Moon Phase


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Samhai (Pronounced Sow-en)

October 31-November 1

Known as the Witches' New Year, Samhain is the night in which the veil between the Worlds is thinnest, or even lifted and normal laws are suspended. As the barrier between worlds fade, it is the perfect time to remember and praise your ancestors and departed loved ones, either through communication, ritual, or a simple prayer. It is a time to honor all those who have gone before us, a time for startling revelations and reflection within our own lives.

This magical Sabbat is also referred to as the Last or Final Harvest. An offering of food is often made to the spirits, during this time of plenty and abundance. Crops were often cleared, except for what was left as an offering to the Nature Spirits and livestock slaughtered stored for the coming winter. This is also the reason Samhain is referred to as the "Feast of the Dead".

Most people wear black on this Sabbat, in tribute to the Dark Mother and Father and the other Dark Mysteries. Some would also wear costumes or clothing of the opposite sex as a means of tricking the spirits as well. Many of Halloween's traditions stem from Samhain, even jack-o-lanterns. Turnips were hallowed and carved to scare the spirits away, while the candlelight was used to trick other spirits. The phrase "Trick or Treat" may come to mind.

Symbols of Samhain include black and orange candles, black stones such as obsidian and foods like apples, pomegranate, and of course, pumpkins. Surrounding yourself with these items for the Sabbat and filling the air with your own incense creation, with such aromas as sandalwood, rose, Vervain or nutmeg can be a magical step towards celebration.

Symbolism of Samhain:
Third Harvest, the Dark Mysteries, Rebirth through Death.

Symbols of Samhain:
Gourds, Apples, Black Cats, Jack-O-Lanterns, Besoms

Herbs of Samhain:
Mugwort, Allspice, Broom, Catnip, Deadly Nightshade, Mandrake, Oak leaves, Sage

Foods of Samhain:
Turnips, Apples, Gourds, Nuts, Mulled Wines, Beef, Pork, Poultry

Incense of Samhain:
Heliotrope, Mint, Nutmeg

Colors of Samhain:
Black, Orange, White, Silver, Gold

Stones of Samhain:
All Black Stones, preferably jet or obsidian

History of Halloween

Halloween...history has it that the modern holiday featuring ghouls and goblins going from door to door with an extortion scheme featuring "tricks or treats" is actually a merger of customs arising from both pagan and Christian traditions. According to most compilers of Halloween history, the holiday actually originated in the ancient Celtic ritual of Samhain that marked the completion of the final harvest.

The festival of Samhain dates back to the 5th century B.C. In Ireland, October 31 was the date that marked the official "end of summer" and the beginning of the new year based on the natural cycles of the earth. The folk belief was that this was the time of year when the "veil between the worlds" (the earth and the otherworld) was the thinnest and most easily penetrated. On Halloween, history has it that the laws of space and time were temporarily suspended, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living.

During Samhain, the pagan Druids created an enormous bonfire on a hill in central Ireland and all the Celtic tribes extinguished the fires in their own homes and travelled to it the flames to relight their fires from a common source, signifying their unity and to bring good fortune to their households. Not surprisingly, it was an occasion for a major festival, with spiritual ritual as well as celebration.

Understandably, given the "thinness of the veil" between the worlds of the living and the dead, it was a time that facilitated divination (seeing into the future, dreaming, prophecy, and the occurrence of visions) and stimulated phobias about the possibility of becoming possessed by one of the spirits of the dead who were wandering the earth searching for a body to occupy.

The word Halloween, history tells, actually came from the Roman Catholic Church as a contraction of the "All Hallows Eve". Occurring simultaneously with Samhain, the eve of "All Hallows Day, also known as "All Souls (or Saints) Day", was celebrated in remembrance of the Saints and other beloved departed on the first of November.

During the Roman occupation of the Celtic regions in the first century A.D., many of the ancient Samhain customs were adopted into the religious holiday (some scholars say "co-opted" to persuade the locals to accept the foreign religion).

One example of the merger of pagan and Christian practices was the practice of "trick or treating". In the Christian tradition, beggars were allowed to come to the doors and ask for "All-Souls Cakes" (currant-filled biscuits or scones). In return they promised to pay by saying prayers for the recently deceased of the household. If the household was stingy, vandalism was to be expected.
In the pagan tradition, gifts of food and drink were left on the doorstep to "feed" the wandering spirits and prevent their coming into the house looking for food.

Given this Halloween history and lore, the presence of ghosts, skeletons, and demons on our porches should hardly surprize us!

Why do we have witches on brooms, bats, and black cats as symbols of Halloween? History has it that, because of the church's disapproval of the pagan ways, including rituals involving live sacrifices, they exploited the common folks' fear of them.

After all, making contact between the living and the dead was thought to be the work of witches, cats were their familiars, and bats were creatures of the night. So it was logical they were incorporated into Halloween to stereotype or "make light of" these aspects of the ancient pagan religions.

