LORE Samhain is the night when the Old King dies, and the Crone Goddess mourns him greatly during the next six weeks. The sun is at its lowest point on the horizon as measured by the ancient standing stones of Britain and Ireland, the reason the Celts chose this sabbat rather than Yule as their new year. To the ancient Celts, this holiday divided the year into two seasons, Winter and Summer. Samhain is the day on which the Celtic New Year and winter begin together, so it is a time for both beginnings and endings. It is the last of the three harvest festivals, the harvest of meat. It is also the day we honor our dead. Now, while the veil between the worlds is thinnest, those who have died in the past year and those who are to be reincarnated pass through. The doors of the sidhe-mounds are open, and neither human nor faery need any magickal passwords to come and go. Our ancestors, the blessed dead, are more accessible, more approachable during the time of the dying of the land. Samhain is a day to commune with the dead and a celebration of the eternal cycle of reincarnation. ALTAR Altar candles should be orange (represents magick of fire and remainder of fire in autumn leaves), black (collects and absorbs light and keeps you warm), white (sends out energy), silver, and gold (represents Moon and Sun). Incense may be myrrh or patchouli Decorate with autumn flowers, small pumpkins, Indian corn, and gourds Cauldron with black votive candle for petition magick (for writing resolutions on a strip of paper and burning in the candle flame) Divination or scrying devices -- tarot, obsidian ball, pendulum, runes, oghams, Ouija boards, black cauldron or bowl filled with black ink or water, or magick mirror, to name a few An animal horn, feather or talon as a power symbol (Samhain is tradtionally the meat harvest) HERBS Rosemary (for remembrance of our ancestors), Mullein seeds (a projection for abundance), mugwort (to aid in divination), rue, calendula, sunflower petals and seeds, pumpkin seeds, turnip seeds, apple leaf, sage, mushrooms, wild ginseng, wormwood, tarragon, bay leaf, almond, hazelnut, passionflower, pine needles, nettle, garlic, hemlock cones, mandrake root At Samhain, witches once gave one another acorns as gifts. During the Burning Times, giving someone an acorn was a secret means of telling that person you were a witch. Acorns are fruits of the oak, one of the most sacred trees to the ancient Celts. They are symbols of protection, fertility, growth, values, and friendship. STONES Black obsidian, smoky quartz, jet, amber, pyrite, garnet, granite, clear quartz, marble, sandstone, gold, diamond, iron, steel, ruby, hematite, brass SPELLS At Samhain, witches cast spells to keep anything negative from the past -- evil, harm, corruption, greed -- out of the future. Cast spells to psychically contact our deceased forebears and retrieve ancient knowledge, thus preserving the great Web that stretches through many generations of human families. -- Laurie Cabot, Celebrate the Earth ACTIVITIES Make resolutions, write them on a small piece of parchment, and burn in a candle flame, preferably a black votive candle within a cauldron on the altar. Wear costumes that reflect what we hope or wish for in the upcoming year. Carve a jack-o-lantern. Place a spirit candle in it. http://www.geocities.com/lady_greenwood/pumpkin-lore.html Enjoy the trick or treating of the season. Drink apple cider spiced with cinnamon to honor the dead. Bury an apple or pomegranate in the garden as food for spirits passing by on their way to being reborn. Do divinations for the next year using tarot, a crystal ball, flame, pendulum, magick mirror, black bowl, runes, Ouija boards, or a black cauldron filled with black ink or water. http://www.geocities.com/lady_greenwood/crystalball.html http://www.geocities.com/lady_greenwood/scry.html http://www.geocities.com/lady_greenwood/runes.html Set out a mute supper. http://www.geocities.com/lady_greenwood/mutesupper.html Make a mask of your shadow self. http://www.geocities.com/lady_greenwood/maskmaking.html Make a besom, or witches broom. http://www.geocities.com/lady_greenwood/besom.html Make a witches ladder for protection or as an expression of what you hope to manifest in the year ahead. http://www.geocities.com/lady_greenwood/witchesladder.html Find a magick wand of oak, holly, ash, rowan, birch, hazel, elm, hawthorne or willow. Let this be the traditional time that you make candles for the coming year, infusing them with color, power, herbs, and scent depending on the magickal purpose. http://www.geocities.com/lady_greenwood/candlemaking.html FOOD Meat dishes (especially pork), rosemary (for meat seasoning), pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds, mulled cider with spices, candy apples or other apple dishes, potatoes, roasted pumpkin seeds, nuts (representing resurrection and rebirth), especially hazel nuts and acorns. MULLED CIDER WITH SPICES 4-5 cups apple cider 3-4 cloves 2 sticks cinnamon In a large saucepan, heat cider, but do not boil. Serve in a large cauldron. PUMPKIN BREAD 2 cups pumpkin, canned or cooked 1 cup melted butter or margarine, lightly salted 3/4 cup water 4 eggs 3 2/3 cups flour 2 1/4 cups sugar 1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg 2 tsp. cinnamon 2 tsp. baking soda 1 cup raisins 1 cup walnuts, chopped Blend pumpkin, butter, water, and eggs until mixed. Add flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and baking soda. Then add raisins and nuts. Form loaf in greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until top is golden brown. ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS Seeds of one pumpkin, washed 1 1/2 Tbl. vegetable oil Salt, to taste Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread clean, dry pumpkin seeds on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Drizzle with vegetable oil and add salt to taste. Bake 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. SPICED HOT CHOCOLATE 3 ounces semi-sweet dark chocolate, grated 2 cups milk 1/2 tsp each cinnamon and cloves Dash vanilla extract Slowly heat chocolate and milk in saucepan until chocolate has melted and blended in. Add cinnamon and cloves and stir. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and serve. Makes two servings.