Tag: samhain

The Journey into Spirit, by Kristoffer Hughes

By Susan Starr | December 8, 2014 | 1 comment

Death and Dying, photo by Wayne WilkinsonThe Journey into Spirit, by Kristoffer HughesThe Journey into Spirit: A Pagan’s Perspective on Death, Dying and Bereavement, by Kristoffer Hughes
Llewellyn Publications, 978-0-7387-4075-1, 312 pp., 2014

What a gift this book is. From the lyrical quality of Kristoffer Hughes’ writing, not often present in nonfiction, to the sensitive and thoughtful wisdom he imparts, The Journey into Spirit gives the reader a compassionate space to rethink beliefs about death.

Hughes is both a Druid priest and a professional pathology technologist who has worked in British morgues for the past quarter-century, and a funeral celebrant and a teacher of death customs and philosophy. He tells us how as a young child watching his first mortuary scene on TV he knew he was destined for a life entwined with death. Although the adults around him at that time were scared and taken aback by his interest, he felt no fear, only a deep respect for the physical process of death and curiosity about the ensuing spiritual transition. This is the perspective he’s carried throughout his life, and from which he has written this book.

He frames his views within the three Celtic realms of existence — the realm of necessity, the realm of spirit and the realm of infinity – and discusses his philosophical conclusions and certain Celtic teachings pertinent to each realm. Continue reading


The Wicca Deck, by Sally Morningstar

By Susan Starr | November 24, 2014 | Leave a comment

The Wicca Deck, by Sally MorningstarThe Wicca Deck, by Sally MornignstarThe Wicca Deck, by Sally Morningstar, illustrated by Danuta Mayer
Connections Book Publishing, 978-1-85906-380-4, 42 cards plus instruction booklet, 2014

When The Wicca Deck came up for review I was excited to put in my bid for it. I’ve worked with tarot and oracle decks for about a decade, but never one based on my own spiritual path. The Wicca Deck is a 42-card oracle deck originally published by Godsfield Press in Great Britain in 2001 and republished this year by Connections, also from Great Britain. Some key elements account for its staying power.

First, the illustrations are simple, cleanly drawn and easily relate to their titles and keywords, reminiscent of the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot. There is some abstract art in the cards, but card themes are always easy to detect; this is perhaps because the artist, Danuta Mayer, illustrates children’s books, which usually depict real, basic objects. The clarity works well in this deck. The nature of the Wiccan path is diverse; every practitioner has a slightly different vision, and by keeping visuals straightforward one is invited to see the cards in her own way.

As you’d expect, the artistic interpretations are clearly Wiccan: The Green Man is depicted as the classic face on a tree, Spiral is depicted as the spiral goddess, Black Cat (my favourite) depicts a cat in an Egyptian temple, taking her rightful place as the goddess Bast. Continue reading


Night of the Witches, by Linda Raedisch

By Mike Gleason | March 8, 2012 | Leave a comment

Night of the Witches, by Linda RaedischNight of the Witches: Folklore, Traditions and Recipes for Celebrating Walpurgis Night, by Linda Raedisch
Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0-7387-2058-6, 238 pp., 2011

This is a book which is dedicated to one specific observance (May Eve). It is not intended for the active practitioner or even for the individual striving to learn about Witchcraft, rather it is aimed at the individual who has no background in folklore. It is set against a backdrop of European custom and beliefs, which makes sense, because of the dominant European derivation of modern witchcraft beliefs. Continue reading


Southern Hemisphere Paganism: How Differing Seasonal Cycles Affect Sabbat Dates

By Psyche | July 7, 2007 | Leave a comment

How do Pagans in the southern hemisphere accommodate the differences in their seasons when most of the Pagan literature is focused on more northern climates?

As Wicca’s spiritual roots are found in pre-Christian European mythology and culture, consequently its festival dates tend to follow the seasonal cycles of the northern climate.

In fact, previously, most books on Paganism and Wiccan focused almost exclusively on the northern hemisphere, but more and more Pagan writers are getting the idea that this there are Pagans practicing in other parts of the world, with entirely different seasonal cycles.

We’ll explore more on this in future articles with book reviews and interviews featuring Pagans from varying traditions from all over the globe.

As a nature-based religion, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to be celebrating the slumber of the Earth and the Sun-God’s rebirth in December, where in Australia, for instance, they’re throwing shrimp on the barbie and the sun’s in the full blast of summer.

Typically southern hemisphere Pagans shift the traditional designated dates on the Wheel of the Year by 180 degrees, so you have the following designations:

Samhain – 30 April
Yule – 21 June
Imbolg – 31 July
Ostara – 23 September
Beltane – 31 October
Midsummer – 22 December
Lughnassadh – 2 February
Mabon – 21 March

In each of the Sabbat articles I’ve written thusfar, I’ve included both the northern and southern dates for the festivals, and I will continue to do so.

If you’re a Pagan down under, let us know how you celebrate. What you do differently, what you do that’s similar. You can begin or contribute to discussions by clicking on the link at the bottom of this article.


First published on Suite101.com on 25 June 2006. (Unfortunately.)


Samhain

By Psyche | October 24, 2000 | Leave a comment

31 October NH
30 April SH
First Full Moon in Scorpio

Most people are more familiar with Samhain than some of the other Wiccan and neo-pagan festivals because of customs associated with Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night in England.

Samhain is often seen as the old Celtic New Year, though it is not certain that this was the start of the New Year in all Celtic areas. It may seem strange that this season of death be considered the new year, for this is the time when the harvest is over, this is the season of rusty leaves, grey mists and an ever-increasing bite in the air is present. Life is fading, sleeping or dying. However, in ending cycles one can create new ones. In this time of death one becomes aware that new life will come, from under this frost bitten land. When outer life decays it is the inner strength that must become stronger to persevere.

The God is true Lord of the Underworld at this time, and the Goddess is the Wise Crone. They are both old and clothed in Mystery. This is a time of death, leading then to rebirth once more at Yule.

The Goddess is present as Crone and Wisewoman. Her time of fruits and harvest is complete. Now She offers secrets of the inner realm, of wisdom and magickal power. Within Her glimmers the light of the Maiden, for She is also seen as Lady of Life-in-Death, as Mother too, for she carries the Sun God in the secrecy of Her womb.

The God, having been cut down with the corn of Lammas and Mabon, is making the final journey into darkness and is with present as Lord of the Underworld.

The veil between this world and the spirit world is thin at this time, and it is traditional to ask the beloved dead to be with us – but they are asked, never commanded or summoned.

The God’s descent is honoured by identifying with the way life is retreating, and by allowing what must die in our lives to do so. The Crone is honoured by seeking Her wisdom.

It is a time of coming to terms with death, not only the death of the body, but the death of other things that have ceased over the year, such as relationships, jobs, hobbies, material wealth.

Samhain takes place during Scorpio, which is ruled by the element water. Water transforms and changes, and during Samhain it is a good time to meditate and wash away the pains and sorrows that have taken place during the course of the year.

The theme of this festival is ‘descent’ – descent into our own Underworld, our inner minds – facing our fears, discovering latent talents.