Getting ready for Samhain

I wrote this for 2 reasons” 1) To help those who are new to the craft understand Samhain and 2) to serve as a conversation piece for those who have been long practicing. I’m feeling good about Samhain this year!

 

Every October I feel a new surge of energy- something that makes me feel extra “witchy.” Part of me believes that it is the crisp, cool weather that breathes life into me… Another part of me thinks it is all the Halloween décor for sale. Regardless of why I get that surge of feeling, I believe that all other witchy people feel it, too. Whether or not you have been practicing the craft for many years now or you are just beginning to dip you toes into these waters, Samhain is a wonderful time of the year to connect to your spiritual path.

When is Samhain?

In the northern hemisphere, traditionally, it is November 1st, but the celebration often began after sunset on October 31st. For our southern hemisphere companions, Samhain is celebrated on May 1st. For my own practice, I celebrate on Halloween.

Why do we celebrate Samhain?

Samhain, meaning summer’s end, is the last of the three harvest holidays. The leaves are changing color, our fields are producing the last of their crops, and we are beginning to move forward into longer and cooler nights- officially propelling us into the dark half of the year.  Additionally, we believe that the veil between the living and the spirit world is at its thinnest, allowing us to honor and reconnect with our ancestors before they move on.

In both respects, it is quite clear that we honor death during this time of year; be it the death of the land and crops or a loved one. However, this celebration isn’t as morbid as some may think! Though we honor those that have passed, we do so by celebrating the life that was once had- It can truly be a happy time.

Symbols of Samhain

Using traditional Samhain colors, herbs, symbols, etc. can help give a boost of energy to your ritual- or at the very least brighten up you altar!

Colors: focus on black, orange, brown, gold

Stones: Onyx, Jet, and Bloodstone

Food and Herbs: Pumpkins, turnips, apples, mugwort, rosemary, garlic, sage, catnip

 

Celebration Ideas

We all celebrate differently, but these are a few ways I like to spend my time leading up to and the day of this holiday.

Make lanterns out of gourds: This is a no brainer- most of us do every year anyways. If you are feeling adventurous, try to make a few smaller “candle holders” out of turnips- the original jock-o-lantern. I’m NOT that adventurous, so I stick to my regular pumpkin. We carve the pumpkins as a family, carving faces into some of them and protective sigils in others. We use pumpkins and other gourds because they are the most durable crop we have available to us around this time of year.

Bake pumpkin seeds: You just carved that pumpkin, right? Waist nothing! Clean and toast your pumpkin seeds as a delicious, family friendly snack. You can also set aside a few seeds to be used in your Samhain ritual- get creative!

Leave baked goods as an offering: If you are planning on celebrating your departed loved ones, make sure to leave a place at the table for them! I make many different recipes of bread and bake apple pies (or any other seasonal baked good that comes to mind) and I be sure to leave enough for any loved ones who may be visiting. I believe it is a good way to show them that I still value them and will always leave a spot in my heart for them.

Revamp your altar: Using traditional Samhain colors and herbs, redo your altar and make it picture perfect for the season. I buy a few of the tiny pumpkins and other squash that are sold at grocery stores and place them all around my altar. I also add a few framed pictures of departed family members to my altar with black and gold ribbon and the name tags of beloved pets who have crossed that rainbow bridge.

Break out your Tarot Cards: Or any other divination tool you might have. Because of the mass amounts of spiritual energy in the air, this is an ideal time to practice divination. Personally, I like using Oracle Cards or my pendulum while holding a pouch of mugwort- an herb that is widely used for its properties in divination.

Get a witches’ broom: Not too long ago, I bought a cheap witch broom from Michaels and decorated it the fabric and ribbon. I use it around this time of year to “Sweep” away any nasty energies that may be lingering around my house.

Play with your kids and family: Go trick or treating, dress up with them, eat too much candy, go to a haunted house, watch the scary movies, etc. Though we honor death this day, we do so my celebrating life- so go live! While I believe that it is important to make time to partake in Samhain rituals, don’t lose sight of the friends and family you have in front of you. Be silly, make memories and laugh with them.

 

Have fun this Halloween!

 

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Celebrating the Solstice

I’ve been struggling to keep my head above water lately, so I am sorry that I’ve been going to long between posts. My new job is starting off a little rocky for me and I’m still trying to get this house in order, but I am trying to get back on top of my game.

