Samhain Lore

Samhain Lore (October 31st)

Samhain, (pronounced SOW-in, SAH-vin, or SAM-hayne) means “End of Summer”, and is the third and final Harvest. The dark winter half of the year commences on this Sabbat.

It is generally celebrated on October 31st, but some traditions prefer November 1st. It is one of the two “spirit-nights” each year, the other being Beltane. It is a magical interval when the mundane laws of time and space are temporarily suspended, and the Thin Veil between the worlds is lifted. Communicating with ancestors and departed loved ones is easy at this time, for they journey through this world on their way to the Summerlands. It is a time to study the Dark Mysteries and honor the Dark Mother and the Dark Father, symbolized by the Crone and her aged Consort.

Originally the “Feast of the Dead” was celebrated in Celtic countries by leaving food offerings on altars and doorsteps for the “wandering dead”. Today a lot of practitioners still carry out that tradition. Single candles were lit and left in a window to help guide the spirits of ancestors and loved ones home. Extra chairs were set to the table and around the hearth for the unseen guest. Apples were buried along roadsides and paths for spirits who were lost or had no descendants to provide for them. Turnips were hollowed out and carved to look like protective spirits, for this was a night of magic and chaos. The Wee Folke became very active, pulling pranks on unsuspecting humans. Traveling after dark was was not advised. People dressed in white (like ghosts), wore disguises made of straw, or dressed as the opposite gender in order to fool the Nature spirits.

This was the time that the cattle and other livestock were slaughtered for eating in the ensuing winter months. Any crops still in the field on Samhain were considered taboo, and left as offerings to the Nature spirits. Bonfires were built, (originally called bone-fires, for after feasting, the bones were thrown in the fire as offerings for healthy and plentiful livestock in the New Year) and stones were marked with peoples names. Then they were thrown into the fire, to be retrieved in the morning. The condition of the retrieved stone foretold of that person’s fortune in the coming year. Hearth fires were also lit from the village bonfire to ensure unity, and the ashes were spread over the harvested fields to protect and bless the land.

Various other names for this Greater Sabbat are Third Harvest, Samana, Day of the Dead, Old Hallowmas (Scottish/Celtic), Vigil of Saman, Shadowfest (Strega), and Samhuinn. Also known as All Hallow’s Eve, (that day actually falls on November 7th), and Martinmas (that is celebrated November 11th), Samhain is now generally considered the Witch’s New Year.

Symbolism of Samhain:
Third Harvest, the Dark Mysteries, Rebirth through Death.

Symbols of Samhain:
Gourds, Apples, Black Cats, Jack-O-Lanterns, Besoms.

Herbs of Samhain:
Mugwort, Allspice, Broom, Catnip, Deadly Nightshade, Mandrake, Oak leaves, Sage and Straw.

Foods of Samhain:
Turnips, Apples, Gourds, Nuts, Mulled Wines, Beef, Pork, Poultry.

Incense of Samhain:
Heliotrope, Mint, Nutmeg.

Colors of Samhain:
Black, Orange, White, Silver, Gold.

Stones of Samhain:
All Black Stones, preferably jet or obsidian.

Copyright © 1997-99 Akasha, Herne and The Celtic Connection wicca.com. All rights reserved.

Spiritualist Seance Invocation

‘There is a land where we all go,
Where never the frost or cold winds blow.
And friends remembered reunite,
where those who hate, forget their spite.
In glow, surround these gentle beings,
we call you now to bless our meetings,
Heaven’s promise, our spirits thrive,
So now for the living, let the dead come alive.
Greetings spirits, Speak now to us?’

From “The Spirit Speaks! Weekly Newspaper” 1901
~ Revised by Barbara Morris

Celtic Remembrance Ritual

Samhain Remembrance Ritual


Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep

I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain

I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush,
Of beautiful birds in circling flight
I am in the starshine of the night

I am in the flowers that bloom
I am in a quiet room
I am in the birds that sing
I am in each lovely thing

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I do not die.

~ by Mary E. Frye 1932

This world is not conclusion;
A sequel stands beyond,
Invisible, as music,
But positive, as sound.
It beckons and it baffles;
Philosophies don’t know,
And through a riddle, at the last,
Sagacity must go.
To guess it puzzles scholars;
To gain it, men have shown
Contempt of generations,
And crucifixion known.

Emily Dickinson

~ Emily Dickinson

Samhain – A Very Irish Feast The Roots of Halloween in Celtic Ireland

November 1st was traditionally known assamhain, literally translated the “end of summer” and pronounced something likesow-een. This was the end of the Celtic year, the start of winter, a time for reflection. And part of a sometimes confusing tradition …

From Darkness Comes Light

One of the Celtic idiosyncrasies was the concept of beginning in darkness and working towards the light. As the year started with winter, the days started at sundown. Thus the night from October 31st to November 1st was part of samhain, known as oiche shamhna or “evening of samhain“.

Samhain was one of the four “quarter days” of the Celtic calendar, along with imbolc(February 1st, start of spring – also known asSaint Brigid’s Day), bealtaine (May 1st, start of summer) and lughnasa (August 1st, start of the harvest). We do not have any undisputed information about how these festivities were conducted in pre-Christian times. Samhain seems to have been a specifically Irish tradition and first mentioned by Christian chroniclers. Feasting seems to have taken the best part of a week, a few days either side of the actual samhain day.

Samhain – Preparing for Winter

The preparations concerned mainly cattle and other livestock – all members of the herd were caught, brought into enclosures or sheds near the homestead. And some were marked for death – those animals too weak to survive the winter were slaughtered. Not for any ritual reasons, this was down to purely practical considerations. And filled the larder for winter.

At the same time all corn, fruits and berries had to be harvested and stored. There still is a widespread belief in Ireland that after November 1st all fruit is bewitched and thus inedible. The pooka was said to roam free atsamhain – a black, ugly horse with red eyes and the ability to talk. And with a penchant for kidnappings and copious urination on berries. On the other hand a respectful contact with the pooka could show you the future …

Communal Activities – Samhain as a Day of Reckoning

Many legends concern the big meetings at samhain – this was the time to take stock and decide upon future activities. At the Hill of Tara or on lakeshores. A general armistice during this period made meetings between sworn enemies, diplomacy and social activities beyond tribal and political boundaries possible. All debts had to be settled and horse-racing as well as charioteering provided a peaceful contest.

