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Samhain Prayer

 

In this night

where veils are thinnest

and the cries of our Beloved Dead

can be heard across waves of time,

think upon the past,

see where your feet have trodden,

and learn from the landmarks and trail blazes you left behind.

 

In this night

when Harvest is over,

abundance is gathered and cold awaits,

look to the future,

plan and ponder,

but lose not yourself in the dreaming that is so tempting on these long nights.

 

In this night

where past and present linger

and beings open up to the worlds beyond,

pay homage, do honor,

and count your blessings,

for the waves of time roll on with or without us as we pilot our own boats on this sea of life.

 

Samhain

 

Today is Blessed Samhain,

And harvest-time is done.

The leaves and fruits have fallen;

Less warmly shines the sun.

The days are crisp and windy,

The nighttime brisk and clear.

Full bellies and full larders –

We slumber without fear.

 

We light the sacred fires

To celebrate this time

And drum the Earth’s own heartbeat

With songs and chants in rhyme.

We sing the Mother’s praises

And send Her off to sleep

And speak of our ancestors

Safely in Her keep.

 

The Reaper does his duty,

His sharpened sickle bright,

His bony charger treading

The quiet streets this night.

The souls of dear departed

The Summerland to find –

And Death collects them, one and all,

So none are left behind.

 

Cry welcome to the spirits

Of our Beloved Dead –

We share with them sweet water

And break the new-made bread.

We share as well the stories,

The memories and tales

That make our dead ones live again

With love that never fails.

 

This last day of the old year

To neither time belongs,

And in a place that’s not a place

We chant the sacred songs.

And in the holy Circle,

From first light unto last,

With laughter and remembrance,

We speak of times gone past.

 

So come ye now to Samhain,

Elder, youth, and bairn.

With loving thoughts and kindness,

Set a stone upon the cairn.

Then clasp the hand beside you,

For soon we shall depart,

And keep the days of Autumn

Full deep within your hearts.

 

Freedom in the Darkness

In many pagan traditions, Samhain is the New Year. In my own tradition of Druidry, this is not the case. As Druidry is a religion of Nature, all our holidays are but a time to gather to honor its tides, and the flow of the seasons. And our holidays reflect what is happening in the landscape. They are designed to bring us into a more conscious awareness of the cycles of change that are happening all around us in Nature.

For the druid, the new cycle of growth begins at Yule with the return sun at the Winter Solstice. The days begin to lengthen and we are infused with hope for a new cycle of growth. The long darkness begins to abate. Yes a long Winter is still ahead but after the tides appear to stand still, a tiny shift happens and we can begin to see a new current flowing in the landscape, each day bringing a little more light.

In the Druid tradition, Samhain is viewed as a tide. I often refer to this as the Samhain tide instead of just Samhain, as it denotes a period of time instead of just a moment. Nature isn’t beholden to our human calendar. While we may celebrate Samhain on October 31st, that isn’t usually the case for the druid. The Samhain tide begins when Natural death comes to the landscape. It begins when the first killing frost hits. While at Alban Elfed (Welsh/Brythonic pronounced elved, it is the autumn equinox, meaning “light of autumn,” the celebration of the harvest), we consciously kill as we harvest the food we have planted, slaughter the animals we have raised for food, or gather wild mushrooms in the forest. This killing is a choice. At Samhain, Nature does the killing. The growth cycle has ended for the year – no matter if we would have it be otherwise. It is done.

Yet as Nature brings death to the year of growth, a new cycle has decidedly not started. Nature doesn’t work that way where one moment it is one way, then the next it is another. Nature moves in tides. The returning of the sun isn’t for another few months. Yet the days are still growing darker. The power of darkness so prevalent in these Northern climates becomes palpable. It is the strongest force of Nature moving through the landscape – ignore it at your own risk. And it continues to gather strength until we begin to doubt the days will ever grow longer. We feed the fire and ride out this time of unknowing. The time of growth ended, yet no new cycle has started. In Druidry, the Samhain tide is viewed as a time of chaos.

