Samhain


This was the first year in a long time I have not carved turnips for Samhain. I did not get organised in time and as I have a baby son I would have needed LED tealights, which I couldn’t buy in time.

In the morning I did my Samhain ritual and finished writing the ritual to introduce our son to the ancestors. It was appropriate that he is nine months old this Samhain.

I watched the film Ghost. A lot of people watch horror films at Samhain; I don’t like horror movies as I am easily scared but I thought this film was appropriate.

Afterwards I went to a party in the afternoon and we went out for a meal as my husband had just finished an exam.

Then we introduced our son to the ancestors. We first consecrated a candle using his touch, spit and breath. This candle will be put away and used for any rituals involving him. Then we said a short piece telling the ancestors about his names and lastly we asked them to help us bring him up.

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Samhain


The day before Samhain I bought turnips for turnip lanterns and started carving them. As with everything, you get better with practice and this is no exception as I’m now able to do more detailed carving on the lanterns.

I made two; one for the front door and one for the back and put a protection spell on each. I’ve recently learnt that the protection spell isn’t needed, but since I went to all the trouble of writing it I’m going to keep using it.

I did a ritual where I honoured The Dagda and The Morrigan and gave tribute to the land, as the Tuatha De Danaan did to the Fomorri each Samhain. In the tales Samhain is a time of destruction, usually by fire, but I could not find a way of re-creating this. If I had researched into the festival more ahead of time instead of the day before I probably would have found something.

We also watched the Doctor Who classic “The Daemons” which was appropriate for Samhain even though the action takes place at Beltane! I don’t know why it was relocated in the script as they mention Samhain. This story also features a witch (who says she’s white) and is seen muttering a successful spell again the forces which are trying to knock her out.

I made Homity Pie and Apple Dappy, which are traditional foods my mother’s ancestors would have eaten and both have apples in them. I also try to use imperial measurements which I know they used as Mum taught to me cook using imperial. Converters can be found for free on the net, it’s just a matter of typing the amounts in.

I had trouble with the pie, as I was using gluten-free flour to make it for the first time as hubby has been put on this diet by his doctor’s surgery. If you roll the pastry out as normal when you try and put it in the receptacle it fragments. After three times trying this I just bunged it in and stuck it together with water. It worked, but I’ll try making more pastry and making it thicker next time.

Samhain


I carved the turnips as I do every year. My turnip carving is getting better and faster – I may try something more ambitious than carving triangles for eyes, nose and mouth next year. I did divination with the tarot, which did not turn out too badly, but did not have any results I really wanted. Unfortunately them’s the breaks.

I went for a walk to my tribal tree where my baby is buried and made an offering of water to the tree. I found this very emotional.

Afterwards I went home and started cooking, which I had to break off to do a ritual when it got dark. After it had got dark I put the turnip lanterns out and did a spell to make sure that nothing that would hurt or harm us would come into the house that night.

I put a lot of candles in the kitchen, as we were hiding from the trick–or-treaters and cooked by candlelight. I had to put the lights on for a few seconds as I thought the pastry felt greasy (it was – I had measured out the flour wrong) but got away with it.

I made Homity Pie and Apple Dappy for pudding – both foods my Mother’s ancestors would have eaten. I don’t know any Scottish recipes for my Father’s ancestors as my Mother was English. I was careful to make the food with the imperial measurements instead of metric, as my ancestors would have done.

We ate food and talked about the dead, telling stories with especial emphasis on those who had died the past year.

Festivals


Every Pagan has festivals which are their favourite and ones which are not-so-favourite.

My least favourite festival is the Midwinter Solstice, mainly because I feel that it can never get the attention it deserves because everyone is planning for Christmas, which I really can’t stand because we’re all supposed to play happy families.

Either Samhain or Lughnasad is my favourite festival. I love the turnip carving of Samhain and honouring the ancestors, while I love the funerary games of Lughnasad. I cannot arrange such games myself, but I can watch hurling and horse-racing on You Tube.

