The Witches Digest for Monday, October 30, Samhain Eve
(The Witches Guide to Mondays & Samhain)
Today is Monday, October 30th
Monday is the sacred day of the moon, personified as the goddesses Selene, Luna, and Mani. The moon is ruler of flow, affecting the changeable and impressionable aspects of people. If a full moon falls on a Monday, then the powers of the moon are at their most potent.
Zodiac Sign: Cancer
Rune: Lagu (L)
Celtic Tree Month of Ngetal(Reed) – October 28 – November 24
Runic Half-Month of Hagal(constraint) – October 28 – November 12
Goddess of the Month of Hathor – October 3 – October 30
The Pagan Book of Days
On Monday, October 30th, We Honor Hecate, Queen of the Witches
Hecate (sometimes spelled Hekate) was originally a Thracian, and pre-Olympian Greek goddess, and ruled over the realms of earth and fertility rituals. As a goddess of childbirth, she was often invoked for rites of puberty, and in some cases watched over maidens who were beginning to menstruate. Eventually, Hecate evolved to become a goddess of magic and sorcery. She was venerated as a mother goddess, and during the Ptolemaic period in Alexandria was elevated to her position as goddess of ghosts and the spirit world.
Hecate in Classical Mythology
Much like the Celtic hearth goddess Brighid, Hecate is a guardian of crossroads, and often symbolized by a spinning wheel. In addition to her connection to Brighid, she is associated with Diana Lucifera, who is the Roman Diana in her aspect as light-bearer. Hecate is often portrayed wearing the keys to the spirit world at her belt, accompanied by a three-headed hound, and surrounded by lit torches.
Guil Jones of Encyclopedia Mythica says, “Hecate is the Greek goddess of the crossroads. She is most often depicted as having three heads; one of a dog, one of a snake and one of a horse. She is usually seen with two ghost hounds that were said to serve her. Hecate is most often mispercepted as the goddess of witchcraft or evil, but she did some very good things in her time… [she] is said to haunt a three-way crossroad, each of her heads facing in a certain direction.
She is said to appear when the ebony moon shines.”
The epic poet Hesiod tells us Hecate was the only child of Asteria, a star goddess who was the aunt of Apollo and Artemis. The event of Hecate’s birth was tied to the reappearance of Phoebe, a lunar goddess, who appeared during the darkest phase of the moon.
Hesiod also describes Hecate in her role as one of the Titans who allied herself with Zeus, and says in Theogony, “Hekate whom Zeus the son of Kronos honored above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honor also in starry heaven, and is honored exceedingly by the deathless gods . . . For as many as were born of Gaia and Ouranos amongst all these she has her due portion. The son of Kronos [Zeus] did her no wrong nor took anything away of all that was her portion among the former Titan gods: but she holds, as the division was at the first from the beginning, privilege both in earth, and in heaven, and in sea. Also, because she is an only child, the goddess receives not less honor, but much more still, for Zeus honors her.”
Honoring Hecate Today
Today, many contemporary Pagans and Wiccans honor Hecate in her guise as a Dark Goddess, although it would be incorrect to refer to her as an aspect of the Crone, because of her connection to childbirth and maidenhood. It’s more likely that her role as “dark goddess” comes from her connection to the spirit world, ghosts, the dark moon, and magic. She is known as a goddess who is not to be invoked lightly, or by those who are calling upon her frivolously.
She is honored on November 30, the night of Hecate Trivia, the night of the crossroads.
To honor Hecate in your own magical practice, Hekatatia at Neokoroi.org recommends:
Adopt a dog, or volunteer at a shelter, since dogs are sacred to Hecate.
Take care of a deserted and neglected place that has been abandoned by everyone else.
Walk along a dark road at night, offering prayers or hymns to Hecate, to see if she will make her presence known.
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Monday – is associated with the Moon
Candle colors – white or gray
Magickal Applications for the Day – Crossroads work to learn to read cards, dealing with family matters, Protection, Truth, Peace, Justice
—-Old Style Conjure Wisdoms, Workings and Remedies
The Magick of Mondays
To incorporate this day’s energy work spells for intuition, peace, fertility, and inspiring your inner muse.
This is a wonderful day to connect to your inner self.
Intuition and inspiration are both enhanced when imbued with moon energy.
Use today’s energy for psychic work, (intuition, divination and clairvoyance), Goddess rituals and faerie magick.
