5 Things That Bring Samhain Home for Me

 

samhain7.jpg picture by witch_of_endore

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:

  1. 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:

Peaches— love

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.

autumn-5

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.

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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.

coffee-time-59

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.

My Chili

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?

 

Memories in a Handful of Stones

These three stones were sent to me by a friend, a friend who lives on the east coast– a magickal, creative, saucy little witch.  She brought her special energy to all that she did, everything she touched, from her whimsical blog full of recipes for Pagan holidays to the connections she made in the Pagan world on a variety of social sites. She was loved and respected among us all.

I forgot exactly what the circumstances were that surrounded the stones and why she sent them, but that really isn’t important; I treasure them.  I keep them in a beautiful sterling silver dish that is a leaf, a gift from my son.  The stones and the leaf are perfect together.

This lovely lady didn’t pass on, as you may have thought when you started reading this post, which sounds somewhat like a eulogy.  I guess it is a eulogy in a way; it’s memorializing, remembering, and honoring the spirit of a Sister-Witch who no longer exists.  The lovely lady simply decided to take another path in life, she went down a fork in the road, veering away from all the places she had been to have new adventures in a new life.  I miss the magickal, creative, saucy little witch; but I’d like to think that some of her energy still exists here, in these stones, and in the memories I carry.

I wish her well.  I hope that her explorations unearth new friends and positive connections.  I hope that she is happy in the life she’s chosen and the path she’s following.

Witches

*Note: this image is courtesy of Pinterest

21 Summer Memories

21 Summer Memories

1. The smell of hot pavement damp with rain.

2. Cool green grass beneath my grandmother’s apple trees.

3. Chocolate ice-cream cones from the little shop around the corner.

4. Short pixie haircuts and matching short outfits.

5. Panting dogs, lazy cats.

6. Summer storms coming– black angry skies, rumbling thunder, and those first large hesitant drops of rain.

7. Watermelon

8. Grandma’s large old picnic basket with a complete set of brightly colored plates, cups, and utensils.

9. Kool-Aid in a large clear pitcher, with enough sugar to kill a horse; and iced-tea.

10. Fans humming at night.

11. A cool pillowcase turning warm, till you turn it over to another cool side.

12. Hot cement on bare feet.

13. The smell of tomato vines.

14. Early morning sunshine falling across the flower beds.

15. The fishy smell of Lake Mitchell and the winding tree-lined gravel roads around it.

16. Cool linoleum floors.

17. Silver nail polish

18. Bicycling everywhere, on a new girls’ blue bike (circa 1968).

19. Silver moonlight falling on my grandmother’s pear tree, so bright it was hard to believe it was night.

20. My grandmother’s turquoise & white checked table cloth used for family dinners.

21. Laying lazily on my bed on hot afternoons, in front of an open window, with the elm tree right outside, reading old copies of Nancy Drew mysteries, Ann Sheridan in the ‘Sign of the Sphinx‘, Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Eight Cousins’, and the adventures of flight nurse Cherry Ames.