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Information for Celebrating Samhain

Celebrating Samhain

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Article by Selena Fox

https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/celebrating-the-seasons/celebrating-samhain

As October turns to November, thousands of Witches, Wiccans, Druids, and other Pagans across America, Canada, Europe, and elsewhere observe the sacred time of Samhain. Samhain is a festival of the Dead. Meaning “Summer’s End” and pronounced saah-win or saa-ween, Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest and the start of the coldest half of the year. For many practitioners, myself included, Samhain also is the beginning of the spiritual new year.

Originating in ancient Europe as a Celtic Fire festival, Samhain is now celebrated worldwide. The timing of contemporary Samhain celebrations varies according to spiritual tradition and geography. Many of us celebrate Samhain over the course of several days and nights, and these extended observances usually include a series of solo rites as well as ceremonies, feasts, and gatherings with family, friends, and spiritual community. In the northern hemisphere, many Pagans celebrate Samhain from sundown on October 31 through November 1. Others hold Samhain celebrations on the nearest weekend or on the Full or New Moon closest to this time. Some Pagans observe Samhain a bit later, or near November 6, to coincide more closely with the astronomical midpoint between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice. Most Pagans in the southern hemisphere time their Samhain observances to coincide with the middle of their Autumn in late April and early May, rather than at the traditional European time of the holiday.

Samhain also has been known by other names. Some Celtic Wiccans and Druids call it Calan Gaeaf, Calan Gwaf, Kala-Goanv, or Nos Galan Gaeof. In Welsh, it is Nos Cyn Calan Gaual. It also is known as Oie Houney. A medieval book of tales, the Yellow Book of Lecan, reports that common folk called it the “Feast of Mongfind,” the legendary Witch-Queen who married a King of Tara in old Ireland. In the ancient Coligny Calendar, an engraved bronze dating from the first century C.E.and dug up in 1897 in France, Samhain is called Trinouxtion Samonii, or “Three Nights of the End of Summer.” Variant spellings of Samhain include Samain, Samuin, and Samhuinn.

With the growth and spread of Christianity as the dominant religion throughout Europe, Samhain time took on Christian names and guises. All Saints’ Day or All Hallows on November 1 commemorated Christian saints and martyrs. All Souls’ Day on November 2 was a remembrance for all souls of the dead. With the coming of Christian Spaniards to Mexico, the indigenous customs of honoring the dead at this time of year mixed with Roman Catholicism and gave birth to the Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos, in early November. Samhain shares the ancient spiritual practice of remembering and paying respects to the Dead with these related religious holidays of Christianity.

Halloween, short for All Hallow’s Eve, is celebrated on and around October 31. Although occurring at the same time of year and having roots in end-of-harvest celebrations of the ancient past, Halloween and Samhain are not the same, but two separate holidays that differ considerably in focus and practice. In contemporary America and elsewhere, Halloween is a secular folk holiday. Like its cousin, Thanksgiving, it is widely and publicly celebrated in homes, schools, and communities, large and small, by people of many paths, ethnic heritages, and worldviews. Furthermore, Halloween has evolved to be both a family-oriented children’s holiday as well as an occasion for those of all ages to creatively express themselves and engage in play in the realm of make-believe and fantasy through costumes, trick-or-treating, storytelling, play-acting, pranks, cathartic scary place visits, and parties.

In contrast, Samhain and its related Christian holiday counterparts continue to be religious in focus and spiritually observed by adherents. Although observances may include merry-making, the honoring of the Dead that is central to Samhain is a serious religious practice rather than a light-hearted make-believe re-enactment. Today’s Pagan Samhain rites, while somber, are benevolent, and, although centered on death, do not involve human or animal sacrifices. Most Samhain rituals are held in private rather than in public.

Samhain’s long association with death and the Dead reflects Nature’s rhythms. In many places, Samhain coincides with the end of the growing season. Vegetation dies back with killing frosts, and therefore, literally, death is in the air. This contributes to the ancient notion that at Samhain, the veil is thin between the world of the living and the realm of the Dead and this facilitates contact and communication. For those who have lost loved ones in the past year, Samhain rituals can be an opportunity to bring closure to grieving and to further adjust to their being in the Otherworld by spiritually communing with them.

There are many ways to celebrate Samhain. More info here and below:

  • Samhain Nature Walk. Take a meditative walk in a natural area near your home. Observe and contemplate the colors, aromas, sounds, and other sensations of the season. Experience yourself as part of the Circle of Life and reflect on death and rebirth as being an important part of Nature. If the location you visit permits, gather some natural objects and upon your return use them to adorn your home.
  • Seasonal Imagery. Decorate your home with Samhain seasonal symbols and the colors of orange and black. Place an Autumnal wreath on your front door. Create displays with pumpkins, cornstalks, gourds, acorns, and apples. Set candles in cauldrons.
  • Ancestors Altar. Gather photographs, heirlooms, and other mementos of deceased family, friends, and companion creatures. Arrange them on a table, dresser, or other surface, along with several votive candles. Kindle the candles in their memory as you call out their names and express well wishes. Thank them for being part of your life. Sit quietly and pay attention to what you experience. Note any messages you receive in your journal. This Ancestors Altar can be created just for Samhain or kept year round.
  • Feast of the Dead. Prepare a Samhain dinner. Include a place setting at your table or at a nearby altar for the Dead. Add an offering of a bit of each beverage being consumed to the cup at that place setting, and to the plate, add a bit of each food served. Invite your ancestors and other deceased loved ones to come and dine with you. To have this as a Samhain Dumb Supper experience, dine in silence. After the feast, place the contents of the plate and cup for the Dead outdoors in a natural location as an offering for the Dead.
  • Ancestor Stories. Learn about family history. Contact one or more older relatives and ask them to share memories of family members now dead. Record them in some way and later write accounts of what they share. Give thanks. Share what you learned and have written with another family member or friend. Add names of those you learned about and wish to honor to your Ancestors Altar.
  • Cemetery Visit. Visit and tend the gravesite of a loved one at a cemetery. Call to mind memories and consider ways the loved one continues to live on within you. Place an offering there such as fresh flowers, dried herbs, or a libation of water.
  • Reflections. Reflect on you and your life over the past year. Review journals, planners, photographs, blogs, and other notations you have created during the past year. Consider how you have grown, accomplishments, challenges, adventures, travels, and learnings. Meditate. Journal about your year in review, your meditation, and your reflections.
  • Renovate. Select an area of your home or life as a focus. Examine it. Re-organize it. Release what is no longer needed. Create a better pattern. Celebrate renewal and transformation.
  • Bonfire Magic. Kindle a bonfire outdoors when possible or kindle flames in a fireplace or a small cauldron. Write down an outmoded habit that you wish to end and cast it into the Samhain flames as you imagine release. Imagine yourself adopting a new, healthier way of being as you move around the fire clockwise.
  • Divinatory Guidance. Using Tarot, Runes, Scrying, or some other method of divination, seek and reflect on guidance for the year to come. Write a summary of your process and messages. Select something appropriate to act upon and do it.
  • Divine Invocations. Honor and call upon the Divine in one or more Sacred Forms associated with Samhain, such as the Crone Goddess and Horned God of Nature. Invite Them to aid you in your remembrance of the Dead and in your understanding of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. If you have lost loved ones in the past year, ask these Divine Ones to comfort and support you.
  • Transforming Expressions. If you encounter distortions, misinformation, and/or false, negative stereotypes about Paganism and Samhain in the media, contact the source, express your concerns, and share accurate information. Help eradicate derogatory stereotyping with courteous, concise, and intelligent communications.
  • Community Connections. Connect with others. Join in a group ritual in your area. Organize a Samhain potluck in your home. Research old and contemporary Samhain customs in books, periodicals, on-line, and through communications with others. Exchange ideas, information, and celebration experiences. Regardless of whether you practice solo or with others, as part of your festivities, reflect for a time on being part of the vast network of those celebrating Samhain around the world.

Selena Fox is senior minister of Circle Sanctuary, an international Wiccan church and Pagan resource center headquartered in the rolling hills of southwestern Wisconsin, USA. Selena also is a psychotherapist, a minister active in interfaith endeavors, and a guest speaker at conferences, festivals, colleges and universities and other venues. Her writings have appeared in a variety of publications in-print and on-line. More info about her and her endeavors: www.selenafox.com.

Posted in Chaya's Journey, Grieving Naturally, Insights

Automatic Writing

I found this article that I have cited to be a very useful how to bit of info. I have used the process of autowriting for several years. I have not been able to receive messages audibly from spirit. I found that putting a pen to paper seemed to connect regularly for me. The messages are clear. I always ask for the highest and best purpose.

In the beginning I could not read what I wrote. So I asked spirit for me to keep my eyes open so I can reread the messages later on. Well I started to question message. Didn’t seem real. Then I just put the pen down and i started to scribble. I realized it doesn’t matter whether or not i can read it later. I got the message when i did. I rewrite later. Everyone is different. When I first started this work, I thought I wasn’t reaching spirit correctly. I wasn’t doing it psychically. But I was getting messages. Very important messages. This has helped me even more since my boys have past. I have been able to communicate with them.

This is very healing for me. It goes along with a lot of my journaling. I’ve looked back at many of my messages and it has made me smile what I’ve accomplished since writing. Try it and have fun. It is important to connect with your inner self. Take time for you. We all have the power to speak with our loved ones. They are all around us and would love to communicate with us. I went to a few mediums and one simply said do autowriting he has something personal he wants to tell just you. I started to trust the process at that time, more than ever.

Levesque, Angela. “Your Guide to Automatic Writing.” OMTimes Magazine, 23 Mar. 2014, omtimes.com/2014/03/sacred-scribe-guide-automatic-writing/.

Posted in Charts, Energy Healing, Insights, Uncategorized

So this is why I’m hurting!

The above chart is one of my favorite cross reference Chakra charts. Yes you can Google it like I did. As you look at this chart you can see what areas that you personally need to address. Sometimes it is easy as looking where and what part of your back hurts hurts!

Many charts only have 7 Chakras, however there are many more. The one above has 15 Chakras. There is a Higher Chakra which is your over soul along with the Lower Chakras which are centers of the Primal Instincts and Emotions. These are also what goes along with the root chakra, but more detailed.

