Children and Samhain

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The Halloween season for children and adults alike is a very sensory time of year. With costume parades, haunted hay rides, the thrill of wearing big comfy sweat shirts, the scuffing of feet on the way to school or work, the smell of autumn fires and my favorite the pumpkin spice coffee and treats popping up everywhere: all these things mean autumn and activate our senses in amazing ways. This time of year not only activates our muggle senses but our spiritual ones as well. We all know that this time of the year the veil becomes thinner, and it seems to be thinning earlier and earlier every year. I really believe this is due to ourselves, the Witch and non Witch collectively putting out it into the universe. With the department stores putting out decorations and supplies as early as Labor Day and with more and more emphasis on parties, costumes, and decorations growing each year we are bringing the underworld ever more closer. If you haven’t noticed, this holiday has become enormously popular, and even other related holidays, such as Mexico’s Dios de la Muerte (“The Day of the Dead”) are receiving more notice too. Television networks are showing horror films and Halloween sitcoms all month-long. All this unintentional intent is being put out in to the universe causing us to open the gates earlier for our beloved dead and wandering spirits to cross. If we are as adults experiencing this hyper-activity of spirits and spiritual occurrences, than children are definitely as well.

Since Samhain is the time when our ancestors may find it easiest to visit us, you can have your children ask for dreams about people they know who have passed on. If you think this will frighten your child, by all means don’t do it. But if your child has fond memories of a grandparent or other relative who has died, you can have them ask to be visited in their dreams. Tell them that their relative loves them very much and would like to see them and maybe give them advice. Suggest that they can tell their relative about any accomplishments or big events that have happened recently. As they lie in bed to fall asleep, help them say aloud that they would like to dream about a certain person. Have them focus on their memories of that person as they fall asleep.

If this is something that you or your child is uncomfortable with, there are many ways to celebrate the season. Remember that children often will not fully understand how you view this time of year especially when there is so much going on around them. I have found it best to separate the concepts of Halloween and Samhain. Although they are tied together in history and practice for children Halloween is Halloween; let them dress up and trick-or-treat. However, after they’ve collected all their candy, be sure that they leave a few pieces for the ancestors, as an offering.

Holding a family ritual is another great way for children to understand the spiritual aspects of the holiday. Keep it simple by doing the prep work ahead of time. You might want to create rituals about whatever you and your children might want to lett go of, be that a loved one, warm days, or a beloved summer shirt.

If your family doesn’t have an altar for Samhain, set one up before you begin. Better yet, let the kids help you put things on it. Feel free to raid your Halloween decorations for ghosts, Witches, skulls, and bats. Have fun with it.

One thing I have done in the past for a family Samhain ritual was to create a strand of dried apple slices to decorate an altar. We included a slice for all of our family or friends who have past. This became a great opportunity to talk about offerings.

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Other seasonal activities that can provide “teachable moments:

Make a besom, or Witch’s broom.

Make resolutions, write them on a small piece of paper and bury them. This is similar to New Year’s resolutions; as for many Samhain is seen as the Witches New Year.

Have a family dinner setting a chair and meal for the dead, a less complex dumb supper.

Pumpkin carving is a traditional good activity to do on Samhain with children, as carved gourds originated with our Celtic ancestors.

Samhain is a great time to spend time with our loved ones who are still alive, too. Visiting your elderly relatives is an especially good way to celebrate, as they can probably tell you all sorts of fun stories about their childhood and what their parents and grandparents were like. If you don’t have any family close by, consider visiting a nursing home, perhaps in costume. Most nursing home residents love seeing children, and would probably get a kick out of seeing their Halloween costumes.

Make a Witches’ cord as an expression of what you hope to manifest in the year ahead.

Introduce different forms of divination. Samhain is seen as the beginning of the Pagan year; divination was usually done to see the future of the coming year. One practice that was always done in my family was to give the gift of tarot. I received my first deck on Samhain 30 years ago.

The point is don’t just create seasonal memories but lay the foundation for spiritual growth as well.  Happy Samhain!!

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Don’t forget to check out The Hierophant – Opening This Samhain.

