Samhain–A Pagan Blog Prompt

Samhain – (pronounced sow-win) is the Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the winter.  It is also known as the third harvest.

What does Samhain mean to you?

Well I can say that before I began to study and read on my current path I didn’t even know there was a thing as Samhain.  I always knew the day, October 31st as “Halloween”.  Even growing up in a Lutheran home we were allowed to celebrate it by dressing up and going trick-or-treating.

TrickRTreat

We were even able to celebrate it in school which no that I think about it was strange.  I still see the time of the year as Halloween from the perspective of the retail side and the kids coming by for Trick R Treating.  But now I also see it as the time to remember those who have passed beyond the thin veil.  To let go of things past and look toward the future.

How did/will you honor it?

Unfortunately this year I was not able to honor the Samhain part of the day.  Economic limits and time constraints didn’t lend to getting candy and decorating the house.  All of this also prevented me from attending any sort of organized gathering or ritual. 

Maybe next year.

Do you separate your Pagan rituals from your modern Halloween traditions?

Yes and No.  Yes the performing of the Samhain ritual is separated but I incorporate decorating the house into all of it.  It is so hard to tell what is for ritual and what is for decorating for the sake of Halloween.  I don’t bother to separate that part out.

 

Thank you Sunfire for this quick prompt from Pagan Blog Prompts.  It is nice to get to writing again.

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Environment and Ritual Setting for The Dumb Supper Observance at Samhain

The Dumb Supper can be an important aspect of the Samhain observance. It can focus your attention on the fact that the time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest has come again.

Keeping in contact with those who have gone before, no matter how long ago or how tenuous that connection may be, is invaluable in one’s daily life in terms of having some wisdom in one’s decision-making and sense of personal responsibility.

Arranging the supper table with an extra place setting and then asking the ancestors to attend the supper is a mark of respect to them. When you can sense they are present, make a point some time during the Dumb Supper to request a sign from them regarding some aspect of your life and how you might approach the concern you have in order to resolve that situation. Often, they will touch your life in your dreams, and they will take you up on your invitation, at this time, to do so. Keep a pen and pad of paper close by your bed for several weeks so that you can write down what you learned, as it will probably be lost quickly when you wake up.

The use of some calming music during the Dumb Supper lends itself, along with silence for all those attending, to maintain a state of meditation, respect and openness to communication with the world beyond. There is no need to hurry the meal as it is also a time of reflection. Just let it take its normal course. At the end of the meal, take a moment to thank the ancestors for attending and then bid them farewell. This is the end of the observance, and your normal routine can return.

Bright Blessings!

Ron Ivins

Questions on Yule–from the Deepest Well

This post is in response to questions posed by Aine over on The Deepest Well blog.

The questions pertain to Yule and doing a ritual.  The Yule rituals I have been in have all be done with my coven, the Coven of the Rising Phoenix.

Do you perform ritual at this time of year?

Yes.  Funny thing is that I have always done a ritual at this time of year.  Now the ritual may not have been of the Yule variety but what my family and I did every year since I can remember can be considered a “ritual”.  Every year we would all load up in a car and travel to the Grandparents houses to celebrate Christmas, eat to capacity and open gifts.  It was quite ritualistic. 

I still adhere to the family gatherings as work allows but I now have one more ritual to perform; the ritual to celebrate the returning of the sun, the Yule ritual.

Do I use someone else’s script, my own, or do I combine them?

I choose to combine them.  I find that combining a ritual that was written by someone else with piece of my own design it makes the ritual richer.  I might add a line to the calling of the quarters, or I might completely redo them but keep the rest.  For this year’s ritual I found a great ritual online that expressed exactly what I was looking for in some respects but not in others.  So I took what I needed, augmented where I needed and added what I needed and BAM!…Yule Ritual. 

Well maybe not so much BAM.  As I began to create the ritual, placing the parts and assigning parts to people I found myself with another’s mind.  Having never experienced divine intervention I was quite taken aback.  A part of the ritual, the working, was going to be making a Yule potpourri whilst chanting and charging the herbs.  I was “told” that is not what should be happening and I was given a “nudge” toward what should be done for the working.  I will admit that what I did write out and that we did do was quite magickal if I do say so myself.

Do I perform the same ritual every year or change it up?

The Yule rituals have been different each year with this year’s being the first one I have created for the coven as well as the first one my partner and I have hosted in our home.

What associations do you associate with Yule?