But spiritual activities were an integral part of the feast.

Traditionally all the fires were extinguished when oiche shamhna set in, making this the darkest night of the year. The fires were then re-lit, marking the start of the new year.

Tradition has it that druids lit a huge bonfire on the Hill of Tlachtga (near Athboy, County Meath) and burning torches were then carried from there to every household during the night – alas, a physical impossibility. Though the reputed special tax levied by the king for this “service” certainly seems believable in light of the modern Irish state’s revenue ideas …

We All Have to Make Sacrifices

Other rituals involving fire were not so quaint and definitely easier to arrange – the “wicker men”. Basically a cage made from wickerwork in a rough resemblance of the human form, then stuffed with (living) sacrificial offerings. Like animals, prisoners of war or unpopular neighbors. Which were then burned to death inside the “wicker man”. Other rituals involved drowning … Happy New Celtic Year!

But these human sacrifices should not be seen as the undisputed norm. Though sacrifices were undoubtedly made, they may only have involved milk and corn spilled into the earth. And there might even have been nocturnal human activities connected to fertility rituals. It was considered a good omen if a woman became pregnant at samhain!

The Non-Human Touch at Samhain

Not everybody joining in the samhain celebrations was necessarily human … or of our world. The night from October 31st to November 1st was a time “between years” to the Celts. And during this time the borders between our world and the otherworld(s) were flexible and open.

Not only the pooka was out and about … bean sidhe (banshee) could be killed by humans during the night, fairies were visible to human eyes, the underworld palaces of the “gentry” (an Irish title for fairies) were open to come and go. Humans could drink with mighty heroes and bed their beautiful female companions … as long as you did not make any mistakes, broke any rules or violated even the most ridiculous taboo. The problem being that the chances to foul up far outweighed the chances of a good night out – so most people opted for a quiet night in. Doors securely locked.

Last but not least Uncle Brendan might come knocking, even though he has been buried the last twenty years in New York. Samhain was also a time when the dead could walk the earth, communicate with the living … and call in old debts.

“Druidic” Confusion

All this belongs to the conservative picture of samhain. Which has been thoroughly muddled by neo-pagans and esoteric authors detailing “lost knowledge”. To such a degree that even a Celtic god of death called samhain appeared – a pure invention.

Colonel Charles Valency is to blame for many inventions. In the 1770s he wrote exhaustive treatises on the origin of the “Irish race” in Armenia. Many of his writings have long been consigned to the lunatic fringe. But Lady Jane Francesca Wilde carried his torch in the 19th century and her “Irish Cures, Mystic Charms and Superstitions” – which is still being cited as an authoritative work.

Samhain meanwhile mutated into All Hallows E’en and Halloween. And samhain or Halloween is still celebrated in Ireland in various ways – complete with fortune telling andspecial meals.

Samhain Ritual

By Dorothy Morrison

This ritual was written at a time when I did not have a qualified Priest in my group. However, it may easily be adapted for those groups in which the Priestess and Priest work together. It may be just as easily adapted to solitary work.

Place an apple and pomegranate upon the altar. There should also be a “planted” pot of earth for each participant – these may be arranged on the altar as well, if there is ample space. Instruments of divination may be placed within the Circle perimeter for use during the ritual if you wish. Arrange the altar as usual and decorate with Autumn leaves, pumpkins, etc.

The Circle is cast and purified the Circle in the usual manner. Dancing around the Circle in a shuffle step (deosil), all chant three times:

The Moon is bright, the Crone is old
The body lifeless – the bones so cold
We all live and pay our dues
To die in ones and threes and twos.

Death, dance and play the harp
Piercing silence in the dark
The Woman’s old with withered limbs
Death beckons Her to dance with Him

As She accepts the Dance of Death
The Earth is cooled by ghostly breath
To lie in dormancy once more
To have Her strength and life restored

Go to the Western Quarter and draw an invoking pentagram with the athame to open the gate. Then evoke the dead by saying:

All ye spirits who walk this night –
Hearken! Hearken to my call!
I bid you in our Circle join!
Enter! Enter – one and all!

Come ye, spirits of the dead:
Be ye spirit of plant or pet
Or human being who still roams!
Into this Circle you are let!

Speak to us of things unknown!
Lend your energies to this rite!
To speed your journey, we have joined
On this sacred Samhain night!

All ye spirits who walk this night –
Hearken! Hearken to my call!
I bid you in our Circle join!
Enter! Enter – one and all!

Bestow blessings upon the dead, saying:

Oh Mighty Pan of the Summerlands:
Guardian of the beloved dead
We pour forth love on those you keep
Safely, in your peaceful stead
We bless those who have walked the path
That someday, we as well, shall rove
We offer peace unto their souls
While resting in your arms, below

Now is the time for divination (Ouija Board, pendulum, cards, etc.) and communication with those who have gone on before us. Allow plenty of time for this. [Note: I have found that it is helpful to have a tape recorder handy within the Circle for recording any communications that may be “channeled” during this time. Some people disagree with this suggestion, saying that the metal of this electronic device causes scattered energies in the Circle; however, if the recorder has been cleansed and purified as the rest of the ritual tools, the problem seems to be resolved.]

When the divinatory processes are completed, the Priestess goes to the Western Quarter and draw the banishing pentagram, saying:

Blessings be upon thee, oh wondrous Spirits of the
Summerlands. We humbly thank thee for your presence in our
Circle and honor you in celebration this sacred night. We
beseech thee, oh Pan, keeper of the sacred dead, embrace
once again those souls within your keep and hold tightly
to your breast those which have been lost and wandering.
Grant them safe passage to the Summerland, where they may
rest peacefully in your strength until they are refreshed
and reborn again in perfect love. We bid thee all a fond
farewell. So mote it be!

The gate is now closed.

The Priestess goes to the altar and hold up the pomegranate, saying:

Behold the pomegranate, fruit of Life…

The athame is plunged into the pomegranate, splitting it open to display the seeds. She says:

Whose seeds lie in the dormancy of Death!

The Priestess eats one of the seeds, saying:

I Taste the seeds of Death.

The pomegranate is then passed hand to hand through the participants of the ritual, each eating a seed and saying to the next person:

“Taste the seeds of Death.”

