30-Days of Samhain 2020: Day Seventeen

Who Are the Ancestors?

Samhain is particularly ripe with talk of the ancestors and honoring the dead and often is an integral part of the celebration. The term “ancestor” is used in different ways depending on the intention and your personal perspective. Today’s post is about who the ancestors are.

Generically, the term ancestors has come to mean those of your lineage, either biologically or culturally, who were at one time incarnate human beings. These are those from whom we claim a legacy in some way and if familial in nature, share the common thread of family history as well. These souls would also be known as ghosts or spirits of the departed. For this writing, this is how I will use the term ancestor.

The practice of honoring our familial ancestors has been around for aeons in one form or another. Sometimes that honoring spread out to be inclusive of an entire tribe or clan, each and every individual considered to be a familial ancestor; so deeply embedded was the energy of collective community and shared experience.

Every culture has its own ways of celebrating the departed, such as Dia de Los Meurtos in Mexico or Central America, Ari Muyang in Malaysia, Chuseok in Korea; Pitru Paksha in India or Obun in Japan. In each the central theme is one of remembering the legacy left to the living and setting aside a special time from the mundane and routine tasks to gift their ancestors with blessings, food, gifts and more. Some are single day events, others last for days on end and many of these practices are part of the funerary rites and extend into the daily activities; seeing the departed as always present in spirit.

These celebrations are joyous and reverent events that not only celebrate the human life of the individual, but often incorporate the journey of the Soul in its non-corporeal form. Masks, lanterns to light the way for the ancestors and grave side feasts are all part of thinning the veils between the living and dead and demonstrating that the dead have not been forgotten and are ever important to family and friends who benefitted by their life.

For many in the pagan community, Samhain offers opportunity to reach across these veils and sit in the company of their ancestors. These are some components that you may wish to incorporate into your Samhain celebrations:

* Setting up an altar that contains pictures and things that were special to your beloveds in life. Perhaps a favorite cigar, candy, perfume, piece of jewelry, etc.

* Wearing something that belonged to your beloved, such as a piece of jewelry, favorite sweater, etc…

* Going to a special location that our loved one enjoyed such as a park, restaurant, museum, etc..

* Setting a plate for your loved one at the table and offering a toast to their joining you for your Samhain meal. A more elaborate version of this is the Dumb Supper. Our coven has had Samhain celebrations that incorporated the Dumb Supper in it. All brought tokens of their loved ones and a picture. The picture was placed where each individual was seated. Drink was offered up to each loved one and the food was blessed in their honor. The entire meal was eaten in silence, listening to the conversations and words of the dead as they graced us, and when finished all left in silence carrying the memory of the experience out into the mundane world with them. It was a very powerful ritual and one that can easily be done for a family or just yourself and your loved one.

* Dedicating a new experience or way of being to your loved one such as: being more mindful of your health in the coming year because that was a concern of your loved one for you or having a more positive attitude in honor of the beloved who always seemed to have a smile and kind word for you.

You may find that after trying some of these things during this season that you will want to keep a small (or larger) ancestor altar in your home in a special place. This becomes a place to interact with and routinely honor your ancestor year long. Whatever you choose to do, remember that we are who we are in part because of those who loved us (whether biological family or not). So don’t limit the thought of an ancestor only to those of biological heritage. That is only one piece of a more complex puzzle that is our human existence. And, at some point when that existence loosens its hold, we will become the most honored ancestor of those we love.

An excellent resource for learning more about the distinction between ghosts, Ancestors, the Mighty Dead and more:

Spirit Speak:Knowing and Understanding Spirit Guides, Ancestors, Ghosts, Angels, and the Divine by Ivo Dominguez, Jr.

Ancestor Altars

Pictures, Ideas and More

Today’s post follows yesterday’s about Samhain and ways to honor our beloved departed ancestors. As promised, I have pictures of various ancestor altars to inspire you. Begin by realizing that whatever you decide upon as the space of holding your ancestors near and dear will become sacred space dedicated to them. Whether this becomes a permanent fixture or an annual event the intention and simply the act of constructing a space of honoring is an act of devotion. The creation of sacred space and what I described as an act of devotion are all things we are familiar with in terms of our interactions with Deity or celebrating a Sabbat. The same is true, and in my opinion, even more so, because we are calling the memory of our deceased loved ones in a dynamic way of engagement that transcends the separation of planes of existence.

The pictures I’ve selected are a very few samples of what this sacred space could become. The picture below gives you a sampling of items that could be incorporated into how you set-up your altar.

Remember:

The important piece to creating a scared space in offering to your ancestor is intention. The size of the altar does not really matter. Making use of furniture surfaces can be a space saver…

For some, incorporating pictures placed on the wall and then adding to this is a nice way to have more than what could be accommodated simply on a table alone….You can also add to what is existing and permanent by including feast foods….

A temporary space will serve as well, such as a small end table that can be decorated in accord with the season, the beloved’s birthday, anniversary of death or any other time that you wish to do a little more….

Tip:

Simplicity does not mean lack of care. Some of the most meaningful ways I have honored my grandmother and mother have involved very little “stuff”, but were abundant in the love that moved through my memories and was returned in reciprocity by the nearness and reach of connection and gratitude I felt.