So, the Summer Solstice and the full moon… Can you think of a better time to practice magic? Instead of giving you a history lesson on the solstice or telling you all the ways that you could possibly celebrate it, I’ve decided to tell you what I am doing today.

If you have been reading my page for even a short amount of time, you will find a pattern with me: when I am getting ready to celebrate a holiday (or when I’m stressed) I clean. I hate cleaning, but I love a clean house. I feel like a clean, clutter free home lends itself to successful magic making- that having a fresh open room makes it near impossible for negative energy to gather in corners. So today, I clean.

When I am fished with my cleaning, I am baking blueberry and orange muffins as a summery treat and as an offering to the fae. Cody brought home tons of fresh blueberries and I bought more oranges than I can eat, so I am tinkering with muffin recipe and trying to come up with the perfect summery treat.

Other than that, we are simply going to enjoy dinner out on the patio with a glass of sweet wine… perhaps I’ll paint outside as well. But it is officially summer now, so I am planning on staying outside as much as possible.

What are you guys doing tonight?

 

Beltane St. Germain Elixor

Today, my head is straightened out a bit and I’m feeling a little better. Still have a bit of moodiness in my heart, but overall I have an intense desire to be creative and be outside with the bees…  I had my moment of sadness and now I am ready to move forward from it.

beltanepole2Beltane is fast approaching, in just a blink it will be here. It is the longest day of the year, a time to be fertile, a time to celebrate flowers upon flowers, a time to share fruits with your friends… When I close my and think of Beltane, I am transported to bonfires, people laughing, fresh cut fruits, and the smell of roses in the air. If I could capture and bottle up that feeling I get just thinking about it, I would. So, I am going to try.

At work, we have a cocktail made from St. Germain and champagne, which served as my inspiration. If you have never had it before, an article from the Huffington Post describes it best:  *If you want to view the full article I pulled this from, click HERE. They have great cocktail ideas as well!*St-Germain-Elderflower-liqueur

Saint Germain liqueur seems to bottle the taste of the these warm floral notes. Still produced in an artisanal manner, the liqueur is made from flowers that are gathered from the hillsides in the French Alps during a short four- to-six-week period in spring. According to the company’s website, the picked flowers are bicycled to a collection depot (yep, bicycled) where they are immediately macerated to preserve the fresh flavors of the bloom. Extracting the flavors of this flower is not an easy process, and the Saint Germain company keeps theirs a family secret.

Sounds heavenly, right? Now, this liquor is a little bit on the pricey side, about $35-$40 a bottle, but in my opinion, it is well worth it. Beltane is no ordinary day, so splurge a little.

For this cocktail, you will need:

  • One bottle of St. Germain
  • One or two bottles of your favorite champagne- if you need to go cheaper to combat the price of the liquor, barefoot moscato bubbly would work very well with this.
  • About half a cup of sugar- or more if you like it sweeter.
  • A handful of fresh rose petals
  • A handful of fresh lavender
  • two cups of dices strawberries
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

Strawberries-and-LemonsI chose the flowers and fruits because of their properties- all of them are rich in things I am currently lacking AND they corresponded very well with the holiday itself. The rose and lander is good for deflecting depression by aiding in matters of the heart. The flowers represent a more feminine, softer side. The lemon and strawberries also deflect depression, but by giving energy. These fruits represent a masculine feeling. Because I have representations of both the masculine and feminine, I feel as if I am honoring the celebration of fertility.

How to make this marvelous concoction?

  1. In a large tea pitcher, toss in your lemon wedges, diced strawberries, rose petals, and lavender. Sprinkle your sugar on top and stir it together.
  2. Add the entire bottle of St. Germain on top and stir it all together. Let it sit overnight in the fridge.
  3. The next day, invite your friends over to have their minds blown.
  4. Fill your favorite glass with ice. Pour your St. Germain mix about half way full, then top the rest off with the champagne.
  5. Enjoy!

This cocktail is the perfect mix of floral, fruity, and sweet and can be altered to suit anyone’s taste. My fiancé suggested we add dandelions or pansies to the mix, or perhaps using orange peels in place of lemons… it all works with this liquor. It is perfect for a summery day of barbecuing with your loved ones, or to simply enjoy on your patio while watching the sun set. I have a sneaking suspicion that any leftovers would make a wonderful offering for the fae, or you could use this drink for your “cakes and ale,” after a ritual…
For me, I am planning on sipping this cocktail and letting all of its magical properties run through me, banishing my sadness and empowering me with the traits of the masculine and feminine (aka the sun and the moon).

