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!

 

Home

My Day doesn’t begin until I have downed at least half a pot of coffee, so while I am working on my addiction of the hot brown, I wanted to spend some time with you all.

I normally like to be out of bed no later than 9:00am. For some, that is still pretty late. For me, it is still pretty early. My mind wouldn’t shut up last night, all it wanted to do was think about thinks I could not yet control. From “what if our wedding guest hate the food?” to “how will we arrange our furniture when we move?” I stayed awake, staring at the ceiling… it is noon now and I’m disgusted to say that I am just now starting my day, but I didn’t actually fall asleep until 6:00 or so.

So, what is on the agenda today? I have given myself an hour of “play time” on the computer, which means I get an hour of screwing around on here, writing to you guys. Then I am in serious need of folding laundry and doing school work. When I am done with that, I am going to workout, shower, and read until my fiancé gets home. I’ll make us some dinner and then cap the night off with a small walk around the neighborhood.
These things are nice.
But when I am living in someone else’s house, it just doesn’t hold that same charm.

In an older post, I spoke about how I spent a small amount of time in the hospital immediately following us moving into my in-laws. I’m not sure if I deleted it yesterday or not, but let us just say it was very negative. I had a panic attack… it was the result of me realizing that this is just not going to be a good living situation, but unfortunately, it is our only option. I am grateful that we have a place to live while WITH OUR PETS we are saving our money, but this is probably the hardest thing that the boy and I will ever have to do. To put things plainly, his parents are borderline hoarders and I have a diminishing relationship with his mother. This is rough, more taxing than I could have possibly imagined… it is testing my relationships with my fiancé, his parents, and the god and goddess. I am constantly stressed that I am going to do or say the wrong thing and that will lead to trouble… So I keep to myself. I don’t have friends over the way I use to, I don’t paint the way I use to, I don’t sleep well anymore…

But, nothing is permanent. We will get through this, and we will smile because we made it. This situation could have broken many couples… especially with a sick dog thrown in the mix, but we are making it.

About a week ago, I was writing in my book of shadows about my plans for Imbolc, when my train of thought began to take off somewhere else. I started writing about our living situation and how it was difficult for me to be myself. In it, I wrote, “I always thought that home was where ever I was with my man… But I was very wrong about that. Home is where we are together AND can be ourselves.”

Yes, we are together now. And I am still so very in love with him and thank the divine for him every night before I close my eyes…but just because he is next to me in bed does not mean that I am “home.”

Home is where he showers with the bathroom door open, even though he knows there is a very good chance that I will throw ice water on him.
Home is where we cook dinner together while LOUDLY singing Frank Sinatra, often taking small breaks between chopping and sautéing to dance.
Home is where we great each other by the front door with a cup of coffee… or a glass of scotch, depending on how bad our days were.
Home is where we made a fort out of couch cushions and go camping in the living room.
Home is where we host small dinner parties and drink too much wine with our friends.
Home is where we bust out the N64 and have Mario Kart competitions… the loser cleans the cat box for the next month.
Home is where we lay in our living room floor together while I paint and he reads.

We are very far from home right now… But at least we are on our way.

We have so much to be thankful for… The health of our dogs and cats, a roof over our head, money in our checking account, friends that support us… But we won’t be complete until we find our home.

Just a little bit longer, we will eventually get there.

Now, I need to get some school work done…

-D