I can’t believe it’s this time of year already! Where did 2016 go?? This past year has been wracked with huge changes in my life. All hell broke loose December 31, 2015, and it’s been a wild ride ever since– spiritually, emotionally, and financially. However, the wild ride appears to be calming down now, life smoothing over with regular routine, new opportunities, and a new-found sense of stability. The transitions involved have included acceptance, transformation, and new connections. As I slide into the end of October, into the end of this year, I’m warmed and comforted by another celebration of Samhain at our house.
Five things that highlight this holiday for me include, but are not limited to:
- Hot Apple Cider ~ Every Samhain for the past 20+ years, I’ve drug out my huge (HUGE) silver canning kettle and set it on the back of the stove to slowly heat the Drink of the Evening. My recipe —
5-7 large jugs of applejuice
8-10 bags of peach tea
a handful of cinnamon sticks
and a large metal tea ball filled
with whole cloves and allspice
You can leave a shaker of nutmeg sit on the counter & anyone who wants to add a dash of this spice to their mug of apple cider can do so.
If you don’t like this cider full force, you can dilute it some with water to suit your own taste.
My Hot Apple Cider
Let’s take a look at the ingredients we just used from a magickal perspective:
Nutmeg— one of the most popular uses for nutmeg is to assure fidelity. It’s also used for spells centered around luck, money, and health.
Cinnamon— spirituality, success, healing, power, psychic powers, lust, protection, love
Allspice— money, luck, healing
Cloves— protection, exorcism, love, money
Apple— love, healing, garden magic, immortality
2. Autumn leaves & flowers ~ There is nothing more beautiful than a tree caught in its seasonal death throes. It puts a new spin and realization on the idea of death and rebirth for me; the idea of shedding oneself of all the outward trappings of ego, vanity, and expectation; the idea of natural beauty that comes with age and experience, and a miraculous rebirth, whether physically or spiritually.
3. The Ancestors ~ As I’ve gotten older and time has marched mercilessly on, all through the past few decades, I’ve watched the Older Generation of my family die off. First, the “Greats” (and these are people I actually knew, whom I remember)…great-grandparents and aunts: Alpha, Tracy, Gma Smith, Gpa Smith, Lizzie. And I still watch, even now, as the passing generations move up, ever closer to me and my generation…my grandmother, Darlene, Jim (my father). And then there are those that died tragically, before they had time to get old…Joe, John Patrick, Norman. It’s with a sense of awe and wonder, a sense of growing knowledge and acceptance, that I’m beginning to understand the real meaning behind the “Wheel of the Year” and its natural progression.
Last Year’s Ancestor Altar
4. Spices ~ allspice, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg…They say that your olfactory sense, your sense of smell, can snap a memory into your brain faster than almost anything else, so closely are certain scents associated for us. And this is true of the traditional smells of autumn at our house. I can visualize Grma’s teapot, particular cups, favorite old trees adorned in autumn leaves, pets (both present and past) who laid at our feet around the kitchen table, puddles of glowy golden light from lamps on a wet and cold drooling autumn day…I could go on and on. These smells, as pleasant as they are in themselves, hold all kinds of memories for me.
5. Chili ~ Every year, for 20+ years now, I drag out my Great-Big-Red-Cooking-Pot and make a walloping batch of homemade chili. You can tell the prosperous years from the lean years by my chili…on prosperous years, it will contain more meat. This is another one of those scents that also connect closely with Samhain at our house, it’s a family tradition. I usually start the chili early in the morning and let it sit and simmer on low all day, giving the flavors time to blend deliciously together.
So, what are the things that bring this holiday, and this time of year home to you? What are your family traditions and memories? How does Samhain touch you?