Blessed be, the rambling of a witch

Samhain. The veil opens to reveal what is on the other side. The Goddess descends to the Summerlands. The witche's New Year. the peak of our magical power. The time when we ask our totem creatures what is expected of us during the next cycle. The time when our skin peals off to reveal just much we have matured, grown... Blessed be, Samhain.

It's always nice to welcome those who have parted onto the Summerlands. But it is also important to remember that, while they are THERE, we are HERE. Let you not forget that while Samhain is a festival of the dead, it is the living that carry on this tradition. We have to rejoice and dance around the bonfire to release our energy in order for the veil to open. We need to laugh and remember our departed ones with joy and glee as they will find the path to us easier this way. True, sometimes we do miss them and wish they are still here with us, but aren't they? They are always with you, if you live.

Live and rejoice. That is my lesson this year. A lot of bad things happen around you, but you don't have to crawl-up into your shell to protect you from them. Make each day count, believe in who you are and allow the magic of this universe to flow with you, within you.

Blessed be, everyone. Have a great Samhain.


Samhain Kitchen Recipes 2011

Boxty, a traditional Irish dish, that when eaten on the night of Samhain has a wedding ring placed into the potatoes just before serving them. Whoever gets the ring will have their destiny decided for them, meaning marriage was not far away. Make sure everyone knows that there is a charm in this dish.

* 1 cup of mashed potatoes
* 1 cup of grated raw potatoes
* 2 cups of self-rising flour
* 1 to 1 ½ cups of milk or buttermilk
* ¼ teaspoon of salt
* ¼ to ½ cup of butter
* Sour cream, optional

Mix the mashed potatoes with the grated raw potatoes in a large bowl. Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients and 1 cup of liquid. As the batter is mixed, add small amounts of additional milk or buttermilk until the batter is loose enough to work with. Melt two tablespoons of butter over gentle heat. When the butter is melted and the pan heated, ladle small pancakes into the pan. Brown on both sides and serve hot with more butter or sour cream.

Brittany Funeral Fish Soup

A region of North Western France, Brittany is known for its simple, but wholesome foods. Easy to make this soup was served out to the guests as a meal of grounding for the living. Some would place a small amount out into a serving dish for the dead.

1 kg white fish, boned and cleaned.
2 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
Water to cover

Cut fish into bite sized pieces. Melt the butter and fry the onions and garlic until soft. Place all ingredients into a large stockpot, add water to cover and simmer, covered with a lid for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Serve with crusty, French bread.

19 th Century Colcannon

For the Ancient Celts, Samhain was held for seven days each Autumn to remember the death of the Sun God and to prepare for his travel into the Otherworld. In Celtic homes, the funeral was designed after some of these Samhain rites. A wake would be held in the deceased´s home for seven days and nights. The body would be washed, wrapped in a special cloth or death shirt and set in the casket or on a platform in the center of the house. Villagers would come by and offer along with their chants, wails and prayers, offerings of food and drink. After about three days of this, the family and mourners, if all satisfied as to how everything went, moved onto the festive stage of party, feasting, games and much merriment. Gold, coins, bowls of food and glasses of ale would be placed alongside the casket and on the chest of the deceased. This usually lasted four days, then the deceased would be taken for burial. One of the dishes prepared and certainly one of my favourites is Colcannon, great for the deceased and the living! This is a simple version whereas Charms can be added , a thimble for spinsterhood, a ring for marriage, a button for bachelorhood and a coin for wealth. Make sure your guests know there are charms in the Colcannon.

½ c butter
1 large onion or leek peeled and finely chopped
2 c cooked and mashed potatoes
2 c chopped and cooked cabbage
½ c cream or milk

On a large griddle, fry the onion or leek in some of the butter. When cooked, add the potatoes, cabbage, milk, remaining butter and seasonings that have been mixed together in a large bowl. Stir well and when the mix begins to go green, turn out onto a dish. Serve hot with butter and plenty of black pepper.

Pansperima is a traditional Greek dish that consists of boiled wheat. This dish dates back to ancient Pagan times and is symbolically connected with death. Kolyva is an improved version of Pansperima and is eaten on some Saturdays throughout the year to give honour and remembrance to the dead. These days are known as " Soul Sabbaths." Kolyva consists of two pounds of wheat boiled with a good handful of dried fruit and garnished with the seeds from the pomegranate. The wheat represents everlasting life, the fruit is for joy and happiness and the pomegranate seeds are a symbol of plenty, fertility and life.

Blood & Bone Cookies
The cranberries represent the blood and the white chocolate bones. Ideal treats for the Witchlings of Halloween.

