Archive for the ‘Samhain’ Category

Here’s the special altar I set up for the ancestors today.  The photos still hang on the wall by the main altar, but I needed a surface for their dinner.  I even added some cat food for our deceased animal companions.  
Blessings and welcome to the ancestors!  May you enjoy your visit.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )


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Samhain Snow

I woke up this morning, opened the bedroom curtains, and beheld my first snow of the year.  You can see it just starting to frost the Earth in the photo below.

I find it appropriate, somehow.  The ancient Celts saw Samhain as the end of the light half of the year – the summer months – and the beginning of the dark half of the year – the winter.  Although Samhain comes with the promise of new life, it is full of death.  The leaves are dying.  The creatures that cannot find shelter, hibernate, or migrate are dying.  Our ancestral spirits wander the Earth.  The pooka is about, waiting for his share of the harvest.  Anything left on the vine tomorrow will be his.  They will assume the shape of death and no longer be good for humans to eat. The snow is the final touch.  To me, it is the Earth Mother snuffing out the flame of summer for good.  It burned brightly this year, but now it is time for the green world excepting (of course, the strong and magical evergreens) to rest until next year.

The wheel of life turns.

My Samhain plans?

I used a rotting pumpkin to create ZOMBIE PUMPKIN!  The nails just make it for me.  🙂
On a more serious note, I moved my altar – including my ancestor shrine.  I hung photos of various ancestors on the wall (Weretoad’s grandfather was wobbly until Weretoad himself fixed the frame).  I included a wall sconce on which I can light candles and leave small offerings.  I would like to make or find a small shelf on which I could place larger offerings.  I will probably move items on my main altar to create a dumb supper for our ancestral spirits tonight.
Last night I attended Muin Mound Grove’s celebration.  We cleaned the nemeton, put our jack-o-lanterns around the hedges, and honored the ancestors, as well as Dagda and the Morigan, through fire, song, libation, and sacrifice.  The omens were good.  They spoke of building community and protection from the spirits.  
Inside we had a wonderful feast of corn and black bean salad, red beans and rice, lasagna, pumpkin bread, cranberry and orange bread, carrots, pumpkin seeds, and apple pie.  A portion of each was given to the ancestors first.  
Blessed Samhain to you and yours!

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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Fairy Costume

Today I dressed as a fairy for Halloween festivities.  Several children asked me if I was Tinkerbelle even though my only resemblance to her was through my green color scheme and jagged fairy skirt – which was much longer than hers, mind you!  I told the children, “No!  I’m a woodland fairy!  I’m not from Neverland!”  

Several children questioned me about my wand – handmade but not consecrated.  Most children are obviously not used to seeing real or authentic looking wands.  To them, everything is plastic and bought at a store.  My bumpy rowan branch with silver wire and bells caught their eyes.  Several asked me if it was a real wand.  I said yes because, even though it was made as a prop, it was indeed modeled after my real fairy wand – a tool I use to open and close the gates during ritual. The impression I received from their wide eyes was that they were hoping that maybe, just maybe, it was real.  More and more children are jaded to magic, but some hold out hope…

One girl asked me to say abracadabra – just to see what would happen.  My heart sank a little.  I didn’t want her to give up on real magic in this world, but I also wanted to be honest.  “Well…  it doesn’t quite work that way.”  She went away with her friends.  I shrugged to myself.  It isn’t appropriate for me explain real magic or its ethics to a child outside of my tribe and tradition.  I doubt she would have cared at this age.  Perhaps she will seek real magic when she’s older.  Perhaps not.  Perhaps she will go through life hoping for a magic that only exists in Hollywood, all the while missing the magic everywhere. 

Then again, perhaps the magic of the imagination is enough for some people, for it is indeed a powerful energy!  Maybe she’ll remember the woman dressed as a fairy with the pretty wand when she’s older.  Maybe she’ll smile and find magic in that moment.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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Samhain is my favorite holiday.  I love the Winter Solstice as well, but there’s something about the magic of this liminal time…  Perhaps it’s the vague boundaries, whimsical to ridiculous costumes, celebrations, harvest food, or simply the visible changes all around.  It’s a great time of year and, for many, it’s when magic and “energy” are most noticeable.  In my opinion, it’s because Samhain and Halloween seem to officially usher in the holiday season.  There’s a thick anticipation in the air mixed with stress and joy.

Samhain snuck up on me this year.  I felt more prepared for it last year after planning my wedding.  I haven’t even carved pumpkins yet, and I realized this morning that I forgot to buy turnips.  Since finding a home in Druidism, I’ve made the effort each year to make a traditional Irish jack-o-lantern with a turnip.  It’s a small thing but I feel connected to my ancient ancestors when I do it.  Perhaps I still have time, but the fact that I’ve forgotten this long makes me sad.

In my defense, I have been very busy. I’m dressing as a woodland fairy this year and I made most of my costume from scratch.  I’ve also been working on the new Artist Trading Card project that the ADF Artisan Guild is starting!  I will be sending my contribution tomorrow and I hope the recipient likes what  I made.  I promise to post photos after it’s been received.