Samhain


This festival was eventful and chaotic but I managed to enjoy it.

I read the tarot in the morning. I’ve never managed to read tarot on Samhain, so I thought I’d do it in the morning. I started off with a general reading, but I couldn’t make much sense of this, so I did three readings instead.

One was for work, which is summarised as it was going to stay the same. One was for my marriage, which was good. The third is for my aromatherapy which I found difficult to read.

After a relaxing morning I carved my turnip lanterns (called Jack O’Lanterns) while watching Poirot : Dead Man’s Folly. I don’t like horror, but a murder mystery was appropriate for this festival.

I then went up to my tribal tree where my baby is buried to say some appropriate words. I walked for a while in the woods and came back to a darkening house.

I put nine candles in my candle holder and put it in the kitchen so I was cooking by candlelight. We don’t encourage trick or treaters as we feel that they are getting money for doing nothing. Other Brits see it as begging with menaces and don’t encourage it either.

I made dinner for us; food my dead Nanna (Mum’s Mum) would have made. Homity pie, which is root vegetables, bacon, apples and onions in an open-topped pie. I used some of the turnip from the lanterns for it, which made it doubly appropriate. I also made apple dappy which is a roll of pastry with an apple filling which is chopped up in seven and put in a dish to bake.

I’d gone on the net and converted the weights in the Apple Dappy from metric to imperial, which my Mum taught me to cook in.

It was the cooking which was chaotic as things kept going wrong. I put too much water in to bind the pastry and had to add more flour. I should have lined the dishes with greaseproof before I started rolling the pastry out and there were other little things that made the whole experience “argh! bleep! swear!” However, I managed to sort everything out and it tasted good.

My hubby got out the candles and placemats and for once we had a proper dinner. He got out the wine and we told each other stories of the dead. We welcomed my dead baby into the ranks of the dead.

Samhain


Samhain was interesting but didn’t go at all to plan.

First I carved two turnips while watching “The Wicker Man”. I’m not a horror fan aficionado, but so many people had commented on this film that I thought I’d try it. The film was really good, but its themes were more suited to Lughnasadh. I blessed the turnips and set the tea-lights in them burning before doing the ritual.

For the first time I did a ritual naked. I wasn’t cold, even though the temperature was down to single digits. I was going to be clothed, but decided to do it naked at the last minute going back from the shops with supplies for supper.

It was a ritual to commemorate the season, honour the ancestors especially my mother-in-law who died last March and the gods The Morrigan and the Dagda who had sex on Samhain before the battle of Magh Tuireadh.

The circle went wrong. I forgot things and had to go back before I started. I had candles in jam-jars (this is part of an experimental new circle cast I’m trying, I’ll tell you about it when I’ve finalised it) and after lighting the first candle the lighter ran out.

Some people say about cutting a door in the circle and opening and closing that. I prefer to improvise. So I passed the one candle I’d lit in the jam-jar around in the motion of a circle to cast the last part of it.

After that, I did my ritual and unwound the circle. I was in a hurry to make dinner, but hubby came round and distracted me, so we ended Samhain having take-away.

There was so much I wanted to do with this celebration and didn’t. Next time I’ll make the turnip lanterns the day before, instead of leaving it to the day itself as the celebration was rushed.

Samhain


Unfortunately Samhain was one of those festivals which didn’t really happen. From time to time, things are just not going according to plan and then all you can do is what you are able to. This was just one of those times.

I had an interview in the morning, and from the time I stepped out the door things started to go wrong. I missed the bus (fortunately I had planned to take an earlier one), found my trousers had a small tear in them and had trouble finding someone to be my second referee.

Then at the end of the interview I found that they were going to be paying me peanuts and one of my would-be bosses was in Devon at the time. I have taken two jobs where one of the bosses has said nothing to me during the interview, been burnt both times and have vowed not to risk it a third time. During the journey home I ended up with blood blisters and on both my feet and had pulled something in one of my legs. So I rested up and watched Top Hat.

