The meandering thoughts of a modern-day hearth witch.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Blessed Samhain

Happy Hallowe'en

or (for those of you who follow the Wheel of the Year)
Happy New Year's Eve!

Samhain marks the last turn of the wheel - the final harvest and the dying of the year. The ends of the crops have been gathered, the light is leaving those of us in the Northern Hemisphere and the time for spiritual 'hibernation' is upon us. Long, dark and cold nights wait on the other side of this eve.

However, it is not a time to be sad; rather to celebrate the achievements of the year just past and to honour the earth for the fruits it has provided for us over the summer months. Sitting opposite Beltane (the festival of light and fertility) on the wheel, Samhain marks the contradictory forces of darkness and death. Said to fall at the time when the veil between this earthly world and the Otherworld is at its thinnest, the feast of Samhain traditionally also honours the dead and is a night for remembering ancestors and loved ones who have left us. It is tradition to set a place for those absent friends at the table before enjoying a Samhain meal. 

Some people celebrate Samhain with a ritual to mark the passing of the old year and these rituals are as varied as the individuals who celebrate the festival. You could create a representative 'wheel of the year' with symbolic markers for the sabbats and burn it to mark the end of the year. 

These pictures show an edible version of this ritual: a sabbat cake! Each sabbat is marked on the cake with a leaf, flower or seed which reflects the season - we have a miniature eggshell for Ostara, a holly leaf for Yule and a lavendar sprig for the first harvest of Lammas, for example. Samhain here is shown by an autumn leaf. Instead of being burned, the wheel of the year will be gobbled up!

This year will be the first in a long time that I will celebrate Samhain alone - although I did have family to share an early feast of pumpkin curry with yesterday (more on that recipe to come, I feel). Traditionally I carve my pumpkin and let the light shine like a miniature beacon in the window, to guide the way for spirits; warm a pot of mulled cider and complete a small ritual which acknowledges the year past and sets forth my hopes for the year to come. Tonight I will be quietly contemplating everything that this toughest of years has brought to my family and honouring my dad, so recently passed, with a simple prayer. 

Brightest blessings to you all.

7 musings:

the Lola Letters said...

Beautiful shots! And lovely musings as well. I definitely need to work on less lamenting of the dying summer months, and more celebration of what has been and also all that is to come!

Cottage Tails said...

I love your cake!!! Hope you don;t mind but I'm gonna pinch that idea & make one every turn.

We had friends over for last night & a little 5 year old said she was ready for cake now after pudding. I wish I had had your cake to offer.

You have a wonderful way with words.

Love Leanne Nz

Tezzie said...

A beautiful's a much nicer way to look at the day, than what Halloween has come to be. I wish you a peaceful evening, filled with happy memories. <3

the wild magnolia said...

Hi. I just traveled over from Beyond the Fields We Know.

I appreciate your Samhain comments and the Sabbat cake. Lovely photographs.


Faerie Moon Creations said...

Thank you so much for a beautiful and informative post. That is such a beautiful Sabbat cake. I do look forward to your pumpkin curry recipe - sounds amazing. Enjoy a wonderful evening. Theresa

faerwillow said...

~avie...happy belated samhain to the quiet of the night as you sat and honored and remember your gave of yourself the greatest of gifts to the coming of this new year...may you wake each day...feeling him with you...sensing his quiet spirit...allowing him to silently guide you along the way...may your mind be at ease my dear sweet friend...much l♥ve and light shining ever so brightly upon you always~

Avie said...

Much love and light to you all for your kind thoughts and comments. Faerwillow, you brought a tear to my eye with your beautiful words. Thank you.

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