The Priestess then holds up the apple, saying:

Behold the apple: fruit of wisdom, fruit of Death…

She then cuts the apple crosswise, saying:

Whose symbolism rewards us with life eternal!

She holds up the apple, displaying the inner pentagram, and says:

Behold the five-fold star – the promise of rebirth!

Consecrate the fruit and wine. Each person then tastes of the apple and sips the wine, saying to the next person:

Taste the fruit of rebirth and sip from the cup of wine of Life.

After libation, the Priestess presents each member of the group with a small pot of earth, planted with three seeds [preferably rue or lavender]. She briefly explains to the group that this is the season of the seed – it is a time of dormancy, but also a time of re-generation for growth. Further, as the seed rests in the earth, they should also take time to rest and re-evaluate their lives, metaphorically planting only those values which will enrich and enhance the growth within the Divine Self. She then instructs them to name the seeds within their pots with three values they wish to incorporate into their lives, knowing that as the seeds sprout with new life, their lives will be new, as well.

After the presentation, all join hands and hold them skyward.

PRIESTESS:

Thus is the Circle of Rebirth.
All pass from this life through the great god, Pan
But through My love you are all reborn
In the cycles of nature – through the Cosmic Plan.

In living we die – in dying we live
The fruit is first seed, yet seed comes from the fruit
In the mystery of life and death and rebirth
The Circle turns ever, and I am its root.

ALL RESPOND:

The Sun conceived in Darkness, cold
In the Shadow of Death, a Life unfolds
A shred of Light begins to burn
From Death comes Life – the Circle turns.

Dismiss Quarters and Dissolve Circle.

PRIESTESS:

The rite is ended.

ALL:

Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again!

Outdoor libation to the Lord and Lady, and the spirits of the dead.

A Samhain Ritual

by Joann Keesey

Even though in Irish, sam means summer, Samhain (pronounced sah’-wen)is the festival of November eve and the beginning of the dark half of the year for the Celts. In the Coligny calendar, a series of engraved bronze plates unearthed in France in 1897, the year begins with a month marked”SAM” and a festival known as Samonios or “summer’s end.”Alwyn and Brinley Rees comment in Celtic Heritage that this arrangement harmonizes with Caesar’s testimony concerning the precedence of night over day. “The Gauls, he says called themselves sons of the god of night and defined ‘the division of every season, not by the number of days, but of nights…”

The ritual outlined below makes use of the symbolism of apples quite extensively,along with honoring the ancestors, which was a common Celtic practice at the commencement of winter. If apples are not available, nuts can be used. Keeping with a Celtic theme, hazel nuts or filberts, for the divinatory aspects would be a good choice.

This ritual was designed for public use and, as such, has a few caveats.The format is extremely simple but the preparations are fairly extensive. In our case, the person chosen to be the apple woman was from another coven. We talked quite extensively about how I envisioned the role and what she would bring to it, and she was given a small but working sickle to meditate on for a week beforehand. That sickle also formed part of her ritual attire and was worn on a cord around her waist. She had a deep basket which held about 25 apples. We had 22 participants. The apple cores were gathered up afterwards and used for garden compost. Alternatively, the seeds could be planted by someone or the apples eaten completely. For a smaller group,it could also be feasible to carve a small sigil on the apple before it’s eaten.

The second caveat has to do with the one non-Celtic element in this ritual.The second chant is a Yoruban ancestor chant from a South Carolina village that has worked extensively to recreate an African village compound in this country. It is not a chant to be used lightly. It does call the ancestors. There should be a trance medium or one who is used to working with ancestor spirits present. For those who are new to the topic or have not yet realized that you can work with ancestors other than your own, I would advise the substitution of another chant. Finally, for those who have recently lost friends or family, this chant may bring the fresh feelings of grief to the fore, and both the apple-woman and the presiding priestess as well as any other elders present should be prepared to deal with these appropriately.

The meditation, the ground of being, and the first ancestor chant are the work of Erynn Laurie from Seattle, who has a wonderful Celtic Internet list called nemeton-l. For those with Internet or e-mail access, you can subscribe by sending a message to majordomo@io.com which simply says in the body of the message “subscribe” and your e-mail address. Erynn also has a fine book out called A Circle of Stones: Journeys and Meditations for Modern Celts.

I would be happy to hear about peoples’ use of this ritual and will answer any questions. Write care of the Obsidianpost office box to Joann Keesey.

The apple is considered feminine, ruled by the planet Venus. Its element is water, and it is associated with the following deities: Venus, Dionysus, Olwen, Apollo, Hera, Athena, Diana, Zeus, Aphrodite, and Iduna. The powers of the apple are love, healing, garden magic and immortality. Folk names for the apple retain these associations; for example, Fruit of the Gods,Fruit of the Underworld, Silver Branch, and Tree of Love. Halloween apple games descended from Celtic feasts of Samhain at the end of October. If you bobbed for apples and got one, the luck of the year would accompany you. If you managed only water, then the prospects were not so bright. Iduna(1) guards her apples well,and only the worthy will emerge victorious. Throughout the Indo-European culture complex, apples represented the Goddess’s sacred heart of immortality,displaying the pentagram when cut across.

Hey ho for Hallow E’en
A’ the witches tae be seen
Some in black and some in green
Hey ho for Hallow E’en.

In the Celtic countries, this was the time when ghosts and spirits of the dead came back to their former homes looking for warmth and food. The harvest had been gathered in, the cattle bedded down in their winter stalls. Families could hardly deny the shades of relatives the welcome they gave their cattle.On Samhain Eve, a fire would be built up and a table set with food to welcome them. Sometimes there was even a dumb supper with the company of those who had gone before. Throughout Gaul and Britain, fires were kindled on the hilltops to serve as a guide to those well disposed and a warning to deter those bent on mischief. Hundreds of years after Samhain had been replaced by All Hallows’ Eve, people were still building up the fire and setting the table for a feast, then leaving the house unlocked and departing for church. The custom only died out when not only the food was gone, but also the silver and other family heirlooms. Italians and Latin Americans still make an elaborate celebration, often having picnics in the cemeteries.

Apple rust, and cinnamon rust,
And cloves like rusty nails,
Turn my head to an iron box
And my ribs to rusty rails.

