Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Samhain!

I hope your Samhain is going well so far! It is gloomy, windy, and a wee bit rainy here, but it is nice and cozy instead. We carved our pumpkins earlier today and I'd like to show them to you!

Below we have Benedict Pumpkinbatch.

My husband did Venom.

I think they turned out rather nice, don't you? I can't wait to see them lit up tonight. I'm curious if we will have any Trick-or-Treaters this year. Our new neighborhood is only one street and I'm not sure there are very many children here. We shall see!

I hope everyone's evening if filled with wonder and reverence.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Samhain Correspondences

Now that I have discussed briefly the history and lore of Samhain, I'd like to provide you with a list of correspondences!

Samhain Correspondences

Symbolism: death and regeneration, transformation, end of old projects, new beginnings, return, change, rest, success, plenty, knowledge

Symbols: skulls, bats, cats, leaves, nuts, seeds, barren trees and branches, pumpkins, cauldron, pentacle, crystal ball, besom or broom, witch's hat, moon, crows/ravens, ghosts, goblins, banshees, candy/caramel apples, chocolate, Jack-o-Lanterns, costumes, Trick-or-Treats, Death, acorns, bones, gourds, scarecrows

Colors: black, orange, red, silver, gold, brown, purple, yellow

Food and Drink: apples, cider, pork, hazelnuts, pomegranates, pumpkins, potatoes, squash, cranberries, turnips, beets, mugwort tea, ale, mulled wine, pies/cakes for the dead

Herbs: apple leaf, almonds, bay leaf, nettle, hemlock, cloves, cinnamon, mandrake root, marigold, mums, mugwort, pine, rosemary, sage, wormwood, tarragon, rue, garlic, ginger, hazelnut, allspice

Deities: Hekate, The Crone, Cerridwen, Bast, Persephone, Horned Hunter, Cernunnos, Osiris, Hades, Anubis, Loki, Arawn, Dis, and any other death/underworld god or goddess

Crystals and Gemstones: black obsidian, jasper, onyx, bloodstone, smoky quartz, carnelian,

Animals: cats, especially black cats, bats, spiders, rats, wolves, snakes, ravens and crows, owls, stags, jackals, scorpions

Magic: This is the time to honor the dead. Set up an altar, serve them cakes, and let them know they are not forgotten. If you wish to communicate with deceased friends and family, this is the best time of year. The veil thins the night of Samhain, making communication easy. Do NOT, however, entice spirits, disrespect them, or perform any other magic that is anything less than respectful. I repeat, don't do it. Samhain is also a great time to practice divination in the form of runes, scrying, tarot, tea readings, etc. Reflect over the previous year and perform blessing spells to ring in the new year. Astral projection, lucid dreaming, and hedge riding are also much easier to perform on this night but remember to be safe. Banishing magic, especially those for bad habits, are especially strong on this night.

Please note this is not a complete list but a brief overview of symbols, colors, herbs, deities, and the like. If I have missed something that you feel should make the list, please feel free to contact me via the comments or through email.

Samhain, History and Lore

Samhain, History and Lore

It's that time of year again! Samhain is quickly approaching, and while it doesn't feel like it in my house (because let's be honest, we haven't finished unpacking because we are still renovating), outside sure does. The leaves are beginning to fall, the air is crisp, and the sun takes just a little bit longer to rise each day. The Earth is beginning to go dormant until spring. Samhain (Sow-in, Sah-vin or Sahm-Hayn), often called Halloween, begins on sundown of October 31st. It is the last of the harvest festivals and a time when the veil between worlds thins and the dead walk the Earth.

Contrary to popular belief, Samhain was not the name of the Celtic god of Death. That would be Donn. Samhain derives from the Gaelic word Samhuin or samhraidhreadh which either means the beginning or end of summer. Scholars are divided, but what we do know is that Samhain was never a god of death. Furthermore, this is not a time to worship the devil or the like. This is a Christian construction, one used in an attempt to scare people into Christianity. When the Church failed to change the holiday to Michaelmas, a day to celebrate St. Michael, it began twisting the holiday into something it is not. They made false claims that those celebrating the holiday were worshiping the devil, making pacts with demons, and selling souls while the innocent were prayed upon by evil spirits wandering the night. In some rural areas of Ireland and Britain, it is still viewed as unwise to leave the home on the night of Samhain.