Chaos is powerful energy. At the edge of chaos is where we find the most complexity in Nature. This is a scientific observation. And I also see this within my own soul – at the edges of it are all the complexities of relationship. Diving into the processes of my own psyche and into the processes of my own soul during the Samhain tide is so freeing. As I dream in the darkness, not needing to worry about beginning anything, simply mirroring Nature and what is going on in the landscape, I frequently discover much that was hidden. I don’t dream small. I dare to dream without limits. I can completely let go of preconceptions of what is possible in life. This is the gift of the Samhain tide. This is the gift of chaos.

We dive headlong into Cerridwen’s cauldron of transformation and we are transformed. We let go of the past. Like a serpent sheds its skin, we shed our outdated images of who we are. We let go of the preconceptions we have in our relationships as well, letting others be free from the boxes we try to hold them in. The Samhain tide is an opportunity to go back to source and come out the other side freed from chains of our own creation. Samhain is death. And death is the source of all that is. Metaphorically speaking, the Samhain tide is our chance to walk willing into death and free ourselves of the constraints of all the fixed patterns of our life. Samhain, more than any other of our holidays, is about freedom.

We are often like leaves shaking in the wind, holding on to all that is known. During this Samhain tide, I invite you all to let go. Nature will force us to anyway, but there is power in choice. So my pagan brothers and sisters, let’s flow with Nature, let’s stop fighting the currents, let’s dive headlong into the darkness and embrace this time of change. Let’s swim in the liquid Awen held within her cauldron. Let’s dream without limits and let go of the need to ‘know.’ Now is a time of chaos and unknowing. Let’s dance with forces of death. Let’s be free.

Blessings of transformation,
Snowhawke /|\

Faerie Tidings: A Feast for the Faerie Kin

The rain sounds like a thousand footsteps, all around the edges of the clearing. Fog drifts through and among the standing stones. We can feel the tangible presence of our ancestors. Finishing our rites, we carefully pack up our baskets and satchels; there will be no stargazing this Samhain Eve. It’s cold, wet, and windy, and our cozy cottage beckons us back down the hill.

We spy some moistened mushrooms at the edge of the path, gleaming in our lantern light.

During our meditative communion with our ancestors, we were inspired to create a delectable feast for them. As we crunch our way back to the cottage, we eagerly imagine all the delicious dishes and desserts we’ll be making tonight to honor our faerie kin.

We spy some moistened mushrooms at the edge of the path, gleaming in our lantern light. We harvest a few as accents for the feast, leaving a shiny silver coin as an offering. Nearer the stream, we find patches of fresh greens still poking their heads out amongst the copper pine needles and brown oak leaves. As we near the cottage, we gently pluck bronze pears from one of our favorite trees, thanking it for the pie we’ll soon create.

The three cats are huddled in the barn door, mostly out of the rain, awaiting our return. We share a pear with Maude the donkey, making sure she’s all settled in for the night. Then we open the cottage door for the rain-bespeckled cats, who twine happily around our feet in greeting, wiping their damp fur on our legs. We give thanks that we remembered our water-resistant cloaks, as we shake them off and set them by the newly-rekindled fire to dry.

We put on hot water for steaming mugs of vanilla tea, and then begin to take an inventory of the pantry, preparing for our marathon in the kitchen. We nibble a few roasted nuts as we merrily discuss our plans. We have apples and honey for pie, and plenty of squash, potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, and beets. It sounds like a root stew is in order! We’ll also bake some bread, as we know our ancestors love to break it with us. And we’ll crack open the new wheel of cheese that Farmer Brown brought us yesterday, cutting through its beeswax shell.

We start chopping the veggies and sliding them off the wooden cutting board into a big black cauldron. Flour flies as we prepare the crusts for the apple and pear pies. A stray rolling pin slips off the table and makes its way across the floor, startling the orange cat into licking his paws in surprise. The greens and mushrooms we found will be sautéed into a wilted salad and dressed with our own apple cider vinegar and dried chives, fennel, and walnut.

Our bellies rumble, so we slice off a wedge of the cheese to share. As the dough rises and the pies bake and the stew bubbles, we prepare our dining space. We pull our best table linens from a nearby trunk and shake them out. One of the black cats finds a comfy spot inside the trunk, so we decide to leave the lid open for now.

Placing the tablecloth on our long table, we add place settings, napkins, and our centerpiece – Great-Aunt Eleanor’s crystal ball. Next, we add an arrangement of colorful candles and a garland of yellow mums. We put out our best fluted glasses, to be filled with some honey mead we saved for just such an occasion.