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A Witch at Home: Awaking the Ancestors of the Land Pt 1

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As we step into the darker months of the year, I thought it would be fitting to write something relevant to the season. Although, it bothers me to no end how most modern Pagans and Witches only tend to focus on their ancestors and the dead during the Samhain season, I still thought it was a perfect time, especially after some recent events that unfolded at my home.

Since humans have walked this earth we have always had a sacred relationship with our dead. Whether it is because of our belief, fear, or need in the continued existence of the soul or the knowledge that they can and do influence our lives. Despite working with them or not our ancestors are our strongest allies, teachers, and guides. They are our link to the mysteries of the underworld, the land, and even sometimes the gods. Through ceremony, devotion and offerings, we call them back to being part of our lives and brings us back to our true nature. Unfortunately, modern society has put our ancestors on the back burner of tradition. Our dead are pushed aside for our own satisfaction. You die, your disposed of, and then left to a memory. We do this because of the selfish healing thought of out of sight, out of mind. Sadly, this way of thinking can even be found in the modern magickal traditions. Whereas, the only time the dead are honored are during the Samhain season. Although, over the last few years I have seen a larger focus of the dead in new writings and books this once a year reverence of dead is still very common. I wonder how many keep it as a part of their regular practice. With the exception of Hoodoo, Vodou, Santeria, Palo, and other indigenous and cultural traditions where the practice remains strong and the ancestors are regularly honored and called upon throughout the year. One other thing that I often see among modern practices is that the only ancestors given respect are the ones of blood. The ones found in your family tree are not the only ones we should be honoring and working with. The benefits of looking past our selfish lives are immeasurable.

Upon moving into my new house, I not only called to my blood ancestors to be reawakened to the house, but I also called and honored to dead of the land. Asking for protection and acceptance and in return I would honor them and honor their land. I wanted to let them know that they have not been forgotten and that we can coexist on the same land without harm or disrespect. Living in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania would mean that the majority of spirits and ancestors of the land are primarily of the indigenous American tribe of the Leni-Lenape. Now, because I have not traveled far from my first landing in Pennsylvania, I already was accustomed to their culture and ways and understand their needs. In fact, I have been working with these tribal spirits for years. However, it is more about honoring those spirits who reside on the property itself rather than the area of residence. When honoring and petitioning those ancestors of another culture and/or tradition, it is best practice to do so in ways they are accustomed to. You would not want to leave an offering of your family’s recipe for baked ziti, especially at first. Take the time to learn and understand their way of life. This act also shows respect.

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On the night of the most recent dark moon I set out to not only honor and awaken Hekate to the land, but more importantly the ancestors of the land. I started by collecting all the necessary items I needed for the ceremony, including offerings of tobacco and corn. With everything in hand, I proceeded outside and of course it started to rain once again. However, I wasn’t going to let that stop what needed to be done, despite what rain can do to my rattle and drum. As I walked around beating the drum I could feel them awaking with signs of curiosity. It wasn’t until I gave my offerings that I felt them ease off. After I was done, I sat down to ground and compose myself after the ceremony. This is when I began to see the spirits in full glory walking the property. A sign that I did well with my goal. Fast forward a few days later, I had a housewarming/birthday party planned, which by the end of the night had turned into a spirit fest. Although, this is nothing new when I get together with my spiritual family. However, this time it had tuned into more than just doing some spiritual work with friends. Due to the circumstances and people involved I will not discuss what transpired that night. One thing that I will tell you is about a dream I had after everyone had left. Before falling asleep, I started thinking of one of the gifts my friend had given me and how perfectly it fit into my plans for my bedroom. I was given a carved bear head for my wall. Which coincided with my idea to represent each directional animal on all four walls. At some point I fell asleep thinking of the north wall and having a buffalo skull there. In my dream the skull kept changing to a deer skull. Moving onto the next morning I woke up feeling like I was hit by a spiritual truck and had no plans to do any kind of magickal workings. However, the ancestors had other plans for me. As I was trying to relax, in walked my roommate’s son and asked me why there was a deer skull in the yard. What the hell was he talking about? So, I got up to entertain his antics and low and behold, there was not only a deer skull but its lower jaws as well. It was in the middle of the yard where we had been removing an old fence and had just mowed for the party. We would have seen this; how did it get there? First logical thought was someone from last night placed it there for fun. Upon inspection, I could see that it wasn’t just sitting there, it was partially embedded in the ground. I knew that it had something to do with what had happened the night before, but just didn’t know what. Was it a gift or a warning? I will be honest with you, I did panic a little bit. Even after all the weird and unbelievable things that I’ve seen and experienced over the years, I am still sometimes amazed and taken back. After freaking out and discussing the findings with a person who was involved with the nights previous events, I set out to connect to find the answers. Turns out it was a gift from the ancestors of the land. What a better gift to give a Witch on his birthday, than a skull. I also knew that this was not just an act of kindness from the spirits, but an acknowledgement of my working with them.

