, reincarnation, justice and balance.
Symbols & Folklore for the Month of October
October’s Sign of the Zodiac
Libra, the Scales (September 23 – October 23)
Scorpio, the Scorpion (October 24 – November 21)
October’s Celtic Tree Astrology
Ivy: September 30 – October 27
Reed: October 28 – November 24
Opal, Tourmaline, Pink Sapphire
October’s Birth Flower
The Calendula & Cosmos
When deer are in a gray coat in October, expect a hard winter.
Much rain in October, much wind in December.
A warm October means a cold February.
In October dung your field, and your land its wealth shall yield.
October’s Month Long Observations
- Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- Dwarfism/Little People Awareness Month
- Eczema Awareness Month
- National Arts & Humanities Month (United States)
- National Cyber Security Awareness Month (in United States)
- International Walk to School Day (International)
- National Adopt A Shelter Dog Month (United States)
- National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (in United States and Canada)
- National Dental Hygiene Month (in United States)
- National Down Syndrome Awareness Month (in United States)
- National Infertility Awareness Month (in United States)
- National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (in United States)
- National Lupus Erythematosus Awareness Month (in United States)
- National Physical Therapy Month (in United States)
- National Spina Bifida Awareness Month (in United States)
- Rett Syndrome Awareness Month (in United States)
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month (in United States)
- World Blindness Awareness Month
- American Pharmacist Month
- Mental Illness Awareness Week
“Your tombstone stands among the rest;
neglected and alone
The name and date are chiseled out
on polished, marbled stone
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn
You did not know that I’d exist
You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you
in flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled
one hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left
who would have loved you so.
I wonder if you lived and loved,
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot,
and come to visit you.”
– Dear Ancestor
Samhain – October 31
To most Witches, October means just one thing: Samhain! This holiday (pronounced sow-in) is also known as the Witches’ New Year, and falls on October 31st.
Most people know that date as Halloween, a spooky holiday characterized by ghosts and witches. Halloween comes from the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve (Hallow Evening, or Hallow E’en), which in turn was adapted from the pagan celebration of Samhain.
As with most of the Christian holidays that were derived from pagan practices, the origins of Halloween’s modern traditions can easily be traced back to its ancient pagan roots. The witches… well, that one’s obvious. (And for a change, everyone is dressing like us, instead of the other way around!) The spookiness and the ghosts are descended from the pagan belief that on this day of the year the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest, allowing for communication between the living and the dead.
Samhain is the end of the Wiccan year. We take this opportunity to say goodbye to all those loved ones we have lost in the past year, and speak to our ancestors if we have the need. At the same time, we celebrate the start of the new year with revelry and feasting. This may seem contradictory, but as Wiccans we know that sorrow and joy are both a part of life, and that neither can exist without the other.
Samhain is the third and final harvest festival, often celebrate what lies ahead. So dress up in your most witchy black, grab your cloak and your broom, and revel in the joy of being a witch!
Circle, Coven, & Grove: A Year of Magickal Practice
Samhain Ritual Tools, Symbols and Decorations
Altar Decorations: Black altar cloth; red altar candles; cauldron or pot with water and a floating candle; black pillar candle; bowl of apples; wand tied with black ribbon, lighted pumpkins; black silk pouch; chalice covered with a black cloth; red and white wine.
Symbols: Jack-o-lanterns; cauldron; scrying mirror or bowl; tarot cards; torches; bonfires; graveyard; tombstone; broom; cornstalks; runes for casting; photographs of departed ancestors; oak and hazel wands tied with black ribbons.
1 tsp. crushed Mugwort Leaves
1 tsp. Frankincense Tears (small resin chunks)
1 tsp. Myrrh Resin (small chunks)
2 tsp. crushed Rosemary Leaves
3 drops Rosemary oil
3 drops Pine oil
3 drops Bay oil
3 drops Apple oil
2 drops Patchouli oil
Use almond oil as the base
Samhain Ritual Potpourri
by Gerina Dunwich
45 drops patchouli oil
1 cup oak moss
2 cups dried apple blossoms
2 cups dried heather flowers
1 cup dried and chopped apple peel
1 cup dried pumpkin seeds
½ cup dried and chopped mandrake root
Mix the patchouli oil with the oak moss, and then add the remaining ingredients. Stir the potpourri well and store in a tightly covered ceramic or glass container.
