“The Hermit Crab” by Mary Oliver

The Hermit Crab
Mary Oliver

Once I looked inside
the darkness
of a shell folded like a pastry
and there was a fancy face—

or almost a face—
it turned away
and frisked up its brawny forearms
so quickly

against the light
and my looking in
I scarcely had time to see it,
gleaming

under the pure white roof
of old calcium
When I set it down, it hurried
along the tideline

of the sea,
which was slashing along as usual,
shouting and hissing
toward the future,

turning its back
with every tide on the past,
leaving the shore littered
every morning

with more ornaments of death—
what a pearly rubble
from which to choose a house
like a white flower—

and what a rebellion
to leap into it
and hold on,
connecting everything,

the past to the future—
which is of course the miracle—
which is the only argument there is
against the sea.

———————-

Originally published in: House of Light (1990)
Photo taken from: Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver (2017)
Tarot Card Print from: Finnikee (etsy)

Haikus for the Wheel of the Year

Pumpkins of Samain (“SOW-wen”)
With the light of theirs candles
Welcomes the deceased

Yule (“YUL”) at our doorstep
The waxing sun is rising
Time to celebrate

Celtic Spring, Imbolg (“IM-mbolg”)
When the first flowers appears
Wash away the old

Shining Ostara (“OH-star-ah”)
The return of warmth and light
And life is renewed

At Bealtaine (“BEY-al-TIN-ah”)
Powerful fertility
A Season for love

Midsummer (“MID-summer”) is here
Fullness of nature’s bounty
New changes in life

Lúgnasad (“LOO-nah-sah”) sabbat
Harvesting the abundance
Bountiful of Earth

The youthful Mabon (“MAY-bon”)
The decline of the life force
Thanks, fruits of the Earth

Lo Scarabeo – 2022 Catalog

Finally found it. Usually they publish the new catalog around December/January on https://issuu.com/, but it wasn’t posted this year. I randomly found the 2022 catalog here:

The ones that are picking my interest are:

  • Tarot Original 1909 – Circular Edition (January 2022)
  • Traditional Italian Fortune Cards [Antica Cartomanzia #3] (June 2022)
  • Oracular Cards of Change [Antica Cartomanzia #4] (August 2022)
  • Marseille Vintage Tarot (October 2022)
  • Tarocchino Al Soldato [Anima Antiqua #11] (October 2022)
  • Tarocchi Piacentini [Anima Antiqua #12] (November 2022)

Lo Scarabeo’s Old Cartomancy Line

First, I need to mention that I’m not sponsored by Lo Scarabeo (but hey, I don’t think I would refuse!), but I really like their reprints of historical decks, and I like to collect them!

This year, Lo Scarabeo released two cartomancy decks in their new line named Antica Cartomanzia (‘Old Cartomancy’). I just ordered these and I’m eagerly awaiting their arrival in the next days/weeks. This new series looks very similar to their Anima Antiqua line (‘Antique Soul’), which are reprints of historical tarot decks, usually released twice a year since 2017 (we got the 9th and 10th decks this year). The tarot line (Anima Antiqua) are limited to 2999 for each edition, but I don’t think the oracle line (Antica Cartomanzia) are limited editions. But, limited or not, any decks became out-of-production sooner than later, so that’s why when I saw the upcoming deck for 2022, I decided to finally order the two first sets. Here the decks in the collection so far, and I’ll keep you updated as soon as I learn about the 2nd historical oracle deck for 2022. UPDATE: The 4th deck has been revealed! I added it below.

Antica Cartomanzia #1 – Folk Cards of Destiny
Release date: October 8, 2021
Link at Lo Scarabeo Page

Antica Cartomanzia #2 – Medieval Fortune Telling Cards
Release date: November 8, 2021
Link at Lo Scarabeo Page

Antica Cartomanzia #3 – Traditional Italian Fortune Cards
Release date: May 8, 2022
Link at Llewellyn Publications Page

Antica Cartomanzia #4 – Oracular Cards of Change
Release date: August 8, 2022
Link at Barnes & Noble

Paranormal Investigations 2022

Samhain is slightly behind us, and we are firmly into the dark half of the year! This season always awake my interest in the paranormal and the occult, and this was the same during my youth. Currently, I’m in full ‘Ghost Hunting’ mode!

My Pagan Journey made me discover that my favorite practices are anything dealing with divination (Tarot, Ogham, Runes) and communication with the Ancestors (Spirit Boards, Pendulum, Dowsing Rods). 2022 will be the year I’ll start doing small paranormal investigations, probably joined by a friend of mine. His approach is more on the curious side, and he likes to get scared, but I’m not easily frightened (I’m frequently inviting spirits of the Ancestors in my Sabbats and Esbats rites) and I personally wants to collects evidences in a hope to study any ghostly phenomena that might occurs during my investigations. I’ll follow the same pattern as the early years of TAPS, and debunk any occurrence first, then, sees if that any of them could be labelled as unexplained/haunted.

I already own an EMF meter since 2007, the good old Cell Sensor (the same model used in the second season of Ghost Hunters), and I also own my trusty DSLR, my Nikon D7100 that can shoot in 1080p, with many features like Night Vision.

However, I’m known as someone who always do things very thoroughly, and these few items aren’t enough! I started collecting new gear to add to my own paranormal investigator kit, and by Spring 2022, these will be ready and up for my investigations. Even if I’m interested by the occult and the paranormal since 1993, I consider myself a beginner for ghost hunting, which mean that I’ll start with the basic gear. I already own 1/3 of the items, but I’ll buy the remaining during winter. I’ll be using an aluminum multi-purpose carrying case (MegaDisc TX-01B; Inside dimensions: Length 19 3/4″, Width 12 3/4″, Depth 5″) with pre-cut foam:

Here is the layout I chose to make sure everything is going to fit nicely:

Obviously I could have saved more space by putting most of the items on their sides, but I wanted a cool look!

The case don’t include the practical items that I’ll bring, like my cellphone, walkie talkies, a belt bag, my camera strap, etc. Here is the list of what I’ll carry to investigate the paranormal:

  • KII EMF Meter
  • Cell Sensor EMF Meter
  • P-SB7T Spirit Box
  • MEL Meter REM-ATDD
  • Sony ICD-UX570 Digital Audio Recorder
  • Sovarcate HS980E Infrared Thermometer
  • Nikon D7100 DSLR Camera + Lens
  • FLIR One Gen 3 Thermal Imaging Camera
  • Vansky UV Blacklight Flashlight
  • Garrity Flashlight
  • Motion Light Up Balls (X2)
  • ORDRO LN-3 Studio Infrared Torch
  • Leadsound Portable Speaker
  • EverBrite LED Headlamp
  • Green Laser Grid Pointer
  • Ercrysto Bag for cords
  • Hanvel Flash Drives Holder
  • USB Flash Drives
  • JJC SD Card Case
  • JJC Battery Case (AAA + 9V)
  • Moleskine Reporter Notebook (3.5″ x 5.5″)
  • Pen
  • Nikon Battery Charger MH-25

Here are the recommended tools for an advanced/professional level:

  • Tri-Field Natural EMF Detector
  • EDI+ Data Logger
  • REM Pod with Temp
  • SB11-ANC Spirit Box
  • FLIR E6 Thermal Camera
  • 4K Infrared Cameras
  • Electron Multiplying Camera (EMCCD)
  • Full Spectrum POV Camera
  • Binaural Microphones
  • Zoom 360° Audio Recorder, or
  • Tascam DR-40X Four-Track Digital Audio Recorder
  • Tesla Speaker
  • 360° Puck Laser Grid

And for the traditionalists (Low Tech):

  • Dowsing L-Rods
  • Pendulum
  • Compass
  • Talcum Powder
  • Crepe Paper
  • Half-Inflated Helium Balloon
  • Writing planchette
  • Ouija board

Stay tuned, I’ll post the building of the inside of the case in few weeks!