The Witches Guide To Monday
In the word Monday, we can see part of the word Moon. In the romance languages such as Italian or Spanish, this day of the week is called Lunes and clearly relates to the word lunar. On Mondays, a variety of magick may be worked. Because Monday centers on the energies of the Moon, things like psychism, dreams, feminine energy, health, success in spiritual pursuits, domestic matters, and things of family origin are especially important this day.
Mondays are best for love magick and anything concerning home or family, thus old saying, Mondays child is fair of face, which seems clearly to relate to the themes of love and health.
Angels of Monday are Gabriel, Arcan, Missabu, and Abuzaha. Arcan is known as the king of the angels of air and the “ruler” of Monday. Abuzaha (Abuzohar) serves Monday, and is very responsive to invocations and ritual magick. Missabu is a ministering angel of Arcan.
Check whether the moon is waning or waxing to determine what your spell will be. During waning moons, do spells to rid yourself of obstacles or for wisdom and protection. During waxing moons do magic for increase of any kind or to draw something into your life.
On Mondays, the best hour to work is moonrise. Get this information from your local newspaper, astrological calendar, or almanac.
Witchery, Magick and Enchantment for Your Monday
Think for a moment on all of the witchery, magick and enchantments that you have discovered. Don’t be afraid to adjust spells to suit your own specific needs. Any gentle, illusory, and dreamy charms and spells can be enhanced when you work on the day of the week that is dedicated to the moon. Mondays are a fantastic day to boost your psychic abilities and to tune in to your intuition and empathy. It also gives you the opportunity to work with a different lunar phase each and every Monday, which means in one month you could work four different types of moon magicks on Mondays. How’s that for adding to your repertoire? You are going to have mad skills in no time at all.
So light up those lunar scented candles and add a little mystique to your outfit by wearing an enchanting lunar color. Wear your sparkling silver jewelry and maybe add a pair of dangling silver earrings or a pendant shaped like a crescent moon. Create lunar potions and philters; make a dream catcher and give it as a gift to someone you love. Burn some sandalwood or jasmine-scented incense today to inspire the glamour and magick of the moon. Slice up a favorite variety of fruit that is in season for a snack or share it with your love and enjoy his or her lunar and romantic qualities. Brew up a cup of chamomile tea, enchant it with a little moon magick, and relax and get a good night’s sleep.
Most importantly, get outside tonight and watch the moon for a while. What phase is she in? What color was the moon as she rose? Why not start a journal and write down at what location the moon rises and sets for a few seasons? This is a great way to teach you to tune in and to become more aware of the moon and the influence that she pulls into our lives. Try calling on Selene for her magickal assistance, and call Thoth for wisdom and strength. Get to know the Norse Mani and the Latvian Meness. These gods of the moon have plenty to teach, and if you allow their influence to cycle through your life, you’ll receive many blessings. Be imaginative, and create your own personal lunar magick and witchery. Go on….the moonlight becomes you.
Book of Witchery: Spells, Charms & Correspondences for Every Day of the Week
The Witches Almanac for Monday, October 30th
John Adams’s Birthday
Moon Phase: Second Quarter
Moon Sign: Pisces
Correspondences for Monday, October 30th
Day: Monday ( Moon-day)
Colors: Silver and White and Grey
Crystals: Moonstone, Pearl, Aquamarine, Silver, Selenite
Aroma: Jasmine, Lemon, Sandalwood, Moon Oil, African violet, Honeysuckle, Myrtle, Willow, and Wormwood
The sacred day of the Moon, personified by such goddesses as Selene, Luna, Diana, and Artemis. The Moon is ruler of flow affecting the changeable aspects of people. If a full moon falls on a Monday, its powers are at their most potent.
Magical aspects: peace, sleep, healing, compassion, friendships, psychic awareness, purification, and fertility
Monday is ruled by the moon – an ancient symbol of mystery and peace. Monday is a special day for mothers as the cycle of the moon has long been associated with the female menstrual cycle. Those wishing to conceive a baby would be wise to try on a Monday as the magic of motherhood is strong and pregnancy is in the air.
This is the proper day of the week to perform spells and rituals involving agriculture, animals, female fertility, messages, reconciliation’s, theft, voyages, dreams, emotions, clairvoyance, home, family, medicine, cooking, personality, merchandising, psychic work, Faerie magic, and Goddess rituals.
Monday Is Ruled By the Moon
This day of the week is dedicated to the moon and all of her magic and mystery. Mondays are for women’s mysteries, illusion, prophetic dreaming, emotions, travel, and fertility.