Long a symbol of life and fertility, nuts were an indispensable part of the holiday feast. In some parts of the British Isles, Hallows was known as Nutcrack Night. Nuts were divinatory, especially as far as romance was concerned. For each couple, a pair of nuts would be placed near the fire or on a hot shovel. In Wales, if both “pop and fly” simultaneously,the couple will marry, but if they explode at different times, they will part. In Scotland and Northern England, the nuts should burn quietly together.If they spring apart, so will the couple, but in the South the rhyme has it:

If he loves me, pop and fly!
If he hates me, lie and die.

Samhain Ritual

Items needed:
4 quarter candles
altar decorations
stone, feather, water
large basket with apples or nuts
cakes and wine (good non-alcoholic choice here is apple cider)
container to dispose of apple cores

Cast the Circle

East, South, West, North! Let the people gather forth!
Air, Fire, Water, Earth! Sacred circle now sees birth!

Call the Quarters

EAST: (Lights Eastern candle)
Let there be a light kindled from the spirit.
Blessed be this Eastern Gate and blessed be the element of Air.

SOUTH: (Lights Southern candle)
Let there be a light increasing and illuminating the South.
Blessed be this Southern Gate and blessed be the element of Fire.

WEST: (Lights Western candle)
Let there be a light radiating in the West.
Blessed be this Western Gate and blessed be the Element of Water.

NORTH: (Lights Northern candle)
Let there be a light reflecting in the North.
Blessed be this Northern Gate and blessed be the Element of Earth.

Casters: Let these powers be as one.

All: So mote it be.

Meditation

Stand quietly and relax with your hands resting at your sides. Clear your mind and concentrate on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly and follow along with this meditation.

Take three breaths. On the fourth, raise the hands from the sides to the heart, palm over palm.

We are at the center of the World.

Exhale, move to one knee with palms on the ground before you.

We stand firmly upon the Land.

Inhale and rise to your feet, moving the hands behind at hip height, palms up, cupping. Exhale and move the hands in an arc until they meet in front.

The sea always surrounds us.

Inhale and move hands to the sides, spread the fingers wide, palms forward.Exhale and raise the arms, bringing the hands together above the head, thumb and forefinger meeting to create a triangle.

The sky spreads itself above us.

Inhale and lower hands to heart again.

We are at the center of the Three Realms.

Exhale and lower hands to the sides.

Ground of Being

Take stone and raise it above the head, lower it to touch the ground.

May Talamh Naomh (2)support us.

Set stone back. Take water and tip some salt into it. Swirl water three times clockwise. Walk three times clockwise around group.

May Farraighe Siorai (3)surround us.

Place water back and take feather. With the feather, describe an arc from east to west over the group.

May Speir Eigriochta (4)watch over us.

Honoring of the Ancestors

After pouring the libation, the Priest/ess says:

Let us make offerings to the ancestors and land spirits. Meditate upon our debt to them, for without them we would not exist.

All chant (in one-note chant):

Here I stand on sacred land
The sky is over my head
All around me the endless sea
We honor the Mighty Dead.

Priest/ess then says:

Beginning with [name of person in circle] and continuing deosil around the circle, when you are ready go to the Apple woman and receive your offering of immortality after you have remembered those who have gone before.

All chant:

Wole wa, egun gun, wole wa (three times)
Oh, ohh… wole wa. (5)
(Continue entire chant until all have visited the Apple woman)

The fruit is eaten, and the Priest/ess then says:

As we have eaten of the fruit of life, so our ancestors live in our fruitful memories of them.

Apple cores are collected and disposed of in the manner chosen.

Cakes and Wine

Dismissal of the Ancestors

All chant:

Dobayo, egun gun, dobayo (three times)
Oh…ohh Dobayo!

Dismissal of the Quarters

NORTH: By the power of the stone at Midnight, I transform, send forth and remain at Peace.

WEST: By the power of the setting sun and rising moon at Twilight,I transform, send forth and remain at Peace.

SOUTH: By the power of the radiant Sun at Noon, I transform, send forth, and remain at Peace.

EAST: By the power of the rising sun and morning star at Dawn, I transform, send forth and remain at Peace.

Priest/ess: Let these powers be as none.

All: So mote it be.

Opening of Circle and Closing

North, West, South, and East! All have eaten of the Feast!
Earth, Water, Fire, and Air! Circle is open with joy and care!

The circle is open…

JOANN KEESEY has been a witch for ten years. She belongs to a small working coven that specializes in British and Celtic folklore.

FOOTNOTES:

1. The goddess Induna lives in Asgard and possesses magical apples which the Gods eat and, as a result, never grow old.(Return to text)

2. Pronounced “Talav Noom.” (Return to text)

3. Pronounced “Farrah Sheer.”(Return to text)

4. Pronounced “Spear Eg-greesh.” (Return to text)

Further reading:
McNeill, F. Marian, The Silver Bough, Volume Three, a Calendar of Scottish National Festivals, Hallowe’en to Yule, (Glasgow: William Maclellan,240 Hope Street, Glasgow, 1959).
Rees, Alwyn and Brinley, Celtic Heritage, Ancient Tradition in Irelandand Wales, (London: Thames and Hudson, 1961).

Wiccan Samhain Sabbat Solitary Ritual Guide

download

Supplies
Black altar cloth
Scrying mirror or bowl of water
Four white pillar candles for the four quarters
One gold taper candle for the God
One silver taper candle for the Goddess
One black candle
Natural bowl (shell, horn, seed pod, etc)
Slice of bread
Apple cider
Any ritual tools you normally use
Most would usually wear black during this rite

Cleanse the space and cast the circle.

Lighting their candles, call the elements:

“I call upon the spirits of the North, that they join my Circle and bring word of the dead, and take my words to them! Welcome, spirits of Air!

I call upon the spirits of the East, that they join my Circle and bring the comfort of the Earth, the flesh of the Mother, to which we all return. Welcome spirits of Earth!

I call upon the spirits of the South, that they join my Circle, bringing purification, that my soul learns from the trials and joys of life. Welcome, spirits of Fire!

I call upon the spirits of the West, that they join my Circle and bring peace, that I may take comfort in the Cycle. Welcome, spirits of Water!”

Call down God and Goddess.

Light the Goddess candle, saying:

“Lady, may your love shine upon us in bounty and in loss.”

Light the God candle, saying:

“Lord, though extinguished for a time, your light will return to us!”