(The above recipe for “Samhain Ritual Potpourri” is quoted directly from Gerina Dunwich’s book “The Wicca Spellbook: A Witch’s Collection of Wiccan Spells, Potions and Recipes“, page 162, A Citadel Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, 1994/1995)
Ritual To Honor Your Ancestors
For many modern Pagans, there has been a resurgence of interest in our family histories. We want to know where we came from and whose blood runs through our veins. Although ancestor worship has traditionally been found more in Africa and Asia, many Pagans with European heritage are beginning to feel the call of their ancestry. This rite can be performed either by itself, or on the third night of Samhain, following the End of Harvest celebration and the Honoring of the Animals.
First, decorate your altar table — you may have already gotten it set up during the End of Harvest rite or for the Ritual for Animals. Decorate your altar with family photos and heirlooms. If you have a family tree chart, place that on there as well. Add postcards, flags, and other symbols of the country your ancestors came from. If you’re lucky enough to live near where your family members are buried, make a grave rubbing and add that as well. In this case, a cluttered altar is perfectly acceptable — after all, each of us is a blend of many different people and cultures.
Have a meal standing by to eat with the ritual. Include lots of dark bread, apples, fall vegetables, and a jug of cider or wine. Set your dinner table, with a place for each family member, and one extra plate for the ancestors. You may want to bake some Soul Cakes.
If your family has household guardians, include statues or masks of them on your altar. Finally, if a relative has died this year, place a candle for them on the altar.
Light candles for other relatives, and as you do so, say the person’s name aloud. It’s a good idea to use tealights for this, particularly if you have a lot of relatives to honor.
Once all the candles have been lit, the entire family should circle the altar. The oldest adult present leads the ritual. Say:
This is the night when the gateway between our world and the spirit world is thinnest. Tonight is a night to call out those who came before us. Tonight we honor our ancestors. Spirits of our ancestors, we call to you, and we welcome you to join us for this night. We know you watch over us always, protecting us and guiding us, and tonight we thank you. We invite you to join us and share our meal.
The oldest family member then serves everyone else a helping of whatever dishes have been prepared, except for the wine or cider. A serving of each food goes on the ancestors’ plate before the other family members recieve it. During the meal, share stories of ancestors who are no longer among the living — this is the time to remember Grandpa’s war stories he told you as a child, tell about when Aunt Millie used salt instead of sugar in the cake, or reminisce about summers spent at the family homestead in the mountains.
When everyone has finished eating, clear away all the dishes, except for the ancestors’ plate. Pour the cider or wine in a cup, and pass it around the circle (it should end at the ancestor’s place). As each person receives the cup, they recite their genealogy, like so:
I am Susan, daughter of Joyce, the daughter of Malcolm, son of Jonathan…
and so forth. Feel free to add in place names if you like, but be sure to include at least one generation that is deceased. For younger family members, you may wish to have them only recite back to their grandparents, just because otherwise they can get confused.
Go back as many generations as you can, or (in the case of people who have done a lot of genealogy research) as many as you can remember. You may be able to trace your family back to William the Conqueror, but that doesn’t mean you have it memorized. After each person recites their ancestry, they drink from the cider cup and pass it to the next person.
A quick note here — many people are adopted. If you are one them, you are fortunate enough to be able to choose whether you wish to honor your adoptive family, your biological family, or a combination of the two. If you don’t know the names of your birth parents or their ancestry, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Daughter of a family unknown.” It’s entirely up to you. The spirits of your ancestors know who you are, even if you don’t know them yet.
