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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Samhain

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Close-up of glowing embers - Stock Photo - Dissolve

Under the Night Cottonwoods


Flanked by jack o' lanterns, the Shadow waits: darkness upon darkness.

Before her, the Stag that Walks on Two Legs.

Clustered around him, us.

The names have been called, the song sung, the apples eaten.


The Stripping


His sad eyes drink in each of us. It is finished.

The wand he bore throughout, he breaks now over his knee, the sound of its snapping like a shot in the night. The broken halves, he lays out on the ground.

He turns away from us now, toward the Shadow.

The crown of autumn leaves and antlers, he lifts from his head and lays at her feet. He unclasps and bundles his cloak, laying it with the crown. He strips off torque and, lastly, loincloth.

His naked skin shines pale with cold moonlight.


Into the Darkness


She extends a hand: the left. Come.

After a moment, he takes it, and passes by her, through the pumpkin gateway, into the night.

His flanks ripple as he walks, like a deer's. Leaves crunch beneath his feet. Slowly, palely, he merges into the night. His rustling steps fade into silence.

The empty pile—a melted witch, the leather bag of a bog body—mounds at her feet. To us now, she extends a hand: the right, with pointing finger.



By Pumpkin-Light

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
May you let your shoulders soften,
the knots loosen and unbind.
May you feel the light touch
of the ancestors across your brow,
their lives leading right up to now.
May you savor a moment of silence,
of quiet space-keeping
and spark-tending.
May you take a deep breath of gratitude,
a deep breath of satisfaction,
and a deep breath of peace.
May you weave new stories
from the bones of old and forgotten things,
mixing them with care
into the golden seeds of possibility
and the flares of inspiration,
that touch this moment of you.
May you harvest blessings
beyond count
from the threads of time.


Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Happy Celtic New Year!

Halloween stems from the grand tradition of the Celtic New Year. What started as a folk festival celebrated by small groups in rural areas has come to be the second largest holiday of today. There are multitudinous reasons including modern marketing but I think it satisfies a basic human need, to let your “wild side” out, to be free and more connected with the ancient ways.  This is the time when the veil between worlds is thinnest and you can commune with the other side, with elders and the spirit world. It is important to honor the ancestors during this major sabbat and acknowledge what transpired in the passing year as well as set intentions for the coming year.

This is the ideal time to invite your circle; the ideal number for your “coven” is 13. Gather powdered incense, salt, a loaf of bread, goblets for wine, and three candles to represent the triple goddess for altar offerings.  Ideally on an outdoor stone altar, pour the powdered incense into a pentagram star shape. Let go of old sorrows, angers and anything not befitting of new beginnings in this New Year Bring only your best to this auspicious occasion.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Flowers to Honor the Dead

Samhain, Day of the Dead, All Soul’s Day: From October 31st to November 2nd is a time to remember and honor our ancestors and loved ones who have passed. This is a time to invite their spirits to come close, as the barrier between the worlds of the seen and unseen is thin. For millennia, flowers have been used to honor the dead, perhaps because they represent the fragility of life. But also because of their beauty, often for their symbolism, and for practical reasons at funerals to mask odors.
          Lilies are an iconic funeral flower. The Greeks and Romans used them at funerals to memorialize the deceased. Lilies were depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics and dedicated to Isis. In England, white lilies were believed to ward off evil influences and were grown in gardens to keep ghosts away. As a symbol of hope and peace, they represent the wish that the deceased continue into a good new life.
          In the Roman ceremony of Rosalia, rose petals were scattered on the graves of loved ones, symbolizing the start of a new state of being. Rosalia evolved into a springtime feast to honor departed loved ones and to offer their spirits food garnished with rose petals. The Greeks also strew petals over the graves of loved ones and made wreaths of rose canes (branches) to place on graves.
          While the ancient Romans regarded the anemone as a lucky flower, in later centuries in other parts of Europe it was regarded as the flower of the dead. A wood anemone was sometimes worn as an amulet for protection against sorcery. The wood anemone is also known as devil’s bite and evening twilight.
          Carnations were used in funeral wreaths by the Greeks and Romans. In Italy, it was associated with death well into the Middle Ages. When placed on a grave, carnations were a symbol of love for the deceased. Carnations are also known as pinks and gillyflowers.
          In France, Italy, Spain, and Germany the common chrysanthemum was a symbol of grief and used to honor loved ones. It became known as Fiori dei Morte, “flower of the dead.” Because of this association, it was sometimes considered unlucky to take chrysanthemums inside the home.  
          In addition to purple being a color for mourning, lilac flowers were often used to line coffins and placed on graves to add beauty and offer solace. Elderflowers were associated with death and funerals. They were buried with the deceased or sprinkled over the grave to aid a loved one’s passage into the otherworld.
          For a time in Italy, periwinkle was regarded as a plant of the dead and used for children’s funeral wreaths. Periwinkle’s power was used to detect witches, break spells, and heal demonic possession. It also served as an amulet against the evil eye and ghosts. Periwinkles are also known as blue stars and sorcerer’s violet.
          Considered the flower of the dead by the Aztec, marigolds are used on altars for Day of the Dead observances in present-day Mexico and represent the tenuousness of life. According to legend, the reddish-brown splotches on the flowers were from the blood of people killed by Spanish conquistadors. Aztec marigold is also known as African marigold.
          Samhain, Day of the Dead, All Soul’s Day also marks a time for introspection in preparation for the new cycle that begins at Yule, a symbolic death before renewal.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Season of Samhain Reflections