Some suggestions for Monday enchantments would include:
*Getting outside and looking for the moon in the heavens. Sit under her light and absorb a little glamour. Call on the moon goddess Selene for practical help in magical issues.
*Invoking the god Thoth for wisdom and insight
*Empowering your silver jewelry under the light of the moon. Wear moonstone or pearl jewelry today to add a lunar and magical shimmer to your outfit. Be mysterious and subtle and wear moon-associated colors such as white, silver, and blue.
*Working spells for safe travel with a simple moonstone
*Gathering bluebells, jasmine, gardenias, or white roses to create a little garden witchery with the flowers that are associated with the moon
*Setting up a lunar Tarot spell today to increase your psychic powers
*Eating a lunar fruit such as a melon to be healthy, serene, and at peace
*Brewing up a cup of chamomile or mint tea and enchanting it for sweet dreams and restful sleep
The Energy of the Moon
Color: Silver, white, light blue, purple
Associations: Childbearing and family life, purity and virginity, healing, wisdom, intuition
Connect with Moon Energy Through Scrying
Scrying is a method of opening the mind to voices and images from other realms. Full Moon scrying is best done outside in sight of the Moon. A black shiny surface is required, so a bowl or plate that has a black glaze, or a large piece of black obsidian is ideal.
Position yourself comfortably where the moonlight reflects on your dark surface. Look closely at the bowl, stone or plate. It’s okay to let your mind wander. Scrying is designed to elicit daydreams and bring forth your subconscious thoughts. Try not to intellectualize what you are doing, seeing, or thinking about. Just look into the Moon glow reflection and let the ideas and images flow. It’s a good idea to keep a scrying journal, keeping track of the date and what sign the Moon was in, as well as anything you may have seen, heard or thought during the exercise. Remember, scrying takes practice. Make it a monthly journey to other realms.
I was about half asleep this morning, drinking my coffee. I was thinking about Samhain and how I looked forward to it each year. To me, it is the most beautiful time of the year.
The Veil is thinning, the energy is rising, you can feel it coursing through your veins. The magick and excitement is building in the atmosphere. For Witches, this is the most magickal time of the Year. We make plans on how we are going to celebrate. What kind of rituals we are going to do? What time should we start them? Any ancestors going to show up this year? Lots to do and little time left to do it.
I know what I am getting ready to say the Elders in the Craft already know and have heard it a thousand times. I just wanted to talk to the new ones to the Craft about what to expect or not. They come to our Religion so full of joy, eager to learn, wanting to do everything just right. Samhain is exciting for the Elders, can you imagine what it is like for the new ones? That is why I am writing this. I love each of you. I never want you to face discouragement or doubt yourself. I just want you to always be prepared. I know we all talk about our Ancestors and doing rituals to bring them back. You know it is breathtaking to have that kind of power.
I know when I did my first ritual to call my Ancestors back, I got very disappointed. No body showed up! I had been a witch for a long time but it was still a blow to the ego. I guess the reason mine don’t show up is because they stop by for a visit all the time. I went about double checking and checking again, what did I do wrong? I always thought it was me, always. Then it hit me, my ancestors might have reincarnated. It wasn’t that they didn’t love me or want to be with me. They had been reincarnated.
All those years, I felt like it was me and that does effect you. Then I realized how selfish I had been. Instead of feeling disappointed and unloved, I ought to have been rejoicing. They had all been reincarnated and they walk this plane as I do. Don’t do as I did. If, after all your preparation, none of your ancestors appear, don’t be sad. Instead rejoice and be proud for they are here with you on this plane. They were given the opportunity to live again.
Celebrate your ancestors, give them the honor and respect they deserve. But if no one appears, don’t be disappointed, you did nothing wrong. Your ancestors have been reincarnated. Now that is something to celebrate. They were given the opportunity to walk this plane with us. Thank the Goddess for giving them the opportunity to be reborn.
I don’t want to dim your hopes, I just want you to be prepared. No one ever told me and I guess the Goddess was the one who finally revealed to me what had happened. I have years when ancestors show up, then I have years when they don’t. But I go ahead and make all the preparations. I invite my ancestors home to visit with me for a while. When they do show up, that makes up for the year no one showed. The experience is indescribable. You have to experience for yourself. Make your preparations, prepare your rituals and your spells. But please learn from me, if no one shows up, rejoice for their new body and soul they have been given. Rejoice because our Goddess chose them as being worthy enough to reincarnate. Never stop trying to communicate with them, never. Always make preparations for their coming. You have nothing to lose but everything in this great Universe of our to gain.