A mantle or a book shelf can be decorated and dedicated to your ancestor..

Tip:

It’s always a nice idea to add food as part of the celebration. Sitting and having your meal with the beloved’s place set affirms that they have not been forgotten, nor have the times when talking while enjoying a good meal were treasured times together…

And, always remember that the most precious of altars you dedicate to your ancestors is yourself. You carry all that is needed by them and yourself to honor them with every breath, step and action you take. Be mindful and grateful for those intangible, yet very palpable, gifts they have left as legacy to you. Call up the image of them often and surround that image with love, just as you may have done with a hug in physical life. Audibly say “thank you” when the seeds of inspiration or the solution to a problem seems to appear “out of thin air”. It may have been a beloved gently whispering encouragement.

All journeys lead back to the source of their origins. In this case, that source is all who came before you, just as you will become the source for those who follow..

The gorgeous image used for this post is a piece of sculpture by Italian sculptor, Antonio Corradini! If this is not otherworldly, I don’t know what is…

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30-Days of Samhain 2020: Day Sixteen

Deep Into the Belly

Into the Belly

Samhain calls us into deepening our connections as corporeal beings. Everything becomes denser, richer and more palpable. These sensations extend out into our surroundings and the place of our home on this planet. Let’s move deep into the belly of our world. Lets move deep into the core our our essence…

“Our roots are in the dark; the earth is our country. Why do we look up for blessing-instead of around and down? What hope we have lives there. Not in the sky full of orbiting spy-eyes and weaponry, but in the earth we have looked down upon. Not from above, but from below. Not in the light that blinds, but in the dark that nourishes, where human beings grow human souls.”….Ursula K. Le Guin

Down into the belly of the earth I seek myself. My blood warm and pulsing, flowing like sap in the veins of a tree that has seen time through the eyes of the season. I breathe and leaves billow out from limbs long and lanky. I breathe and ripples run through the sweet smelling earth. I breathe and the ground vibrates, knowing who I am. 

Deeper, deeper still I dive into soft dirt and pass tiny roots of withered flowers and cut down grain. All a purposeful sacrifice. Ashes to ash and dust to dust, the interminable cycle begun. Will you return my loves? Will you rise once again as light and warmth, sun and heat call you from this desolate slumber? 

I move with ferocity, anxious and unrelenting in my destination. Flesh falls away and bone and sinew become entangled and interwoven in this dance macabre of my desire’s yearning. Small droplets of water pool around me. Small pools in this subterranean world that are barely the dew on ground’s brittle grass. I blink with eyes no longer seeing the light and moistures floats across silent gaze. 

What will you give me? What will I become? My will is strong and so all that surrounds me in my devotion to you dissipates in the wake of my expansion. You who is known as Gaia, the Great Mother, Mother Earth and so many names that are pale in comparison to who you truly are. Life’s blood, sap and water all infused in human and topography entwined in lover’s embrace. Dirt and leaf, mountain and rock all molded as the form of humanity’s corporeality. 

Can you feel me reaching into your body? Can you feel my devotion as I have tenderly nurtured and cared for your life as prana ran through me strong; breathing life into my earthly form? Will you open to receive me as devotee, as particle  of your being, as child of your ever changing  existence? 

I feel the heat of your body, your heart’s beat thumping and throbbing filled with darkness that is the womb of all life. I feel the tides moving within as I sink ever more deeply into the cradle of cosmos mirrored in the galaxy of your axis. Stability is found in what moves juxtaposed to expected course. You have taught me that the mysteries are held in what is seen in plain sight, not in the seeking for abstract illusion bound by time’s illusory confines. You have filled me with the antithesis of being and cultivated the slightly askew perception that holds me true to creation’s demands. 

I sink even deeper into what many would say is the great space of disappearing, the abyss, the threshold that stands as violent gate of release. But I have never felt more potent, more powerful, more filled with creation’s life! I surrender into the flow of your molten core and light tempered by the darkening waters of fertile womb that envelope it. All of me streams out into paths and oceans, sparks and flame, crystal and ash. It and I are one and in this shaded veil of darkened light we pulse and flicker as one light. One catalytic stream of Divinely emanated flash that pierces the great darkness above and seeks its mate. 

There is nothing and there is everything held in the potential of what lay within your belly. Deep into your belly of quickening. Deep into your belly of transmutation the seed finds its Source and readies itself to be birthed anew. You sigh and in the great exhalation I am propelled upward, a tiny stream of core’s heat, ascending, arising seeking the memory of a form that was once and could be again. 

I am carried on streams of darkness; streams of tiny droplets that feed infinitesimal cells of vibration, light and movement. I am cradled in warmth. I am bathed in rain. I feed from the decay of another whose journey is just begun in seeking what I have known. I will nourish and tend to what grows and awaits birth in the belly of a mother. Our souls and light will touch and the cycle will begin anew with the child’s first cries. 

The earth vibrates, the Great Mother exhales and I arise; a tiny delicate sprout of Gaia’s blessing. 