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The results of working with the ancestors are not always what is expected, but something you can always count on is that as long as you honor them regularly they will be present in your life. It brings a type of wholeness and balance to everyday life that may not be present without that extra guiding hand. Working with them is like working with your own personal army. If you enter a regular practice you can always count on that army for protection, love, and the occasional odd happenings that can blow your mind. As my close friend would say “You can’t make this shit up”.

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Casting Creative Magickal Circles: Samhain excerpt

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Recognized as one of the most important holidays of the year,‭ ‬Samhain,‭ ‬meaning‭ “‬Summer’s End,‭” ‬is a major festival with several aspects.‭ ‬It is the celebration of the end of the harvest and the start of the dark half of the year,‭ ‬because of this transition it is also known as‭ “‬The Witches‭’ ‬New Year‭”‬.‭ ‬Many pagan traditions also see this as the time of death for the Sun and the solar gods,‭ ‬to be reborn at the Winter Solstice or Yule.‭ ‬It is a night when we remember our departed loved ones and honor our ancestors.‭ ‬Samhain is when the veil between the world of the dead and the world of the living is said to be at its thinnest.‭
Creatively speaking,‭ ‬Samhain circles are the most difficult to foster.‭ ‬There are so many different aspects of the holiday that it’s hard to focus on just one.‭ In Casting Creative Magickal Circles  I have included circles for the different themes that are commonly used in Samhain rituals.‭ This circle in particular uses an Ancestor theme that allows your ancestors to be a part of your circle and ritual. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!

The Ancestor Circle

Items needed:‭ ‬photographs of your ancestors.
When casting your circle for a Samhain ritual that has an ancestor focus,‭ ‬you would begin in the west‭; ‬traditionally regarded as the realm of the dead.‭ ‬Begin by placing the first picture on the floor in the west calling out the name of the ancestor as you do.‭ ‬Continue clockwise around the parameter of your space,‭ ‬calling out each name as the picture is placed.‭ ‬If you do not have enough photographs to complete a circle,‭ ‬place them evenly throughout the circle.
When you have returned to the west,‭ ‬say or something similar:
‭“‬I have laid this circle in love and protection,
May all that have been named help hold,
This sacred space on this Samhain night.‭”
Visualize protective and loving energy connecting each picture,‭ ‬and then expanding into a sphere around your space.
Saying:‭ “‬So mote it be‭” ‬when you have created your sphere.

When you are ready to release the circle,‭ ‬starting in the west,‭ ‬walking counter-clockwise begin to pick up each picture,‭ ‬visualizing the energy being released out into the universe,‭ ‬while saying or something similar:
‭“‬I release this circle in love and honor.‭”

This circle casting can be easily adapted for group rituals as well,‭ ‬allowing all participants to bring and add their own ancestor photographs.‭

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Casting Creative magickal Circles will only be available FREE!

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The Veil: A Game of Tug of War

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If you ask my Witchy friends and spiritual family “what is the most annoying thing that I do? they would probably say “ He always needs to know why something is the way it is.” Although, this is one hundred percent true, it usually only pertains to spiritual topics and not so much to the mundane. I have a tendency to question everything and want to know the reasons why. I cannot accept the answers of “it just is” or “because that’s the way we do things”. I am sorry; I have to have a logical and even sometimes scientific reason for things. I am often told that I should just believe without questioning. For me the way to believe in something is that I have to fully understand it or at least have some kind of practical theory behind it. Continue reading

“Casting Creative Magickal Circles” by E. Massey

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This 30+ page e-book outlines unique ways of casting magickal circles for all Eight Sabbaths and the Moon Phases. It Contains principle information and personal references that any coven or solitary witch would need to create fun and interesting rituals.

 

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