Samhain might seem like a dark time of the year. A time when death is all around us. But it is also a time to celebrate new life.
A Celtic View of Samhain
One of the most widely known pagan holidays is Samhain, a day that is celebrated by Wiccans, Pagans, and Druids alike. The modern Samhain has its roots in the ancient Celtic fire festival from which it gets its name, pronounced SOW-en, believed by some to mean “summer’s end”. Samhain is the Irish Gaelic name for the holiday, which is also called Samhuinn in Scottish and Calan Gaiaf in Welsh (Kondratiev, 1998) . According to the Gaulish Coligny calendar it is called Trinuoxtion Samonii, which means the “three nights of summer’s end”, indicating that the holiday was originally celebrated over a three-day period (Kondratiev, 1998) .
In modern vernacular Samhain is called Halloween, abbreviated from All Hallow’s Eve, the name given to the holiday because of it’s placement near the Christian church’s holiday of All Saints day, or “All Hallows”. Originally the Catholic holidays that take place on and around Samhain of All Souls and All Saints days were in February having been set during the Roman feast of Feralia, but when the Church spread to the Celtic lands the dates were shifted to November.
The Celts celebrated Samhain as the ending of the old year and beginning of the new. Caesar tells us, in his writings about the Gallic War, that the Celts saw the day as well as the New Year beginning at sunset (Freeman, 2002) . This would mean that Samhain would have been celebrated starting as the sun went down on one day and continuing on to end at the next sunset. Samhain stood opposite Beltane, and as Beltane marked the beginning of summer, Samhain marked the beginning of winter; moreover as the beginning of the New Year Samhain was probably the most important holiday of the year (McNeill, 1961) .
The precise dating of Samhain is difficult to determine, as it was, like all the Celtic festivals, agrarian based, but it is likely that it would take place around what is now November as this is the time when vegetation dies and the sun is clearly waning (McNeill, 1961) . In most modern practices the date is set on October 31st, although some people still celebrate it on November 12th holding to the older date before the transition between the Julian and Gregorian calendars that shifted everything back two weeks (McNeill, 1961) .
It is the end of the harvest period, and indeed any produce not gathered in by Samhain is left in the fields (Kondratiev, 1998) . This is done because tradition holds that after Samhain night everything left in the fields belongs to the fairies; in some areas the people believed that one fairy in particular, the Púca, went out on Samhain night and claimed all the fruit that was left by urinating on it, or some say spitting on it (Estyn Evans, 1957; McNeill, 1961; Danaher, 1972) . At this time as well the herds that were put out to summer pasture at Beltane are brought back in, reuniting the herders with their families and allowing the people to decide how much stock could be kept over the winter and how much should be butchered (Estyn Evans 1957) . This was a time for settling debts, and as the last of the harvest fairs ended people would make sure that anything they owed was paid before Samhain (Danaher, 1972) . Samhain was a time that was both joyous and eerie, as it was marked by great feasts and community gatherings, but was also a time for telling ghost stories and tales of the faeries stealing people (McNeill, 1961) .
Today we continue to celebrate with this dual feeling, enjoying the atmosphere of closeness and the visitations by our dead family members, but also relishing the scariness that comes when the veil is so thin. Great bonfires would be lit just as at Beltane and Midsummer. While the Beltane fires were traditionally lit at dawn the Samhain fires were lit as the sun set as a symbol of the light surviving in the dark (McNeill, 1961) . These modern bonfires are carry-overs from the ancient Celtic time when all the fires in each home would be put out and the Druids would light a huge bonfire on a hilltop from which all the other fires would be relit (McNeill, 1961) . This practice in Ireland centered on Tara, as it was believed that what was done there would spread outward from the center (Kondratiev, 1998) . After all the fires were extinguished the Druids would light a bonfire at Tlachtga, a sacred site near the hill of Tara (Kondratiev, 1998) . Even up until the 1970’s people still regularly lighted bonfires on Samhain night in Dublin (Danaher, 1972) . .
In some areas of Ireland when the fires began to die down men and boys would scoop up still burning embers and throw them at each other, which may possibly be linked to older rituals, although the practice is dangerous (Danaher, 1972) . In Scotland the ashes from the bonfires were scattered to fertilize the fields and for protection, since it was believed that they possessed the power to drive away dangerous spirits (McNeill, 1961) . In other areas people would blacken their faces with the ashes, believing it was a protection against baneful magic (McNeill, 1961) .