This chart has the 7 Chakras, however adds the elements Earth, Water, Fire, Air, etc. This chart has Gemstones. if you look at the next few columns you see Deficient and Excessive, along with what color is associated with each for self treatment. The final column shows what you could feel like when you are balanced.

This Chart is another great cross reference charts that include planet metal,sound, angel, fragrance, incense, gemstones.

I have been saving charts over the years as I learn different tools for healing. Many I just searched and saved. But I put them together to make sense for me. As you start to gather your knowledge and information. You will start building your own toolbox of knowledge and wisdom. You will start seeing a puzzle start to form together. Not all of us are the same. Not all of us learn the same. Do what works for you. These are a few charts to start with.

Posted in Chaya's Journey, Insights, Overcoming Emotions

Stormy Weather!

Stormy weather is not the trees blown in the wind, nor are the surprises coming from the weather people. They are the people who you least expect it to come from at full force with no warning. I can not control these people, nor do I wish too. But just because they say that I should, I could or do anything, doesn’t mean that I have too, nor does it mean that I’m a bad person or not a good friend. It means I do not do things in the same way or the same manor as they do. I can not control these types. What hurts is you had faith that these people are your friends. These storms come from out of left field like a tornado. I’m disappointed that is true. I can’t control the weather, but I can control me.

I’ve ducked for cover and wait out the storm during these times. I’ve had these blast of weather surprises come at me more than I care to mention. I have had to exercise the art of patience over the years. I’m a good friend and a listener. But that art of patience is not my strongest virtue when I’ve been dealt blast of stormy wind. I do not wish to be whipped around with the waves of emotion. I can either stay in its path or protect myself. I do not intend to be caught up in this one. I will wait out the storm. My strength has not withered, it is just knowing that this was not my storm to whether.

Posted in Chaya's Journey, Insights, Overcoming Emotions

I’m Possible

We all have rough days. So more difficult than others. But we have to choose whether we want to mire in the muck or move forward. It’s a rainy type of day. My bones hurt and I can really surrender to going to sleep and stay in there until the morning.

For me when I feel things are impossible, I come into the office and start typing. I can write myself out of impossible and realize that I am possible. Sometimes this is a daily task. It works for me. Then I’ll take it a next step and talk to someone on here or on phone that I know that I can help. It gets me out of being in a pity party. Leaves me with a good feeling. What do you do to get you out of an impossible mood?

Posted in Chaya's Journey, Grieving Naturally, Insights, motivation, Overcoming Emotions

What is impossible?

To me this saying is to get past the fear, is put one step in front of the other. That sounds so simple. When you are in the middle of your deepest fear, depression or anxiety…you just want to smack someone when they say something so cliche!

When I read this quote. The first thing I thought of is to start with a cup of coffee!. That is necessary. It gets your mind thinking. I worked years amonst engineers and they always had a cup of coffee in their hand as they walked around with their minds in a creative place. I had many days that I looked at the white screen that needed words on it desparately. My mind was whirling and couldn’t figure what to write. I went to famous quotes, then images created my own meme in Microsoft Publisher. Wala, I have an image. No… it wasn’t my quote, No it wasn’t my image. It wasn’t even the original image the quote was on! But what it did is it made it possible for my mind to start writing and journaling.

The next step will be the impossible. That will be my own images that I create, and the quote maybe my own.

I see that this quote is a useful one especially when I don’t want to exercise. Just getting up is necessary. Walk a few steps, Then what I thought was impossible was walking down the street daily. Not quite there yet. When I go through difficult challenges, something so simple as starting with a cup of coffee or getting up off my butt…just might be the very thing that sparks the impossible! This could be used for organizing too. I have a few piles of stuff to be addressed! Looking at it this way. The Impossible is action. It becomes possible and then necessary! Try it!

Posted in Chaya's Journey, Energy Healing, Grieving Naturally, Insights, Self Determination

It’s Time

I spent many years staying in the house. I did not exactly not have a good excuse and I used them all. Mainly no access to a vehicle, because of my partner’s work. I had a horrible accident back in 2011 with a 18 wheeler. It has left me with a challenge to walk. Something happened…maybe a divine intervention. I don’t know. But it wasn’t good on his part but definately for me. He landed in the hospital. He’s doing a little better. But he can’t work. So guess who has to drive.

It was easy to stay in the house and have a pity party. But I went online and found things to do that I like. I went to a meditation group and joined a book club. I love it. I’m not done yet! I’m going to be able to start doing Reiki in at the meditation group. I know my son wanted to me to get out more and be independent. I really started to do that after he passed in January. But then got quite comfortable sitting in my spot in front of the TV. I need to stick with this. My soul has been crying out to meet new like minded people. To come alive again. I loved getting out.

I’ve very glad that D (my partner) is doing well by the day. But he can’t really go out and work yet. When or if he does. I made an agreement to use the car in the day and he can work at night. He likes waking up late and I’m a mornings. It is amazing how you are thrown road blocks and then when you take a minute you get to see how they were not at all meant to block you but to free you!