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30-Days of Samhain 2020: Day Fifteen

Painting by Autumn Skye Morrison

The Call of the Crone

Today we are at mid-point in posts for 30-Days of Samhain 2020. What better way to mark that occasion than in honoring the Goddess as Crone of Wisdom. This writing is one of experience and surrender. The experience is in holding the intention of being receptive and an active participant in basking in the gifts of the Divine Feminine and the space of death and rebirth…….

The air is full and heavy this time of the year as the veils thin and the spirits walk among us… some offering guidance and assistance and others being mischievous and stirring up an already potent mix of energy trouble. There is a distinct and growing crispness to the air as the weather offers a preview of what to expect in the coming winter months, and leaves crackle underfoot reminding us that summer’s moisture has given way and the dryness of death is near. As a Witch, the changing of each of the seasons echoes through my body and in response my perceptions and attitudes about what each change will bring sharpens and narrows to an intentional and purposeful focus. In particular, Samhain hangs heavy in my thoughts and the opportunity to reach a little deeper into my own state of mortality and transformation looms large.

Each year at this time, I make a silent commitment to being more fully present and alive in my daily activities. This is, in large, my antidote to feeling the pall of death and an active reminder that this state of manifest, physical life will follow the natural order of things and return to the finer state of a non corporeal vessel. Food takes on a deeper level of enjoyment. Family is drawn closer and self-care takes priority over spreading myself too thin. Long walks surrounded by the beauty of Fall exercise my physical body and stimulate and open my senses in a broader way.

I spend time in deeper reflection during my meditations and just as the days become fuller in energy and imbued with the visual palette of Autumn, the hues and intensity of my time spent as the Hermit turning within takes on more complexity. Each inhalation becomes an exercise to draw up those parts of myself that reside in the shadows that occasionally come to the surface of light, but for the most part are as fleeting and ephemeral in quality as the spirits who walk among us. Each exhalation is a chance to release those that are not productive or embrace and enliven those that will serve as the primal compost of what I choose to quicken in the Spring.

This retrospection is guided by the call of the Crone and the draping of her mantle upon me that I am so keenly aware of at this time of the year. The Goddess Cerridwen calls to me in whispers of wind and rustling leaves and the temptation of wanting knowledge of a more transformative nature seems at times overwhelming. So, I sit and wait patiently as the Crone reveals what she will to me. In this state of waiting, the time passes in a non-linear way and at some moments seems limitless in what is held. My breath becomes slower and deeper and the mundane world seems to fade into the background as time appears to stand still. There is no fear as the Goddess points a bony finger beckoning me to follow her as we begin the descent into the caverns of an underworld that is of my own making. There is only a deep feeling of peace and at oneness with all of life and a sensation of being more alive in this space of death.

The path moves downward at sharp angles and footing is unsure as firmly pressed dirt gives way to gravel. The sensation is one of traversing a misshapen spiral or labyrinth, energy and flow of movement all dancing in a discordant and circular nature. I feel myself being pulled along, caught in the current of this winding steady flow. I am alone in the growing darkness.

I take a deep breath in and then pull up all the courage I can, exhaling with an even deeper breath that releases any fears I may have. I take a few steps forward and the ground beneath has an unexpected softness to it. It moves in rhythm with my step, giving way with each footfall, but nonetheless gently supporting my weight. All my senses come to full alert and I move forward, nudged along by pure instinct. I realize there is no way of knowing what direction I am moving and this place has a feeling of being non-linear in nature. I stand for a time in this quiet space of darkness, allowing its energy to enfold me and its peace to fill every fiber of my being. Curiosity soon takes hold and the desire to explore even deeper wells up.

I hear a rhythmic pulse of sound that nudges me forward. It sounds like the gentle inhale and exhale of breath; it is the sound of air as it fills lungs and gives life and then is released back into the atmosphere. The sound increases, and I find myself breathing in unison with it. I open my mouth and call out to Cerridwen. I can feel Her presence all around me and HER breath is hot and foul. She smells of Death and Her challenge is that of facing the death of my weaknesses and the decay and stagnation of a life that is not infused with the passion of pure existence. She whispers my name and asks what I will offer in sacrifice in order to have one drop of her Cauldron’s liquid.

I breathe deeply and think on what compelled me to enter this place. I have no words and the challenge is more than I had bargained for. The realization that knowledge is hard won. True wisdom comes not from merely the desire for it, but from the relinquishment of what we cling to most fiercely thus allowing the space to be filled with the gifts of the Goddess. I breathe deeply and reaffirm my Life and the greater wisdom gained from the courage of stepping into the shadows.

I call out again to Cerridwen. My voice stronger and more assured in the knowledge that I have changed the inner landscape of my underworld. I breathe deeply and open my eyes, the energy of the Crone still wrapped about me. The call of the Crone echoes throughout me and I am reminded that this final harvest of Samhain is a call to the wisdom of the darkness. I will carry with me the knowledge that it is only in the embrace of the shadow that true gnosis can be found and in its final reaping is brought to the brilliance of Light that shines in all who heed the Call.

