Remembrance Cookies

These cookies can be made on Samhain Eve. They can be shaped like people (use a gingerbread man cookie cutter to achieve this easily) and the herb rosemary is added to the dough as a symbol of remembrance. Some of the cookies are eaten while telling stories or attributes of special ancestors, reminding us that we still have access to their strengths–or perhaps a predisposition to their weaknesses. The rest of the cookies are left outside by a bonfire or by window next to a black candle as an offering. This can be a solemn ritual, but it need not be.

Ingredients for the cookies:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine (softened)
1 egg
2 t. vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cream of tartar
1 1/2 T. chopped fresh rosemary (substitute dry)

Please note: Small – t – = TEASPOON, big -T- = TABLESPOON

Heat oven 375 degrees. In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, almond extract, and rosemary until creamy. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Fold flour mixture into sugar mixture. Beat until dough forms and refrigerate for three hours. Divide dough into halves. Roll out one portion to 3/16 of an inch on a floured surface. Cut out with gingerbread women or men cutters and place on an un-greased cookie sheet. Repeat rolling and cutting with second portion of dough. Bake for 5-7 minutes. You can also punch a hole in top of each cookie with a wooden skewer (BEFORE baking) and thread black ribbon through, these can be hung for decorations, or top gifts.

~ Barbara Morris

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Summerlands

Shining bright against the sky,
they never seem to fade or die
And as they glow throughout the night,
Round the world they go in flight”
-Peter Fein

~ Three Stages of Life by Klimt

There were many symbols sacred to the Celts. The number three was evident in many of their spiritual practices,
for instance, the three worlds:

The Upperworld (Sky)

The Middle World or Earth (Land)

The Lowerworld or Underworld (Sea)

The Celts determined that the rise to the Summerland was by accessing the Sky, while entrance into to the Lowerworld or Underworld was admitted through the Sea or by mounds known as Sidhe (shee). The Underworld does not refer to ‘hell’ as the Christian beliefs, but rather a place of rest to await and be reborn. The Celts did not believe in an all-evil entity such as the Christian devil.

Reincarnation seems to be one of the most controversial spiritual topics of our time. Hundreds of books are being published on the subject as if the Western world had only recently discovered this ancient doctrine.

Reincarnation is one of Wicca’s most valuable lessons. The knowledge that this life is but one of many, that when the physical body dies we do not cease to exist but are reborn in another body answers many questions, but raises a few more.

Why? Why are we reincarnated? In common with many other religions, Wicca teaches that reincarnation is the instrument through which our souls are perfected. One lifetime isn’t sufficient to attain this goal; hence, the consciousness (soul) is reborn many times,each life encompassing a different set of lessons, until perfection is achieved. Perhaps being an “old soul” means one is a slow learner. No one can say how many lives are required before this is achieved. We are human and its easy to get caught up in our day to day dramas.

A man could even become his own daughter by dying before she is born and then entering her body at birth. Some tribes avoid eating certain animals because they believe that the souls of their ancestors dwell in those animals.

 

In Wicca, we seek to strengthen our bodies, minds and souls.We certainly live full, productive earthly lives, but we try to do so while harming none, the constant One upsmanship, intimidation and looking out for number one slows this journey down.

 

The soul is ageless, sexless, non-physical, possessed of the divine spark of the Goddess and God.Each manifestation of the soul(i.e: Each body it inhabits on earth) is different. No two bodies or lives are the same. If this wasn’t so,the soul would stagnate.The sex, race, place of birth,economic class and every other individuality of the soul is determined by its actions in past lives and the lessons necessary to the present.

 

As an aid in learning the lessons of each life, a phenomenon exists which has been called karma. Karma is often misunderstood.It is not a system of rewards and punishments,but a phenomenon that guides the soul toward evolving actions. Thusly, if a person performs negative actions, negative actions will be returned.Good brings good.With this in mind, there’s little reason to act negatively.

 

 

Karma means action,and that’s how it works. It is a tool, not a punishment. There’s no way one can “wipe out”karma, and neither is every seemingly terrible event in our lives a byproduct of karma.

 

We learn from karma only when we are aware of it. Many look into their past lives to discover their mistakes,to uncover the problems inhibiting progress in this one. Trance and meditation techniques can help here, but true self-knowledge is the best means of accomplishing this.