Yule (Meán Geimhreadh)

DateEventOriginAttributeTimeDeity Honored
December 21-22Winter SolsticeNorseMasculineDayGrian & Lugh

Yule (“YUL”) is celebrated on December 21-22, during the Winter Solstice. “Yule” is derived from jól, an Old Norse word meaning “wheel”. The Irish Reconstructionist name of this festival is Meán Geimhreadh (“Middle of Winter”, “Midwinter”). This Minor Sabbat marks the middle of the Celtic Winter, but is actually the astronomical beginning of winter manifested by the longest night and shortest day of the year. This is a time for acknowledging the return of the waxing sun. Light and life can be seen to be returning and conquering death. Yule is a turning point, a point of change, where the tides of the year turn and begin to flow in the opposite direction. It is the darkest time of the year, the time of the longest night, but there is the promise of the return of light. We encourage the sun to rise and to grow in power, and we remember the seasons of plenty. Magickally we bring back the season of plenty, and we feast on rich foods and drinks. The evergreen fir tree represents life amidst death, representing everlasting life, and lasting friendship and is manifestations of deity because they do not “die” during winter. Holly and Mistletoe bear berries at this time, symbolizing fertility. In the Lord and the Lady Narrative, the Goddess gives birth to a son, the God. Since the God is also the sun, this marks the point of the year when the sun is reborn as well. In the Oak King and the Holly King Narrative, the Holly King is at the height of his strength, while the Oak King is at his weakest. However, the Oak King in turn vanquishes the Holly King.

The return of the sun is the strongest theme of Jul (Yule). The Norsemen had a twelve-night-long feasting celebration named Zwölften (“The Twelve”) to honor the sun goddess Sunna, starting on December 20. The Twelve Days of Yule included the burning of a Yule log and Oath-taking of importance. The Yule log, also known as Yeel Carline (the Christmas Old Wife) in Scotland and Bloc na Nollaig (the Christmas Block) in Ireland, is a specially selected log burnt on a hearth. The practice calls for burning a portion of the log each evening until Twelfth Night (January 6). The log is subsequently placed beneath the bed for luck, and particularly for protection from the household threats of lighting and, with some irony, fire. Many have beliefs based on the yule log as it burns, and by counting the sparks and such, they seek to discern their fortunes for the new year and beyond. The Celts believed the continual fire would protect the home and ward off evil spirits. There is places in Ireland where the yule log was replaced with a single large candle.

Death, rebirth and immortality are associated with this Solstice as Yule is the longest night of the year, and a time for honoring the Ancestors. The Norsemen celebrated Baldur at Yule, the end of Ragnarok, who returned from the dead after being killed during Midsummer. The figure of Santa Claus is inspired by the Norse god Odin who led the Wilde Jagd, a ghostly Wild Hunt procession through the sky, astride his eight-legged horse named Sleipnir. The Celts gathered together to feast over the bounty of the harvest of the year and honored the Irish god Lugh, a god of light. The Gaulish midwinter feast of Devoriuros was a celebration about the renewal promised by the returning of light dedicated to the goddess Dea Matrona.

Modern Celebration of Yule

In modern Germanic language-speaking areas and some other Northern European countries, historical cognates to English yule denote the Christmas holiday season. Examples include jul in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, jól in Iceland and the Faroe Islands, joulu in Finland, Joelfest in Friesland, Joelfeest in the Netherlands and jõulud in Estonia. Midwinter, known commonly as Yule or within modern Druid traditions as Alban Arthan, has been recognized as a significant turning point in the yearly cycle since the late Stone Age. The ancient megalithic sites of Newgrange and Stonehenge, carefully aligned with the solstice sunrise and sunset, exemplify this. The reversal of the Sun’s ebbing presence in the sky symbolizes the rebirth of the solar god and presages the return of fertile seasons. From Germanic to Roman tradition, this is the most important time of celebration. Practices vary, but sacrifice offerings, feasting, and gift giving are common elements of Midwinter festivities. Bringing sprigs and wreaths of evergreenery (such as holly, ivy, mistletoe, yew, and pine) into the home and tree decorating are also common during this time. In Roman traditions additional festivities take place during the six days leading up to Midwinter.

Today the event is celebrated in Heathenry and some other forms of Modern Paganism. forms of Neopaganism can be quite different and have very different origins, these representations can vary considerably despite the shared name. Some celebrate in a way as close as possible to how they believe Ancient Germanic pagans observed the tradition, while others observe the holiday with rituals “assembled from different sources”. In Germanic Neopagan traditions, Yule is celebrated with gatherings that often involve a meal and gift giving. The mistletoe representing female figure is used for Yule fertility celebrations, and the Christmas tree is often called the Yule tree (though its origin doesn’t exactly stem from the old Yule). Neopagans honor the spirit of the tree, and what it represents. A Yule custom is to dress an evergreen tree, and make offerings. Many thinks that it is far better to honor a living tree outdoors instead of cutting a tree down, causing environmental damage, or to decorating a plastic tree inside. The Yule goat is also popular in Christmas depictions and decorations. Modern Druid traditions also acknowledge Yule as a major celebration, and in some Germanic Neopagan traditions, Yule is celebrated with gatherings with friends and family, involving meals and gifts giving. In most forms of Wicca, this holiday is celebrated at the winter solstice as the rebirth of the Great horned hunter god, who is viewed as the newborn solstice sun. The method of gathering for this sabbat varies by practitioner. Some have private ceremonies at home, while others do so with their covens. Groups such as the Asatru Folk Assembly in the US, through influence from the neo-Druid and Wiccan Wheel of the Year, celebrate Yule from the date of the winter solstice and lasting 12 days.

The Yule log is another interesting tradition and perhaps the most iconic of Yule traditions. The yule log played a large part in solstice celebrations all across Europe. It is still carried out in many places: a big log is taken into the hearth and burned, sometimes for days on end. The idea behind is to use it as an emblem of the Sun, or alternatively, to help lend strength to the Sun so that it may re-emerge after the short and cold winter days. To practice this as a more modern tradition, choose a log section of your choice of wood. Drill a few holes on the top of the log to serve as candle holders. Adorn with greenery such as holly or evergreens and set as a centerpiece on the dining room table. On the winter solstice, burn the log and its adornments in a fireplace or wood stove while setting intentions for the year to come.

Wassail or Mulled Wine is another Yuletide tradition. The word ‘wassail’ or mulled wine, is from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael’, meaning ‘good health’. It spread throughout Europe in many different forms. It was common during the Yuletide season to go “a-wassailing”, or strolling from house to house singing in exchange for wassail. This custom is the basis of our caroling. Christmas is probably the most successful holiday in mankind’s history, being celebrated by billions worldwide — Christian or not. But Christmas itself is a mosaic of other holidays, drawing from many ancient beliefs. Perhaps that makes it even better.

