Thursday, October 30, 2008

Samhain Bonfire

Traditionally, Samhain was time to take stock of the herds and grain supplies. The village would decide which animals were to be slaughtered in order for the people and the remaining livestock to survive the winter. The word bonfire is a contraction of "bone fire" and is a direct translation of the Gaelic tine cnámh.

By casting the bones of the slaughtered cattle upon the flames was a sacrifice for the Celts, as cattle were considered a form of currency. This form of sacrifice was one of the highest offering to the Gods. Often two separate bonfires would be built side by side, so the cattle and other livestock would be driven between the fires for protection and purification.

In medieval Ireland, Samhain was celebrated as a major festival with a great gathering at the royal court in Tara, lasting for three days. After a fire was ritually started by druids on the Hill of Tlachtga, a bonfire was set alight on the Hill of Tara, which was a signal to people gathered atop hills all across Ireland to light their ritual bonfires.

I encourage you to make a bonfire (even if it is in your tiny cauldron) and accompanying offerings. Suggested sacrifices are paper money, a poem of piece of art you have created and baked goods. If your ancestors are fond of particular foods or items, that would be appropriate as well. In our coven, we make a singular bonfire and leap over it to wild traditional music (pipes, bodhran, fiddle, whistle etc)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Clearing Incense

For this spell, you will need:
  1. Grind up each herb or resin one at at time, adding to the mixing bowl
  2. When ingredients are powdered and in the bowl, mix it up with you hands (or a wooden spoon if you prefer)
  3. As you are combining the powders, use your powers of intention. Themes are banishing, clearing, purification, letting go, release, cutting cords & bonds that no longer serve you.
  4. This incense is powdered for use on a charcoal in a cauldron or open fire.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pleiades Rising

The Celtic Year is split in 2 halves, Summer's Beginning (Beltane) and Summers' End (Samhain). The position of the Pleiades (also known as the Sieve or an Criathar in Irish) in the sky is the marker for the seasons. Samhain begins when the Pleiades rise at sunset.

The Pleiades' high visibility in the night sky has guaranteed it a special place in many cultures, both ancient and modern.
To the Greeks, they are the Seven Sisters.
To the Vikings, they are Freya's Hens
To the Maori, they are Matariki
To the Ban Raji, in western Nepal and northern India, they are the "Seven sisters-in-law and one brother-in-law"
To the Japanese, they are known as Subaru
In Arabic, they are known as al-Thurayya
In the Bible, they are mentioned as Khima and Talmud

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pan de Muertos

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
3 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons anise seed
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 cup sugar
for glaze
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons white sugar

Heat the milk andbutter together in a medium saucepan, until the butter melts.
Remove from the heat and add warm water. The mixture should be around 110 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients (1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and 1/4 cup sugar).
Beat in the warm milk mixture.
Add the eggs and orange zest, beat until well combined.
Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and slowly continue adding more flour until the dough is soft.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours.
Punch the dough down and shape it into a large round loaf with a round knob on top.
Place dough onto a baking sheet, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until just about doubled in size.

Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for about 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove from oven let cool slightly then brush with glaze.

To make glaze: In a small saucepan combine the 1/4 cup sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes.
Brush over top of bread while still warm. Sprinkle glazed bread with white sugar.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Samhain Cookies

2/3 Cup butter
1/4 Cup molasses
2 1/2 C flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 C sugar
1 egg
2 tsp baking soda

Preheat the over to 350.
Mix together butter and sugar ina large bowl.
Add the molasses and the egg. Stir until creamy.
Sift together flour, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice ina separate bowl.
Add the dry mixture tot he molasses mixture a little at a time while stirring.
Shape the dough into 1 inch balls.
Stamp with a Pentacle Cookie Stamp or mark with a knife.
Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degress for 10 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Samhain Altar

To build a Samhain altar, you can use:
  • Orange orwhite Candles
  • photographs or items representing your ancestors
  • A pumpkin or jack o-lantern
  • Flowers
  • A orange or red cloth

Set up altar facing the West, the land of the ancestors.
Once you have built your altar, you can design any number or rituals.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dancing with the Sidhe

On Samhain Eve, it is said that Manannan mac Lir lifts his cloak of invisibility from the Sidhe (pronounced shee). The Shining Ones (Sidhe) can then be seen or heard dancing near the faery mounds in their revelry. If you want to join in, adventurous souls can enter a Sidhe Mound by walking nine times around it, at which point a door will appear in the hill.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Scorpio Oil

Scorpio is the eighth astrological in the Zodiac and is a fixed water sign. Water signs are considered an introverted, feminine sign, dealing with the watery realms of emotions, dreamtime and intuition. Scorpio is associated with the 8th house which deals with natural Scorpio matters - birth, death, transformation, deeply committed relationships of all kinds, and the occult and psychic matters. Use this oil to boost your Scorpio powers or as a path into the watery depths of Scorpio.