 

What happens after death? Only the body dies. The soul lives on.Some Wiccans say that it journeys to a realm variously known as the Land of the Faerie ,the summerland, and the land of the young. This realm is neither in heaven nor the underworld. It simply is-a non-physical reality much less dense than ours. Some Wiccan traditions describe it as a land of eternal summer, with grassy fields and sweet flowing rivers, perhaps the earth before the arrival of humans. Others see it vaguely as a realm without forms, where energy swirls coexist with the greatest energies-the Goddess and God in their celestial identities.

 

One day you may “know”, not believe, that reincarnation is as real as a plant that buds, flowers, drops its seed, withers and creates a new plant in its image. Reincarnation was probably first intuited by earlier peoples watching nature. Until you’ve decided for yourself, you may wish to reflect upon and consider the doctrine of reincarnation.

 

~ Vienna by Klimt

 

“We are not human-beings having a spiritual experience,
but we are spiritual-beings having a human experience.

~ Deepak Chopra

 

~ The Waiting by Klimt

Where we come from, where we go . . . beyond punishment and judgments there is acceptance and unconditional love, from where we separated us. Life never starts, never ends, just its expression does change, which makes us believe we die, or we take birth.

All the ancient peoples of the world believed in the reality of reincarnation and a majority in this world still does. Buddhists, Hindus, Druids, Celts, Britons, Gallics, Platonists, Pythagoreans, many gnostic Christians, are only some of the people that hold to this doctrine. Add the Inca and Maya civilizations, the old Egyptians, the Roman poets Vergil, Lucretius, Horatio, the Stoics, and the list is still not completed! Also the Jewish Sohar, the famous Kabbalistic book, contains references to reincarnation.

Moonsmuses.com

11 ARTICLES IN: SAMHAIN TRADITIONS AND CUSTOMS – HALLOWEEN AND SAMHAIN

From: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/samhaintraditions/

Samhain

What is Samhain?:

Samhain is known by most folks as Halloween, but for many modern Pagans it’s considered a Sabbat to honor the ancestors who came before us, marking the dark time of the year. It’s a good time to contact the spirit world with a seance, because it’s the time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.

Myths and Misconceptions:

Contrary to popular internet-Based (Chick-Tract encouraged) rumor, Samhain was not the name of some ancient Celtic god of death, or of anything else, for that matter. Religious scholars agree that the word Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”) comes from the Gaelic “Samhuin,” but they’re divided on whether it means the end or beginning of summer. After all, when summer is ending here on earth, it’s just beginning in the Underworld. Samhain actually refers to the daylight portion of the holiday, on November 1st.

All Hallow Mass:

Around the eighth century or so, the Catholic Church decided to use November 1st as All Saints Day. This was actually a pretty smart move on their part – the local pagans were already celebrating that day anyway, so it made sense to use it as a church holiday. All Saints’ became the festival to honor any saint who didn’t already have a day of his or her own. The mass which was said on All Saints’ was called Allhallowmas – the mass of all those who are hallowed. The night before naturally became known as All Hollows Eve and eventually morphed into what we call Halloween.

The Witches’ New Year:

Sunset on Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The old year has passed, the harvest has been gathered, cattle and sheep have been brought in from the fields, and the leaves have fallen from the trees. The earth slowly begins to die around us.

This is a good time for us to look at wrapping up the old and preparing for the new in our lives. Think about the things you did in the last twelve months. Have you left anything unresolved? If so, now is the time to wrap things up. Once you’ve gotten all that unfinished stuff cleared away, and out of your life, then you can begin looking towards the next year.

Honoring the Ancestors:

For some of us, Samhain is when we honor our ancestors who came before us. If you’ve ever done genealogy research, or if you’ve had a loved one die in the past year, this is the perfect night to celebrate their memory. If we’re fortunate, they will return to communicate with us from beyond the veil, and offer advice, protection and guidance for the upcoming year.

If you want to celebrate Samhain in the Celtic tradition, spread the festivities out over three consecutive days. You can hold a ritual and feast each night. Be flexible, though, so you can work around trick-or-treating schedules!

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.