Yule Reference Guide

Pronunciation“YUL”
OriginNorse
EventMarks the middle of the Celtic Winter; Astronomical beginning of Winter
TimeDuring the winter Solstice, the longest night and shortest day of the year
Traditional DateDecember 21-22 (Northern Hemisphere) | June 20-21 (Southern Hemisphere)
Astrological TimingSun at 0o of Capricorn (Northern) | Sun at 0o of Cancer (Southern)
ConnectionChristmas (Dec. 25)
Alternate NamesMidwinter, Midvinterblot/Yuleblot (Ásatrú)
Cultural NamesOld Norse (Icelandic): jól (“wheel”), ýlir (“Month of December”) Old English (Pagan): Ærra Geola / Æfterra Geola (“Before Yule”/”After Yule”) Old English (Anglo-Saxon): ġéol, ġéohol, ġéola, ġéoli (“Month of December”) Proto-Germanic (Common Germanic): * jehwlan, *jeulō(r) (“December”) Welsh (Cymraeg): Alban Arthan / Alban Arthuan (“Light or Arthur”) Irish Reconstructionist: Meán Geimhreadh (“Middle of Winter”)
Spiritual FocusBeginnings, birth, challenge, compassion, cycles, endings, eternity, gratitude, insight, rebirth, restoration, sacrifice, search for meaning, sleep, wisdom
Magickal FocusCommunal celebration, contemplation and looking inward, deep ritual, evaluation, healing work, hibernation (falling into sync with darkness), meditation, reflection, “taking stock”, personal retreat
Suggested WorkingsDivination and scrying, feasting, journaling, study, tool crafting, vigil
Female ArchetypesCrone and Maiden aspects of the Goddess, The Holy Mother
Male ArchetypesThe Holly King and the Oak King, Father Time, The Green Knight as the spirit of winter incarnate, The King as a mature male and oft-solar deity, The Green Man
Celtic GoddessesGrian (Irish), The Cailleach (Gaelic), Carravogue (Christian Irish and Britain)
Celtic GodsLugh (Irish)
ColorsGreen, Gold, Red, White
HerbsCardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Ivy, Mistletoe, Nutmeg, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Saffron
TreesEvergreens, Cedar, Fir, Pine, Spruce, Holly, Pecan
FlowersChristmas Rose, Poinsettia
Incense & Oil ScentsCardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Evergreens (Fir, Pine, Spruce, Cedar), Frankincense, Myrrh, Wood Smoke
Crystals & StonesBloodstone, Garnet, Onyx, Ruby, Tanzanite, Turquoise, Zircon
MetalsGold, Lead
AnimalsBear, Cow and Oxen, Flying Reindeer, Horse, Pig, Raven, Reindeer and Stag
Tarot KeysThe Hermit, The Magician, Pentacles, The World
Symbols & ToolsCauldron, Darkness, Evergreens, Light, Mother and Child, Wreaths, Yule Log
FoodBûche de Noël (Roast of Meat and Poultry), Citrus Fruits, Fruitcake, Homemade Baked Goods, Potatoes, Rutabagas, Turnips, Parsnips, Sweet Potatoes
DrinksDrinking Vinegars, Eggnog, Glug, Hot Buttered Rum, Hot Coffee Drinks, Hot Chocolate, Hot Toddy (Lemon, Honey, Alcohol, Boiling Water, Cinnamon Stick), Mulled Wine, Tea, Tom and Jerry Cocktail, Wassail
ActivitiesDecorating the homestead, making and giving gifts, baking soul cakes, attending live performances and concerts, watching the Gemini meteor showers, game playing, caroling, bonfires and fire circles, storytelling, ringing of bells
Acts of ServiceGiving to those less fortunate, feeding birds and wildlife, furnishing warm clothing for those in need, sending packages to military personnel overseas, working in food banks and soup kitchens

Rite of Yule

This rite can be included in your usual seasonal ritual order. You’ll need these additional items:

  • 4 Candles (White, Red, Black and Green)

Declare the Statement of Purpose:

I am doing a rite today to celebrate Yule
All is cold, and I await the coming of Dawn

As the Sun rises, the Triple Goddess
Once more gives birth to the Divine Child
In silence and wonder I stand before
The sacred Cauldron of Rebirth
Knowing that one day I too must pass
Through the Cauldron to be reborn
For this I now give honor to the Triple Goddess
This is the Winter Solstice
The longest night of the year
Darkness reigns triumphant
Yet gives way and changes to Light
The Sun King has gone into the realms of Death
Yet, within the sacred Cauldron of Rebirth
He is once again transformed
Into the Newborn Divine Child of Light
Blessed be the Triple Goddess
Who gives to her people tonight a Newborn God
Blessed be the Newborn Sun King

Light the white, the red and the black candles near the cauldron, saying:

Blessed be the Maiden, innocent and fresh
May you plant your seeds of joy in my life
Blessed be the Mother, fertile and loving
May you grant me gifts of creative ideas
Blessed be the Crone, powerful and wise
May you give me your knowledge and wisdom

Light the green candle inside the cauldron, saying:

Blessed be the Newborn Lord of the Forests
Who comes once more into the world
I welcome you, Divine Sun Child
And consort of the Triple Goddess
Farewell to the Waning Sun
Farewell to the Holly King
Welcome to the Waxing Sun
Welcome to the Oak King

Witch Recipe: Celtic Yule Cakes

Until late in the 19th century, Yule Cakes were made in Shetland, Orkney and many other parts of Scotland. The tradition came of ancient pagan origin, from a time and a life we can barely now imagine, but have carried with us all the same in remnant customs. Yule Cakes were made very early on Yule morning. Baked on a griddle like oatcakes, they were round with pinched edges and in Orkney and Shetland they had a hole in the middle. The cakes represented the return of the “Shining Wheel”, the sun coming round again. They were a response to one of our oldest human needs, that of hope, which Yule and later Christmas helped to meet, carrying the folk of the north through the dark days. A Yule Cake was made for each member of the household, and ranged in size according to age. The cakes when ready were given to their recipients who each had the responsibility of keeping theirs unbroken until later in the day. A cake preserved whole to the Yule table signified good luck for its owner in the year ahead. Along with most of the old Yule rituals, the customs around the making and eating of Yule cakes fell out of favor. However there remained in mind the sun-shaped cake for the turning of the year. Shortbread, with its rounds marked like the rays of the sun, became traditional fare at the Scottish festive table, a fragment of a custom from the ancient times that we’ve carried all this way.

Yield: 8 servings

Total Time: 40 min. (Preparation: 15 min. | Cooking Time: 20-25 min).

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tablespoons Boiling Water
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ¾ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • ⅔ Cup White Sugar
  • Grated Orange Zest
  • 1 ⅓ Cup Sultanas
  • 1 Tablespoon Milk
  • 1 ¼ Cup Flour
  • ½ Cup Butter
  • 2 Eggs (Beaten)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375o F.
  2. Beat eggs, butter, vanilla, orange zest and sugar together.
  3. Add flour and baking powder.
  4. When well mixed add the tablespoon of milk and sultanas.
  5. Pour into a well-floured/greased cupcake tin.
  6. Bake in an oven preheated to 375o F for 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. In a small bowl blend boiling water and powdered sugar to make the icing.

Lace over Celtic cakes in the form of a five-pointed star before serving.