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30-Days of Samhain 2020: Day Fourteen

At Death’s Gate: The Labyrinth of the Dark Goddess

Today I have a special live recording of a pathworking recently done as part of the Labyrinth of the Dark Goddess series of classes. This particular experiential lends itself to the season of Samhain and our desire to seek the wisdom held at Death’s gate and make use of Hecate’s gifts and keys as part of our mundane/spiritual life.

When we seek to know ourselves in all of our parts, we are often resistant to know those selves in the form of death’s pall and we fear that meeting at the crossroads where we must surrender and leave behind what is of no value to our growth. This pathworking taking us through death’s door and the meeting with Hecate is one of trusting our innate nature to re-create and give birth anew to who we wish to bring back as our newly transformed self.

Find a comfortable space where you will not be disturbed for approx. 30-minutes. Settle in and relax into what is revealed…

At Death’s Gate: The Labyrinth of the Dark Goddess

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30-Days of Samhain 2020: Day Thirteen

Creati(vity)on Calls

If you like to write, paint, sing, dance or do any other type of creative activity, Samhain can be especially inspiring. The color of the turning leaves, the differing patterns of light as the days shorten, the sounds and the smells, all of these and more stimulate your senses. So, today I would like to share some writing and photography that was inspired by this season of the Witch. Enjoy!

Part the Veils (2013)

In shadowy forest of trees
And blackness of night
The call issues forth
To come dance round
Blazing bonfire bright.

Come heed the call
The mysteries of
Samhain night to be taught
By blessed Ancestor and Kin
Their wisdom to be sought.

The veils finally thinned
The Gates open wide
For Kith and for Kin
To walk by your side.

Night wind chills thickened air
Hush now be silent to hear
The soft whispers of gentle
Spirits who linger quite near.

You know the hidden path
Dried leaves crackle underfoot
You walk through the woods
Canopy of tree holds the darkness
Thick and heavy like blackened soot.

A sacred circle of clearing revealed
Carefully scribed and lovingly prepared
You call to the Ancestors
Your intent boldly declared.

Fire blazes full and flames leap high
As words pierce the silence of night
Wisps of smoke flicker here and there
As you surrender and open to true sight.

Cloaked shadowy figures emerge
Near the trunk of each autumn tree
Penetrating and loving eyes look on
Shrouding their deep mystery.

Wispy fingers that beckon
Calling the Beloved to Their side
Listen closely for answers from
Them to silent questions you
Dare not and cannot hide.

Surrender all of your fears
These specters mean you no harm
Through joys, pain and suffering
They have always helped dry your
Tears and offered up their calm.

Part the veils held between
Ancestor Spirit and gentle Human
Their gift on this Samhain night
The call once again to join each as
One in wisdom’s blessed communion.

Can You See Me? (2010)

I’m hiding in the palette
Of fall leaves
Can you see me?

Light splatters like paint
Over my body and my leaves
Are brilliant with Fall light.

Can you see me?

Metamorphosis (2012)

Crackling leaves are burning
Transformed from life to death.

The crow calls out relentlessly
To those unseen and the
Crone’s outstretched hand
Pulls me tightly to her breast.

The air chills at her touch
Long icy fingers tapping out
the heart beat of life’s pulse within
The solemn silence of darkness.

The pause of silent breath
Power and strength drawn
From the sinewy strands of time.

Quartered path of gravel and stone
Flesh and blood
Moonlight and stars
The wellspring of Earth
The light of the cosmos above.

I tremble within Her embrace
Form giving way to the formless
Mind swirling within the waters of insight
Sight pierces the veil, the
Road cautiously chosen.

Knowledge of the unknown becomes
The heat of my desire and
The quickening spark waiting in fertile darkness
Pulls me towards rebirth into a place of Light.

The air is chilling and leaves are turning. The smell of wood in fireplaces and the comfort of snuggling deeply into warm covers promises the call of late Fall and the rising of the Crone’s power as Samhain nears. Enjoy these beautiful Autumn days.

Samhain Morning Leaves (2011)

Look up
Look up!

A beautiful sight
Fills the view!

Graceful branches
Stretch in silhouette
Against a newly lit sky!

But you have to look up
To see all that nature
Has as canopy of morning.

The day will move at its pace
Even if you take no notice of
What awaits your gaze.

So…

Look up!
Look up!

And perhaps what moves you
Through your day is memory
Of morning sky’s beauty
And the call to Look Up!

I often arrive at work early, and as the Fall approaches it is not fully light yet. This picture was taken from the parking lot one morning.

I looked up and was greeted by the beauty of a gently lit morning sky. The silhouette of a large tree that is on the lot seemed to have inked its way across the sky. The leaves had begun to turn and some were denser than others. The impression was one of serene beauty and massive power.

The interesting thing of note is that the setting is one of a suburban neighborhood setting. The lot that the building is on has a few trees on it but pointing my camera level would have revealed a brick and mortar building, streets, homes, a chain link fence and dumpsters. Looking up created quite a different impression leaving the brick and mortar world behind.

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30-Days of Samhain 2020: Day Twelve

What About These Veils?