2 drams of Grapeseed oil

4 drops of
3 drops rose
2 drop geranium
1 drop Pine
1 drop Basil
1 drop Ginger
1 drop Cinnamon

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Samhain Incense

For this spell, you will need:
  1. Grind up each herb or resin one at at time, adding to the mixing bowl
  2. When ingredients are powdered and in the bowl, mix it up with you hands (or a wooden spoon if you prefer)
  3. As you are combining the powders, use your powers of intention. Themes are connecting with and honoring ancestors, divination, parting the veil to the otherworld.
  4. This incense is powdered for use on a charcoal in a cauldron
    or open fire.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Love Divination Spell

The ancient game of bobbing for apples is actually the remnants of a love divination spell. If you want to find out about the man whom you will marry, follow the ancient practice.

Gather many maids together. Fill a large cauldron, barrel or pot with water and as many apples as maids. Each maid may try to grab an apple with her mouth. With her hands behind her back, she must try to bite the apple and bring it out of the water with her.

If she is successful at grabbing an apple, then she should cut it in half sideways so the star is revealed in the center. Sprinkle some cinnamon and mugwort into a handkerchief along with the two halves of the apple. The treasured apple should be placed under the pillow and the maid is guaranteed to dream of her true love.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ancestor Blessing

Carve three Jack O' Lanterns. Each one should have a different face. They can be a happy face, a sad face, a peaceful face, an angry face, a scary face, and so on.

Place the three lighted pumpkins facing you in a semicircle. In the dark, begin to gaze at the faces. Ask that you may be shown in the flame something that in the past that will guide you in the present. relax and half-close your eyes, blinking when necessary.

You may see in the faces your beloved family members that have passed. You may sense their presence and feel a gentle wind or see a picture in your minds eye from the past. Nothing can harm you here. For you are merely connecting to family love that never dies.

Close you eyes and meditate on each face. Listen for the voices of your ancestors. This is the night of the year when it is easiest to make contact with the past dimensions and encounter those that can guide you to wise choices in the future. What you may encounter is your own evolved soul that can access the wisdom of other times and places.

When you are ready to end the experience, thank whomever you visited with. "Go in peace. May you be blessed on your own paths of wisdom." Burn some sage incense.

Name each ancestor who comes to mind and say " May they be blessed and protected." Don't forget to include yourself. If you still harbor resentments with anyone who has come forward, you may ask for forgiveness and to forgive at this time.

Smudge the room and yourself. Take the Jack O'Lanterns and place them in windows, letting the candles burn out.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Clean House!

Samhain is the Yin period of the year to Beltane's Yang. It is the balance of the forces of nature. Since this time of year is wonderful for banishing, it is one of my favorites to clean house!

Beyond the physical cleaning, take the time to cleanse the house of any negative vibrations as well. One of our traditions is to invite over a few select friends, or members of your coven, and have a cleansing party. Here is what we do:

Starting widdershins, we have each person add a palmful of Celtic Sea Salt to each corner of the house and say "cleanse and bless, cleanse and bless, may all who dwell here live happiest." Then have each person dip a small bouquet of Lavender (our herb garden) and shake sacred well water (we use Glastonbury Water)into each corner and over the threshold saying the blessing. We then give all a wand of White Sage Wand and cedar grass dipped in Frankincense and camphor oils to burn and use the smoke to (smudge) seal the windows and doors of the house saying "only good may enter here." Finally, each person stands with a lit white candle, grouped into the corners of the house and chants 3 times "bless all who enter, may they find the peace they seek."

We then sweep up the salt and bury it along with the wands, sprinkling a bit of the water over the mound.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The rising of the Crone

In the Celtic world there is a Crone Goddess, worshiped for her role in the balance of the seasons. Her name is The Cailleach. She is the Winter Sun, mother to Dia Greine, the Celtic Sun Goddess, who as daughter blossoms in the spring. They emerge as the season change, revolving in a cycle syncopated to the seasons.

The Caileach emerges as a central figure in the Samhain Rituals. She connects us with our ancestors, reaching through the veil to bring us face to face with our own mortality. On the threshold of the dark half of the year, she offers lessons about the darkness.