Witch Craft: Making a Yule Wreath

Yule comes from Old Norse traditions and modern Heathens uses a Yule wreath at the Mothers’ Night symbel (December 21) as an oath ring. This wreath is oathed upon as well as wished upon, and then burned at the Twelfth Night blót. The Pagan Wheel of the Year is often symbolized by the wreath. Its circle has no beginning and no end, thus illustrating that the Wheel of the Year is also like this, with everything in its time coming back to its point of origin and traveling onward, over and over again. Though they can be bought ready-made, enjoy some Yule fun by making your own unique Yule wreath out of wire, evergreen twigs, pinecones, and artificial fruit.

Supplies:

  • Unbroken pinecones
  • Evergreen twigs with foliage
  • Wire wreath frame
  • Wire twist ties or florist’s wire
  • Artificial fruits
  • Scissor or cutter
  • Ribbons, bows and other decorations you want to add

Instructions:

To make this wreath you will need to gather as many unbroken pinecones as you can find. You may even want to begin gathering them at Midsummer when they are plentiful in most of North America. Estimate how big a wreath you can construct with what you have gathered. Four dozen average-sized cones will make a wreath about eighteen inches in diameter. Then go to a craft store and purchase a sturdy wire wreath frame in the size you need, and also some wire twist ties or florist’s wire, and the artificial fruit. A single-wire frame is best for a thin, delicate wreath; for a lush-looking wreath, start with a double-wire frame. You may also want to get velvet ribbons and bows to add an extra splash of color to your wreath. Give yourself a large workspace, such as a kitchen table, and set all your materials in front of you.

Place a small twig on the ring and then wrap a little bit of green florist’s wire to keep it in place. Add another bundle, overlapping the previous one by half; wrap wire around stems. Continue adding bundles until you reach the starting point. Continue adding branches rotating around the ring in the same direction. Continue adding bundles until you reach the starting point. Tuck wire under form, secure with a knot, and cut. When the entire form is covered, tie off the wire, leaving a few extra inches before cutting the end. To make a hanger, form the end of the wire into a loop and twist it around itself. Add other foliage. I had some eucalyptus branches left over from a bouquet a neighbor gave me which I recycled into the wreath. All sorts of evergreen needles and full branches in your neighborhood can work, or anything that dries nicely. Beginning with the largest of your pinecones, tie them onto the wire frame by using the twist ties or florist’s wire. You can attach the wire to either the center of the pinecone or wrap it tightly around one individual prong. Keep adding the largest cones until you have filled in most of the wreath, then go back and fill in any gaps and thin spots with the smaller cones. The natural look of the wreath is attractive, but because pinecones are organic, they will not last forever unless some effort is made to preserve them. When you are satisfied with the way the pinecones are tied onto your wreath, you can either paint or spray on shellac or varnish to preserve your wreath and give it a smooth finish. When it has dried, you can add your artificial fruit, ribbons, or any other seasonal decorations.

Further Reading: Yule by Susan Pesznecker (2015)

Samhain (Samain)

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I’m late, sorry for that! I’m posting this to complete my Sabbat series, and that will still be useful for the upcoming years.

DateEventOriginAttributeTimeDeities Honored
Oct. 31-Nov. 1Celtic WinterCelticFeminineEveThe Cailleach & Donn

Samhain (“SOW-wen”) is celebrated from sunset of 31st October to sunset of 1st November, halfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. If working by the moon, it is the first full moon when the sun is in Scorpio. “Samhain” is derived from Samain, an Irish Gaelic word meaning “summer’s end”. This Major Sabbat marks the beginning of the Celtic Winter or the darker half of the year and the end of the harvest season. Samhain is the last of the three Harvest Festivals. This is a time for acknowledging the Ancestors and the beginning of the year awaiting birth in the realm of shadow. The earth prepares for sleep and draws energy inwards. This is a time for introspection, as we too draw our energy within and prepare for the Winter. The veil is thinnest between the worlds and we call on the spirits of the dead and invite them to feast with us on this. In the Lord and the Lady Narrative, the God passes into the underworld, taking with him the fertility of the Goddess, who is now in her crone aspect. The God readies to be reborn from the Goddess at Yule.

The Cailleach, bringer of snows, death, and sharp storms, begins her reign on Samhain. She leaves her mountains and walks the Land, then proceeds to “wash her plaid (land)”. When the Cailleach is done, the plaid is white and the Land is covered with snow. She is said to ride on the back of a wolf carrying a wand made of human skin, that she uses to strike down all signs of growth. Behind her follows cold winds, blizzards, and ice. At the same time, Donn, the lord of the underworld, unfettered from the control of the sun, now walks the earth and with him travels the ghosts and the fairies from the abode of the dead.

Samhain was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. The Celts believed that summer came to an end on October 31 and the New Year began on November 1 with the start of winter. Samhain was seen as a liminal time, when the spirits or fairies could more easily come into our world. Offerings of food and drink were left for them. The souls of the dead were also thought to revisit their homes. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. Mumming and guising was a part of Samhain from at least the 16th century and was recorded in parts of Ireland, Scotland, Mann and Wales. It involved people going from house to house in costume (or in disguise), usually reciting songs or verses in exchange for food. It may have evolved from a tradition whereby people impersonated the aos sí, or the souls of the dead, and received offerings on their behalf. At household festivities throughout the Gaelic regions and Wales, there were many rituals intended to divine the future of those gathered, especially with regard to death and marriage. The bonfires were also used in divination rituals. In Scotland and Ireland, the first farmer to finish the grain harvest made a corn dolly, representing the Cailleach. The figure would then be tossed into the field of a neighbor who had not yet finished bringing in their grain. The last farmer to finish had the responsibility to take in and care for the corn dolly for the next year.

Modern Celebration of Samhain

During the late 19th and early 20th century Celtic Revival, there was an upswell of interest in Samhain and the other Celtic festivals. Sir John Rhys put forth that it had been the “Celtic New Year”. He inferred it from contemporary folklore in Ireland and Wales, which he felt was “full of Hallowe’en customs associated with new beginnings”. He visited Mann and found that the Manx sometimes called 31 October “New Year’s Night” or Hog-unnaa. The Tochmarc Emire (“The Wooing of Emer”), written in the Middle Ages, reckoned the year around the four festivals at the beginning of the seasons, and put Samhain at the beginning of those. However, Hutton says that the evidence for it being the Celtic or Gaelic New Year’s Day is flimsy. Rhys’s theory was popularized by Sir James George Frazer, though at times he did acknowledge that the evidence is inconclusive. Frazer also put forth that Samhain had been the pagan Celtic festival of the dead and that it had been Christianized as All Saints and All Souls. Since then, Samhain has been popularly seen as the Celtic New Year and an ancient festival of the dead. The calendar of the Celtic League, for example, begins and ends at Samhain.

Samhain and Samhain-based festivals are held by most Neopagans, and many choose to participate in the cultural and fun festivities of Halloween (October 31) and observe the solemnity of Samhain (November 1). As there are many kinds of Neopaganism, their Samhain celebrations can be very different despite the shared name. Some try to emulate the historic festival as much as possible. Other Neopagans base their celebrations on sundry unrelated sources, Gaelic culture being only one of the sources. Folklorist Jenny Butler describes how Irish pagans pick some elements of historic Samhain celebrations and meld them with references to the Celtic past, making a new festival of Samhain that is inimitably part of neo-pagan culture. Neopagans usually celebrate Samhain on 31 October–1 November in the Northern Hemisphere and 30 April–1 May in the Southern Hemisphere, beginning and ending at sundown. Some Neopagans celebrate it at the astronomical midpoint between the autumn equinox and winter solstice (or the full moon nearest this point), which is usually around 6 or 7 November in the Northern hemisphere.