Soon, as if by magick, the fantastic feast is ready to eat! We serve out generous helpings onto each plate and pour the mead. There are no lively musicians and excited neighbors joining us this time; this feast is to share with our ancestors beyond the veil. As we sit down at our places, we can hear a distant haunting melody as if coming from the hills around the cottage.

We propose a toast to the ancestors and offer them their places at this Samhain feast. With blessings said, we quietly enjoy our own portion of the delicious meal we’ve prepared. The cats are all asleep by the fire, and we too soon begin to drowse. Dimming the candles, we make our way upstairs to bed and say a fond goodnight to our faerie kin. We leave their plates full, to be enjoyed at their leisure.

As morning dawns, we hear noises from downstairs. The cats are all snuggled up with us, sleeping soundly. Deciding to investigate, we tiptoe down the stairs. All the plates on the table are empty now, and sparkling clean. Noticing a gleam on one of them, we discover a bright shiny silver coin. We laugh in delight – the faerie ancestors have enjoyed their Samhain feast!

Samhain

 

The season of death and of endings is here

And with it comes doubtfulness, worries and fear.

But trust in the Lady and trust in the Lord

As we all move toward Samhain with a single accord.

The pumpkins we carved, now all glowing and orange,

The grand, creepy sound of an old creaking door hinge.

Slithering shadows and sneaky black cats,

Whispering breezes and high-swooping bats;

Fairies and monsters with wings on their backs,

Ghosties and goblins are running in packs.

Kids all in costumes who run door to door –

Pagans, we know what this night’s really for!

Do divination and play party games,

Knowing that folks ‘round the world do the same.

Visiting ancestors’ gravesites and mounds,

Blessing the Earth and Her soon-sleeping grounds.

The Reaper

 

Autumn has come in all of its glory;

The evening shadows grow deeper.

Bounty is won, and low sinks the sun

As everything waits for the Reaper.

 

Turkey and pheasant and duck on the wing

Never know when Archer’s arrows will sing.

Deer in the field stand ready to run,

Waiting the sound of the Huntsman’s gun.

 

The sun starts His yearly descent into death

As Earth turns from giver to keeper.

Like a child at the breast, we start into our rest —

And everything waits for the Reaper.

 

Apples stand waiting in bushel and sack

To someday be applesauce, cider and jack.

Wheat turns to flour and barley to beer –

The Green Man has done all His growing this year.

 

Cellars and larders are bursting with bounty —

Nothing on branch, root, or creeper.

Growing is done; the harvest begun —

Now everything waits for the Reaper.

Samhaintide

 

Ring the bell and light the fire –

It’s Samhain once again.

Gather in the harvest hall

With family and friends.

Crops are in and trees are bare

And fox soon seeks his den –

With cooler days and longer nights

We’re now at Summer’s end.

 

Call the quarters, hail the gods,

The gentle and the bold;

Hail the passing of the sun

Whose light is dimmed by cold.

Hail the bounty of the earth,

A wonder to behold.

Pass the bread and share the mead

And bless all, young and old.

 

Lanterns cast a golden glow

As Circle Is trod ‘round.

Every voice is lifted high

In joyous sacred sound.

Veggies added one by one,

A growing gorgeous mound,

As we bless the wondrous food

That came from out the ground.

 

Now we sing in praise of those

Who’ve passed from life before;

The veil is thin and we can see

Beloved Dead once more.

Share the tales and memories

And songs from days of yore.

Refresh the love and thoughts of those

That we love and adore.

 

We thank those things that held our space,

The north, south, west and east.

We counted things that bless our lives,

The greatest and the least.

The Magick’s done for health and wealth,

Our fortunes all increased.

So now is time for Circle’s end

And then to start the feast.

 

Local meats and veggies, breads,

And apple crisps and pies

Load the feasting tables full

And cause contented sighs.

And later still, the harvest ball –

We wear our best disguise –

And dance we all in merriment,

The young ones and the wise.

 

We celebrate the season

In an ancient Pagan way,

With ritual and honest thanks

And Rede which we obey,

And of course forgiveness

When we sometimes go astray.

And at this time, may I wish you

A blessed Samhain day.