Introductory Thoughts Specific to 2020:

Over the past several years the Veils have been thinning earlier than would normally have been. Many things have played into this shifting and in particular in this year of the COVID Pandemic, indeed the Veils have been opening steadily for some time. I cannot speak to how others sense this transition, so I will only share what I experience.

I begin to notice the thinning as the air seems to become denser and more “etherically” charged. I tend to feel it more palpably outside because there is generally more spaciousness when you are out in the open, but that density also crowds into my personal space as well. Often I will catch the glimpse of a shape or form in my peripheral vision, and when looking in that direction nothing concrete is there. This year, that density has been at times so thick I felt unable to breathe.

My interpretation of this is one of recognizing how many souls have prematurely passed because of this Pandemic, the ancestors and guides have been at the ready and at times have needed to be even closer at hand , especially for those separated from loved ones (ie. Nursing Homes, etc..), to usher them beyond the veils. Have you felt the

Samhain and its counterpart, Beltane, are the time of access to the wisdom of the natural world and the Ancestors. The energy that is called forth at Beltane and communion with the nature spirits and the Fae stands as the point of inception and quickening of what will move, expand and grow in its form and scope towards the next opportunity. When it comes half wheel cycle to Samhain this energy of communication with and greater access to what lay beyond our physical realms has matured and deepened as we call to the Ancestors to offer up their wisdom. It is this wisdom that will carry us through the darkening of the months, the turning within and the introspection that holds within its womb the spark of Light that will be birthed at the Winter Solstice.

I do a great deal of personal energetic work infusing some of the Eastern mystical practices with those of Western Magick. When drawing on this synthesis and applying it to the energies present at Beltane and Samhain we can use each to inform the other. Beltane’s fires are those of consummate union, celebrated with the union of God and Goddess, male and female. These are the qualities of the polarities held within each of us. Parting the veils at this time is an opening to our natural and instinctual self. The connection to the basic needs and desires that are the promise of continuation of species and cycle of growth and evolution. Energetically, as we enter Samhain’s parting of the veils and its energy we are now ready to open to the experience of our mature and wizened nature and the union of what we may access of the Higher Self informed by the wisdom of our Lower Self. The union of these integral parts of our spiritual and physical states of being enables the transformative reaching out and ultimate connection to the Ancestors who have helped to form who we are.

As we enter into the Dark Half of the year, the winter months and the Sabbats that are held within that space we bring with us the expectations of this growth. We have finished harvesting what had been nurtured from the time of the previous Winter Solstice forward and we hold expectation that the ripe fruits we have carefully selected from this harvest will sustain us through this time of fallow fields, frost and cold. We approach the opening of the veils with great expectations of coming face to face with what visions and mysteries are rooted in our core state of being and align ourselves with the energies of the Dark Goddess and the wisdom of the Crone. It is Her wisdom that takes us into the realms of the Ancestors and the blessings they wish to bestow. And. although we may feel that our intent is clear and purposeful, we often do not embrace every ounce of what lay hidden, largely from fear of what we will lay claim to. Moreover, we hesitate because we are afraid of what the answers that we so dearly seek may be.

For many there is lack of clarity about who and what the Ancestors are. And, this definition will be a variety of things depending on your own beliefs. The Ancestors may be of your own lineage, meaning departed family or those whom offered guidance during their living human existence. If you expand this further and consider that we are all interconnected as spiritual beings, regardless of blood lines, the Ancestors take on the form of all of the great souls who in their incarnation offered teachings, wisdom, and were examples of illuminated and evolved humans. These are those that exemplified the adage that we are Spiritual beings having a physical experience. Most often when you begin the intention of asking for information of the Ancestors, there is greater comfort in the specificity of inquiring of a departed family member or friend. The personal connection and feeling is what makes the difference between asking for help from a Patron or Deity you work with and an Ancestor.

The truth of the matter is that the Ancestors, our guides and guardians want us to succeed. They want us to step fully into the light of who and what we truly are. The Gods and Goddesses want us to become more fully aligned with facing our truths, because then we are better able to see the reality and beauty of their truths. In all of these instances the time of Samhain and the parting of the veils is the optimal time for reaching out and drawing to ourselves the reflected and refined image of understanding that holds everything we need to know.

One of the primary precepts in working with Ancestral wisdom is that of gratitude. Whenever we step into a place of gratitude for what has been received we are aligning ourselves with our Higher Self. Offerings to the Ancestors, altars of remembrance or simply holding a cherished memory in mind strengthen that energetic connection. Opening ourselves to offering up and the act of expressing that gratitude initiates a cycle of receipt and return. It is the universal law of magnetism in action. All that we send out, positive or negative seeks the energy of that which is compatible and similar. Gratitude calls to our place of Spirit within the eternal and the wisdom of those who reside within those realms.

If we are able to stand strong in our conviction and intent to seek the wisdom of our Ancestors as the thinning between the worlds occurs, the information gained becomes the foundation upon which we stand as we begin the process of turning within and integrating what has been received. Like the Hermit of the Tarot, we become the master of our own Will, seeking our truths and finding our way using the light of the lantern of truth.