Possibly the most prominent theme of Samhain was that of the thinning of the veil between the worlds. On this night the dead could return to visit the living and the fairy hills were opened, releasing all the creatures of fairy into the mortal world (Estyn Evans, 1957; McNeill, 1961) . The belief in this was so strong in rural Ireland even up to the last century that it was considered extremely bad luck not to set an extra chair at the table, put out a bowl of a special porridge, and leave the door to the home open on Samhain (Estyn Evans, 1957) . In other accounts the door should be closed but left unlocked and a bowl of fresh water left out by the hearth to welcome any returning family ghosts that choose to visit (Danaher, 1972) . In Ireland, however, it is more widely believed that November 2nd is the day when the dead return to visit (Danaher, 1972) .
This is of particular interest because it may reflect the older practice of celebrating Samhain as a three-day holiday, in which case the return of the dead may have marked the final day of the celebration. In modern practice in Ireland people would light a candle for each deceased member of their family, and in some cases visit the graveyards where they were buried to clean the graves (Danaher, 1972) . Although popular imagination paints the idea of the dead returning in a negative light this is not the way the old belief was; in the old practice people didn’t fear the dead who came back to visit but saw them as protective of the living family (Danaher, 1972) . It is a very old doctrine of the Celts that the soul is immortal and passes from one life to spirit and then to another life so it would be impossible for the Celts to see Samhain as a holiday devoid of celebration (McNeill, 1961) .
Just as all the dead were free to return to earth to visit, so the realm of Faery was opened up, although it has always been a very blurry line between faeries and the dead, as it was often said that some of the dead went to live with the fairies. The denizens of fairy were most likely to be encountered now and it was said that should a person meet a fairy rade and throw the dust from under his feet at them they would be compelled to release any humans they had taken (Danaher, 1972) . This night was one of celebration and merry making, but people preferred to travel in groups, fearing that to walk alone on Samhain risked being taken forever into Faery (Danaher, 1972) . It was thought that dusk and midnight were particularly dangerous times, and that the fairy troops passed to the west side of homes, and along water ways making it best to avoid these times and places (McNeill, 1961) . It was also a long time custom to shout out beware (seachain!) or water towards you (chughaibh an t-uisce!) if one was tossing water out of the home so that any passing fairies or ghosts would be warned (Danaher, 1972) .
This is the time that all the fairy raths, or hills, open up and the inhabitants parade from one hill to the next playing music which some people claim to hear (Danaher, 1972; McNeill, 1961) Anyone who had been kidnapped to faery could be freed within the first year and a day from when they were taken, but the spells to do so were the strongest on Halloween, as we can see in the old tale of Tam Lin (McNeill, 1961) . Because the faeries were all abroad it was also the custom in many places to leave them food offerings, but unlike the plates of food left for the dead, the food offerings for faeries took the form of a rich porridge that was made and then placed in a small pit dug in the ground (Sjoestedt, 1949) .
Another feature of the celebration is divination for the year to come. One form of such divination was to observe the direction the wind was blowing at midnight, as it was believed that this would indicate the weather of the winter to come (Danaher, 1972) . In a similar way the moon, if visible, was used for divination: a clear moon meant good weather, a cloudy moon would be observed and the degree of clouding would represent the amount of rain to come, and clouds passing quickly over the moon’s face meant storms (Danaher, 1972) . Other folk divinations took on a more homely focus as, for example, two hazel nuts or walnuts could be named after a couple and then placed near each other by the edge of the fire and if the stayed together it was a good omen but if the popped or jumped apart it meant the relationship would not last (Danaher, 1972) . Apples were also used in a variety of ways, including the modern game of bobbing for apples, which could be used to tell a person’s luck in the year to come.
Another method to foretell and individual’s fortune was to blindfold them and seat them at a table in front of a certain number of plates or bowls each of which contained something different; the bowl which the person touched first indicated something about how their year would go (Danaher, 1972; McNeill, 1961) While these practices are clearly modern they are fully in the spirit of the holiday and using divination to predict the fortunes of a person, and these methods are more easily used today than some of the older ones which focused less on the individual and more on the welfare of the community. In Scotland there was a form of divination that utilized the sacred bonfire; a circle would be made from the ashes of the still smoldering fire and around this circle of ashes stones would be placed to represent the people present – in the morning should any stone be moved or damaged it indicated doom for that person (McNeill, 1961) .