For me personally I will always associate this time of year with gathering with family and friends, whether it be for Christmas or Yule.  I will always remember waking up on Christmas day, getting all dressed up and going to church services with the family and then heading over to one of the grandparents house for dinner and gifts.  The smell of my grandmother’s cooking, my grandfather sitting in his chair in the kitchen, listening to the radio, usually a ball game.  He never did watch them on TV.  The sight of my other grandparent’s huge tree, decorated and stuffed at the base with wrapped gifts.  The anticipation of what was wrapped in the brightly colored and shiny paper under the trees and the joy of ripping said paper apart to get at what was hidden.  The screams of delight at toys and the silence toward clothes.  The warm and loving smiles from my parents and grandparents no matter how we reacted.  Even the hard times, for with out them we are less then we are now.  The shyness felt when confronted with relatives that I hadn’t seen since the last time.   Sitting in front of the TV, watching Rudolf, Frosty, and Charlie Brown all on the same night.  Eating too much candy and still wanting more. 

As my grandparents pass beyond the veil traditions are lost and associations change.  New traditions emerge and families that were at one time split return together to celebrate as one again.  Change in beliefs opens up new associations and new traditions.  Celebrating the returning Sun and the promise that in a few months warmth will again venture across the land if only for a time.  Gathering with new people whom I now consider another family as I celebrate with them.  Turning the Wheel.

 

Remember your past.  Keep hold of the traditions that you have whether they be relevant to your spiritual path or not.  They are a part of you, they make you, without them you are diminished.  Create new traditions and keep them as well.  Celebrate and Honor as you choose to do but remember your families, friends and the Divine in all that is.

 

Blessed Be!

The Thinning Veil – This is Samhain

The thinning veil. Now is the time when whispers of those who have passed before us can be heard on the cool winds.
The leaves are turning with bright yellow, oranges and reds filling the trees. The harvest is ending as the last crops are picked from the fields.

Pumpkins begin to decorate the homes, their carved faces glowing from candle and light. The Jack-O-Lantern stands guard.

This is SAMHAIN!!! This is HALLOWEEN!!!

Now is the time to honor those who have passed before us. We seek to speak to them once again, to ask questions, and to seek knowledge. We do so with reverence and awe since we know this will only happen this night, the thinning of the veil.

Take up staff and cast a circle vast. Welcome the spirits of element and guide, the Lord and Lady, beckon to our side. Enjoy the night and seek you knowledge, let loose that has kept you and cleanse your way. To the fire give all that is spent and cleanse your way. In crystal, mirror and water gaze, seeking knowledge through the ethereal haze. Dine with them who have eaten not. Bid you farewell to those who were called. Elements, guides, Lord and Lady to their halls. Close your circle and yet be sure that what you have gained is hallowed and pure.

Blessed Be!!!

Summer Solstice – Media in error

Today is the Summer Solstice.


Celebrations abound all over the world. Stonehenge is particularly busy today.

So I decided to check around the web and see what new articles were around about the solstice celebrations and goings on. There were a few on just a simple search. But I was surprised when I read these ‘news’ stories.

Here is what is a few of the articles said.

“Prior to the arrival of Christianity to northern Europe, cultures celebrated the arrival of the June solstice because it was seen as one of the few times of the year when magic was at its most powerful.

These days, the June solstice is celebrated as the start of summer, although at tourist destinations such as Massachusetts’s Cape Cod, Memorial Day often marks the start of the “summer season” for tourism.

But lest we think of the June solstice only in terms of suntan oil or maypole dances marking “midsummer” solstice celebrations in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s also an opportunity to pause and remember those who are sacrificing their summer so that others may learn about climate, or Mars, or the cosmos as a whole – never mind penguins, fossils, and krill.” – Pete Spotts, Christian Science Monitor


“As per some Pagan beliefs, this point of the year marks the marriage of God and Goddess and a celebration of growth and life.” – IBTimes Staff Reporter, International Business Times


“The Swedish celebration is called Midsommar. Like European pagans have done for centuries, this celebration can include singing and dancing around objects such as a flower-studded maypole or a large bonfire. “ – MyFox Houston


Okay…so…yea…wait…Maypole?
Maypole? Really? The marriage of the God and Goddess? Really? *shakes head and walks away.
The problem with the Fox quote is that they have said that all European Pagans celebrate the way the Swedish people do.  This is far from the truth.

Since when did the Summer Solstice move to Beltane?

As you can see I chose articles that clearly show exactly how much people don’t know what the Summer Solstice means. I would have thought they would have done some research or something.

Of course I am going to send messages to the editors of these stories and inform them of the mistake and point them in the correct direction.

I also see this as evidence that there is a need for education on what people of pagan faiths believe and celebrate and why. I also encourage everyone to watch when Pagan events are reported on to see if they are accurately portrayed. This will help with continuing education.


This is my activism post.  I don’t do these often, it takes something to really annoy me for me to post under activism.

Have a Blessed Summer Solstice!!!  Blessed Be!!!

Summer Solstice ~ Litha ~ Midsummer June 21st 2011

A solstice only happens twice in a year, December 21st and June 21st.  The upcoming solstice is the Summer Solstice;  the day is the longest and the night the shortest.  The sun is also at its northern most point during this day because of the tilt of the earth on its axis.