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30-Days of Samhain 2020: Day Eleven

The Witch's Year Tarot Spread

The Witch’s Year Tarot Spread

Today’s post is an excerpt from one I crafted on my blog at Pagan Square. I’ve routinely been asked to repeat it, so here we go. Enjoy….

The season is upon us and the Witch’s New Year is soon at hand. I have gotten in the habit of doing a Tarot Reading at Samhain, aligned with the Sabbats throughout that upcoming year as well as one at the start of the calendar year, aligned astrologically (sharing that nearer to Yule). 

The intention and flavor of many of the celebrations surrounding the Sabbats is one of a continued theme or thread of connection of one to the other creating a whole that can be used for magick, growth and deeper insights. Regardless of the theme you follow, that of the god and goddess, the cycles of the seasons, the flow of solar energy, or other-this tarot spread can be modified to align with those intentions. 

This spread uses 10 cards- 8 for each of the Sabbats and one for you standing in the Light of your self and another as the polarized opposite of you as Shadow. These two cards indicate the strength and power you wield in both parts of your nature as light and shadow and can be used to infuse in whatever dynamic and dose you choose as the energy of the cards relating to each of the Sabbats is revealed.  Read more and find the spread here:

Womb of Light: The Witch’s Year Tarot Spread

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30-Days of Samhain 2020: Day Ten

Samhain Incense and Oils

The “smells and bells” of Samhain enhance any working and celebration. Incense is a staple of this Sabbat and can be used in a variety of ways, from serving as a veiling for ancestor communion to calling to presence the Deities you wish to witness and bless your activities. For those who are sensitive to the smoke emitted from incense, oils can be used in their place, either heated over a small tea light or in a roller version and applied directly (fragrance or carrier enhanced only. NEVER apply an essential oil directly to the skin as these are potent and allergic reactions or skin sensitivities are likely) to the skin.


Check out this helpful article to get you started:

Incense 101: How to Make and Use Your Own Incense

Some Basic Ingredients:

For Remembrance: you can use Rosemary
For Purification: you can use Sage and Salt
For Protection: you can use Marigold, Pepper, Cinnamon, Wormwood
To Honor the Earth: Patchouli and Pine.
To Honor the Ancestors: Marigold and Mums
For Wisdom: Sage
To Honor the Final Harvest and Fall: Apple and Apple leaves
For Psychic Opening: Mugwort, Bay and Bay leaves

Recipes:
These are listed as “parts” meaning that you should begin by determining what increment of measurement will be. If you are making a small portion for personal use, I would suggest using 1/4 tsp. = 1 part. If you are making a larger batch for group work or to store for other use; 1/2 tsp. = 1 part.

From Scott Cunningham; The Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews:

Sandalwood: 2 parts
Orange Peel: 1 part
Mace: 1 part
Cinnamon: 1 pinch

From unknown source:

Frankincense: 1/2 part
Myrrh: 1/4 part
Bay: 1/2 part
Vervain: 1/4 part
Wormwood: 1/4 part
Patchouli: 1/4 part
Sandalwood: 1/22 part

From Unknown source:

Dittany: 1 part
Pine: 1/2 part
Sandalwood: 1 part
Patchouli: 1/4 part
Benzoin: 1/4 part
Pine Oil: a few drops

From Unknown source:

Dittany: 1 1/2 part
Benzoin: 1/2 part
Patchouli: 1 part

This is a recipe I like to make for my personal Samhain workings

1 part dried mugwort
2 parts frankincense resin
2 parts myrrh resin
2 bay leaves crumbled
1 part orange peel

As I add each ingredient into the pestle, I offer up thanks to the sacrifice of the herb or resin and call into presence the energy that I wish to have as part of the whole. Use the mortar to press and break apart the resins and herbs, combining each one at a time. When all is complete, I breathe (very) gently across the bowl infusing it with my own breath of creation and purpose. I usually burn a small portion then and there, offering it to my patrons and then place the remainder in storage for Samhain’s use.

*I usually make a slightly larger batch and use it as a base for future ancestor or psychic work, adding what is necessary for each. Store in an airtight, clamp lid or mason jar container in a dark place. This will preserve the integrity of the herbs and resins.

Using Oils:

Most of the ingredients in the recipes above are available as essential and/or fragrance oils. The benefits of purchasing an essential oil are that you will generally use less of it, it can be placed over a tealight for heating and you also have the raw ingredients for creating your recipes by combining the oils either in raw form for heating or with a carrier  such as almond, sesame or jojoba for body application.

