Samhain Blessing

As the Wheel Turns to the dark of the year

May you connect with your loved ones far and near,

Feast on candy, pumpkins, and witch’s brew,

And see into your future what’s best for you.

On blessed Samhain when the spirits soar

May you heed the wisdom of myth and lore

See the Goddess as the wise, cauldron stiring Crone

To know life’s mysteries of dust and bone.

And may you gain all good things you desire

Forget and forgive the muck and the mire

Health, wealth, love and wisdom to thee

Blessed Samhain, so mote it be!

 

© Ariadne Woods

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Spirituality During Emergencies

The four most stressful life events are death of a loved one, divorce/breakups, relocation, and illness although there are many others including the ever-present threat of Community being canceled (six seasons and a movie).  Sometimes these circumstances have serious, long-term consequences: depression, financial instability, isolation, loneliness, anxiety, relationship problems, anger, frustration, destructive behaviors, over/under eating, sleep deprivation, insomnia, etc.  But one of the worst ones is the effects on faith.

For some people, crisis brings people closer to their gods.  They use them as a comfort from all the crazy.  But that does not happen to everyone.  Some people back away from their faith.  The universe fucked them, so fuck the universe!  There are a lot of reactions in between, too.  All of these are valid and normal outlooks on the divine after something has happened.  So if you are going through something, don’t freak out if your view on your gods has shifted.

For myself, I tend to pull away from my faith with varying degrees depending on the situation.  However isolation is how I deal with crisis.  I like to hide in my room with tea and Charmed reruns.  In a way, I have to learn to adapt to the change on my own terms.  But bit by bit I come back to the world.  I know things are going to get a little better when I feel the strong urge to evolve my wardrobe to suit the new version of me.  When it comes to my relationship to my gods and goddesses, I always feel the need to do a little damage control to counteract any offense.  But if I am being completely honest none of the deities I work with have every gotten offended if I have to pull away for a while and have welcomed me back with unconditional love and support.

Ultimately you need to follow your instincts and react accordingly.  If you want to do some Pagan-centric reading on grief and transition, I highly recommend Starhawk’s The Pagan Book of Living and Dying.

© Ariadne Woods

Modern Cauldrons

Cauldrons have been used in witchcraft for centuries.  During her “Cauldron Witchery” episode for Circle Craft Podcast, Selena Fox speculates that their popularity stems from the fact that they were an everyday item that would not be spotted by authorities trying to arrest witches.  Therefore a witch could practice her craft without being noticed.  It symbolically connects to the Celtic goddess Cerridwen.  It is said that all souls enter her cauldron to be reborn to the next life.

In magical practices, cauldrons are used for a variety of practices.  In the old days, they were used for cooking and medicine making although this is not necessarily safe anymore.  They can hold bonfires to be used in ritual.  Some people like to do the Epson salt and alcohol method for a cool atmosphere.  Others like to use small ones as incense burners and safe spaces for burning parchment and other papers.  Cauldrons can be used for divination and combining herbs as well.

Due to modern changes in cooking methods, cauldrons are not used anymore in everyday cooking.  Think about making soup in a cauldron on a flat top stove, yikes!  So the materials we use for its intent have changed.  But they still can be used in spiritual practice.

  • Traditional Cauldrons: They do still exist and can be bought from Pagan shops.  You really can only use them for magical purposes, although NEVER use them to make a potion without making sure that would be safe.
  • Plastic Cauldrons: You know, the ones you find everywhere this time of year.  These are versatile and good for anything except burning materials.  One great idea is to get a sturdy one, poke a few small holes in the bottom, and grow your magical herbs in it.
  • French Presses:  If you want to use a cauldron to make a brew, a press is great because the straining mechanism is built-in.  Have one purely for spiritual or medicinal purposes and never use it for coffee.
  • Mugs: Again, great for making herbal teas and potions.  They also can be used for divination as a black scrying mirror (dark mug filled with water) or tea leaves.
  • Pyrex Glass Bowls:  Kind of a great solution if you can’t access a cauldron.  You can burn small amounts of herbs or paper in these, make teas, scry, etc.

© Ariadne Woods

Not in the Cards

Monday night, I decided to do a tarot reading to look into my love life.  Not to find someone new or to get back with my ex or anything like that.  I just wanted a little clarity about the energies in that aspect of my life.

