The Sabbats

Feast of the Dead

Feast of the Dead

Communication with the spirits is easiest at this time, for the veil between our world and theirs is very thin. It is a time to reflect on our ancestors and those who we have lost.

For the Witch, it is a holiday where we honor our dead friends, relatives, ancestors, and even pets who have passed on. We remember them by putting an extra plate at the dinner table for them.

Along the north wall of the dining room there is a small table prepared as an unobtrusive altar, and without preamble or fuss each person places there some small token or photograph of their dearly departed, some person or being whose memory or influence in their life still means something to them.

Each person quietly lights a candle for his or her various dead, and then they bow their heads in a moment of silence. Memories spill forth and emotions run deep. When it is time a bell is softly chimed and all stand.

A shared moment of silence is observed, and then everyone takes a turn making a toast to his or her chosen ancestor. The bell is sounded once more and everyone takes his or her place at the dining room table to partake of a feast enjoyed. In silence, each guest communing with their own spirits and remembrances.

We honor our ancestors at Samhain as they have honored us in the days before we were born. And as they shall honor us in the nights ahead when we eventually cross the river to take up our place beside those who have gone before into the greatest Mystery of all.

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Samhain Activities of Our Ancestors

Samhain Activities of Our Ancestors

On this day people would gather early in the day since there were so many things going on. In olden times the affair would last for two or three days. Crafting included brewing Mead for the day’s festivities as well as for the winter season to come. They carved Jack-o-Lanterns to discourage negative spirits from bothering the people at the gathering. Candles were blessed for use throughout the winter, as well as blending oils for magical uses. Simples were brewed to make sure each person had a good tonic to see them through the hard days of winter.
Anything that was braided was thought to be lucky since it was binding things together and by doing that bringing the community closer together. Quilts were gathered to be finished and ladies shared their recipes for simples and for dying cloth. The men of the clan hunted for days before the gathering to insure food for everyone. Children would be sent on “Nutting” parties and they would produce that bounty to be shared by everyone.
Games of strength and chance were played by young and old alike. This was also a great time for story telling and in this way the patterns of life were passed down from one generation to another year after year. At this time of the year we are reminded of the tribal beginnings that we have all come from and it is appropriate that we still use the basic instruments of drum and gourd, cymbal, and horns. We chant together into the night and recreate the spiral dances.
Bringing people together for singing and dancing is very important even if they are not the best of singers or dancers. The manner of performance is not important, the pleasure of the joining is!

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Spiritual Reaffirmation for the Witches New Year

Spiritual Reaffirmation for the Witches New Year

During the Witches’ New Year, or Samhain, take time to stop and evaluate your faith and beliefs. Make a sacred ritual or retreat out of this evaluation. Light white candles and burn sandalwood, myrrh, or frankincense. Brew a cup of herbal tea. Sit down and ask the God and Goddess to guide you on your path. Write down your beliefs in a journal or your Book of Shadows. Some questions you can meditate on are: What is life? How do I view the universe? Why am I here? What affirms my spirituality and what lessens it? How can I bring spirituality into my everyday life? After writing, you can create a statement of faith based on your answers to the questions. Recite what you write by candlelight for the universe to hear. Rediscover and rededicate yourself to your spirituality.

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The Witches Magick for Samhain – Honoring the Harvest’s End

Samhain Comments & Graphics

How To Honor the Harvest’s End

A Samhain Ritual for Wiccans and Pagans

By Patti Wigington, About.com

Celebrate the final harvest with a ritual.

Samhain represents, among other things, the end of the harvest season. If you haven’t picked it by Samhain, you probably won’t be eating it! The gardens have died off by now, and where we once saw lush green plants, there is nothing left but dry and dead stalks. The perennials have shut down for the season too, going dormant so that they may return to us in the spring. Animals are brought in from the fields for the winter — and if you’ve ever had a spider come wandering into your living room one chilly October night, you know that even the insects are trying to find a place to stay warm.

Here’s How:

If we had lived a few hundreds of years ago, we would not only have brought our cows and sheep in from the pastures. Most likely we’d slaughter a few of them, as well as some pigs and goats, smoking the meat so it would last through the cold months. Our grain that we picked back at Lghnasadhu has been baked into bread, and all of our herbs have been gathered, and hang from the rafters in the kitchen. The harvest is over, and now it’s time to settle in for winter with the coziness of a warm fireplace, heavy blankets, and big pots of comfort food on the stovetop.