Depending on the oil you select the essential oils should vary in price in accord with the rarity or value of the ingredient. For example, Frankincense and Myrrh are usually more pricey than Lemon or Bay. Be sure to get a quality essential oil that is labeled as 100% pure essential oil. I like this company’s oils, they are eco and cause conscious and are available through amazon:

Simply Earth

If you check out the Simply Earth site, they also have a download of a Cheat Sheet and 3-instructional videos for use. The sheet is very informative and offers a good base of do’s and cautions about using essential oils, their contraindications with certain medications, pregnancy, high blood pressure and more:

To view the videos and sign up for recipes and more:

Essential Oil Cheat Sheet

Fragrance oils are another way you can use an oil to enhance ritual workings and open yourself to specific energies. These are derived by combining or using a singular essential oil and placing a few drops of it/each in a carrier oil such as sesame, almond, jojoba or coconut. If you make your own you will want to use approx. 2-4 drops total of your oils and approx. 40z. of carrier. It is better to error on the side of too little essential oil than too much and cause a negative skin reaction. I wear oils in place of perfume routinely and have special ones I use only for ritual or personal practice. I make my oil 40z portion to use as a body massage oil or therapeutic for arthritis, etc… This is the company I like to purchase my small in purse roll on oils:

Kuumba Made

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30-Days of Samhain 2020: Day Nine

Just for Fun! Samhain Correspondences

These are just a few of the things traditionally associated with Samhain including herbs, animals, food and more. I would encourage you to also be open to new correspondences that are specific to what you personally resonate with. The more you can personalize the experience, the deeper and more intimate that experience will be. Enjoy!

Dates: Traditional-October 31; Astrological-Mid-point day between the Autumnal Equinox and Winter Solstice November 5-7 (depending on the year.

Names: Halloween; Hallowmas; All Hallow’s Eve; Day of the Dead; Feast of teh dead; Third/Final Harvest; Celtic New Year.

Symbolism: Death and regeneration; transformation; ending old endeavors and re-setting to begin anew, knowledge; hidden gifts; the final harvest.

Workings: Ancestor work and connection; banishing; past life recall; psychic work; honoring the dead; drying herbs and herbal lore.

Ritual Oils: Frankincense; basil; camphor; clove; yarrow.

Symbols: Cauldrons; skulls; fall foliage; divination tools; besoms; lanterns; costumes; goblins; banshees; bones.
Colors: Black; orange; red; brown.

Herbs: Almonds; bay leaf; mugwort; mums; ginger; pine; cinnamon.

Crystals and Gemstones: Black obsidian; onyx; bloodstone; smoky quartz; obsidian.

Food and Drinks: apples; mead; mulled wine; cider; pumpkin; squash; cakes for the dead; beets; all root vegetables and tubers.

Animals: Cats, bats; spiders; rats; owls, stags; jackals; scorpions.

Deities: Hecate; Cerridwen; Anubis; Hel; The Morrigahn; Loki; Persephone; Osiris; Hades; Cernunnos; all underworld/death Gods and Goddesses.

An excellent and highly recommended resource:

The Sacred Herbs of Samhain by Ellen Evert Hopman

And, looking ahead towards Spring, here is another title from this series:

The Sacred Herbs of Spring by Ellen Evert Hopman

Each of these books is in similar format with information aligned specifically to the focus. Read the review that I wrote for this title:The Sacred Herbs of Spring…..

The Sacred Herbs of Spring by Ellen Evert Hopman

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30-Days of Samhain 2020: Day Eight

The New Moon of Libra and the Maiden

October 15.2020
3:31p.m.
New Moon in Libra

In addition to the energies of the Moon cloaked in the mantle astrological Libra, the Sun shares this dance of ecstasy and creation’s new life sharing Libra’s sense of beauty and harmony. Other actor’s upon this stage is the retrograde intensity of Mercury, Mars, Uranus and Neptune. Here, the supporting cast assures that intuitive communication (Mercury in Scorpio) will be actively and assertively (Mars in Aries) expressed, infused with a bolt of electrified stability and manifest-like quality (Uranus in Taurus). All is called to the depths and darkness of the abyss of compassion (Neptune in Pisces). The result holds the potential for allowing yourself the grace of choosing deliberately and wisely what you will nurture and tend to in this cycle of striving towards refined and purposeful depth of emotions (New Moon in Libra) strengthened in the brilliance of light that holds the keys to gnosis of the scales balanced precisely in right action, right thought and right mind (Sun in Libra).

I talked of the Goddess, Hecate’s energy during this season and today’s post is the first of three; each aligned with the New Moon of today, the upcoming Full and Dark moons. This New Moon in Libra is a perfect time to call to the beginnings of deepening your connection and understanding of a prominent Samhain Goddess, Hecate. SHE who stands at the crossroads, our place of choice and guided selection. SHE who reminds us of our Divine nature only when we allow the perceived limitations of scope to fall away as we surrender to her wisdom, not in fear but in the cultivation of self-awareness….

Let’s begin our introductions….

I call to you at the
Newness of the Moon.

I wait at the crossroads
And, call out in longing
For you to ask of me what you will.

I stand clothed in the promise
Of guiding you as I light the way.

I wait and there is only the
Sound of my own longing to
Enliven and stir within you
The drive and will that sets
You upon your path.

I am cloaked in the darkness
But those who have the
Courage to call to me
See the truth of my hidden
Light that burns brightly
With the Divine spark of youth.

This post is the first of three dedicate to the Triple Goddess Hecate and her gifts expressed through the face of Maiden, Mother and Crone. Hecate is the Greek Goddess of the Underworld; Queen of Magick and daughter of the Titans Perses (God of Destruction) and Asteria (Oracular Goddess), from whom she was gifted with rulership of heaven and earth. She is most noted for her place of guide at the Crossroads carrying the flaming torches that light the way for gods and mortals. My intent is not to provide a full history of the Goddess (there is a plethora of information to be found), but rather to provide my personal experiences with her.