Samhain is also a time in the Celtic world to give thanks for the harvest, and the bounty that had been secured to get the people through the winter. McNeill compares Samhain to saying a prayer of thanks after a meal, just as she sees Beltane as a prayer before a meal (McNeill, 1961) . In certain parts of Scotland it was the custom up to the 1600’s for the people of a town to gather and each contribute a portion of ale, which one man would then carry out into the ocean as an offering to the sea god, Shony (McNeill, 1961) . Another interesting custom is the baking of a special oatmeal cake, which would be prepared with much ceremony and then offered to a stranger (McNeill, 1961) . This may be a reflection of older customs of sharing from one’s own abundance to ensure more in the future; this is also a reflection of a similar custom from Imbolc where after the feast the remnants were offered to the poor of the community (Carmichael, 1900) . Offerings would be made during this time by tossing them into the sacred bonfires, both in thanks for blessings received and symbolizing requests the people would like granted in the new year (Kondratiev, 1998) .
It is likely that the modern practice of Halloween trick or treating comes from older Celtic practices, called guising. In County Cork into the 19th century there was a practice of that involved a small procession led by someone dressed as a white mare that would go door to door asking for tolls and singing (Estyn Evans, 1957; Danaher, 1972) . In some parts of modern Ireland it is still the practice of trick or treating children to chant “Help the Halloween party! Any apples or nuts?” (Danaher, 1972) . This request for apples or nuts is almost certainly a reflection of older traditions, as apples are strongly connected to the Otherworld and the Hazel was a symbol of occult wisdom (McNeill, 1961) .
All through Scotland it was the custom of groups of boys to go out disguised and travel from door to rood asking for money or treats, often while singing or chanting (McNeill, 1961) . The practice slowly switched to children going out dressed in masks and carrying torches who would repeat chants like “Hallowe’en! A nicht o’ tine! A can’le in a custock!” (Halloween! A night of fire! A candle in a holder!) or “Heigh ho for Halloween, when the fairies a’ are seen, some black and some green, heigh ho for Halloween!” (McNeill, 1961) . Both of these chants reflect the older practices of the pagan holiday in referring to fire and to the fairies being abroad.
Finally, Samhain was also connected, as where all the fire festivals to some degree, to blessing activities and making charms to bless, draw luck, and protect in the year to come. In Ireland it was a custom to make a charm very similar to the solar cross of St. Brighid which would be hung on the wall over the inside of the door to ward off all bad luck and harm in the year to come (Danaher, 1972) . Infants and children would be sprinkled with blessed water and a piece of iron or a cold ember from the fire was placed under their bed to protect them; in other areas a mix of oatmeal and salt is dabbed on the child’s forehead (Danaher, 1972) . In Scotland, even up until the 1850’s, people would go out on Samhain and make torches from wood or heather and these would be lit from the sacred fire (originally the Druidic fires and later the bonfires lit at home) ; these torches would be carried around the boundary of the home sun-wise by the family to bless the place (McNeill, 1961) .
There are a few specific deities associated with Samhain, which vary by area. In Scotland, many believe that it is at Samhain that Brighid turns over control of the year to the Cailleach, who rules then until Imbolc (McNeill, 1961) . The Cailleach is in many ways the spirit of winter and of the cold weather, who controls the storms, so her rule during this time of year makes sense. For some people who follow the Tuatha de Danann of Ireland Samhain may be a period to honor the Dagda and the Morrigan , who in mythology were said to have joined together on this date. Indeed many important events occur on Samhain in Irish mythology.
In modern practice, there are many ways to incorporate these Celtic traditions, whether you are solitary or celebrate in a group. I recommend celebrating the secular Halloween first, as it is firmly rooted in the ancient practice of guising. Go to a place you consider sacred and create sacred space as you normally would, then call whatever gods and spirits you feel appropriate for the rite. During the rite itself offers should be made to the Gods in thanks and to ask for their continued blessing, and porridge may be offered to the faeries. Afterwards you could have a bonfire after putting out any other fires and turning off all the lights, but even if that’s not possible, a symbolic bonfire could be made, perhaps in a cauldron, or a large candle lit. Put out all the lights and then relight your sacred fire for the new year and then small offerings can be made to the fire, both in thanks and with requests for the year to come.
One practice that I and several friends use that reflects the old idea of lighting candles for the dead is to carve the names of all those we care about who have passed onto a candle and then light it during ritual in their honor. Different methods of divination can be done, either based on traditional methods or more modern ones, to see what the year to come might bring. When the rite is done you can either pick up the candle or light a candle or small torch from the ritual fire and walk around your yard or ritual area, clockwise, carrying it to bless the space for the year to come. Then you or your group should have a potluck feast; it might be nice if everyone contributed a dish that held some significance for him or her or was a family recipe. Portions of this should be set aside for the visiting dead who should be as welcome to attend as the living members. After the feast this plate can be left on the table for the dead, and the candle in their honor can be left burning, if it is safe to do so. When the celebration is over ashes can be taken from the ritual fire and kept as a protective charm for the year to come.
