Saturday, November 6, 2010


The Feast of Samhain is the ancestor of Halloween.  The Celtic Brahmins, the Druids, discovered it.  When the sun reaches 15 degrees of Scorpio the doorway between the worlds opens, and for a day (or night, really) the dead can return and visit their old "haunts".  (I do love my puns!)

When the Catholic Church converted this to their own Feast schedule this occurred about November 1st, which is still the Feast of All Souls.  Since the Church was against discourse with spirits, they did not give a hoot that over the centuries, the date shifted.  (Due to both the stars and the changes made to calendars.)

Moreover, because the Celts measured a day from sunset to sunset, "All Hallows" began the night before, "All Hallows Eve", i.e., 'Hallow'e'en.  Ironically, where the remnants of Samhain remain in what were the Celtic countries, it is mostly with superstition and/or fear. 

(Irish children might carry a carved turnip-- not a pumpkin-- in their pockets, to keep them safe from scarey ghouls.  A Gaulish mother that mourns the spirit of "lost" child might leave a plate of food on the doorstep and a candle in the window.)

Samhain was the New Year for the Celts, and it was a week long fire festival. It is interesting to note that Guy Fawkes Day--much closer to the current Samhain than Halloween-- gets the English gathered around a fire, burning an effigy (the old year, the past sins, the mistakes and betrayals), just as their ancestors did.

It bothers me a lot that the modern day pagan community does not understand this, and that so many magickal almanacs and coven still mark Samhain as synonomous with Halloween.  The actual night is unmistakeable.  Even if you have figured it wrong on the calendar, a witch will feel the night itself.

Like Irish children I carry a carved turnip in my pocket when I am out haunting the night.  As a witch and a medium I see and feel alot more than I want to on a regular night of the year.  On Samhain it is not a bad idea to have a guardian! 

(For novices, I don't have time here to go into how the making of turnip creates the guardian spirit--or really, attracts the guardian to inhabit it-- but I invite you to try it and meet the Samhain guards yourself.)

I usually watch the sunset, and let the old year sink with it.  Time to start anew.  Yesterday I paid as many old debts as I could.  Throughout the remainder of today I will contact people that I have fallen out of touch with, and send a "hi" to my witch friends in Los Angeles and other parts of the world.

I usually write letters to my friends and loved ones on the other side.  I write to my grandmother, whom I love and miss alot, and I also write to people that I have had conflicts with, or issues that were not resolved while they were living.  I generally burn these in the fire with some Hell Money. 

I adopted the practice of burning Hell Money from the Chinese.  They burn it at their New Year to honour their ancestors.  (The first year I did it at Samhain the spirits loved it, although my grandmother did joke that she had to go to the After-life Chinatown to spend it.  I replied that Protestants didn't make Hell Money.) You can buy it at almost any place in Chinatown in Los Angeles.  I have not found any here.

I also "feast" with some apples and pomegranates, and the usual bit of wine and crackers.  Because the Celts were mostly a pastoral people-- and both Samhain and its bright twin Bealtaine were centred around the flocks and herds-- meat is not inappropriate.  In fact, this was probably one of the few times of year when meat was abundant. Likely to the point of being sickening, as the neo-Pagan circle chant/dance suggests:

Red blood
White bone
Black Earth
Harvest home!

The weeks leading to Samhain were the slaughter time.  The colours of Samhain were not the colours of Halloween. Not the bright orange leaves of fall against the dark night sky, but instead the blood and bones of the animals against the no longer green, but black and dying, earth.

Samhain Eve is a time for releasing the past and looking ahead to the future.  Cull the herds and flocks in your life of the sick, the dying, the no longer useful.  Let go of old ways and habits.  Think ahead to what you would like in the coming year.  Meditate on your life.  Tonight is an excellent night for divination, as well as communion with your ancestors.

From Samhain to Yule is traditionally the fallow time of year for magick.  During this time it is best to attend to matters that belong solely to this world.  (Any charms a witch might make for Holiday gifts needed to be finished by now.)  Even the spirits deserve a rest from the work of this world.  Both human spirits- both of the dead and the witch him/herself- and the entities of nature.

This year, Samhain is more important than ever.  My own life, the lives of the people around me, the spirits of the dead, and the stars tell me this.  The New Moon in Scorpio was late last night-- here in St. Louis it was just about midnight!- and tonight we have Samhain Eve.

Neptune the nebulous and lover of dreamy reveries, drugs, and oil, goes direct today. You will snap out of it, perhaps to fall into another daydream. Venus is retrograde right now in Scorpio. She is going back over relationships.  She doesn't want us to throw out the baby with bathwater, but the water is probably getting pretty murky!

Mercury is leaving Scorpio in a few days to head into Sagittarius.  Let's not become too rigid or insistent, or too zealous in our quest for "truth"--whatever that might mean.  At least for the next few weeks-- until after the 18th when Jupiter and Venus go direct-- through the full moon on the 21st, the best thing for a witch to do is lay low and avoid the radar.

We are living in a very contentious time.  Everything is changing.  It is the end of the world as we know it.  For some people this is a scarey apocalypse.  Those rigidly entrenched in set ways of thinking seem to be suffering the most.  Do not interfere with anyone else's doomsday. 

I often advise myself and friends to go through this stretch like Mindy on the Animaniacs.  Mindy is a little cartoon girl that likes to wander off on adventures that take her through VERY precarious situations.  This is great source of stress for her dog Buttons.  He is always trying to "save" her.  Which means that the falling anvil or piano always misses her and lands on him.

Don't be Buttons.  Be Mindy.

My other great comparison is that of vampire killers.  Don't be Blade or Buffy.  They are always out, looking for a fight, going into crypts and tombs and putting themselves in mortal danger.  If you want to fight vampires, be the sun, instead. 

Woe to the vampire that forgets the time of the sunrise. The sun is actually more efficient at killing vampires than either Buffy or Blade. But it is nothing personal. And the sun does not need to hunt, or seek out or do anything but shine, which it would be doing regardless if there were vampires or not. The sun is simply going about its business.

Go about your business. Set your course for the year ahead. Shine your light.

Happy Magickal New Year!!!

With love from my heart to yours,
Lady Rae

EDIT: Two points I forgot to mention.  1) Teetolars and sober folk might find themselves imbibing.  Don't be too hard on yourself.  2) Sometimes the gust of spirits coming in for a visit temporarily drops temperatures, even in Cali.  Don't be surprised if the temps warm up again next week. And in here in St. Louis, the weathermen are predicting at least a warm Monday.  I would look more around Wednesday to fortyish nights and low fifties days, at least through Thanksgiving.


  1. I'm a bad pagan..but then I've always said I don't like organized religion even if it's my own..ha..
    did you even remember the awards???? thanks again.

  2. I love your blog!! "Rae of Light". How perfectly fitting for you! Bookmarked, and I will link you up with my new sites and give you a shout. They should be done in a few days.

  3. I remember the awards JS-- I posted on your blog, you must not have seen it yet. And thanks Clance!!! I appreciate it!!!!