As a Triune Goddess, she has come to me at various points in my life, despite my not knowing or identifying her by name and she has shown me her varied faces as I have needed prodding or push in a specific direction. At this time of the year, I feel her presence more strongly and align with her transformative energies with that of the New, Full and Waning Moons throughout the season of Samhain.

My awareness of Hecate’s energy has been building within me these last few months and I suspect this is in answer to my need to reclaim some of the intensity and vibrancy that is held within her form of the Maiden. Life circumstances have placed me in a position of having to fully step into the roles of Mother and Crone and I am rebelling at the necessary structure that is being placed upon me. I find myself in the place of having to release my attachment to children who have grown into responsible and caring adults and the growing need to assume more responsibility and care for an aging parent. I long for the youthful strength and resilience I once had to support these changes. And, I long for the freedom that time brings when seen from a youthful perspective.

I have always felt vastly responsible for the people in my life and their well-being, often with the neglect of my own. When I took up the mantle of spiritual service, this responsibility widened to include all that I interacted with, feeling that I must model by example and leave a positive footprint. So, I turn to this Goddess of Magick and remaking and call out to her as the Maiden to inform and enliven my way as I sit in quiet meditation.

I hear echoed back to me her response calling me to stand at her crossroads, tell her my story of lost youth and ask of her what I will. Tonight the Moon is New in the astrological sign of Libra. Libra is Cardinal Air, the beginnings of inspired and innovative thought that aspires to achieve a state of balance through refinement. I have spent too long in trying to mentally problem solve and not allowed myself the space to feel too much. If I allow my emotions to weigh in sadness and self-indulgence will make me ineffective and weak. I feel the need for balance and I know that Hecate will not allow me to stay too long in a place of self-pity and complaints. And, so I see myself standing in the darkness of the night and feel the cold chill of wind moving around me and know this is the stirrings of my own anticipation at being in the presence and potency of her energy as Maiden.

I see Hecate’s form rising up in front of me and I make vow to heed her words as I have done so many times before. The outcomes have often been unexpected and quite different from what I had imagined the original plan had been; but this is of no concern, for in the wisdom of the Goddess she has always offered what was needed not what were my imagined wantings. Hecate stands before me and I bow in reverence. She has the appearance of youth, dressed in flowing white gowns and a deceptively gentle energy that hides the great power and trinity of her form. This is no Maiden who is ingénue in experience; rather she is the promise of providing fresh perspective and insight that will stimulate and catalyze. Hers is a raw power, ancient in time and purposeful in whatever it sets its intent upon. Before my words are uttered she knows what is held in my heart and smiles an all-knowing smile.

I stand at her crossroads and the power of her presence swirls about me. I hear the gentle whisper in my ear and a hand of force that say “run”. I feel rejuvenated and filled with this desire to run, to be free, to feel the air moving through my lungs and the joy in movement I felt as a young woman dancing, soaring, expressing. I choose one of the paths and move, breath coming in short bursts and the exhilaration of air and dust, darkness and wildness all about me. I run in release of these stressful past months and for this brief period of time Hecate, the power-filled Maiden weaves her healing magick as she moves in and through me. The binding and weariness of maturity and responsibility falls away as I move faster and faster; blood pulsing, heart pumping in pure delight.

There is no thought of time, or task to be completed or places that I need to be. There is only enlivened air and darkness, magick and Divinity surrounding me. I breathe deeply and my pace slows a bit. I want to savor this environment and the feeling of being suspended in the stillness of eternal time. I breathe deeper still and I am walking briskly upon an unlit path, the faint light of what appears to be a lantern ahead in the distance. I breathe even deeper and each step affirms the strength of my body and the renewed life spark flowing through me. Closer, closer still and I see that the light is that of a flaming and brightly lit torch held at the center of the crossroads by Hecate. I come once again to stand before Her, and I am reminded that she has been with me at the beginning of my earthly journey and it is into her arms I shall seek refuge at my end. I stand illuminated by the brilliance of her torch, flushed from the exertion of my energetic journey and renewed by the blessing of the Maiden’s power. I stand with lighter burden and hear the gentle whisper that “all will be well and as it should be”.

I offer up gratitude to Hecate and offer vow to her that I will seek out her wisdom at the turning of the Full Moon. I will come to her crossroads and call to Hecate, the Mother. Until then, I will remember my promise to her to find the place of balance in attending to my own needs so that I may better care for others. To seek out the newness in the places where I have been stagnant and stressful. I am reminded to call upon my past joys and successes as inspiration, as I go about the repetitive and tedious tasks that are needed and to seek the beauty in discordant as well as harmonious action.

I breathe into the space of my meditation and am no longer at the crossroads. I have come full circle back to the place of my sitting with a renewed sense of purpose. The air is fresher, my vision is clearer and I know I am not alone.

Original Post found at:

Womb of Light: The Alchemy of the Goddess
Sage Woman Blogs
All rights reserved.R.Fennelly.2013-2020

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