125g butter
1/2 c sugar
1 c flour
1/2 c cornflour
1/4 c chopped white chocolate
1/4 c dried cranberries

Cream butter, sugar and syrup until fluffy. Sift in flours, mix together. Stir in chocolate & cranberries. Gently knead together then place in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Take out of fridge and knead together, don't worry if it is crumbly, it will come together. Roll dough out to a 1/4 inch thickness on a lightly floured board. Cut into shapes such as moons, bats, witches hats,tombstones, cats and so on. Place on baking tray and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
Bake cookies at 180C for approximately 12-15 minutes or until golden, depending on cookie size. Leave to cool, these cookies can also be iced if you choose.

Samhain Cider
Double, double, toil and trouble,
Cauldron boil and cauldron bubble...

1 litre apple and orange juice
1 clove studded orange
1 clove studded apple or pear
1 inch cinnamon stick, broken
3 allspice berries
3 juniper berries
3 black peppercorns
1 litre lemonade or soda water
750 ml apple cider

Gently heat the first seven ingredients together for 13 minutes. Pour into a punch bowl, add lemonade and cider, stir in gently. Serve warm or cold.

Lollipop Ghosts
Simple to make and great treats to throw into the kids lunch boxes.
Chuppa chup lollipops
White serviettes
Marker pen

Place a serviette over a lollipop and secure around the neck with cotton to resemble a ghost. Draw on two black eyes with the marker pen. These make great Halloween treats for all ages.

Quiche of Pumpkin
This is a good stand-by quiche that can be served hot or cold.

1 ½ c wholemeal or Spelt flour, (fertility)
100g butter, (spirituality)
Salt, (protection)
¼ tsp paprika, (warmth)
Iced water, (cleansing)

Rub butter into flour, salt and paprika. Add water to make a stiff dough, knead lightly then chill for 30 minutes. Roll out to fit a 10" flan dish, pour in filling and bake at 180°C for approx 45 minutes or until filling has set.

1 Tbsp olive oil, (peace)
5 rashers bacon, finely chopped, (ancestral energies)
1 onion, finely chopped, (protection)
1 large cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin, (abundance)
1 c grated tasty cheese, (visualization)
4 eggs, beaten, (fertility)
½ c sour cream, (love)
¼ tsp nutmeg, (visions)
¼ tsp allspice, healing
pinch chilli powder, (protection)
extra grated cheeses, (visualization)

Cook bacon and onion in oil until soft. Place all ingredients into a large bowl including bacon and onion, season and mix well. Top with extra grated cheese.

The Halloween Tree
Easy treats for young and old.
Black and orange gumdrops or soft jubes
1 orange, cut in half

Place orange flat side down onto a serving dish. Skewer the lollies onto toothpicks on one end, stick the other end securely into the orange. Repeat with remaining lollies until the orange is full of "trees."

Halloween Crowdie
A large bowl of whipped cream sweetened with spiced apples and sugar has 3 charms placed into it. A coin, ring and a marble. Feasters dip their spoons into the dish and find a charm if they are lucky enough. The coin for wealth, ring for marriage and a marble for a single life. Spooning up nothing means a life path uncertain. (Make sure your guests know there are charms in the Crowdie if you are going to make it for them!)



Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year, for the Celts divided the year into two seasons: the light and the dark, at Beltane on May 1st and Samhain on November 1st. Some believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a whole new cycle, just as the Celtic day began at night. For it was understood that in dark silence comes whisperings of new beginnings, the stirring of the seed below the ground. Whereas Beltane welcomes in the summer with joyous celebrations at dawn, the most magically potent time of this festival is November Eve, the night of October 31st, known today of course, as Halloween.

Samhain (Scots Gaelic: Samhuinn) literally means “summer's end.” In Scotland and Ireland, Halloween is known as O�che Shamhna, while in Wales it is Nos Calan Gaeaf, the eve of the winter's calend, or first. With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints' Day, to commemorate the souls of the blessed dead who had been canonized that year, so the night before became popularly known as Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Hollantide. November 2nd became All Souls Day, when prayers were to be offered to the souls of all who the departed and those who were waiting in Purgatory for entry into Heaven. Throughout the centuries, pagan and Christian beliefs intertwine in a gallimaufry of celebrations from Oct 31st through November 5th, all of which appear both to challenge the ascendancy of the dark and to revel in its mystery.