If you want to celebrate Samhain as the time of harvest’s end, you can do so as a single ritual, or as the first of three days of ceremony. If you don’t have a permanent altar in place, set up a table to leave in place for the three days prior to Samhain. This will act as a your family’s temporary altar for the Sabbat. Decorate the altar with symbols of late fall, such as:

Skulls, skeletons, grave rubbings, ghosts

Harvest food such as pumpkins, squash, root vegetables

Nuts and berries, dark breads

Dried leaves and acorns

A cornucopia filled with an abundance of fruit and veggies

Mulled cider, wine, or mead

To begin your ceremony, prepare a meal for the family — and this is something that everyone can get involved in. Put emphasis on fruits and vegetables, and wild game meat if available. Also make sure you have a loaf of a dark bread like rye or pumpernickel and a cup of apple cider or wine. Set the dinner table with candles and a fall centerpiece, and put all the food on the table at once. Consider the dinner table a sacred space.

Gather everyone around the table, and say:

Tonight is the first of three nights,
on which we celebrate Samhain.
It is the end of the harvest, the last days of summer,
and the cold nights wait on the other side for us.
The bounty of our labor, the abundance of the harvest,
the success of the hunt, all lies before us.
We thank the earth for all it has given us this season,
and yet we look forward to winter,

a time of sacred darkness.

Take the cup of cider or wine, and lead everyone outside. Make this a ceremonial and formal occasion. If you have a vegetable garden, great! Go there now — otherwise, just find a nice grassy spot in your yard. Each person in the family takes the cup in turn and sprinkles a little bit of cider onto the earth, saying:

Summer is gone, winter is coming.
We have planted and
we have watched the garden grow,
we have weeded,
and we have gathered the harvest.

Now it is at its end.

If you have any late-fall plants still waiting to be picked, gather them up now. Collect a bundle of dead plants and use them to make a straw man or woman. If you follow a more masculine path, he may be your King of Winter, and rule your home until spring returns. If you follow the Goddess in her many forms, make a female figure to represent the Goddess as hag or crone in winter.

Once that is done, go back inside and bring your King of Winter into your home with much pomp and circumstance. Place him on your table and prop him up with a plate of his own, and when you sit down to eat, serve him first.

Begin your meal with the breaking of the dark bread, and make sure you toss a few crumbs outside for the birds afterwards. Keep the King of Winter in a place of honor all season long — you can put him back outside in your garden on a pole to watch over next spring’s seedlings, and eventually burn him at your Beltane celebration.

When you are finished with your meal, put the leftovers out in the garden. Wrap up the evening by playing games, such as bobbing for apples or telling spooky stories before a bonfire.

What You Need

A table to use as your Samhain altar

Decorations that represent the late autumn season

A meal with lots of veggies, fruit, and bread

A cup of wine or cider

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Celebrating Our Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Samhain

Samhain Comments & Graphics
October 31st

Samhain, Halloween

Samhain (pronounced Sow-in) marks the end of the agricultural season and the beginning of Winter. For the Celts, who inhabited the British Isles more than 1,000 years ago, Samhain was the beginning of the year and the cycle of seasons. It was a time when they turned to their Gods, seeking to understand the turning of the cycle of life and death. For the Celtic people, Samhain was a time when the gates between this world and the next were open. It was a time of communion with the Spirits who were believed to roam free on this night. It was a time of divination, when the ancestors were contacted for warnings and guidance through the dark Winter months.

In medieval Ireland, Samhain was the major festival that marked the opening of Winter; it was sometimes spelled “Samain” or “Samuin,” although still pronounced the same. It was believed that Samhain was a time of unusual supernatural power, when all manner of fairies, goblins, and monsters roamed the Earth. It was unfavorable to walk about on this night, lest one might stumble onto an open fairy mound and fall victim to the fairy’s enchantment.

Samhain was also a time of truce with no fighting, violence, or divorce allowed. Hence it was a time of marriage. Acounts were closed, debts collected, contracts made and servants hired. Magickally, Samhain is a time of reflection, ending thing that are not producing results, and releasing negative thoughts. Samhain is the perfect time to make a talisman for self control and protection of the family and home.

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The Witches Correspondence for Samhain

Samhain Comments & Graphics
The Witches Correspondence for Samhain

Date: October 31st

Colours: Black, orange

Stones: Bloodstone, jet, obsidian, ruby, beryl, carnelian

Herbs: Bay leaf, mugwort, nutmeg, sage, wormwood

Foods: Apples, nuts, beef, turnips, pears, pomegranates, pumpkin, corn

Drinks: Mead, mulled wine, apple juice, absinthe

Flowers/Decorations: Chrysanthemum, hazel, thistle, pumpkin, autumn leaves

Type Of Magick/Activity: Banishing, breaking bad habits, divination, drying herbs, past life recall(see meditation page), clearing out everything you don’t want in the new year (habits and personal items).