I’ve also been working on other crafty projects in anticipation for an upcoming craft show in my home city.  Check out the latest tree spirit.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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As I recently posted, my stomping grounds are becoming increasingly winter-like.  There is the promise of a short Indian Summer this week.  I encourage you to make the most of it and enjoy the last bit of Autumn magic!

  • Admire the leaves.  Observe the changes and marvel at the magnificence of nature.  
  • Play in the laves!  Rake them into piles and jump into them.  Enjoy their earthy scent.  Collect a few to press or rub with crayons.  Try to identify them and add these to your nature journal.
  • If you don’t have a nature journal – MAKE ONE!  It’s a wonderful way to observe the magic that is all around you every day!
  • Keep track of the wildlife around you.  What birds are still around?  Have the robins left yet?  Have you seen any Canada geese flying south?
  • Pick or buy some locally grown apples and bake them.  Inhale their perfume as they cook…  Drink their juice and spice it up!  Warm cider will fill you with autumn’s spirit for sure!
  • Visit the farmers’ market before it ends for the season.  Observe what produce is available.  Try and make more meals with the food that’s in season and really connect with the agricultural cycle.  Thank the Earth Mother for her bounty.  Thank the Nature Spirits before they nurture you.  Envision the alchemy that occurs in your kitchen with each meal.  
  • Build an ancestral altar.  Pray to your ancestors and meditate on death and transformation.
  • Start to dream of the activities you can do during the dark half of the year.  Create a mental list of crafts to create, recipes to cook, card or board games to play, and books to read.
  • Preserve some food.  This is something I want to try more of in the future.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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Winter is Coming

We turned the heat on today.  We’ve been putting it off for as long as possible.  We’re from northern NY – we have long, cold winters which result in expensive heating bills. Weretoad and I would rather bear the cold for as long as possible than pay more for heat.  If we didn’t fear damaged pipes or, more importantly, uncomfortable animal companions, we would have put it off longer.  Oh well.  Today was the day and now our home is toasty warm.  

It’s very chilly outside.  I’ve been waking up to frost and, apparently, there was a dusting of snow on the ground this morning.  The trees look more skeletal every day.  I want to visit the forest but hunting season makes me wary.  I would like to go up and make an offering tomorrow but stay close to the housing area.  Hunters can’t legally shoot so close to homes so I should theoretically be safe.  All the same, I occasionally see archers walking in and out of the forest.  It is that time of year – just as the ancient Celts culled their herds of cow, the modern hunters go into the woods to cull the wild herds.  It is not my calling in this life, though, so I simply stay out of the way.  

I wrote before that I brought most of my plants inside.  Others – mainly the beans – were left on the patio to go back to the Earth Mother. I didn’t have much success with them anyway.  They slowly wither away around the bright orange pumpkin.  

Winter is coming.  I can see and feel it in the air.  

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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I’ve had an enjoyable weekend so far.  I was able to visit some of my family which is always wonderful.  My husband was able to spend a lot of time with his best buddy and our future brother-in-law (I’ll call him Hunter).  Now that I’m older, I get along better with my sister (I’ll call her Georgia).  It’s fun to to be with her and her fiance.  It’s always a very relaxed time, and Weretoad and I can be ourselves.  They always have a new drink for us to try that further inhibits us.

We took advantage of the visit to finally unveil our new car to the immediate tribe.  It’s a lovely green hatchback with spectacular headlights which I like to think of as dragon eyes.  In fact, I fancy the whole car a dragon (symbolically, of course).  I’ve referred to it as a green dragon, but my husband cringes due to the drug reference.  It’s been very difficult living in the North Country with only one car – and an old one at that.  We’ve already had some situations that made me feel uncomfortable and even helpless.  The public transportation system around here is practically non-existent.  There are buses that come to our area, but the hours are so limited that they don’t fit into my husband’s work schedule at all.  I need to adjust my sleep habits so I have time to walk to work in the morning.  I would really like to develop that habit as reducing my impact on Mama Earth is very important to me. We would have liked to find a hybrid, but they are out of our price range.  We did a lot of research and went for something that achieves decent miles per gallon and can assist us in transporting the kayaks we’re getting for Solstice.

Now that we have a new car, I’m thinking about creating a protection charm to hang in it.  It will probably have something to do with Lugh.  The Romans equated him with Mercury, a patron of merchants and therefore travelers.  This opens up the possibility that the Celts (or at least the Gauls) saw him in this way too.  In the Irish myths, Lugh has to travel to the Tuatha de Dannan before he is accepted by them (perhaps a stretch…).  I have been praying to Lugh for protection on the road for years now and I feel that he has heard and helped me.

I spent some time this weekend working on my Samhain costume.  I’m planning to be a forest fairy.  I’ve got the pieces of the vest cut out and ready to be stitched together.  I found ear tips this weekend but will have to paint them.

Finally, my husband found a Victorian card with a green fairy on it while we were browsing in an antique store.  I absolutely had to have it.  She’s Victorian, but not as silly looking as most fairies represented in that era.  I can’t wait to display her on my wall.

* At least I’m writing a substantial post!  I haven’t done that in a week it seems!

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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