Extinguish the God candle, saying:

“I mourn and celebrate the death of the God. For the Light is now short, yet our harvest is great, and the light will rekindle again, the Cycle begin anew in Nature. I take comfort also in knowing that no soul is lost or forsaken on the Wheel. Blessed be your rest, Lord.”

Sit in the circle with the bowl (or mirror) before you, the candle behind it, unlit. Have the slice of bread beside you to the left, and the drink to the right.

Pick up the bread and tear off a small piece, dipping it into the drink. Say something like:

“I offer this sustenance to those who have passed before me, this bread of the earth and air, and this drink of the water and fire. With the union of the two, they become whole and I offer it to my ancestors, to the Gods and Goddesses who would have it.”

Place the bread in the natural bowl, taking a moment to contemplate who has passed on that would come to take some of the food you have offered. Once done, pick up the black candle and light it, saying something like:

“I light this candle as a lantern to guide those who have passed before me. I welcome them to this rite so long as they offer good will to it. Negativity will be turned away, positive energies will be welcomed. With this candle, I illuminate the circle as a beacon to those who have passed that I love and cherish.”

Set the candle down behind the bowl of water (or mirror). Stare into the water, preferably at an angle so you can see the flame of the candle dancing on the surface of the water. Let your mind go and concentrate on meeting up and connecting with those that have died before you that you wish to contact. Be they pets, persons, or Deities, concentrate on connecting to those that have gone on, and ask them for guidance, or ask them whatever you like.

Take as long as you like on this part of the ritual, for it should not be rushed.

When done, lift up the bread and take one more piece, dipping it into the drink. Say something like:

“I offer more of the food that sustains me, soaking up some drink to quench the thirst of the thirsty. Thank you for coming to me, sharing in your wisdom, guidance, and company.”

Set this piece in the natural bowl with the other one. Share in with the meal by eating the bread and drinking the cider that you have beside you.

When this is done, dismiss the deities and all others you have called and close the circle. Ground and center.

From: http://www.wiccanway.com/Samhain-Solitary-Ritual-Guide_c_198.html

A Few Idea for Celebrating Samhain

Samhain/Halloween October 31st.

All Souls Night, Feast of the Dead, Festival of Remembrance, Feast of Apples, New Year…

Samhain is one of the major festivals of the Wheel of the Year, for many Pagans the most important festival of all. It is the third and final harvest festival of nuts and berries and a fire festival. All the harvest is in, all is complete, it is the end of the cycle of birth and growth, it is the point of death. The seeds of the harvest have fallen deep into the dark earth, they are unseen, dormant, and thus apparently lifeless.

The God, as Sun King is sacrificed back to the land with the seed until the Winter Solstice, and the Goddess, now as Crone, mourns Him until His rebirth at Yule. He travels the Underworld learning its wisdom. This is the time of the descent into darkness, of pre-conception, out of which new life, new ideas, will eventually emerge.

Traditionally the veils between the worlds are at their thinnest now. Boundaries dissolve and all is laid bare. It is time to honour and offer hospitality to, our ancestors.

At Samhain the dark half of the year commences. It is a truly magical time. Death is always followed by rebirth and while this is the end of the old year, it is the beginning of the new year. For the Celts the day did not begin at dawn, it began at sunset, it began with darkness. Light is always born out of darkness, they are inseparable, interdependent, and necessary. Darkness is fertile with ‘all potential’. With the beginning of this dark phase comes the opportunity to rest and reflect on the past and to dream of new beginnings. The seed now hidden in the earth will germinate in its season. Look for the seeds in yourself!

Honouring The Ancestors

Honouring your ancestors is a very special thing to do at this time and can be done in many simple ways. Think about all those departed souls from your life, both family and friends, children may wish to remember pets even – place photographs of them on your altar. Offer them your hospitality, welcome their presence into your home. At your Samhain feast, consider laying an extra place for them to join you at the table – cook and eat their favourite dishes, talk about them – re-member them, bring them closer. You and your children can make an offering for departed pets by leaving some dog food outside on Halloween night, many night creatures appreciate this offering.  Be careful what you put outside – we used to put out bread and milk but are dismayed to find that this is fatal to hedgehogs – and we lovehedgehogs!

Candle Ceremony for The Ancestors

This is a wonderfully simple ritual which can be shared with both friends and family, or worked alone. You can include children in it – it begins in darkness and ends full of light.

It’s a great balance to trick or treating!

You will need a supply of small candles, either black or white, or a supply of night lights. You need a heat proof container or tray of sand or earth to put them in. Place one in the centre of the container from which all the others will be lit. Switch off all the lights and sit gently in thedarkness. Allow the darkness to enfold you. Ask for the presence of your ancestors to come to you. When you are ready, light the central candle saying “We welcome our departed loved ones into this home and honour your presence amongst us”. Allow each person in the circle to spontaneously remember someone who has passed to the Summerlands and remember something about them and light a candle for each person from the central candle: ‘I remember Great Aunt Sheila and her generosity of heart….’. Allow this to continue for as long as it takes to complete the re-membering. You will end with a tray full of radiant candles. When all is complete, give thanks, and allow the candles to burn to completion.

 

Seed Scattering Charm for the Ancestors

 

This simple charm is designed to honour the Spirit of those who have passed onto the Summerland. The seeds you scatter will grow in memory, a gift of remembrance to the Earth.

You will need:

A packet of seeds of your choice

A small dish

A small white candle in a suitable holder

A pouch or bag for your seeds

The night before your Seed Scattering Charm, pop the seeds into the dish and light the candle. Think about the person or people you wish to honour and remember, and as you do so say ‘gone from sight but not from the heart. Merry Meet Merry Part.’ Or you can use your own words. Leave the seeds in the dish overnight and let the candle burn down completely – always taking safety precautions. When you are ready place the seeds in your pouch and hold the pouch in your right hand on the way to a place of your choosing. On arrival take the seeds and scatter them, saying ‘You are remembered and held in my heart’. Repeat three times.

Where to do this? You can go to a favourite special place of your choice, a place that holds fond memories of the people you are honouring, or even your own garden – the idea of watching the seeds germinating and growing in honour of people you love is very special. The charm works just as well if you plant the seeds in a small pot.

This charm works very well as an offering of thanks to Spirit of Place. The instructions are exactly the same, except that when you prepare the seeds the night before the words are ‘ I give thanks for your beauty, it warms my heart. Merry Meet Merry Part.’