Happy Sipping
-D

 

Those Damned Snakes

Growing up in southern Georgia, St. Patrick’s Day was a huge deal. With Savannah, home of one of the biggest St. Patty’s Day parades, just around the corner, it is expected that all of us will dawn ourselves in green and pretend that we are all of Irish decent while getting hammered. Silly, yes, but it is good fun. Anyways, if you are close enough to Savannah, you get to see the river when it is green!

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As fun as it is to have an excuse to drink too much Guinness (not that I ever need an excuse…), for some Pagans, St. Patrick’s day holds a deeper meaning.

As the legend goes, St. Patrick was the  Godly man who drove all of the snakes out of Ireland… Snakes that plagues the Irish peoples. What is not always clear, however, is that the illusion to the “snakes” is a metaphor for Pagans.
When we refer to St. Patrick and his crusade to rid the emerald isles of all of its “snakes,” we are often let with an image of poor creatures abandoned, left to die in exile, but this may not necessarily be the case.

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There is no evidence that St. Patrick physically removed the pagan people from there homes, and logically it is highly improbable. Rather, St. Patrick was a Christian man who was credited with spreading the gospel of Christ throughout Ireland, causing many pagans to convert to Christianity. Thus, he removed the “snakes.”

There is no telling how the remaining pagans were treated by their neighbors after the conversion, and there is no telling how exactly he was able to convince so many Irish citizens to convert. Honestly, I don’t really care. At the end of the day, it is all one big bedtime story.

Whether or not he maliciously drove the pagans away from their home, I know two things to be true: First, I’m happy to have a day where drinking whiskey at noon is acceptable. Second, you son of a bitch, you missed one… I’m still here.

Cheers,
-D

Planning for Ostara

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March is in full swing, and it is truly lovely outside. The temperatures are going to hit 85 degrees today without much humidity… For this Georgia Peach, it truly is a miracle. I have a cup of coffee by my side and the windows open, enjoying the breeze and listening to the wind chimes jingle. The neighborhood has been taken over with tulips and daffodils. Spring is here.

Ostara, the Spring Equinox, falls on Sunday, March 20th this year. Because our family is primarily Christian, we normally forgo celebrating the equinox on its given day and celebrate Easter instead. The many crossovers allow me to participate with my family while still being mindful of the Wheel of the Year, so it is a win-win. However, this year I want to bend my traditions just a little bit.

Due to my living situation with my in-laws, I have noticed that I have begun to (unfortunately) lose a good bit of my spirituality… I guess that happens when your living quarters are somewhat confined to your bedroom. That being said, I feel like it is important for me to make the most of every holiday, for me to give myself something to look forward to.

Spring is a time for abundance and fertility. March Hares emerge and conceive their litters and the warm weather encourages hens to lay their eggs. Flowers are blooming and it is time to sow our crops. Days are growing longer and warmer. Keeping all of this in mind, Cody and I have come up with our own way to celebrate this busy, beautiful turn of the wheel.

Easter-Eggs20

Coloring Eggs:

When I was a child, coloring eggs was a favorite of mine. What kid didn’t love it? While the boy and I may be a little too old to get away with doing this by ourselves, there are plenty of neighborhood kids that love to come over and pay us a visit (they love our dogs) so the day before we are going to buy a mess of eggs from a local farmer’s market and let the children color them and take a few home. Because this is an “egg heavy” season, with what is left over we will make a frittata dinner and egg breads- which will probably be another great “Kitchen Witchery” post!

Starting our garden:

Cody and I won’t be leaving his parents’ house until mid to late June, so my usual plans of starting my balcony garden is foiled. However, Cody had the wonderful idea of buying a small lemon tree to care for until we move. From there, we will simply take it with us; they stay small so they are ideal for apartment living. On Ostara, we will decorate a pot to plant it in, putting all of our energy into the vessel that will hold our fruit.

Share the love with neighbors:

While our living situation is far from perfect, we are fortunate enough to really like our neighbors. To promote happiness among our neighbors, we will be buying carnations in bulk and passing them out to our loved ones.

Unplug:

We spend enough time staring at our phones, and not enough time bringing our attention back to the earth and one another. When Cody gets home from work, we are both turning off our phones and heading outside. We will have dinner in the back yard, drink our wine, listen to the wind chimes, and enjoy the beautiful weather.

 Over all, I am very excited to be celebrating Ostara with my love.

What are you doing for the Spring Equinox?