Carmichael, A., (1900) . Carmina Gadelica , volume 1.
Danaher, K., (1972) . The Year in Ireland. Mercier Press
Estyn Evans, E., (1957) . Irish folk Ways. Routledge and Kegan Paul
Freeman, P., (2002) War, Women, and Druids. University of Texas Press
Kondratiev, A., (1998) . The Apple Branch: a path to Celtic Ritual. Citadel Press.
McNeill, F., (1961) . The Silver Bough, volume 3: Halloween to Yule. Stuart Titles Limited.
Sjoestedt, M., (1949) Celtic Gods and Heroes. Dover Publications
All Saints’ Night – Samhain
Samhain, which is also called Halloween, All Saints’ Night/ Day? and the Day of the Dead, falls on October 31. Samhain (pronounced “sow-enn”) has become known as the “witches’ New Year.” Although it is mentioned here first, there is no practical importance to this, since it is located on a wheel that has neither “head” nor “tail.” In fact, this festival is of secondary importance in the eight festivals of the sun.
For this festival, accessories such as red apples, spiral shapes, dry branches, dark mirrors (for making contact with the next world), and crystal balls are used. The dominant colors in this festival are brown and black. Today, the festival is used mainly for rituals connected with prophecy or predictions.
This festival is extremely important in the wicca calendar that was developed in agrarian society. This is the time following the grain harvest, and the farmers would estimate the number of livestock they could feed during the winter. The remaining cattle would be slaughtered, and that is why this festival is also linked to “the red harvest” – the festival during which many animals were slaughtered and their meat was preserved for the winter.
The festival marks the time when the souls of all those who died during the year go over to “the other side,” and all the souls of those to be born during the coming year enter this world. The festivities are directed at those who died, especially those who died during the past year. Moreover, it is customary to mention the forefathers and to relate various myths. Because of the connection with the next world, this is the time of year in which “the curtain between the worlds is thinnest,” and sorcery is extremely powerful and effective.
A widespread ceremony during Samhain is “the feast of the mute,” so called because it is not customary to talk during the ceremony, since the dead also participate in the feast and do not utter a sound – they just eat. This feast is shared with those who have left the world. An extra plate is placed on the table for those who are no longer with us. I am sure that every reader will recall a similar custom linked to the dead in his or her culture. After the meal, the plate is taken out and placed on the threshold of the house.
The Samhain meal consists mainly of the last “produce” of the fields and trees before the winter and the harvest, as well as of many meat dishes. In myths, this is the festival in which the goddess mourns her husband, the god, who has been killed, and awaits the imminent birth of his child, or for his return (as in the case of Tammuz). The festival therefore signals the death of the god, who sacrifices his life for the community.
Day-by-Day Wicca: A complete guide to Wicca from Beliefs and Rituals to Magic and Witchcraft (Astrolog Complete Guides)
“Perhaps the most famous icon of the holiday is the jack-o-lantern. Various authorities attribute it to either Scottish or Irish origin. However, it seems clear that it was used as a lantern by people who traveled the road this night, the scary face to frighten away spirits or faeries who might otherwise lead one astray. Set on porches and in windows, they cast the same spell of protection over the household. (The American pumpkin seems to have forever superseded the European gourd as the jack-o-lantern of choice.) Bobbing for apples may well represent the remnants of a Pagan ‘baptism’ rite called a ‘seining’, according to some writers. The water-filled tub is a latter-day Cauldron of Regeneration, into which the novice’s head is immersed. The fact that the participant in this folk game was usually blindfolded with hands tied behind the back also puts one in mind of a traditional Craft initiation ceremony.”
– Mike Nichols, All Hallow’s Eve
First, prep your pumpkins by scooping and cleaning them out. Then carve your jack-o’-lantern into any expression or bewitching pattern that you desire. Afterwards, arrange the pumpkins in a place of prominence. Once you have the fresh pumpkins in place, then add a few tealights in the bottoms of the pumpkins.
Please note: never use a live flame inside of a foam pumpkin— it is a fire hazard. Only use candles with a flame inside of a fresh, real pumpkin.