Like other Reconstructionist traditions, Celtic Reconstructionist Pagans (CRs) emphasize historical accuracy. They base their celebrations and rituals on traditional lore as well as research into the beliefs of the polytheistic Celts. They celebrate Samhain around 1 November, but may adjust the date to suit their regional climate, such as when the first winter frost arrives. Their traditions include saining the home and lighting bonfires. Some follow the old tradition of building two bonfires, which celebrants and animals then pass between as a ritual of purification. For CRs, it is a time when the dead are especially honored. Though CRs make offerings at all times of year, Samhain is a time when more elaborate offerings are made to specific ancestors. This may involve making a small altar or shrine. They often have a meal, where a place for the dead is set at the table and they are invited to join. An untouched portion of food and drink is then left outside as an offering. Traditional tales may be told and traditional songs, poems and dances performed. A western-facing door or window may be opened and a candle left burning on the windowsill to guide the dead home. Divination for the coming year is often done, whether in all solemnity or as games. The more mystically inclined may also see this as a time for deeply communing with their deities, especially those seen as being particularly linked with this festival. Wiccans celebrate a variation of Samhain as one of their yearly Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year. It is deemed by most Wiccans to be the most important of the four “greater Sabbats”. Samhain is seen by some Wiccans as a time to celebrate the lives of those who have died, and it often involves paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets and other loved ones who have died. In some rituals the spirits of the dead are invited to attend the festivities. Some hold a Dumb Supper, a completely silent dinner with an extra meal and empty seat setting specifically for the Ancestors at the table. It is seen as a festival of darkness, which is balanced at the opposite point of the wheel by the spring festival of Beltane, which Wiccans celebrate as a festival of light and fertility. Wiccans believe that at Samhain the veil between this world and the afterlife is at its thinnest point of the whole year, making it easier to communicate with those who have left this world.

Samhain Reference Guide

Pronunciation“SOW-en”, “SOW-wen“, “SAH-man”
OriginCeltic
EventMarks the beginning of the Celtic Winter and the end of the harvest season
TimeHalfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice
Traditional DateNovember 1 (Northern Hemisphere) | May 1 (Southern Hemisphere)
Astrological TimingSun at 15o of Scorpio (Northern) | Sun at 15o of Taurus (Southern)
ConnectionAll Hallows’ Eve (Oct. 31), All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1), All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2)
Alternate NamesHallowmas, Halloween, Winter Nights (Ásatrú), November Eve, Día de Muertos
Cultural NamesIrish Gaelic (Goídelc): Samain, Samuin, Samfuin (“summer’s end”) Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig): Samhuinn/Samhainn Manx Gaelic (Gaelg): Sauin Welsh (Cymraeg): Calan Gaeaf (“First Day of Winter”) Proto-Celtic (Common Celtic): *samo- (“summer”) / *samani (“assembly”) Irish Reconstructionist: Samain, Lá Samhma
Spiritual FocusAncestry, beginnings, bereavement, change, courage, death, endings, faerie, hunting, other worlds, preservation, reincarnation, rest, survival, wisdom
Magickal FocusConfrontation, healing, hope, interdependence, love, preparation, protection, release from old bonds, renewal
Suggested WorkingsDivination, needfire, road openings
Female ArchetypesCrone aspect of the Goddess, The Grieving Mother, The Grieving Wife, The Woman in White
Male ArchetypesThe Huntsman, The Husbandman, The Faery King, The Horned God
Mixed ArchetypesThe Witch, The Changeling, The Grim Reaper, The Wild Hunt
Celtic GoddessesBadb (Irish), The Cailleach (Gaelic), Cerridwen (Welsh), Macha (Irish), The Morrígan (Irish), Rhiannon (Welsh)
Celtic GodsBilé (Irish), Cernunnos (Gallic), Donn (Irish), Taranis (Gallic), Teutates (Gallic)
ColorsBlack, Brown, Grey, Orange, Yellow, Silver
HerbsReed (Broom), Dittany of Crete, Garlic, Mugwort, Myrrh, Rosemary, Sage, Wormwood, Yarrow
TreesCedar, Hazel, Hemlock, Guelder Rose
FlowersChrysanthemum, Calendula, Marigold
Incense & Oil ScentsCinnamon, Clove, Copal, Decaying Leaves, Myrrh, Pine Needles, Warm Honey
Crystals & StonesCarnelian, Hematite, Jet, Moonstone, Obsidian, Onyx
MetalsIron, Silver
AnimalsBat, Black Cat, Owl, Raven, Spider
Tarot KeysDeath, The High Priestess, Wheel of Fortune
Symbols & ToolsBesom, Cauldron, Mask
FoodApple, Fermented Foods (Sauerkraut, Picked Eggs, Pickled Beets), Pumpkin, Raw Nuts, Roasted Nuts
DrinksApple Cider, Lamb’s Wool
ActivitiesAll types of divination, apple bobbing, bonfires, extra place at the table for ancestors, jack-o’-lanterns, luminaries, mummer’s plays, scrying, séances, soul cakes, sugar skulls, trick-or-treating
Acts of ServiceClean off gravesites, dedicate memorials, offering food to the dead, visit nursing homes

Rite of Samhain

This rite can be included in your usual seasonal ritual order. You’ll need these additional items:

  • 2 Candles (Black and Orange)
  • Acorn Cakes, Antler or Fresh Mint

Declare the Statement of Purpose:

I am doing a rite today to celebrate Samhain
Tonight I mark the passing of the old year
And with it the passage of life
This is the time when the veil between the realms
Is thinnest and the dead walk freely amongst us
The harvest is complete and the land grows dark
Yet be not afraid, for all those
Who loved me have now returned
I am here to honor the Cailleach
Lady of the dark season
Let me acknowledge her power
As it is manifest throughout the land
Tonight I offer my worship and devotion
To the power of the winter winds
When the Cailleach calls
Deep within the forest
Deep within the land
We can feel it in our bones

Like the roots of old
It is time to come home
Into the darkness of the woods
Where the old hag will cut us open
And we will grow new again
Our frailty and weakness
Cut down like the corn

Light the black and the orange candles. Then, ready the offering and say:

Cailleach, Lady of Darkness and Death
Keeper of Shadows, Reaper in the fields
Hunters’ guide, Warden of the herds
Dark Lady, Queen of Winter,
Accept this sacrifice!

Offer acorn cakes, antler or fresh mint to the offering bowl while saying:

With the aid of Manannán, I opened the ways
I have given freely with devotion, love and praise
Here I stand before you with my open heart
Cailleach, accept my sacrifice!

Witch Recipe: Samhain Pumpkin Pie

When Christianity came to Ireland and Scotland, it simply co-opted the three day festival of Samhain and folded it into All Hallows’ Eve, (October 31), All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2). It was a perfect fit and the original Pagan Samhain blended seamlessly into the new Christian celebration. In Ireland, children carved out potatoes or turnips as Jack-O’-Lanterns and lighted them from the inside with candles. When hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants came to America in the mid-nineteenth century, pumpkins were cheaper and more readily available than turnips. Carving pumpkins and making them in to Jack-O’-Lanterns lit by a candle inside became an American tradition as Halloween was enthusiastically adopted in the New World by people from every possible ethnic background. The origin of pumpkin pie occurred when the colonists sliced off the pumpkin top, removed the seeds, and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. The pumpkin was then baked in hot ashes.