Since the Greek goddess Hecate is the goddess of witchcraft, Halloween (actually Samhain) became an important festival day in the wiccan tradition as well.

And what do Jack-O-Lanterns have to do with Halloween? History tells us that the Irish farmers carved little lanterns out of turnips to carry their new flames lit from the Samhain bonfire back to their homes. Since it was thought that flames would flicker when spirits were present, this association of the spirits with the turnips may have led to the tradition of carving scary faces on them.

Brought to North America during the 1840's by Irish immigrating because of the potato famine in Ireland, the custom changed to carving pumpkins since they were more plentiful here, and easier to carve!

Orange and black, the traditional colors of Halloween, represent the orange of pumpkins and the black of darkness.

Halloween history and folklore reveal a fascinating blend of traditions.

The message of Halloween, history tells us, is that it is a time to reflect, to give thanks for the harvest and to honor "those who have gone on before us". . . a time to recognize the eternal cycle of life.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Buckeye Candy

In the midwest, the Buckeye tree, or aesculus glabra, flourishes. It's part of the horse chestnut family, and although the nuts are toxic to anyone who's not a squirrel, it's a very prolific and abundant species. The small brown nuts, which begin dropping in late August, have been used for many years in some traditions of folk magic. The Buckeye is associated with prosperity and abundance. Why not whip up a batch of Buckeye candies for your Mabon guests, and share your wishes for a bountiful harvest with your friends? This recipe has been popular in Ohio - the Buckeye state - since the 1920s.


•1 16-oz jar of creamy peanut butter

•1 pound bag of confectioners sugar

•1 C stick butter, softened

•1 tsp vanilla

•1 12-oz bag of chocolate chips for dipping


Combine peanut butter, butter, and vanilla together and cream until smooth. Add the confectioners sugar a little bit at a time until you've gotten it all mixed in. It should produce a really heavy, thick dough. Roll this into small balls (one inch diameter or less) and place them on wax paper. Chill in refrigerator until firm.

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler over low heat. Use a toothpick or bamboo skewer to dip each peanut butter ball into the chocolate -- be sure to leave a bit of the peanut butter showing at the top, so you get the brown-and-black look of a real Buckeye! Return the balls to the wax paper and allow to cool. Keep in an airtight container until ready to serve.

The great thing about these candies is that because the Buckeye is associated with prosperity and abundance, you can use this for magical purposes. As you mix and blend the ingredients, focus your intent on abundance, so that you can share it with your friends and family at Mabon or other Sabbat celebrations.

Fun Ideas With Corn

- Put some popcorn kernels in a cheap sandwich baggie (not the good freezer kind. You want some air to get in) and add a handful of dirt and a little water. Then tape the baggie onto a window. In about a week or so you’ll see the corn start growing!

You can also have fun with Indian corn - the dried, multicolored type you that you see in stores now:

- Put an ear of Indian corn in a dish of water. Keep the water level up and, in time, you will see all these little sprouts come up along the ear.

- Put a whole cob of Indian Corn into a brown paper lunch bag and fold the end of the bag over to seal it. Put it in a microwave and, alongside, place a small dish of water. (this is so the bag doesn’t burn) Microwave it on high for 3 – 5 minutes and Guess What? You’ll have popcorn on the cob! Yum!

Leaf Print Tablecloth

Here is what you will need for your project:

Leaves - all sorts
Paints - different colors
A white disposable paper tablecloth (You can find these at dollar stores, drug stores etc)

Take a leaf, paint one side of it with any color paint, or even paint a rainbow on it. Then turn the painted side over and press it carefully on to the tablecloth . Do this several times with different leaves until you have filled up your tablecloth with all sorts of lovely colors.

Apple Candle Holders for Mabon

Take two bright red apples that are the same size and will sit up nice and straight. Polish them with a soft cloth so they’re shiny. With an apple corer, hollow outa hole in the top of the apple (the stem end) about an inch deep and as wide as your candles. Then, into the hole, place a sprig of rosemary and two soft, grey leaves of Lambsear (a type of plant). Insert a candle that’s about 6 inches tall in each apple. (This will also help anchor the herbs in place) POOF! You’re done – and it should look like this:

Turkey Meatballs in Cranberry Sauce

1 lb ground turkey

1/2 cup chopped onions

1/4 cup instant rice or instant brown rice

1/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 (16ounce)can whole berry cranberry sauce

1/2 cup water

Mix all ingredients except cranberry sauce and water. Form into 45 meatballs. Spray large skillet with non-stick cooking spray.Cook meatballs, covered, for 8 - 10 minutes turning occasionally until meatballs are done and no longer pink in the middle. Add cranberry sauce and water to skillet.Cover and cook on medium-low for 3 to 4 minutes.