Charm donated with generous heart by the Counter Enchantress.

The Isle of Avalon, Isle of Apples, Isle of the Dead.

Glastonbury, where we are based, is also known as the Sacred Isle of Avalon, or Isle of Apples, and also the Isle of the Dead.

In mythology, here the entrance to the Underworld is found, ruled by Morgan, Queen of the Dead. There are many apple games played at Samhain which grew out of the belief in the Apple as a sacred and magical fruit. The Apple is a symbol of life and immortality. In Celtic tradition, apples were buried at Samhain as food for those souls who are waiting to be reborn.
The Apple, cut crosswise, reveals the five pointed star, or pentacle at its core, a symbol of the Goddess.

Symbols of Samhain

The Pumpkin

Pumpkins are very much an American tradition which has been successfully marketed in the UK and Europe. Everyone loves them, especially of course, children. If you consider that the Celts regarded the human head as the Seat of the Soul, the concept of the carved pumpkin with a candle inside it as the Light shining from the Soul, it becomes just about acceptable……..

The Cauldron

The Cauldron or Holy Grail is closely associated with Samhain. It is feminine, and is the cosmic container for all life and death, of transformation and rebirth.

The Besom Broom

The besom is used as this time both practically and symbolically. It sweeps away the last of the Autumn leaves, but is also used ritually to sweep out the old, to clean and clear away old energy, creating space for the new. Traditionally besoms are made from birch twigs – the birch is associated with purification and renewal.

You can make a besom at this time of year by gathering a large bundle of birch twigs tied together. Drive a broom handle into the middle of the bundle – ideally hazel or ash.

Acorns

The Acorn is the seed of the great Oak, representing wisdom, longevity, rebirth – a promise of strength to come. An acorn in your pocket is an amulet of good fortune to come. All nuts from our indigenous trees – walnuts, hazelnuts, conkers and so on – are pure potential and carry the attributes of the mother tree.

Colours of Samhain

Black for death and endings, orange for the vitality of life within death, purple for wisdom, insight and inspiration.

The Samhain Altar

A cauldron. Apples, nuts and berries. Black candles to honour the passage to the Summerland and the Ancestors. Photographs of deceased family and friends.



Buttermilk Bread Charm for Samhain.

You will need:

3 mugs of strong white flour

500 ml of Buttermilk (available from the supermarket)

I teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda

Samhain ribbon in black or purple.

A handful of rye flour

A scattering of oats

twig of rosemary for remembrance

Place the flours in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Sieve in the blended salt and soda and pour in the buttermilk. Mix well with a wooden spoon until the dough feels springy. If it feels too sloppy just add a little more flour. Turn it onto a board and cover with a fine dusting of flour. Pat it with your hands until you have a round shape. Take a sharp knife and score lightly into eight sections, one for each festival. Our picture shows the bread scored five times to make a pentacle.

Place onto a greased baking tray and pop your buttermilk bread into a moderate oven for about 20-25 minutes. Keep and eye on it. When the bread is ready it will change colour and it will sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Cool completely on a wire rack. When it is cool, place the rosemary on top and tie it with Samhain ribbon.

Take time to concentrate on the bread you have created and turn the loaf three times saying

“From the fields and through the stones, into fire, Samhain Bread, as the Wheel turns may all be fed. Goddess Bless.”

Now take your bread and share it with your family and friends and pass on the generous blessings of this festival of completion and beginning. Eat it fresh, as soon as it is made if you can.

Recipe donated by the Counter Enchantress. Adapted by the Boss Lady with permission.

The Counter Enchantress is discovering that you can add almost anything appropriate to this simple bread recipe and it STILL WORKS beautifully. You can decide for yourself what the appropriate additions are for a particular festival, in this case rye flour. oats and rosemary, and just do it. There is much kitchen magic in working with one recipe through the Wheel of the Year just changing it a little as the wheel turns…..


Honour the ancestors, have fun and enjoy………..

All information offered is checked to the best of our ability, and whilst every effort has been made to make it accurate, no responsibility will be accepted for errors and omissions.

Any information displayed on our web site(s) or other printed matter from the shop is not regarded to be authoritative or certified as the best practice and is only considered to be useful supplementary advice to other certified codes of practice. All information on our web site is updated regularly. From: http://www.goddessandgreenman.co.uk/samhain

A Spell To See Spirits

A Spell to See Spirits

To see spirits, old European grimoires recommend mixing together aloe, pepper,
musk, vervain and saffron, and burning this in a cemetery.
We can adapt this for other locations (like those in which the spirit lived) by
adding a bit of sweetgrass or tobacco to a specially prepared incense.
Create the incense on the anniversary of the death of the individual you wish to
contact.
This is then burned at 11 am, in the safety of a majick circle that also holds
symbolic items to connect you to the entity.
An incantation to encourage the spirit’s presence is:

“Guardians of the Spirit realm,
hear and guide my plea.
When the witching hour rings true,
bring my relationship, name of person to me.
Other souls who hear my call,
are not welcome in this place.
Only the one known as name of person may enter sacred space.”

Repeat the request three times, twenty minutes apart, then wait quietly for
indications of a presence.
Signs include the scent of flowers, or favored cologne, a cool wind, movement of
curtains, and candles going out or twitching erratically.
Once you feel sure the spirit is with you, do not make it tarry overly long.
Take care of your business, say farewell, and thank the guardians for their
assistance before closing the circle.

A Word of Caution:
Spiritual entities should not be banished or called for amusement.
It is best to contact a knowledgeable, experienced psychic for advice or
assistance before undertaking any spells of this type.
It is used for communication, and understanding the purpose of spirits.
The best times are in-between times, such as noon, midnight, dusk and dawn.
Halloween. Seasons of late fall and winter.
When the Moon is in Libra. Eclipses. Wednesday.

Author unknown

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Learning to be a Pagan

Learning to be a Pagan

Author:   Lanterna  

I don’t call myself a Wiccan. And I don’t consider myself a Witch either, because I’ve just started walking the path of the Ancient Gods, though I have nurtured the love for magick since I was 11 or 12. It was on Samhain (I called it Halloween at the time) afternoon, and I felt like a huge, powerful, green energy filling my body and soul. I had no religion at the time, and I did not want to belong to any religious group: too many “must dos” and taboos and guilt feelings and intolerance. But an interest in spirituality grew and I got involved in a more or less spiritual movement that proved to be quite disastrous for my mental health. But I did not give up my “quest”.