The following recipe is the traditional holiday pumpkin pie. This pie is easy to prepare and even easier to enjoy. Just mix, pour, bake for a delicious homemade tradition of modern Samhain.

Yield: 8 servings

Total Time: 1 h 10 min. (Preparation: 15 min. | Cooking Time: 40-55 min).

Ingredients:

  • ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • ¼ Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Can (15 oz). Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 Can (12 fl. oz). Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Milk
  • 1 Unbaked 9-inch (4 Cup volume) Deep-dish Pie Shell
  • Whipped Cream (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425o F.
  2. Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl.
  3. Beat eggs in large bowl.
  4. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture.
  5. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
  6. Pour into pie shell.
  7. Bake in preheated 425o F oven for 15 minutes.
  8. Reduce temperature to 350o F
  9. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
  10. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours.
  11. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
  12. Top with whipped cream before serving.

Witch Craft: Pumpkin Carving

On Samhain, glowing Jack-O’-Lanterns, carved from turnips or gourds, were set on porches and in windows to welcome deceased loved ones, but also to act as protection against malevolent spirits. Burning lumps of coal were used inside as a source of light, later to be replaced by candles. When Irish settlers arrived in America, they found the native pumpkin to be cheaper, larger, easier to carve and seemed the perfect choice for Jack-O’-Lanterns. Samhain became more known as Halloween around the late 1800’s and has been celebrated in so many ways ever since. In Wicca practices, many Pagans and Wiccans continue that pumpkin carving tradition.

Supplies:

  • A pumpkin
  • Carving tools: saws, drills, pokers, scrapers, knives, exact-o knives, pins or thumbtacks
  • Tape

Instructions:

Select an un-bruised pumpkin, the size doesn’t matter – although bigger is better. Check for discoloration and soft spots. Pumpkins that are flat and don’t roll work best. Look for pumpkins with a sturdy stem, this is the sign of a healthy pumpkin. Don’t lift the pumpkin by the stem, this can damage the pumpkin and make it age faster. Check the bottom of the pumpkin to see if the base is damaged. Sometimes the bottom of the pumpkin is thin and can get punctured. If the pumpkin feels heavy and slushy put it back. Many times, it indicates that the insides has rotted. Saws of differing length and teeth spacing determine how well they work for tight areas. Closer teeth and smaller length provide high detail. The width of a drill determines the size of the hole it makes. Your drill’s length should be able to fully penetrate the pumpkin. Scrapers are used to make the back wall of the pumpkin smooth. This is where the reflected light will be coming from. Pokers are used to transfer patterns onto the pumpkin as well as to make very small holes. You can also obtain watermelon carving kits, the tools vary slightly in design, but mostly you’ll find scoops and different patterns. The most important tool is the mini hand-held saw. Cut off the lid of the pumpkin, angling the edge of the saw or knife. This is the only time you will be making a cone-shaped wedge. You don’t want the lid falling in. Keep the pumpkin steady and don’t cut your hand, you’ll need it later. Note, not all pumpkins have to have lids. If you intend to have a candle, be sure there is plenty of ventilation for the candle to breath, and consider not putting on the lid (which will scorch). Optionally, cut out the bottom or back (unless you’re casting a projection) of the pumpkin to preserve the top. After gutting the pumpkin of all its guck and seeds and strings, scrape it with a scraper. The wall for the front of the pumpkin should be no more than one inch thick. Anything more makes carving difficult. Don’t make it too thin, or then thin areas will dry out and get wrinkled. See preservation tips to prevent shriveling. The wall for the back of the pumpkin should only be scraped thin if you are going to cast a shadow. In this case, scrape it down to half an inch thick. Read projection patterns are much smaller, and it helps if there is less pumpkin wall to cut into. Patterns for pumpkins are about as large as the face of the pumpkin. Anywhere that will be light on the final product should be cut away, in short, you’re cutting out the negative. Patterns make high use of negative space. Obviously, you can’t have pieces floating, so everything has to connect to the wall of the pumpkin. Pumpkins can project images out the back and onto a flat surface. This effect looks really nice for indoor displays. The patterns need to be mirror image, that is flipped left-to-right, in order to project things like text on the wall correctly. Rear projection patterns need to be smaller than normal patterns and are typically no larger than four inches square. The pattern should be towards the top of the pumpkin’s back, not centered like the frontal pattern. The light source should be below the cut pattern. This allows the light to project upwards onto the wall.

Further Reading: Samhain by Diana Rajchel (2015)

Mabon (Meán Fómhair)

DISCLAIMER: Yes, I’m late, sorry for that! I’m posting this to complete my Sabbat series, and that will still be useful for the upcoming years.

DateEventOriginAttributeTimeDeities Honored
September 22-23Autumn EquinoxModernMasculineDayAengus Óg & Macha

Mabon (“MAY-bon”) is celebrated on September 22-23, during the Autumn Equinox. In reference to Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology, “Mabon” being an Old Welsh word meaning “son”. The Irish Reconstructionist name of this festival is Meán Fómhair (“Middle of Harvest”). This Minor Sabbat marks the middle of the Celtic Autumn, but is actually the astronomical beginning of autumn, manifested by the decrease of the light of the sun. Mabon is the second of the three Harvest Festivals. This is a time for acknowledging the decline of the life force into shadow and a moment of thanksgiving for the fruits of the Earth, and the recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and God during the winter months. Day and night are equal and the tide of the year flows steadily, but whilst the Spring Equinox manifests the equilibrium before action, the Autumnal Equinox represents the repose after action, the time to take satisfaction in the work of the summer and reap its benefits. We celebrate the abundance of the earth, and make wine from the excess fruit, to preserve the richness of the fruits of the earth to give us joy throughout the year. Mabon marks the completion of the harvest with the emphasis on the future return of that abundance. In the Lord and the Lady Narrative, the God prepares to leave His physical body and begin the great adventure into the unseen, toward renewal and rebirth of the Goddess. Nature declines, draws back its bounty, readying for winter and its time of rest. The Goddess nods in the weakening Sun, though fire burns within Her womb. She feels the presence of the God even as He wanes. In the Oak King and the Holly King Narrative, the Oak King slowly begins to regain his power as the sun begins to wane.

The holiday of the autumnal equinox, Harvest Home, Mabon, the Feast of the Ingathering, Meán Fómhair, An Clabhsúr, or Alban Elfed, is a modern Pagan ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and the God during the coming winter months. In an efforts to conceptualize modern pagan rituals, the name Mabon was coined by Aidan Kelly around 1970 as a reference to Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology. On this Equinox, the Welsh God Mabon ap Modron (“Son of the Goddess Modron”) was born. Three days after Mabon’s birth he was taken from his mother. Mabon is freed from his captivity. However, his captivity was actually in the womb of his mother Modron, a place of nurturing and challenge where Mabon acquired strength and learned lessons. Not long after, Mabon is reborn as the Son of Light and his mother’s champion. In Gaelic Mythology, Aengus Óg is widely considered to be connected to the ancient Celtic Gallic God Maponos and his Welsh equivalent, Mabon. Also, this Sabbat is often associated with Macha, a Crone aspect of the Goddess. Mabon was not an authentic ancient festival either in name or date. The autumn Equinox was not celebrated in Celtic countries, while all that is known about Anglo-Saxon customs of that time was that September was known as haleg-monath or ‘holy month’.