To give a little methodology, I decided to do a five-card spread (past, current situation, internal factors, external factors, possible near future) with a Waite deck.  I also designed a sixth and seventh card for exploring future partners, if I felt that would be necessary.  The first five were a good picture of my situation: Ten of Swords, Queen of Pentacles, Eight of Swords, Knight of Pentacles, and the Hanged-Man.  I have been recently betrayed and feel bound by it, so i have been looking inward to deal with myself and my pain to try and heal.  Alright, my thought-process about this part of my life is on the nose.  But it was that stupid Knight of Pentacles that had me thinking there may be more to this issue.  So I drew two clarity cards.

And then things got weird.  I got the Nine of Swords and the Five of Pentacles.  Not great cards to see as a recently dumped person looking into the future of my love life.

Bad readings happen.  Life is not always rainbows, so your runes and cards sometimes reflect that aspect.  This possibility should never turn away any aspiring readers or any patron.  It is the advice you need, so it is the advice you are going to get.  The best thing you can do is to acknowledge it, accept it, and apply the advice as you see fit.

© Ariadne Woods

Samhain Recipes

Samhain is a great time of year to get friends together for some feasting and fun.  Apples and pumpkins are the stars of this meal, as well as foods that are a little sweet.  Enjoy!

  • Witches Brew: There are tons of mulled cider recipes (this one comes courtesy of CharmingPixieFlora). Tip: I know some people like having pieces of apple or spices in the drink, but this is not great for kids.  And if you want to spike it for adults, I recommend a nice dark rum.
  • Pan de Muertos:  A traditional Mexican recipe to celebrate the Day of the Dead.  You can also usually find this at your local bakery, too.
  • Pumpkin Dip: My friend taught me how to make this a few years ago. It is tasty and addicting!  I like to serve it with apple slices and pretzels.
  • Roasted Pork with Apples: Easy, yet elegant enough for a full Samhain feast.  I like to include an apple recipe in my meals this time of year because of their connection to the afterlife.  The Isle of Apples is one of the many names given to the transition space between this life and the next.
  • French Green Lentils:  Great for the vegetarians in the group.  Fill a pot with water, add a handful of salt and a bay leaf, and bring to a boil.  Add 1 cup of French green lentils, 1 diced potato, 1 diced sweet potato, and 1 diced carrot.  Bring back to boil, and then to a simmer.  Leave alone for a half hour.  While the veggies are cooking, make a simple vinaigrette with red wine vinegar, mustard, cumin, salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Set aside.  Two minutes before the cooking is done, add a cup of froze pearl onions to the vegetable mixture.  Drain the veggies, remove the bay leaf, and combine with sauce.  Enjoy!
  • Squash Mash: Roast any squash (cut in half and seeds removed) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until fork tender.  Remove skin and mash with a little butter and salt and pepper.  Also works well with sweet potatoes.
  • Witches Hats: There are tons of cutesy Halloween deserts out there. Find one that will enchant your guests.
  • Trick or Treat Ideas: NEVER be the lame house that gives out dental floss.  If you have time, making caramel apples or cookies are a fantastic option.  And you can never go wrong buying half a dozen bags of chocolate!

© Ariadne Woods

The City Witch

Some people, myself included, are not built for country life.  I love the cultural stimulation of living near museums, concerts, and lectures.  Parks give plenty of access to nature, plus nothing save a couple of clouds can prevent access to the Moon.  As a vegetarian my food choices are expanded beyond the pasta option.  Plus, living in a neighborhood with a lot of students presents new opportunities to hang out with people my age.  The only thing I dislike about living in the city is I can’t garden because I live in an apartment, but to compensate I am actively looking for a community garden.

Living in an urban environment does not negate my commitment to my faith.  Not only does my location correlate to my university, but I have a wide variety of social, intellectual, and spiritual needs that do not get fulfilled by living in the country. Yes, I follow a nature-based path. Spending a week or so at a beautiful forest or beach really recharges and rejuvenates my spirit.  But that is not the only environment I recognize this connection to my spirit exists.  For me hearing a symphony can be just as moving to the spirit as spending time at a beach. It’s just a matter of perspective and seizing a moment.

Some Pagans believe that a constant connection with nature is key to being a good Pagan, an opinion with which I respectfully disagree.  If a rural lifestyle is for you, great!  If urban, suburban, or space station living is your speed, fantastic!  Just stay true to your spirit, and no one can judge you for it.

© Ariadne Woods