Now that we have gotten that cleared up, let's talk about the history and lore. Samhain is the eve of the pagan New Year, the time of year to reflect over the past year and plan for the new one. This is a sabbat of death and rebirth so many people choose to focus their rituals on banishing the old and bringing in the new. In many European traditions, this is the night the God dies and the Crone Goddess mourns him deeply for the next six weeks (up until Yule). We still often see the Crone represented in Halloween decor as the old hag stirring a cauldron or riding a broom. Today most people fear her, but historically this was not the case. The Crone was respected and honored for her wisdom.

Also included in the theme of death and rebirth is the tradition of honoring our ancestors. Altars are often set up with photographs, candles, and offerings to honor our friends and family who have passed through the veil. The Day of the Dead is a more modern celebration of this ancient holiday. An empty table setting is often placed at the table during dinner for the departed family as an invitation and honor. Offerings of food are also often placed on the ancestral altar or on the doorstep for wandering spirits.

While the holiday itself is not evil, that does not mean that evil does not exist in the world. To protect themselves, our ancestors would place vegetables carved with scary faces carved into them outside the home and light candles to ward off any harmful spirits. This tradition grew into the jack o' lanterns that furnish most homes this time of year. Candles are often placed in windows as well for protection. Once large bonfires, called balefires, were lighted across Britain and Ireland as soon as the sunset on October 30th. The word balefire comes from the word "boon" which means "extra." These fires were lit for extra protection, containing the energy of the dead god, and lighting up the night. The tradition of wearing masks on the night of Samhain was also an attempt to ward off evil to protect one's self from faeries and harmful spirits if you had to venture out. Today, it is customary for children (and adults) to dress up for parties, festivals, and Trick-or-Treating.

Of course, I have only touched on some of the history and lore of Samhain. This holiday is packed with history, lore, traditions, and tales, so much so I can't put it all in one post. Keep an eye out for posts containing more detailed information.

To learn more, please read the Samhain Correspondences post.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Recipe: Dutch Apple Pie

Wow am I behind. But what a day to come back. It is my 27th birthday! Happy birthday to me! We decided to switch internet providers and had quite a gap between service. Even once we set up the new internet, I haven't been home to use it! Originally I had planned on sharing this recipe around Mabon, but when I made the pie, it flopped. I used the wrong apples. So, now with Samhain around the corner, I want to share my favorite apple recipe of all time, my mother's Dutch Apple Pie. This pie is probably the most amazing pie you will EVER eat. Trust me! Unlike my mother, however, I make my own pie crust!

Recipe: Dutch Apple Pie

     5-7 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (make sure they are pie apples)
     1/2 cup sugar
     1 teaspoon cinnamon
     2 tablespoons flour
     1/2 cup sugar
     3/4 cup flour
     1/3 butter or margarine
     1/2 cup canola oil
     1/4 cup almond milk or skim milk
     1/2 teaspoon salt
     1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Mix together the pie filling ingredients (apples, sugar, cinnamon, and flour) in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In your pie pan, add the flour and salt and create a well in the center. Pour the milk and oil into the well and mix until smooth. I find using my hands the best way to mix, but a fork works too. Press the dough out to cover the bottom of the pan and pinch the edges. It should look like a normal pie crust when you have finished.
  3. Pour apple filling into the crust, making sure to get all the juice that has formed.
  4. In a separate bowl, cut in the topping ingredients until a crumble forms. Sprinkle over the top of the pie filling.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes. If the crust begins to brown, cover with foil. The pie should be bubbling out of the crumble topping when it is finished and the crumble should be golden. If it isn't, continue baking for 5 minute intervals until done.
Recipe: Dutch Apple Pie

This makes one delicious pie. Allow it to cool slightly before serving. This is great paired with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream, but wonderful all on its own.

I hope you enjoy this pie as much as I do!

Need directions for the crust?
Recipe: Dutch Apple Pie
As you can see I drew a rune at the bottom of my crust to infuse this pie with a little bit of magic. I picked the rune Fehu to infuse the pie with abundance, wealth, and happiness, a fitting rune for this time of the year.