I’m scared of labels. I’m scared of spiritual masters. I had a bad experience with one of them once. But, honestly, I don’t know how to become a “good” Pagan, if there are any ‘good’ or ‘wrong’ ways to be a Pagan. I just know I am honestly in love with the Earth. I like the divine breeze I can breathe in when I open my window at night, the magick of the roses and the grass in that moment, when everything is quiet, when there is none or very little human activity.

It would be presumptuous of me to say I’m a Witch. Do I serve the Gods well? Do I respect the Earth enough? Do I use my magic tools well enough? I’d like to meet guides but I’m leery of meeting people who are shallow or intolerant or manipulative. I’m tempted to learn on my own, through books (I would not believe everything that is written; I would think carefully about it first) , through Pagan forums or websites.

I think what matters most is the genuine love you feel for the Gods. Nobody can tell you what is the best way to serve Them, worship Them, or how to be an Authentic Pagan. Where there is a will, there is a way, and I’m sure Magick will show me the best path. Maybe I will make wonderful encounters here or somewhere else.

I’m sure some of you who read this article will think that I’m not an “Authentic Pagan” or that it’s just a fad or I do not truly want to get involved in Magick. It’s not true. As I said before, I am genuine. I’m just careful about spiritual movements: I don’t know everything about Paganism, and maybe there are, let’s say, dogmas, opinions, beliefs that I don’t agree with in my very core. I will have to find out.

One of the things that attracted me at first, in Paganism, is that it seems that followers are not judgmental of other faiths. “An’ Ye harm none, do what Ye wilt”. That sounds very wise to me. I try not to harm anyone, and I even try to help and / or comfort people when I can. And yet I am always doubting myself: in what way am I really a Pagan / a Witch? Do you ask yourself the same question? Do you sometimes look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself: Do I deserve to call myself a Witch?

What does it mean to be a Witch?

This is why I have a hard time labeling myself, getting involved in a movement, belonging to a Coven or whatever. I’m a Truth seeker, and I want to be authentic. I am afraid of people telling me, “You’re doing it the wrong way” or “that’s not what a Pagan should do”. I am afraid of narrow-mindedness or people leading me on a dangerous path, as this happened once before.

Don’t get me wrong, if I spend a lot of time reading, thinking, and experimenting before calling myself a Witch and getting involved in Magick 100%. I think that’s what we should do in all religions: read, think over, experiment and then finally decide. We should also trust the signs when they are very strong: like that huge, powerful energy I felt on Halloween day 15 years ago. Or the bliss induced by a Pagan song. Where there is positive energy, bliss, ecstasy, there must be some truth. And it is likely the same thing when we sense that we have “abilities”. It is surely a sign.

I am also sure that when the Gods want something from us, they know how to get our attention. That’s why I try to be very attentive when I perform a ritual, when I pray, or simply when I feel the presence of the Divine sometime in the day.

So to sum up, I think it is not safe to call yourself a Wiccan or a Witch when you have not had a long experience of being into Paganism BUT it does not mean you’re not trying your best to be a genuine, faithful Pagan. It just means you need to take your time, to think this it over, to ask yourself if you are, or can be, a good Pagan before considering calling yourself something as solemn and serious as Witch.

But if you feel strongly attracted to Paganism, if you feel like you are “being called”, it sure means you have to dig in that way before you eventually realize you are (or are not) fit for this spiritual way of life. It’s not like getting a new haircut or getting a tattoo; it is something that will make you rethink your life and it demands involvement and honesty. You want to be sure you understand everything being a Witch implies so that you can walk the path with honor.

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The Law of the Power


Witchy Comments & Graphics

The Law of the Power

The Power shall not be used to bring harm, to injure or control others. But if
the need rises, the Power shall be used to protect your life or the lives of
others.

The Power is used only as need dictates.

The Power can be used for your own gain, as long as by doing so you harm none.

It is unwise to accept money for use of the Power, for it quickly controls its
taker. Be not as those of other religions.

Use not the Power for prideful gain, for such cheapens the mysteries of Wicca
and magick.

Ever remember that the Power is the sacred gift of the Goddess and God, and
should never be misused or abused.

And this is the law of the Power.

(* Wicca – S. Cunningham)

Let Talk Witch – The Watchtowers

Let Talk Witch – The Watchtowers

Calling the Watchtowers or calling the quarters is another element of Wiccan ritual that is not found in Traditional Witchcraft. The Watchtowers are another piece of Wiccan ritual that is pull from the Kabalistic magick, though Gardner likely took this right from the OTO. Rather than calling in elementals in this fashion, the Traditional Witch calls in Guardians, spirits of the land that they have some sort of relationship with. This is important, as they are not just random entities called upon for the sake of calling on them, as is often the case in Wiccan ritual.

Guardians can be spirits of the land or Ancestors that the Witch has communicated with or worked with in the past, and whom they know wish to assist and participate in their work. Others will call on spirit guides to act as Guardians. Not all Traditional Witches use Guardians, but those that do choose who they will call on very carefully.

Many people that work in systems other than Wicca who do not have things such as the Watchtowers, view the calling of the Watchtowers to be on par with holding the entities hostage for the ritual because of the way that they are often summoned of “commanded” to be part of the circle and not asked or communicated with previously. In ritual work with the Traditional Witch, there is often no set boundary for the work area, so the spirits and Guardians that are called on for ritual are allowed to roam freely around the person rather than reside in one specific spot.

 

Items you need to do Magick

Items you need to do Magick

In reality I break this into two categories. NEED & WANT.

NEED: A quiet place. This can be any location within your dwelling. If you have am enclose area about your home this can be come your “Sacred or Quiet” place. It is nice to work out doors, but not mandatory. You will also need a small altar. A place to hold two candles, incense and a goblet of wine; even the wine is optional.

WANT: Everything that looks like, smells like or tastes like Magick. Can you do Magick without a robe? Sure you can. Do you need a sword to create a circle? Not necessary. Do I need an Athame to call the quarters? Nope, a hand works well here. In other word, resist the urge to go on a spending spree.