In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer hillside pastures to the shelter of stable and byre. The hay that would feed them during the winter must be stored in sturdy thatched ricks, tied down securely against storms. Those destined for the table were slaughtered, after being ritually devoted to the gods in pagan times. All the harvest must be gathered in -- barley, oats, wheat, turnips, and apples -- for come November, the faeries would blast every growing plant with their breath, blighting any nuts and berries remaining on the hedgerows. Peat and wood for winter fires were stacked high by the hearth. It was a joyous time of family reunion, when all members of the household worked together baking, salting meat, and making preserves for the winter feasts to come. The endless horizons of summer gave way to a warm, dim and often smoky room; the symphony of summer sounds was replaced by a counterpoint of voices, young and old, human and animal.

In early Ireland, people gathered at the ritual centers of the tribes, for Samhain was the principal calendar feast of the year.   The greatest assembly was the 'Feast of Tara,' focusing on the royal seat of the High King as the heart of the sacred land, the point of conception for the new year. In every household throughout the country, hearth-fires were extinguished. All waited for the Druids to light the new fire of the year -- not at Tara, but at Tlachtga, a hill twelve miles to the north-west. It marked the burial-place of Tlachtga, daughter of the great druid Mogh Ruith, who may once have been a goddess in her own right in a former age.

At at all the turning points of the Celtic year, the gods drew near to Earth at Samhain, so many sacrifices and gifts were offered up in thanksgiving for the harvest. Personal prayers in the form of objects symbolizing the wishes of supplicants or ailments to be healed were cast into the fire,  and at the end of the ceremonies, brands were lit from the great fire of Tara to re-kindle all the home fires of the tribe, as at Beltane. As they received the flame that marked this time of beginnings, people surely felt a sense of the kindling of new dreams, projects and hopes for the year to come.

The Samhain fires continued to blaze down the centuries.  In the 1860s the Halloween bonfires were still so popular in Scotland that one traveler reported seeing thirty fires lighting up the hillsides all on one night, each surrounded by rings of dancing figures, a practice which continued up to the first World War. Young people and servants lit brands from the fire and ran around the fields and hedges of house and farm, while community leaders surrounded parish boundaries with a magic circle of light. Afterwards, ashes from the fires were sprinkled over the fields to protect them during the winter months -- and of course, they also improved the soil. The bonfire provided an island of light within the oncoming tide of winter darkness, keeping away cold, discomfort, and evil spirits long before electricity illumined our nights. When the last flame sank down, it was time to run as fast as you could for home, raising the cry, “The black sow without a tail take the hindmost!”

Even today, bonfires light up the skies in many parts of the British Isles and Ireland at this season, although in many areas of Britain their significance has been co-opted by Guy Fawkes Day, which falls on November 5th, and commemorates an unsuccessful attempt to blow up the English Houses of Parliament in the 17th century. In one Devonshire village, the extraordinary sight of both men and women running through the streets with blazing tar barrels on their backs can still be seen! Whatever the reason, there will probably always be a human need to make fires against the winter’s dark.


'Twas the Night Before Samhain

Twas the evening of Samhain,
and all through the place
Were Pagans preparing the ritual space.
The candles were set in the corners with care,
In hopes that the Watchtowers soon would be there.
We all had our robes on,
as is habitual and had just settled down
and were starting our ritual.
When out on the porch there arose such a chorus,
that we went to the door,
and waiting there for us were children in costumes of various kinds,
with visions of chocolate bright in their minds.
In all of our workings,
we'd almost forgot,
but we had purchased candy,
we'd purchased a LOT!
And so, as they flocked from all over the street,
they all got some chocolate or something else sweet.
We didn't think twice of delaying our rite,
kids just don't have this much fun every night.
For hours they came,
with the time-honored schtick,
of giving a choice: a treat or a trick.
As is proper, the parents were there for the games,
watching the children and calling their names.
"On Vader, On Lia
On Dexter, On DeeDee
On Xena, On Buffy
On Casper, On Tweety!
To the block of apartments on the neighboring road,
You'll get so much candy,
you'll have to be towed!
The volume of children eventually dropped,
and as it grew darker, it finally stopped.
But as we prepared to return to our rite,
One child more stepped out of the night.
She couldn't have been more than twelve or thirteen.
Her hair was deep red,
and her robe, forest green,
with a simple gold cord tying off at the waist.
No make-up, nor mask, or accompanying kitsch,
so we asked who she was; she replied, "A Witch!"
And no, I don't fly through the sky on my broom,
I only use that thing for cleaning my room.
My magical owers aren't really that neat,
and I won't threaten tricks;
just I'll just ask for a treat."
We found it refreshing, so we gave incense cones,
a candle, a crystal, a few other stones,
and the rest of the candy which might fill a van.
She turned to her father, a man dressed as Pan and laughed,
"Yes, I know, Dad, it's past time for bed,"
and started to leave,
but she first turned and said,
"I'm sorry for further delaying your rite,
Blessed Samhain to all,
and a Magical Night"

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