So I saw a meme recently with a close-up of the infamous Wicked Witch of the West from the original “Wizard of Oz” classic film. It read, “You call it September, I call it October Eve.” Of course I shared it immediately—what Halloween fiend wouldn’t? I have found that I spend the better part of September in anticipation and excitement of what’s to come right on the next page of the calendar corner. I mentally prepare, I scout out fun local events happening and mark the ones that I’d like to attend as “interested.” In many cases, I pencil in all the things I want to do, books I want to read, movies I want to watch (and in many cases rewatch as an annual ritual) all over my Llewellyn Witches’ Datebook. I’m truly a kid at heart when it comes to this time of year—as I’m sure many of you are—and I hope to be until my dying day. In fact, when I was earning my journalism degree and one of our early semester assignments was to write our own obituary, I imagined that I would be found watching scary movies on the 31st.

October Eve Ritual

Next September 2023, why not start your own, “October Eve” ritual? Haul out all of your favorite decorations (I always like to add a few new ones each year, too) and take your time putting them up and hanging them just so. Play some spooky music as your soundtrack as you do so. Sip some nice fall wine and enjoy the experience as a sensual/sensuous one. You may want to do this the night before October 1st, two nights before October 1st, or heck, as early as you want in September, whatever floats your ghost ship! You might want to mix it up and put different decorations in different rooms or create different arrangements each year. I tend to be a traditionalist like my dear grandmother was and put the same pieces in the same spots annually. I even have themed rooms for the types of decorations: Kitchen witches, black cat back bedroom, vampire bat bathroom, you get the idea. If you’re lucky enough to have a home with a nice front yard and love to go all out with your transformation theme, by all means, go for it. Nothing makes the majority of your Halloween fan neighbors more delighted than driving or walking by a wickedly clever front yard and house display all season long.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



Let's face it: modern Yule has undergone a thorough Christmasization.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, just a fact. Still, when we scrape away the encrusted barnacles from the ship of Yule—when we look, for instance, at the extended Winter Solstice celebrations of the Kalasha of what is now northwestern Pakistan, the last Indo-European-speaking people to have practiced their traditional religion continuously since ancient times—what emerges is revealed as something both strange and familiar beyond telling.

The same may be said for Samhain, now thoroughly reshaped by its proximity to Halloween, and by the Christian festivals of All Saints' and All Souls' Days.

When, however, we look at Samhain as it used to be—Samhain as recorded in the old lore—a new-old landscape emerges before us, a land both familiar and strange.

That is what makes the following little poem so remarkable. On the face of it—until you get to the last stanza, anyway—there's little that seems to be about Samhain at all. (Oh, but look deeper, my friend!)

Even more remarkable is the fact that this enumeration of the essentials of Samhain-ness is not, in fact, ancient, but a modern poem: an excerpt from a longer poem, “Fionn's Migrations,” in Martin Shaw and Tony Hoagland's 2020 Cinderbiter: Celtic Poems.

Listen, now.


Samhain Is the Name of the Season

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 History of Jack-O'-Lanterns | Merriam-Webster

 Nine Schools of Thought


When is Samhain?

As one would expect, authorities disagree.


Stuffy (also: Traditionalist) School

Samhain begins at sundown on October 31, the First of the Three Nights of Samhain.

Hey: if the Gregorian calendar was good enough for the ancestors, it's good enough for me.


Old School

Old Samhain comes on 11-12 November.

Hey, if the Julian calendar was good enough for the ancestors, it's good enough for me.

I suppose you're one of those neo-pagans?


Old Craft

Do you maybe mean All Hallows? Or, better, All Saints?

Protective coloration, dude. It's all about protective coloration.


Slapdash School

It's Samhain whenever the coven has time to get together.

Usually this means the Saturday closest to Halloween, but if it's December 3 instead, tough.

What the f*ck is the “Three Nights of Samhain”?


Purist (also: Astronomical) School

Samhain falls at the precise midpoint between astronomical Autumn Equinox and astronomical Winter Solstice.

Hey: if astronomical precision was good enough for the ancestors, it's good enough for me.

“Three Nights of Samhain”? Did you perhaps by any chance mean the Trinox Samoni?


American Trendy School

Samhain = Halloween (or, as true Trendies would insist, Hallowe'en). Samhain begins at midnight on October 30, and ends at midnight on October 31.

That means that the Eve of Samhain is actually October 30.

Well, that's what they say.


American Commercial School

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