When dusk falls, begin to light all the candles in your pumpkins. Repeat this Halloween jack-o’-lantern charm as you go along lighting the carved pumpkins at sundown on Halloween night:
See this pumpkin all glowing gold?
Protection for my home it holds.
Frighten off evil and turn back negativity
This spell is cast by the magick of
All Hallows’ Eve.
When the last of your jack-o’-lanterns are lit, close up the spell with these lines:
The wheel year spins on and I celebrate this time.
I seal up this Samhain spell with a simple rhyme.
Seasons of Witchery: Celebrating the Sabbats with the Garden Witch
The Magickal Fruit of Samhain – The Apple
Many folks think of the apple as the fruit that goes with the autumn equinox/ Mabon only, but to be honest it has many more magickal ties to the sabbat of Samhain. Apples have a vast amount of magickal folklore in many religions and traditions. The apple has been unfairly called the forbidden fruit; on a more positive note, they have also been called the fruit of the gods and the fruit of the underworld. It is interesting to note that in the Druidic tradition, apples were used as an offering to the dead. The practice speaks of burying fresh apples on Samhain so the souls of the deceased can feast on them while they are waiting to be reborn.
Apples are associated with many goddesses, and here are a few you may be familiar with: Aphrodite and Venus, and Ishtar, Astarte, Gaia, Hera, Cerridwen, the Norse goddesses Freya and Idunn/ Idunna, and, of course, Pomona, our Roman goddess of the apple tree, the orchard, and the apple harvest.
Apples and Witchcraft lore also have a long and colorful history. Crosswise-sliced fresh apples make great natural pentacles on an altar no matter what time of year it is. In herb magick, the apple tree and its fruit are considered to be feminine and are associated with the element of water and the planet Venus. The apple fruit is used for love, passion, friendship, wisdom, and healing magicks. In the language of flowers, a cluster of apple blossoms signifies attraction, while the apple blossom itself promotes fertility. The fruit has a slightly different meaning in the language of flowers.
Here, the apple fruit represents wealth and fecundity, which, when you think about it, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
The foliage and twigs of an apple tree may also be worked into spells to promote good health, long life, and knowledge. Also, a wand made out of an apple branch and covered in nine silver bells is thought to be especially potent. You may have heard of this before, as an apple wand decorated in such a way is called a silver bough.
Apples are thought to be the container of life and a symbol of immortality in many magickal traditions. There is the Celtic Isle of Apples, or Avalon, that was ruled by Morgan le Fay. Also, there was the Greek gardens of Hesperides, where a sacred apple tree grew that bestowed— you guessed it— immortality. This particular apple tree was a wedding gift to the goddess Hera from Gaia herself, when Hera marriecalled the Hesperides. Legend says the nine maidens joined hands around the sacred apple tree and sang as the sun set and the evening star rose— which is the planet Venus. And, of course, we have Idunn’s or Idunna’s golden apples that kept the Norse gods both vital and immortal. The apple, no matter what magickal culture venerated it, was thought to hold the essence of the soul.
Seasons of Witchery: Celebrating the Sabbats with the Garden Witch
A Halloween Apple Spell for Love Divination
To perform the Victorian apple peel trick, you must pare an apple in an unbroken chain and then flip the apple peel over your shoulder into a previously placed pot or cauldron of water. The peel will unfurl in the water, taking the shape of the first letter of the first name of your true love.
Chant this as you toss the apple peel:
Apple peel, apple peel, let’s you and I play a game
Take the shape of the first letter of my true love’s name.
By the mystery of love and the magick of Halloween
With the help of Pomona, now make your symbol clear to me.
Now take a look and see what letter appears. Good luck!
Seasons of Witchery: Celebrating the Sabbats with the Garden Witch
“The eve of the New Year or Oidhche Shamhna was a gap in time. Thus, the spirits from the Otherworld could enter into our world. Rituals on Oidhche Shamhna include providing hospitality to the dead ancestors. They welcomed the dead with food and drink and left the windows and doors of their homes open for the dead to enter. But all spirits from the Otherworld were not good; there were evil spirits too. To keep evil spirits away from their home, they carved images of spirit-guardians onto turnips and placed them at the doors of their homes. As part of the festivities young people wore strange costumes and moved around the village, pretending to be dead spirits visiting from the Otherworld. The Celts believed that on the eve of New Year not only did the boundary between this world and the Otherworld dissolve, but the structure of society dissolved too. Boys and girls would dress up as members of the opposite sex and play pranks on the elders.”
– Celtic New Year