At Samhain, we learn to embrace separation and death. We allow to die that which is no longer useful to us. We clear away debris, anything that is no longer relevant. We let the fields of our inner landscape lie fallow. By doing so, we align ourselves with the cosmic cycle of death and rebirth.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fire Magick - breaking bad habits

To break a bad habit:

Create a circle of nine taper candles on an altar. Place a dish of white sage incense in the middle of the circle. Have a large feather or a hand-fan as well.

The color of the candle should correspond to the habit
white is okay for any habit

Carve the name of the negative habit into each candle. Place a ring of salt around the candle circle. Light each candle in succession, saying " As this candle burns and disappears, so my ____________ leaves me free and clear." Light the incense. As the smoke rises, wave the smoke towards you with the feather. Bathe your head, heart and hands, saying "My head fills with happy thoughts, my heart is free of fear, my hands deliver me from my _______________." Let the candles burn all the way down.

*never leave burning candles unattended.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A time of letting go

During October, a dying sun is swallowed up by longer nights as the days grow shorter. The change in seasons shows on the forest floor as leaves drop from trees and the animals prepare for a winters sleep. The winds grow a bit crisper. Colors fade. The earth is letting go of all her summers work, punctuated by Samhain.

Samhain means "summer's end". Celebrations, rituals and rites occur from Oct 31 to the middle of November in an effort to accept and usher in the dark half of the year. The mysteries of the veil deepen as it thins between the worlds of the living and the dead. It is also the time of year when the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, come closest to the earth and we feel their presence.

In the Celtic tradition, the Oak King gives way to the Holly King. The Oak King represents the virility of Summer, having mated with the May Queen and created the fruits of summer. But his time has passed and so the Oak King takes his crown and watches over the kingdom while the Goddess takes her rest, only to rise again in the spring.

This is a time of letting go. A perfect time to break bad habits. If you want change in your life, you need to make space for it. Rituals using fire: burning lists, pictures, or any other icon of negative patterns in your life have extra potency at this time of year.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hunter's Moon

October's Full Moon is called the Hunter's Moon and is also known as the Blood Moon, Shedding Moon, Falling Leaf Moon or Sanguine Moon. It is the first Full Moon after the Harvest Moon (the Full Moon nearest the Autumnal Equinox) and it gets its name from hunters who tracked and killed their prey by autumn moonlight, stockpiling food for the winter ahead.

It is a time of sacrifice, letting go and divination.

* Colors: Dark blue, black, purples
* Gemstones: Obsidian, Amethyst , Tourmaline
* Trees: Apples and yew
* Gods: Herne, Apollo, Cernunnos, Mercury
* Herbs: Apple blossom, pennyroyal, mint family, catnip, Sweet Annie
* Element: Air

Monday, October 13, 2008

Báirín Breac

Barmbrack (Irish: Báirín Breac) is the center of an Irish Halloween custom. The Halloween Brack traditionally contained various objects baked into the bread and was used as a sort of divination game. In the barmbrack were: a thimble, a button, a small coin and a ring. Each item, when received in the slice, was supposed to carry a meaning to the person concerned: the thimble, the girl who found it would remain unmarried; the button, the boy finding it would remain a bachelor; the coin, would enjoy good fortune or be rich; and the ring, would be wed within the year.

Commercially produced barmbracks for the Halloween market still include a toy ring. This is a really fun divination game for a feast. I don't have to warn you about the choking hazzard do I?

Try this recipe
  • 2 cups- black tea
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup currrantsDried fruit
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package of active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp clove powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp salt
1. Soak the tea, raisins and currants for at least one hour but, preferably overnight.
2. Mix the yeast, warm milk and the 2 tsp of sugar together in a small bowl. Set aside for 5-10 minutes to activate the yeast.
3. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar and spices). Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture, beaten egg, butter and salt.
4. Stir to mix the ingredients and bring the dough together. Add a little more flour if the dough is too wet or a little more milk if it is too dry.
5. Remove the dough to a floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth but still a little sticky.
6. Drain the dried fruit and knead a little at a time into the dough until all the fruit has been incorporated. Add the divination items (coin, ring etc)
7, Remove the dough to a large, lightly buttered bowl. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm corner until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
8. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and punch down to deflate. Knead lightly for 2-3 minutes. Form into a ball and placed in a buttered 8-inch cake pan. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled in size, 30-60 minutes.
9. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until top is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove to a rack and cool.

It is best served toasted with a smear of butter and a cup of Irish tea.