The summer solstice is also known as Midsummer and Litha.  Midsummer’s Day is June 24th.  This is one of the four solar celebrations, the others being Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, and Autumn Equinox. 

The celebration of Midsummer’s Eve was from ancient times linked to the summer solstice. Some people believed that mid-summer plants, especially Calendula, had miraculous healing powers and they therefore picked them on this night. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southwards again. In later years, witches were also thought to be on their way to meetings with other powerful beings.

Litha is a time to celebrate fertility, abundance and nature in full bloom.  It is a time when the Oak King is killed and the Holly King take his throne until the return of the Oak King at Winter Solstice.  During the celebrations, children and adults play games.  Craft activities that are perfect for this sabbat are; creating amulets with herbs of Rue and Rowan, create protection pouches from white cotton and Rue, whole wheat bread, salt, and star anise seeds, make a Solar Wheel, make a Witch’s Ladder.

Rituals held during this sabbat can be for honoring Mother Earth, celebrating life and growth.  This is also a perfect time for dedications and re-dedications.

Solstice Correspondences:

Deities: Amaterasu (Shinto), Aten (Egypt), Apollo (Greek), Hestia (Greek), Horus (Egyptian), Huitzilopochtli (Aztec), Juno (Roman), Lugh (Celtic), Sulis Minerva (Celtic, Roman), Sunna or Sol (Germanic)

Symbols and Decorations: summer flowers; images of the sun; statues of earth goddesses, faeries, earth gods; sun wheels; seashells; yellow, red or orange candles; blades; daisy chains; stone circles

Traditional colors:blue, green, orange, red, yellow, goldFlowers: daisy, honeysuckle, marigold, red roses, sunflowers, foxglove, buttercups

Herbs: Chamomile, cinquefoil, fennel, lavender, mugwort, thyme, oak, hemp, St. John’s wort, dill, marjoram, rue, rosemary, fern, sage, pine, garlic

Foods: citrus, curries,  peppers, onions, strawberries, summer squashes, tomatoes, honey,  green salads, roasted or grilled pork, blueberries, any sun-shaped, round foods (bread, tortillas, pizzas, etc.)

Drinks: sun tea, herbed teas, ale, mead

Animals: bee, butterfly, robins, snakes, wrens

Mythical creatures: faeries, fire birds, thunderbirds

Stones: amber, tiger’s eye, jade

Direction: South

Time of Day: Noon

Have a blessed Litha.

Be sure to check out our store for all your Litha supplies.

Imbolc Ritual

I mentioned in my last post that I had an Imbolc ritual that I would share with you.  I have done this ritual with a friend of mine.  It is perfect for a solitary witch and I am sure it can be adjusted for a coven.
I took inspiration from a ritual I found in a book that I have (unfortunately I can’t remember which one) so some part might seem familiar.  Feel free to use any parts of the ritual you would like, after all without allowing the sharing of knowledge we might not have rituals we have today.
This is a simple ritual to be done on the evening of Imbolc.  There is no meditation in this ritual but one can be added and I will note where I believe one would fit best.

Items needed for this ritual (if you follow all examples):

One white Goddess candle
One yellow God candle
One red candle for Brigid
Charcoal block (if not using stick or cone incense)
Incense for the Sabbat or your favorite one
Four quarter candles
Seeds

Imbolc Ritual

Setup your altar as you wish. Setup area where you will be having the ritual as you wish. Perform whichever ritual cleansing you prefer. Light charcoal block if you are using one for the incense.


Cast your circle as you normally would. When you sealed the circle say:

I cast this circle of light this Sabbat. I cast this circle to protect me in my magicks. May this circle be strong and full until it is no longer needed. This circle is cast to hold me between worlds as magick flows freely. As Above, So Below. SO MOTE IT BE!

Calling of the Quarters

I call upon the guardian of the east, powers of air, and the mighty Griffin.  Bring with you the first breaths of spring.  I ask that you attend my rite and offer your aid and protection. (light east candle)

I call upon the guardian of the south, powers of fire, and the majestic Phoenix.  Bring with you the warmth of the sun.  I ask that you attend my rite and offer your aid and protection. (light south candle)

I call upon the guardian of the west, powers of water, and the great Dragon.  Bring with you the new passions of spring.  I ask that you attend my rite and offer your aid and protection. (light west candle)

I call upon the guardian of the north, powers of earth, and the mighty Bear.  Bring with you the strength of the warming land.  I ask that you attend my rite and offer your aid and protection. (light north candle)

Invocation of the Goddess and the God.

Goddess of rebirth,
you again bring forth the God and the promise of spring.
Be with me during my rite as we celebrate the young God and the growing light. (light the Goddess candle if you have one.)

God of Love and Protection.
You again lead the ever-changing dance of life.
Be with me during my rite as we celebrate the rising of the Mother and the fertility of the Earth. (light the God candle if you have one.)

