Friday, October 31, 2008


Samhain — the Celtic ancestor of today's Halloween — was both the last of the four seasonal celebrations that divided the Celtic year into quarters (see Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasa) and the first of their new year. The word samhain means the end of summer, but the time of year meant the beginning of winter. The Celts chose this celebrational but ominous turning point as their New Year.

Their harvest was in, their livestock were back from summer pastures, and their families were as ready as they could be for the long winter ahead. To celebrate the New Year, the Celts spent a long eerie night honoring their dead, who might be wandering around cold and lonely at this transitional time of year. They lit bonfires and prepared food for any of the dead who might come to call. Other more negative spirits might also be abroad, which added an element of fear to the occasion.

As far as today's Halloween is concerned, we have the Celts to thank for the skeletons, ghosts, goblins, and other scary or supernatural elements. We can also thank them for the the fact that we celebrate Halloween at night. Because Celtic days began at sunset, their festivals always began in the evening and lasted until well after dark.

When the Romans invaded Celtic lands, they added their own November harvest festival to Samhain. So Halloween's harvest elements — especially apples and nuts — came from the Romans. Later, when the Christians began to dominate Roman and European cultures, they added the church's celebration of dead saints and martyrs — All Hallows — to Samhain. So it was the Christians who gave us the name we now use: All Hallow's Eve modernized to Halloween. Finally, during the 1840s, the Irish fleeing their potato famine added the jack-o'-lantern to customs evolving in this country. In Ireland, children had carved rutabagas, turnips, or potatoes, but our native pumpkins made much bigger and brighter jack-o'-lanterns.

Of the Celts' four seasonal celebrations, only Samhain has persisted with some of its original power still intact. Imbolc has degenerated into a somewhat ridiculous Groundhog Day, Beltane has become an international labor day, and Lughnasa has been forgotten altogether.

But Samhain survives as our massively popular Halloween — a Celtic, Roman, Christian, Irish, and now thoroughly American celebration. It invites us, as it did the ancient Celts, to take an eerie but festive break between the ease of summer that's now behind us and the rigors of winter that loom ahead.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Pagan Alphabet

A Pagan Alphabet
Copyright 1989, Breid Foxsong

To learn your letters you must start
With a clever mind and a willing heart
Each one is special, just like you
And you will learn them all by the time we are through!

A is Athame, the knife that we use
B is for Beltaine, when partners we choose
C is for Circle where we all are one.
D is for Deosil, path of the Sun.
E is for Esbat, when we gather round
F is for Fire and its crackling sound
G is the Goddess in beauty and love.
H is the Horned One, our Father above.
I is for Imbolg, candles light the way,
J is for June when it's Midsummer's Day
K is for Karma, the things that we do
L is for Lammas, harvest's almost through!
M is for Moon, riding way up so high,
N is for Nighttime, which darkens the sky
O is for Ostara, when we hunt for eggs,
P is for Pan, with hairy goat legs
Q is the Quarters and there are just four,
R for the Rites when we open the Door
S is for Samhain, end of the year,
T is for Tarot cards, futures to hear
U is Undines from the watery West
V is Vervain for protection and rest
W is Widdershins, the path of the moon.
X is the sign that's the sign of the God
Y is for Yule and the sun's return
Z is the Zodiac, 12 signs to learn

To learn them all you will have to try
And now it is time to say goodbye

Merry have we met, and Merry have we been
Merry shall we part and Merry meet again!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Goddess of the Day - Oct 17, 2008

Where: Buchmesse (Germany)

Name: Nat

Themes: Learning; Knowledge; Communication

Symbols: Books; Writing Utensils; Stars

About Nat: A Teutonic goddess of the night sky, Nat generates artistic inspiration and knowledge. She refreshes those suffering from creative blockages and arouses new visions for any endeavor, especially when fall’s declining energies get the best of us. Myths portray Nat as bearing the silver-studded night sky like a blanket across the dusk. Her chariot bears a frost mare, alluding to the moon.

To Do Today: Buchmesse is the world’s largest book fair for the publishing industry, featuring exhibitors from over ninety countries and attended by over two hundred thousand people. In this region of the world, book fairs have been around for over eight hundred years, making Germany one of the centers of world literacy.

For writers, today is the perfect time to ask for Nat’s blessing on your efforts. Submit a poem, article, or manuscript to potential publishers. Write in your journal. Draft a meaningful ritual for improved creativity, and let Nat’s energy guide your hand. Alternatively, read a favorite poem or book - Nat’s power is beneath those words - or make a book donation to the local library to honor this goddess’s contribution to human civilization.

Finally, gather all your pens and pencils in a basket and empower them for all your writing tasks by saying:

Nat inspire creativity,
When taken to hand, the magic is freed!

Monday, October 6, 2008

What Type or Witch/Wizard Are You?

You are 75% Witch or Wizard!

You are more white than black, seeing knowledge as something that could be dangerous in the wrong hands. You could be the protector we need.

What type of Witch or Wizard are you?
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