Samhain Lore


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Samhain Lore

It is traditional on Samhain night to leave a plate of food outside the home for the souls of the dead. A candle placed in the window guides them to the lands of eternal summer, and burying apples in the hard-packed earth “feeds” the passed ones on their journey.

For food, beets, turnips, apples, corn, nuts, gingerbread, cider, mulled wines and pumpkin dishes are appropriate, as are meat dishes (once again, if you’re not vegetarian. If so, tofu seems ritually correct).

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner

Scott Cunningham

Samhain


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Samhain

(October 31)

 

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 wish to be free of: anger, a baneful habit, misplaced placed 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.

Prior to the 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 that 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.

Raise your wand, face the altar and say:

On this night of Samhain I mark your passing,

O Sun Kin& 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. 0 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 savor their sharp, bittersweet flavor. 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 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.

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.

Release any pain and sense of loss you may feel into the cauldron’s flames. Works of magic, if necessary, may follow.

Celebrate the Simple Feast.

The circle is released.

 

 

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner

Scott Cunningham

 

Samhain Bits & Pieces


~Halloween

“Fire has always played an important part at Samhain. It was very important to the Celts as it was to all early people. In the old days people lit bonfires to ward away evil spirits and in some places they used to jump over the fire to bring good luck. Samhain was a fire festival to the Celts and in Ireland, originally all fires were put out save the sacred one which was kindled by the old rubbing sticks method, branches were then taken to light all fires in the land. Pagans today include a fire outside if possible for our celebrations, or indoors a candle in a cauldron is used to signify this. Bingley in West Yorkshire used to have a reminder of Celtic customs at its October Fair, Parkin pigs were sold. The boar is a symbol of the Sun in Celtic myth and so the symbol originally honoured it at the time of going into the light. Apples are traditional at this time and if you cut an apple crosswise you will see the centre displays a 5 pointed star or pentagram, the symbol used by many pagans as a sign of their beliefs.”


Samhain – Cauldron Corner

 

Samhain Bits & Pieces


~Halloween

“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

 

Samhain Bits & Pieces


~Halloween

“To many ancient people, the waning of the light signaled death. For example, in Welsh mythology, this is the day of the year when the God of Darkness, Goronwy, defeats the God of Light, Llew, and takes his place as King of the world. To this day in Japan, the equinox is celebrated by visits to the graves of family members, at which time offerings of flowers and food are made and incense is burned. The three days preceding and following the equinox are called “higan,” or the “Other side of the River of Death.”


September Folklore

Samhain Bits & Pieces

~Halloween

Thoroughly clean, dust, tidy up, refreshen, improve, and add appropriate seasonal decorations to your home altar. This should normally be clean and tidy, however an extra cleaning before the Samhain celebration is a way to express your reverence, create a visible reminder of your thoughts and devotional practices, and to offer hospitality to the nature spirits, ancestors, and Shining Ones. If you don’t have a home altar, read some books and webpages about setting one up in your home or garden, and then establish one this holiday season.

 

Samhain Bits & Pieces


~Halloween

This is a time for remembering the Ancestors, honoring deceased members of your family, and remembering the cherished dead. Gather together a few pictures of your ancestors and place them on or near your home altar. Set out some offerings of food, drink or valuables to honor the dead. Visit and clean the gravesites of those who have passed away. Say some prayers for the souls of those who have passed into the Otherworld. Talk with your ancestors and bring them up to date about what has happened since they died on the earthly plane.

Wishing Everyone A Very Mystical & Magickal Samhain Eve! Feel It In The Air, The Veil Thins!


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“Twas the Night Before Samhain”

Twas the night before Samhain and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except for my spouse.
The incense, it burned in our cauldron so black,
For Witchcraft and Magick we’d a wonderful knack.

The circle was drawn with the athame of power,
The guardians were called to each quarter tower.
The Lord and Lady attended our rite,
In wonder and glory and power and might.

The dearly departed came as our guest,
To live once again, after their rest.
We bid them goodbye with a tear in our eye,
Such a lovely presence of loved ones so nigh.

The candles danced in the flickering light,
With the Great Rite we bid them all a good night.
The guardians, thanked, have all sped away,
The Lord and Lady, thanked for the day.

The night before Samhain, Gods bless this house,
A circle of wonder ’round me and my spouse.

by Marjenna Gittings, 1992

Samhain Ritual to Honor the Forgotten Dead


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Samhain Ritual to Honor the Forgotten Dead

 

As Samhain rolls around and the veil grows thin each year, many people in the Pagan community take the opportunity to hold rituals honoring the dead. This may take the form of setting up an altar to honor the ancestors, or to hold a vigil for those who have crossed over in the past year. In general, we’re pretty good about remembering those who have touched us, whether they were family of the blood or of the spirit.

However, there’s one group that is typically overlooked at this time of year. It’s the people who passed through the veil with no one to mourn them, no one to remember their names, no loved ones left behind to sing their names with honor.