Let’s deal with reality. In my opinion, the most important “Witch Ware” one needs is a “Book of Shadows.” This can be anything from a hand made, leather covered book to a ten cent spiral bound book. The main purpose of the BOS is for your notes, visions, etc.

Candles: Gold for the Lord, Silver for the Lady and holders for each. When using candles make sure to keep them in safe holders. We do not want to reenact the Burning Times.

Compass: Borrow one! This is a one time shot to help align your circle to the 4 cardinal points; North, South, East and West. It can get a little embarrassing when you are calling “Fire of the South” and are facing west. Once you know your cardinal points, return the compass; Cost FREE.

Censer: A safe place to burn your incense. Decide if you will be using stick or cone incense and get the appropriate holder. A simple time is good for the cone while a small pot filled with sand is good for stick incense.

Pentagram: This item will be used on the altar as an amulet for protection.

Wand: Made of wood to help direct energies.

This list can go on for many pages, but at this time I believe you get the idea as how it can grow. OK, so you have some coins in your pocket and are ready to part with them. Where do you go to get the items you want.

Most people will run off to the local metaphysical shop. Yes the Aura of magic is here, but lets face it, this is a business and the goal is to make money. So where do you go?

First of, when you purchase your magical equipment, it should call to you. You just don’t go out and buy one of these, two of those and one of them. With that in mind, where do I shop? If you can, make most of what you need. By making your equipment you put your energies into them. How difficult is it to carve a pentagram out of wood?

OK, so you’re craft challenged, a good source of Magical items are Flea Markets and garage sales. There are also the “After Holiday” sales. Imagine the material you can get after Halloween or Christmas. I purchased 3″ pentagrams for my coven for less than $1.00 each at an after Christmas sale. Just because an item is not labeled “Made in Trollhatten by Trolls” does not make it bad.

I hope you get the point I am making, a home made broom is as good as a Nimbus 2000 (Harry Potter) I hope I don’t discourage too many of you now, but we do not actually use the broom to fly. A broom is, even in the craft, used for cleaning. Strange concept. What is cleansed may not necessarily be dust bunnies, but cleaning it is. The broom, like the Athame, want or hand can also be used to direct energies.

Remember this:

Don’t go crazy buying Magical “STUFF.”

If it doesn’t call you – don’t buy it. Do not get talked into buying “STUFF.”

Keep magickal “STUFF” separate from you mundane “STUFF.”

Try to make it before you buy it.

Brownies

Brownies

Customarily brownies are said to inhabit houses and aid in tasks around the house. However, they do not like to be seen and will only work at night, traditionally in exchange for small gifts or food. They take quite a delight in porridge and honey. They usually abandon the house if their gifts are called payments, or if the owners of the house misuse them. Brownies make their homes in an unused part of the house.

The ùruisg had the qualities of man and spirit curiously commingled. He had a peculiar fondness for solitude at certain seasons of the year. About the end of Harvest he became more sociable, and hovered about farmyards, stables, and cattle-houses. He had a particular fondness for the products of the dairy, and was a fearful intruder on milkmaids, who made regular libations of milk or cream to charm him off, or to procure his favour. He could be seen supposedly only by those who had the second sight, though instances where he made himself visible to people not so Gifted have been rumoured. He is said to have been a jolly personable being with a broad blue bonnet, flowing yellow hair, and a long walking staff.

Every manor house had its ùruisg, and in the kitchen, close by the fire was a seat, which was left unoccupied for him. The house of a proprietor on the banks of the River Tay was even at the beginning of the twentieth century believed to have been haunted by this sprite, and a particular apartment therein has been for centuries called “Seòmar Bhrùnaidh” (Brownie’s room). When irritated through neglect or disrespectful treatment he would not hesitate to become wantonly mischievous. He was notwithstanding, rather gainly and good-natured rather than formidable. Though, on the whole, a lazy, lounging hobgoblin, he would often bestir himself on behalf of those who understood his humours, and suited themselves thereto. When in this mood, he was known to perform many arduous exploits in kitchen, barn and stable, with marvellous precision and rapidity. These kind turns were done without bribe, fee or reward, for the offer of any one of these would banish him forever. Kind treatment was all he ever wished for, and it never failed to procure his favour.

In 1703, John Brand wrote in his description of Zetland that:

“Not above forty or fifty years ago, every family had a brownie, or evil spirit, so called, which served them, to which they gave a sacrifice for his service; as when they churned their milk, they took a part thereof, and sprinkled every corner of the house with it, for Brownie’s use; likewise, when they brewed, they had a stone which they called ‘Brownie’s stane’, wherein there was a little hole into which they poured some wort for a sacrifice to Brownie. They also had some stacks of corn, which they called Brownie’s Stacks, which, though they were not bound with straw ropes, or in any way fenced as other stacks used to be, yet the greatest storm of wind was not able to blow away straw off them.”

The brownies seldom discoursed with man, but they held frequent and affectionate converse with one another. They had their general assemblies too, and on those occasions they commonly selected for their rendezvous the rocky recesses of some remote torrent, whence their loud voices, mingling with the water’s roar, carried to the ears of some wondering superstition detached parts of their unearthly colloquies. In a certain district of the Scottish Highlands, “Peallaidh an Spùit” (Peallaidh of the Spout), “Stochdail a’ Chùirt”, and “Brùnaidh an Easain” (Brownie of the little waterfall) were names of note at those congresses, and they still live in legends which continue to amuse old age and infancy. Every stream in Breadalbane had an ùruisg once according to Watson the Scottish place name expert, and their king was Peallaidh. (Peallaidh’s name is preserved in “Obair Pheallaidh”, known in English as “Aberfeldy”.) It may be the case, that ùruisg was conflated with some water sprite, or that ùruisg were originally water sprites conflated with brownies.

Besom Chant

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Besom Chant

Besom, besom long and lithe

made from ash and willow withe

Tied with thongs of willow bark

in running stream at moonset dark.

With a pentagram indighted

as the ritual fire is lighted

Sweep ye circle, deosil,

Sweep out evil, sweep out ill,

Make the round of the ground

Where we do the Lady’s will.

Besom, besom, Lady’s broom

Sweep out darkness, sweep out doom

Rid ye Lady’s hallowed ground

Of demons, imps and Hell’s red hound;

Then set ye down on Her green earth

By running stream or Mistress’ hearth,

‘Till called once more on Sabbath night

To cleans once more the dancing site.