Modern Celebration of Mabon

While Mabon is the creation of Aidan Kelly around 1970, the idea of a harvest festival is nothing new. In fact, people have celebrated it for millennia, all around the world. In ancient Greece, Oschophoria was a festival held in the fall to celebrate the harvesting of grapes for wine. In the 1700’s, the Bavarians came up with Oktoberfest, which actually begins in the last week of September, and it was a time of great feasting and merriment, still in existence today. China’s Mid-Autumn festival is celebrated on the night of the Harvest Moon, and is a festival of honoring family unity.

Although the traditional American holiday of Thanksgiving falls in November, many cultures see the second harvest time of the fall equinox as a time of giving thanks. After all, it’s when you figure out how well your crops did, how fat your animals have gotten, and whether or not your family will be able to eat during the coming winter. However, by the end of November, there’s not a whole lot left to harvest. Originally, the American Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated on October 3, which makes a lot more sense agriculturally. Early agricultural societies understood the importance of hospitality—it was crucial to develop a relationship with your neighbors, because they might be the ones to help you when your family ran out of food. Many people, particularly in rural villages, celebrated the harvest with great deals of feasting, drinking, and eating. After all, the grain had been made into bread, beer and wine had been made, and the cattle were brought down from the summer pastures for the coming winter. Celebrate Mabon yourself with a feast —and the bigger, the better! If you choose to celebrate Mabon, give thanks for the things you have, and take time to reflect on the balance within your own life, honoring both the darkness and the light. Invite your friends and family over for a feast, and count the blessings that you have among kin and community. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued his “Thanksgiving Proclamation”, which changed the date to the last Thursday in November. In 1939, Franklin Delano Roosevelt adjusted it yet again, making it the second-to-last Thursday, in the hopes of boosting post-Depression holiday sales. Unfortunately, all this did was confuse people. Two years later, Congress finalized it, saying that the fourth Thursday of November would be Thanksgiving, each year.

Neopagans considers Mabon as the Pagan Thanksgiving. It is time to look back upon what the earth has given us, what we have sown and reaped, and give thanks for all that we have. The harvest is a time of thanks, and also a time of balance—after all, there are equal hours of daylight and darkness. While we celebrate the gifts of the earth, we also accept that the soil is dying. We have food to eat, but the crops are brown and going dormant. Warmth is behind us, cold lies ahead.

For contemporary Druids, this is the celebration of Alban Elfed, which is a time of balance between the light and the dark. Many Asatru groups honor the fall equinox as Winter Nights, a festival sacred to Freyr. For most Wiccans and NeoPagans, this is a time of community and kinship. It’s not uncommon to find a Pagan Pride Day celebration tied in with Mabon. Often, PPD organizers include a food drive as part of the festivities, to celebrate the bounty of the harvest and to share with the less fortunate. Mabon is a good time to do magick spells that involve decrease or endings, and a time to break old habits and patterns. The equinox is one of only two points of perfect balance in the year–the exact equal time of day and night. Indigenous cultures saw this as a particularly holy time and built ancient marvels such as Stonehenge and Chichen Itza to capture the light and its blessings. For many modern people, including pagans, there is still a beautiful harmony in this balance of light and dark, of growth and rest. Celebrating Mabon does not require pilgrimaging to Stonehenge to drum and dance. It’s as simple as gathering together and feasting over good food and drink with loved ones. It’s about sharing the bounties we have with those less fortunate. And while you may not be counting your crops and examining your livestock, Mabon also includes grateful reflection on what gets us through hard times, and rejection of what is no longer healthy or working. As we’re bombarded with stressors outside of our control, it’s the perfect time to reconnect with ancient wisdom around the circle of life. So whether picking apples, drinking wine, planting seeds, or drumming primal beats, you are joining people across the world in celebration as we have for millennia.

Mabon Reference Guide

Pronunciation“MAY-bon”
OriginModern
EventMarks the middle of the Celtic Autumn; astronomical beginning of Autumn
TimeDuring the Autumn Equinox
Traditional DateSeptember 22-23 (Northern Hemisphere) | March 19-20 (Southern Hemisphere)
Astrological TimingSun at 0o of Libra (Northern) | Sun at 0o of Aries (Southern)
ConnectionSt Matthew’s Day (Sep. 21), Michaelmas (Sep. 29), Thanksgiving (various dates)
Alternate NamesHarvest Home, Day of the Aspen, Feast of Avalon, Winter Finding (Ásatrú)
Cultural NamesWelsh (Cymraeg): Alban Elfed (“Autumnal Equinox” or Light of the Water”) Welsh (Modern): Gŵyl y Cynhaeaf (“Feast of Harvest”) Brittonic and Gallic: Maponos, Maponus (“great son”, “great youth”) Proto-Celtic: *magh- (“young”) / *makwo- (“son”) / *makwōno- (“Maponos”) Irish Reconstructionist: Meán Fómhair (“Middle of Harvest”)
Spiritual FocusAccomplishment, balance, death, equality, equilibrium, goals, gratitude, grief, healing, love, preparation, sharing, success
Magickal FocusAgriculture, community, family harmony, grounding, honor, planning, public safety, wisdom
Suggested WorkingsConcentration, study, preparation, transition
Female ArchetypesMother and Crone aspect of the Goddess, The Grieving Widow, Harvest Lady, Harvest Queen, Kern Baby, The Warrior Queen
Male ArchetypesThe Divine King, The Dying God, The Harvest God, The Warrior Man, The Green Man
Celtic GoddessesEpona (Gallic), Macha (Irish), Modron (Welsh)
Celtic GodsAengus Óg (Irish), Mabon (Welsh)
ColorsBrown, Green, Orange, Red, Yellow
HerbsAcorns, Bay, Benzoin Resin, Echinacea, Hyssop, Ivy, Myrrh, Sage, Solomon’s Seal, Tobacco, Yarrow
TreesAsh, Elder, Maple, Oak
FlowersCarnation, Chrysanthemum, Marigold, Sunflower
Incense & Oil ScentsAloe, Benzoin, Burning Leaves, Cinnamon, Cedar, Clove, Frankincense, Myrrh, Pine
Crystals & StonesAmber, Amethyst, Golden Topaz, Hematite, Topaz, Sugilite
MetalsAntimony, Gold, Iron
AnimalsBlackbird, Eagle, Goose, Horse, Owl, Salmon, Squirrel, Stag
Tarot KeysThe Empress, The Hanged Man, Wheel of Fortune, The World
Symbols & ToolsCornucopias and Baskets, Effigies and Scarecrows, Garlands and Wreaths, Scythes, Bolines, and Sickles
FoodApples, Barley, Bread, Carrots, Corn, Gourds, Grapes, Melons, Nuts, Oats, Onions, Potatoes, Rye, Wheat
DrinksBeer, Cider, Mead, Water, Wine
ActivitiesCommunal feasting (corn roasts, barbecues, shared dinners), effigy burning, dancing, dunk tank games, music, parades, processionals, target games
Acts of ServiceFood drives, nursing home and hospice visits, park and highway cleanups, public school service and booster projects, veterans’ care

Rite of Mabon

This rite can be included in your usual seasonal ritual order. You’ll need these additional items:

  • 2 Candles (Orange)

Declare the Statement of Purpose:

I am doing a rite today to celebrate Mabon
I am poised at the moment of balance
The Earth turns her face from the Sun
Preparing itself for sleep
And though I reap the harvest of the light
I am preparing for the season of darkness

I honor the light
The fire of the Sun, of the hearth, of the heart
The life-giving warmth of the summer
Whose bounty sustains and supports me

I honor the darkness
The shadows of night, of the waters, of the soul
The death-bringing cold of the winter
Whose embrace shelters and renews me Hail the balance of light and dark
Hail the descent, Hail the return
And hail the spaces in between!

