Samhainis known by most folks as Halloween, but for
Wiccans and Pagans it's considered a Sabbath to honor the ancestors who came
before us.The fields are bare, the
leaves have fallen from the trees, and the skies are going gray and cold. It is
the time of year when the Earth has died and gone dormant. Every year on October 31, Samhain presents us
with the opportunity to once more celebrate the cycle of death and
rebirth.It is a time to reconnect with
our ancestors and honor those who have died. This is the time when the veil
between our world and the spirit realm is thin, so it's the perfect time of
year to make contact with the dead.
For the Norse, it is Winter
nights.In the old calendar, winter
begins about Mid-October; however this holiday may move about in the calendar
depending on your seasons, many match it with Samhain. It is a time to
celebrate the completed harvest and honor the ancestors.It marked the beginning of a time of indoor
work, thought and craftsmanship.It also
honors God Odin in his Wild Hunt.
Alter: Autumn leaves, fall flowers, pomegranates,
apples, pumpkins, ears of corn, sprays of grain, corn dollies, gourds, nuts,
seeds, acorns, chestnuts and images of ancestors are all appropriate. Use
whatever is in season where you live, whatever feels right and looks good to
Animals: Bats, Cats, Dogs, Owls, Night Animals
Teas(Individually or Blended): Apple Cider, Angelica, Catnip, Indian Hyppo,
Bare now its
limbs, and long its shadow:
while Sol sinks low o'er Sweden's hills,
her light glows through the leafless ash,
whose steadfast roots reach far below.
The barrow-grass has browned with death:
though Freyr had sworn no frost would lie
above the dead, his dearest friends,
still the cold has struck the land.
My thoughts run back to bygone years,
and tales the Northmen told before:
the buried king they called a god,
for harvest-luck they left him gifts.
His bones with earth are blended now,
his earthly kin are kings no more--
though some among the Swedes still trust
his unseen might, the Yngling-father.
I, too, have known his nearness there
and felt the god whom grave-dust hides:
he called me kin and clasped me tight,
he called the land I love my home.
Bare are its limbs and long its shadow--
the ash that wards this wintry land;
Sol's brother lights the barrow-ground,
the sparks of Muspell spread their gleam.
~ Ingeborg S.
'Twas the Ancestors' Night
Ancestors' Night which we call Halloween,
When strange moving shapes near old gallows were seen,
The shadows of those who were hung there with care,
They seemed to grow solid and really be there.
They gathered and walked through the streets of my town,
When I saw them coming, I cast myself down;
But the scariest thing was, all these deceased,
They looked just like dressed for a Halloween feast.
Then, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a wain which was pulled by some animals queer,
And a broad-hatted fellow who drove with such vim,
I knew in a moment it must be Old Grim.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call'd them by name:
"Now, Sleipnir! Now, Loki! Now run, Hildisvin!
Gullinbursti, it is Halloween!
"To the top of the World! To the top of the Tree!
"Now dash away! Dash away! Onward with ye!"
As valk'ries before the wild battle will fly,
When they've picked up a dead guy, they soar to the sky,
So up to the Tree-top the coursers they flew,
With Grim in the wain, and some other folks too. With dire foreboding, I heard rustling moves,
The clatter and gallop of thundering hooves;
As I peeked from my bush and was turning around,
Down on the Tree trunk came Grim with a bound:
His eye - how it glittered! His cloak was deep blue,
He jumped from the wain without further ado;
In the smoke that rose from the pipe that he held,
Pale figures were forming, and seethed and dispelled.
He was hollow and gaunt, as dark as an alf,
And I quaked when I saw him in spite of myself;
A glint of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had reason to dread.
He looked around, and he brandished his spear,
And an odd looking crowd stepped from the wain's rear:
A vamp with a necklace, a judge with one hand,
A redhead, a sailor with feet full of sand,
A talking wise guy who was just a head,
A man who looked blind and his bro' who looked dead,
A woman in white who walked like a queen,
And a guy with the biggest pumpkin you've seen. They did not tarry, but set to their work,
And gathered the ghosts from the gallows who lurked,
They fetched and they beckoned them into the wain,
And when it was full, they too boarded again.
Grim took the reins, and he gave me a wink,
And I dared to hope while in fear I'd still shrink;
And giving a nod, up the Tree trunk he went,
The shadowy people behind him all pent,
And away they all flew, as fast a crow, And left me dazedly standing below, But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight:
"Y'all have a Happy Ancestors' Night!"
In cold earth and lightless
In the silent chthonic span
I am a memory, awaiting
In repose are my deeds
My thoughts and feelings
Till a voice beckons
From the light it calls
In an infants tongue of cries
I speed out bringing luck
It is my time to return
To merge and feel fires again
Day dawns as I join my kin
In the glow of mother at the hearth
~ Rob Crocker
New Year's Greeting
I hope the year that passed was good to
And if times could be better, they will be;
That you may reap the harvest that is due,
Of doors still locked that you may turn the key.
I wish that you find time to play and rest,
And to see beauty in the little things,
That you enjoy whatever you like best,
And tackle bravely what the future brings.
What warp the Norns have spun, no man can say,
But it's the weft we firmly hold in hand;
We weave the pattern each and every day,
The faith we follow is its golden strand.
Reader, for you and those that you hold dear, The Aesir's blessing for the coming year!
~ Michaela Macha
Apple of my Eye
Apple of my eye. Arrow in the night. Arrow from my quiver. Star in my sky. Second of seven in sight. Little fish swim down ancestral river.
The Ladies whisper From that Weird Well, "Wake the Gods, raise the banner." Follow your sister, Like Fetch in human shell.
Learn the sign of Red-Beard's Hammer. Let it grow Like our tree Slowly and with patience. Few will know What you see, Arrow of the Ancients.
~ Izak Sample
The mood is one of conserving resources
against the scarcities of the coming cold season. This is a time of the year
when the animals which could not be fed through the winter are killed and preserved.
Usually at least one such animal was the subject of sacrifice with the kin,
eating the held meat during the feast.Libations of ale, milk or mead are traditionally poured onto the Earth
as an offering.Apples may be offered to
the fallen ancestors.Hay may be left
out for Odin’s horse Sleipnir.Odin’s
mighty steed thus marks the kindred home as one of welcoming.
To the ancient Germanic people, death was
never far away and it was viewed as a natural and necessary part of life.Starting on this night, the great divisions
between the worlds was somewhat diminished, which can allow the forces of chaos
to invade the realms of order, the material world conjoining with the world of
the dead.At this time began the Wild
Hunt in which the restless spirits of the dead walked amongst the living.The dead could return to the places where
they had lived and food was provided in their honor.