Some Appropriate Goddesses: All crone and underworld Goddesses, Cerridwen (Welsh), Freya (Norse), Hecate (Greek), Morrigan (Celtic), Persephone (Greek), Rhiannon (Welsh)

Some Appropriate Gods: All old and underworld Gods, Cernunnos (Celtic), Anubis (Egyptian), Hades (Greek), Odin (Norse), Osiris (Egyptian)

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The Witches Magick for Oct. 30th – Solitary Samhain Ritual

cat

Solitary Samhain Ritual

Place upon the altar apples, pomegranates, pumpkins, squashes and other late autumn  fruits. Autumn flowers such as marigolds and chrysanthemums are fine too.  Write on a piece of paper an aspect of your life which you may wish to be free of; anger, a baneful habit, misplaced feelings, disease. The cauldron or some similar tool must be present  before the altar as well, on a trivet or some other heat-proof surface (if the legs aren’t long enough). A small, flat dish marked with an eight-spoked wheel symbol should also be there. [This is just what it sounds like. On a flat plate or dish, paint a large circle.  Put a dot in the center of this circle and paint eight spokes radiating out from the dot to the larger circle. Thus, you have a wheel symbol  – a symbol of the Sabbats, a symbol of timelessness.]

Prior to ritual, sit quietly and think of friends and loved ones who have passed away.  Do not despair. Know that they have gone on to greater things. Keep firmly in mind that the  physical isn’t the absolute reality, and souls never die.

Arrange the altar, light the candles and censer, and cast the Circle of Stones. Recite the Blessing Chant. Invoke the Goddess and God.

Lift one of the pomegranates and, with your freshly-washed Boline, pierce the skin of the  fruit. Remove several seeds and place them on the wheel-marked dish. Raise your wand, face the altar and say:

On this night of Samhain I mark Your passing,
O Sun King, through the sunset into the Land of the Young.
I mark also the passing of all who have gone before,
and all who will go after.
 
O Gracious Goddess, Eternal Mother,
You who gives birth to the fallen,
teach me to know that in the time of
the greatest darkness there is the greatest light.
 

Taste the pomegranate seeds; burst them with your teeth and savour  their sharp, bittersweet flavour. Look down at the eight-spoked symbol on the plate; the Wheel of the Year, the Cycle of the Seasons, the End and Beginning of all Creation.

Light a fire within the cauldron (a candle is fine).  Sit before it, holding the piece of paper, gazing at its flames. Say:

Wise One of the Waning Moon,
Goddess of the Starry Night,
I create this fire within
Your cauldron to transform
that which is plaguing me.
May the energies be reversed:
From the darkness, light!
From bane, good!
From death, birth!

Light the paper in the cauldron’s flames and drop it inside. As it burns, know that your ill diminishes, lessens and finally leaves you as it is consumed within the universal fires.  [The cauldron, seen as the Goddess.]

If you wish, you may attempt scrying or some other form of divination, for this is a perfect time to look into the past or future. Try to recall past lives too, if you will.  But leave the dead in peace. Honor them with your memories but do not call them to you. [Many Pagans  do attempt to communicate with their deceased ancestors and friends at this time, but it  seems to me that if we accept the doctrine of reincarnation, this is a rather strange practice. Perhaps the personalities that we knew still exist, but if the soul is currently incarnate in another body, communication would be difficult, to say the least. Thus, it seems best to remember them with peace and love – but do not call them up.] 

Release any pain and sense of loss you may feel into the cauldron’s flames. Works of magick, if necessary, may follow. Celebrate the Simple Feast. The circle is released.

 

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Let’s Talk Witch – Contacting the Dead

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Contacting the Dead

Most Pagans consider contacting the dead a risky proposal, at best. We do so only when absolutely necessary. Contacting the dead can be disruptive to your psyche. While some spirits involve themselves in our world as guides and mentors, others remain connected in more negative ways. Spirits need to be free to move on and we can best help them by leaving them alone. Death is a transition, signaling movement from one realm to another, and it’s risky, and rude, to disturb them.

Samhain is one of the few exceptions to this rule, but even at this time, we do not hold séances or call up spirits who do not want to be disturbed. During this time we invite those whom we wish to remember to be part of our celebrations IF they choose to join us, but we never coerce.

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