Light the yellow and the orange candles, and say:

I give thanks for this moment of balance
For this time of peace and celebration
The bounty of the light nourishes me
And the sleep of winter revives me
I have made offerings
With joy and gratitude
My work upholds the balance
I honor the Kindred
Of light and dark
Summer and winter
I hold sacred my place
In their cycle of change
Hail the balance of the cosmos!

Witch Recipe: Irish Apple Crumble

Apples have always played an important part in Irish folklore, tradition and diet, so it’s no surprise to find apple desserts in great supply and variety. This apple crumble, sometimes called Apple Crunch when the apples are first cooked to soften them, is flavored with a respectable dose of Irish whiskey and topped with a buttery oatmeal crumble. Many uses Kerrygold Irish butter to make this crumble. The butter, churned from the milk of grass-fed cows that graze in Ireland’s lush pastures, has a creamy richness and a remarkably golden color from the beta-carotene in the grass. It is the preferred butter of many seasoned bakers.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total Time: 2 hrs. 20 min. (Preparation: 20 min. | Cooking Time: 60min. and 50-60 min).

Ingredients (Topping):

  • 1 cup Fresh White Bread Crumbs
  • 1 cup Quick-Cooking (not instant) Irish Oatmeal, such as McCann’s Brand
  • 6 Tablespoons Unsalted Kerrygold Irish butter, Melted
  • ¼ Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Ingredients (Filling):

  • ⅓ Cup Celtic Crossing Liqueur or 2 Tablespoons Irish Whiskey
  • ⅓ Cup Water
  • ⅓ Cup Golden Raisins
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 ½ Pounds (4-5) Granny Smith or Braeburn Apples
  • ⅓ Cup Sugar

Directions:

  1. To make the topping: In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, oatmeal, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. To make the filling: In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the Celtic Crossing (or the Irish Whiskey) and the water to a boil.
  3. Add the raisins and vanilla, stir, then remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour, or until cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  5. Lightly butter an 8-inch square glass baking pan.
  6. Transfer the raisins and their liquid to a large bowl.
  7. Peel, core, and slice the apples.
  8. Combine the apples and sugar with the raisins.
  9. Spoon half of the apples into the prepared dish; top with half the bread crumb-oatmeal mixture.
  10. Repeat the layers with the remaining apples and bread crumb-oatmeal mixture.
  11. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the topping is crisp and browned.
  12. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Serve warm with cinnamon ice cream, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce.

Witch Craft: Mabon God’s Eye

God’s eyes (Ojo de Dios in Spanish) are one of the easiest crafts you can make, and they are versatile because you can create them in any color. For a harvest celebration like Mabon, make them in fall colors – yellows and browns and reds and oranges. At Yule, the winter solstice, you can make them in reds and greens. You can also try doing one in black and silver to celebrate Moon Magick. If you’d like to make one for your household altar, you can make it in colors that correspond to your family’s deities and traditions.

Supplies:

  • Two sticks of equal length
  • Yarn or ribbon in different colors
  • Decorative items like shells, feathers, beads, crystals, etc. (Optional)

Instructions:

  1. Hold your two sticks together in a cross.
  2. Wrap a length of yarn one or two times around the top arm of the cross, right where the two sticks meet, going counterclockwise (be sure to hold the loose tail in place and wrap the yarn over it to keep it from unraveling later).
  3. As you come around on the left side of the upper arm, cross down and over to the bottom side of the right arm.
  4. Bring the yarn out behind the top of the right arm, and cross over to the left side of the bottom arm.
  5. Finally, bring the yarn from the right side of the bottom arm across to the top side of the left arm.
  6. Continue wrapping the sticks in the same order until you have a good amount of the color you are working in.
  7. Then switch to a new color, and continue the process until you want to change again.
  8. Finish it off with a length of yarn tied in a loop, so you can hang your god’s eye.
  9. Finally, you can decorate the ends of the sticks with feathers, ribbons, beads, or crystals, whatever you prefer. Hang your god’s eye on a wall, or use it on your altar for Sabbat celebrations.

Tips: By using alternating colors of thread or yarn, the finished result looks like an eye. In some traditions, you might associate the four points of the cross with the four classical elements, or the directions on the compass. You could even see them as representative of the four major Sabbats — the solstices and the equinoxes. One great thing to do while making god’s eyes is use them as a Spellworking in themselves — visualize your intent while wrapping the yarn, whether it’s protection for your home and family, to bring love your way, or even a prosperity talisman.

Further Reading: Mabon by Diana Rajchel (2015)

The Lo Scarabeo’s ‘Anima Antiqua’ Tarot Collection

I received two new Anima Antiqua tarot decks today, and here’s the complete collection to date. I guess next year I’ll have to put them on a table to take a shot, they barely fit a bookcase shelf!

#01 – 1491 – Tarocchi Sola Busca – Ferrara, XV Century – Lo Scarabeo, 2017
#02 – ca1660 – Tarocchino Mitelli – Bologna – Lo Scarabeo, 2017
#03 – 1806 – Minchiate Etruria – Florence – Lo Scarabeo, 2018
#04 – ca1875 – Tarots Égyptiens – Lorambert- Lo Scarabeo, 2018
#05 – 1760 – Tarot de Marseille – Nicolas Conver – Lo Scarabeo, 2019
#06 – 1906 – Wiener Secession Tarot – Ditha Moser – Lo Scarabeo, 2019
#07 – 1725 – Tarocchino Montieri – Luigi Montieri – Lo Scarabeo, 2020
#08 – 1835 – Tarocco Sopraffino – Carlo Della Rocca – Lo Scarabeo, 2020
#09 – 1893 – Naibi Di Giovanni Vacchetta – Giovanni Vacchetta – Lo Scarabeo, 2021
#10 – ca1820 – Tarot Steinberger – Frankfurt – Lo Scarabeo, 2021

There is never ‘Too Many’ books about The Morrígan!

The Ancient Irish Goddess of War by W.M. Hennessey (1870)
The Guises of the Morrigan by David Rankine and Sorita D’Este (2005)
Celtic Lore & Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess by Stephanie Woodfield (2011)
Feast of the Morrighan by Christopher Penczak (2012)
By Blood, Bone, and Blade by Nicole Bonvisuto (2014)
Pagan Portals – The Morrigan by Morgan Daimler (2014)
The Book of the Great Queen by Morpheus Ravenna (2015)
Dark Goddess Craft by Stephanie Woodfield (2017)
My Name is the Morrigan by Jessica Johnson (2018)
The Morrigan: Celtic Goddess of Magick and Might by Courtney Weber (2019)
Pagan Portals – Raven Goddess by Morgan Daimler (2020)
Priestess of The Morrigan by Stephanie Woodfield (2021)