After that it was dark, so I went outside and did a ritual. This was not helped by a friendly and enthusiastic brown Labrador interrupting the ritual. I think I need to sit down and carefully write out my circle invocation as at present while it keeps people out, there’s nothing there about animals.

After redrawing the circle, the ritual went okay. I then went and made my turnip lanterns which were blessed to guard the house from evil spirits and lit and placed at the front and back doors.

I then got on with making the meal. I’d planned to make a pasta bake and a West Country dish called Apple Dappy for pudding, which was to honour my Devon ancestors. The pasta, as you have guessed, has nothing to do with Samhain, but I needed something I could do on auto-pilot as I’ve never baked an Apple Dappy before.

I asked my Mum about the Apple Dappy and she said that she remembered baking the recipe but had stopped making puddings at some point. It would have been better to have made a recipe that Mum had handed down to me, but I didn’t have that option. It would also have been better to have translated the measurements of the recipe into the ounces and pounds that my Mum taught me to use and until recently were used in Britain instead of grams and kilograms, but I didn’t find out that the measurements in the recipe weren’t in ounces and pounds until too late, as most British recipes have both systems of measurement.

I had planned to do the dumb supper and then our family was going to tell stories of those who had gone before, but it was very late when I finished cooking and at that point I felt I couldn’t deal with the spirits of my ancestors turning up, when I have never seen them before. So we went to bed, leaving the turnip lanterns in place to guard the house till the next morning.

Samhain and Wayland’s Smithy


Samhain is the Irish name for this festival, which modern-day wiccans have appropriated.  The Welsh name is Calan Gaeaf.

For Samhain we went to Wayland’s Smithy, which is an iron age burial mound.  Neither of us have family graves/ashes for a good few hundred miles, so we honour the dead there.

Previous people had lit a candle in the chamber.  We made offerings of hair and my betrothed suggested an offering of two tuppenny pieces, which we pushed into the stones.  Afterwards the car did get re-shoed (new tyre put on that day got a flat) but we need to see what the garage say to decide whether that was a normal or occult experience.  More on this later.

The next day was Samhain itself.  We lit candles in the kitchen and had our food there, while telling stories about our dead relatives and dead cats.  We also performed the dumb supper.

The dumb supper is when you lay out a place for your dead relatives with all the food and drink you would eat.  You have your meal and then throw away any uneaten food.

We also did a dead roll, which is when you recite the names of dead relatives (we also added the names of dead cats) and I used it to invite them in.  We didn’t see any of the dead this year, but hopefully we will next year.

Carving Turnips


I’ve finished carving my turnip for the Samhain celebrations.  I carve turnips because my ancestors would have carved these instead of pumpkins, and also I don’t like the taste of pumpkin, so the innards go in the bin.  If I use a turnip then I’ll eat the innards.

Tools needed : 1 gurt big knife, 1 small knife and 1 potato peeler.

First take the gurt big knife and slice the top off the turnip.  Use the small knife to make cuts round the edge of the turnip.  Then use the potato peeler to gouge out a core in the centre.  Then you can really get started, by either using the small knife or the potato peeler to gouge out chunks of turnip.

Gouge out enough turnip till you think you have then got to the bottom of the turnip.  This will take around half an hour to do so.  Then you can start to carve the face with the small knife.

You will probably get as far as carving the smile and then realise that you are carving into the unhollowed out base of the turnip.  This always happens to me, and I have to go back and hollow out some more of the base and the sides.  Somehow I carve away from the sides, which leads to a thickening of the sides as I go down and then I mistakenly think I’ve got to the bottom when I haven’t.  I then go back and finish carving the face.

In previous years, I have always left the lid off because if you put the lid on a turnip there isn’t enough air for a candle to burn.  This year I’ve experimented with putting holes in the lid, so I’ll post later and tell you if it worked or not.

My betrothed made me a handle for the turnip, which I can attach to turn it into a turnip lantern.  In previous years I’ve carved out a candle holder at the bottom of the turnip, but since we’re staying in the kitchen this year I won’t bother.