At this time I included a short bit about Imbolc and the lighting of the candle for Brigid.

Imbolc is the time with the Goddess is turning the wheel of the year back toward spring.  The sun grows warmer, as the days grow longer and the nights shorter.  Signs of spring begin to appear as the tiny shoots of the first flowers begin to emerge from the winter harden soil.  Trees begin to awaken with new branches and full buds waiting to open.
This day is also the day to honor the Goddess Brigid, who with the fires bring inspiration, healing, and a desire to create.  We light this candle in honor of Lady Brigid and ask that she be with us this evening and bless this rite. (light the red candle which symbolizes the Goddess Brigid.)

Imbolc is also a time of purification, a time for cleansing hearth and home from all the past energies and making way for new possibilities and happiness.  The besom cleans the mire from the floors of our houses so may our daily activities clean the mire from our lives.

*when I did this ritual I also had seeds set out that I was planning on planting for my garden.  Here is what I said.

Goddess Brigid.  I also ask your blessing be upon these seeds that they may grow in to strong plants and yield a wonderful bounty. (place the seeds at the base of the red candle for the remainder of the ritual)

Now would be a good time for a meditation if you desire.

Night gives way before the growing God.
We feel the power alive in the world.
The Goddess walks the Earth again,
And sings us awake with wind and rain.
The promise of life is newly made,
Our winter’s debt to darkness paid.
Blessed Be!

Cakes and Ale

Farewell to the deities and the elements.

Goddess of the brightening day.
I thank you for your presence at our rite, and ask you to be near me while we are apart; let your warmth revive me, your love support me, and your passion inspire me.

God of the growing and wild things.
I thank you for your presence at our rite, and ask you to be near me while we are apart; let your warmth revive me, your strength support me, and your passion inspire me.

Guardian of the north, powers of earth, and the mighty Bear, I thank you for your presence and protection during my rite.

Guardian of the west, powers of water, and the great Dragon, I thank you for your presence and protection during my rite.

Guardian of the south, powers of fire, and the majestic Phoenix, I thank you for your presence and protection during my rite.

Guardian of the east, powers of air, and the mighty Griffin, I thank you for your presence and protection during my rite.

Release the circle.

The circle is open but yet unbroken.
Merry Meet, merry part and merry meet again.

I hope that you find this ritual as wonderful as I did when I did it.

Many items for rituals can be found in our store at Grove of the Ancients Pagan Marketplace.
Stop by and check it out.

Brightest Blessings.

IMBOLC – February 2nd

IMBOLC – What is it?
Imbolc, also spelt Imbolg and Oimelc, is the second of February. It is also known as St Brigid’s Day. The festival was originally an Irish festival marking the beginning of Spring. It is one of the four cross-quarter days on the calendar, the others being Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. Imbolc is an old Irish word for “ewe’s milk” or “in the belly”. It is a time of rebirth and fertility.

In the 20th century it returned as a religious festival in the pagan communities and is associated with the Goddess Brigid. Imbolc is also known as a “fire festival”. Fires are extinguished in the hearths and then relit and candles are placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun. Besoms are placed by the front door to symbolize the “sweeping” out the old to make room for the new.
Even though in some places there will still be snow on the ground and frigid temperatures, in other places flowers are starting their return from the winter hibernation. Look for these first signs of Spring.

Rituals
Rituals during this time can be dedicated to the Goddess Brigid. Celebrations of fertility and rebirth can also be done during this time. Purification and new beginnings are topic for rituals during this time. I have a wonderful ritual that I will be posting later as an example. There are quite a few rituals that can be found in books as well on the internet. Imbolc Rite and Rituals has wonderful examples of rituals for Imbolc.

Correspondences
Colors for this Sabbat are traditionally Red and White.
Incense for Imbolc. This wonderful recipe is taken from The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews.

3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Dragon’s Blood
½ part Red Sandalwood
1 part Cinnamon
A few drops of Red Wine

To this mixture add a pinch of the first flower (dry it first) that is available in your area at the time of Imbolc. Burn during rituals on Imbolc, or simply to attune with the symbolic rebirth of the Sun, fading of the Winter and the promise of Spring.

Herbs for this Sabbat are many. Angelica, Basil, Bay, Benzoin, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Red Clover, Crocus, Copal, Dandelion, Dill, Fennel, Heather, Jasmine, Myrrh, Myrtle, Nutmeg, Oak, Primrose, Rosemary, Strawberry, Snowdrops, Willow.

Crafts and things to do.
Burn the Yule greens to send Winter away.
Make a Brigid Corn Doll
Make a Brigid’s Bed
Make a Brigid’s Cross
Make a Brigid’s Crown

Celebrate this wonderful time of the year.

Blessed Be!

Thanks to Patti Wigington for some great information.