After the cup has made its way around the table, place it in front of the ancestors’ plate. This time, a younger person in the family takes over, saying:
This is the cup of remembrance. We remember all of you. You are dead but never forgotten, and you live on within us.
If you didn’t do a separate ritual for animals, you can add photos and candles for deceased pets to your family altar.
If you like, you may wish to follow this ritual with a Seance.
If your children are younger, and you’d like to include them in a short ritual, consider holding an Ancestor Ritual for Families With Children instead.
Samhain Ancestor Meditation
A Time of Darkness
Samhain is known as the night when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest. It’s a time to sit back and honor the spirit world, and call upon those ancestors who came before us. After all, if not for them, we wouldn’t be here. We owe them something, some gratitude for their ability to survive, their strength, their spirit. Many Pagans choose Samhain as a time to honor their ancestors.
In addition to these more formal rituals, you may also want to take some time alone for a quiet meditation. This is a point in the Wheel of the Year when the spirit world is a bit closer than normal, and if you’ve never tried to contact your ancestors before, now is a good time to do it.
When performing an ancestor meditation, people experience different things. You may find yourself meeting a specific person that you are aware of in your family history — maybe you’ve heard the stories about great-uncle Joe who went out west after the Civil War, and now you have the privilege of chatting with him, or perhaps you’ll meet the grandmother who passed away when you were a child. Some people, however, meet their ancestors as archetypes. In other words, it may not be a specific individual you meet, but rather a symbol — instead of adventurous great-uncle Joe, it may be a non-specific Civil War soldier or frontiersman.
Either way, understand that meeting these individuals is a gift. Pay attention to what they say and do — it may be that they’re trying to give you a message.
Setting the Mood
Before you perform this meditation, it’s not a bad idea to spend some time with the tangible, physical aspects of your family. Bring out the old photo albums, read through wild Aunt Tillie’s diary from the Great Depression, get out your grandfather’s old pocket watch that almost sank with the Titanic. These are the material things that connect us to our family. They link us, magically and spiritually. Spend time with them, absorbing their energies and thinking of the things they’ve seen, the places they’ve been.
You can perform this ritual anywhere, but if you can do it outside at night it’s even more powerful. Decorate your altar (or if you’re outside, use a flat stone or tree stump) with the symbols of your ancestors — the photos, journals, war medals, watches, jewelry, etc. No candles are necessary for this meditation, but if you’d like to light one, do so. You may also want to burn some Samhain spirit incense.
Claiming Your Birthright
Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Think about who you are, and what you are made of, and know that everything within you is the sum of all your ancestors. From thousands of years ago, generations of people have come together over the centuries to create the person you are now. Think about your own strengths — and weaknesses — and remember that they came from somewhere. This is a time to honor the ancestors who formed you.
Recite your genealogy — aloud if you like — as far back as you can go. As you say each name, describe the person and their life. An example might go something like this:
I am the daughter of James, who fought in Vietnam
and returned to tell the tale.
James was the son of Eldon and Maggie,
who met on the battlefields of France,
as she nursed him back to health.
Eldon was the son of Alice, who sailed
aboard Titanic and survived.
Alice was the daughter of Patrick and Molly,
who farmed the soil of Ireland, who
raised horses and tatted lace to feed the children…
and so forth. Go back as far as you like, elaborating in as much detail as you choose. Once you can go back no further, end with “those whose blood runs in me, whose names I do not yet know”.
If you happened to meet a certain ancestor, or their archetype, during your meditation, take a moment to thank them for stopping by. Take note of any information they may have given you — even if it doesn’t make sense just now, it may later on when you give it some more thought. Think about all the people you come from, whose genes are part of you. Some were great people — some, not so much, but the point is, they all belong to you. They all have helped shape and create you. Appreciate them for what they were, with no expectations or apologies, and know that they are watching over you.
the days grow cold.
The Goddess pulls her mantle of Earth around Her
as You, O Great Sun God, sail toward the West
to the land of eternal enchantment,
wrapped in the coolness of night.
the hours of day and night are balanced.”
– Mabon Sabbat and Lore
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