Think of the people out there, not just in your community, but around the country who are buried with no headstone, because there was no one to pay for a marker. Consider the old woman in a nursing home or care center, who died with no children or nieces and nephews to bid her farewell in the final moments. What about the homeless veteran who used to panhandle on your city’s streets, who one day just stopped showing up at the corner, and is now buried in an unmarked plot with dozens of others just like him?

How about the children who are lost, for whatever reasons, in our world, and die alone, whether by violence or neglect or illness? What about those who were once remembered, but now their gravestones lie untended and ignored?

These are the people that this ritual honors. These are the ones whose spirits we honor, even when we do not know their names. This ritual can be performed by a solitary practitioner or a group.

Keep in mind that while you can perform this rite as a standalone ritual, it also works well being incorporated in at the end of your other Samhain rituals.

You will need a collection of candles in colors and sizes of your choice – each will represent a group of forgotten people. If there’s someone specific you know of, who died alone, choose a candle to represent that person as well. For this sample ritual, we’ll use a candle for men, one for women, and another for children, but you can group people in any way that works for you.

If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now. Even if your tradition doesn’t require it, it’s a good idea to have designated sacred space of some sort for this ritual, because you’re going to be inviting the dead to stand outside and watch you.

You can do a simple delineation of the circle with string, birdseed, salt, or other markers. Another alternative is to simply create sacred space around the participants.

Decorate your altar as you normally would for Samhain, and include the collection of unlit candles in a prominent position. Safety tip: put the smaller ones at the front, and the taller ones behind them, so there’s less chance of you setting your own sleeve on fire as you light them.

Particularly if you’re doing this during the Samhain season, there’s a lot of activity crossing back and forth over the veil, so it’s a good idea to take a moment to meditate and get grounded before you begin. When you’re ready to start, say:

Now is the season of Samhain. It is the season of our ancestors, of our glorious dead, of those who have fallen and crossed over the veil from this world to the next. This is a time for us to honor them and pay tribute.

Tonight, in the darkness, under this starry sky, we remember those who were forgotten. Tonight we memorialize you, the unknown, the unloved, the unwanted of our world. Whoever you may have been in life, tonight, now, in death, you are ours as you watch from the other side, at least for a little while.

Light the first candle, representing the group of your choice. Again, for purposes of this ritual, we’ll assign this candle to the women:

Women who were lost to us, how did you pass? Were you old and alone, crossing over with no one but your own ghosts to keep you company? Were you young and healthy, taken from us unexpectedly, your crossing as much a surprise to you as to anyone else? Does your body lie in a cold office somewhere, waiting to be claimed? Or do you lie under the stars tonight, in a field or a forest where you’ll never be seen? Forgotten women, your spirits are with us tonight, watching us from outside the circle. We remember you, and want you to know you are honored. You are remembered.

Light the second candle, for the second group you are honoring:

Men who were lost to us, how did you pass? Did you die in a strange place, far from your family and friends, lost to everyone but your own demons? Were you in the prime of your life, or creeping along against the ravages of old age, watching as disease and neglect took their toll upon you? Are you buried in an unmarked plot in a potter’s field somewhere, or do you lie under these glorious stars tonight? Forgotten men, your spirits are with us tonight, watching us from outside the circle. We remember you, and want you to know you are honored. You are remembered.

Light the next candle, for additional groups you may be honoring:

Sweet children, crossed over from this world to the next. Your lives were far too short, for whatever reason, and you left us before you grew. On the other side, perhaps there is a mother to hold you when you need to feel loved, a father to comfort you when you are afraid, a big brother or sister to guide you on your journey. Wherever you may lie, and whether you were big or very, very small, your spirits are with us tonight, watching us from outside the circle. We remember you, and want you to know you are honored. You are remembered.

All of you, women, men, children… you may have crossed over unnoticed when you left this world, but for now, you are remembered. You are unforgotten. You are honored by us this night of Samhain, and if it helps you along your journey, then so may it be. Know that this night, you are with us in memory and spirit. Know that you are no longer the lost and unreachable dead.

Take a moment to meditate on what you have just said. See if you can feel the presence of the lost ones as you stand at your altar. You may notice a distinct shift in the energy you’re feeling, and that’s normal. It’s also why this next part of the ritual is very important: you’ve invited them to watch you, and now you need to send them on their way.

Spirits, guests from the place beyond, it is time. We have honored you and celebrated your names, though we may not have known you in life. Now is the time for you to move on. Go back to the places from which you came, to the places in which you belong as one of our beloved dead. Go back, knowing that this night, you were honored and remembered. Go back across the veil, and remain in that world. You will not be forgotten again, and we will honor you with our memories. Farewell, rest easy, and may the coming parts of your journey be worthy of you.

Take a few minutes to get yourself centered. End the ritual in whichever way you normally do, breaking down the sacred space. Extinguish the candles, and offer a quick final blessing of farewell to each group as the smoke drifts away into the night.

Source:

Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert

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