Samhain: Remembering our Ancestors

We are fast approaching the third and final harvest sabbat, Samhain. November 1st marks the time to give rest to all of the autumns harvests and setting in for the long dark of winter.

In olden days, this would have marked the harvest of those animals that will not make it through the winter and the start of preserving their flesh with smoke or salt. Today, we no longer need to wait until the coming of winter to prepare our stores of food. We just walk down to our local supermarket and pick up what we want.

There are so few of us who could understand what it took for our ancestors to make it through a winter and how important it was that every member of a household do their part in making sure that everyone made it through. In my local community, we go to the cemetery and spend time with the forgotten dead. It’s impossible for us to know the lives of all those who have died in our community since its founding but we can spend time to acknowledge their lives and their contributions to our community.

On a more personal level, Samhain is a good time for you to spend time remembering those people in your life who are no longer with you. I am sure that you have lost someone close to you and whether or not it was recent or someone you never had a chance to know in your lifetime like a great grand parents, Samhain offers you that space to reach out to their memory and give thanks to them for their role in your life.

For me, there are two people who I never had a chance to meet in my life because they died long before I was even a thought. They are my mother’s parents, Bill and Peggy Mitchell. Everything that I know about them is second hand knowledge from my mother and her siblings. I know that Peggy was a swimmer training to go to the Berlin Olympics but wasn’t able to go. I know that Bill was a life guard on the beach where he and Peggy met. I wish that I knew more about them but that most of their lives are lost to the memories of those who cannot tell me their stories.

There are other stories lost to time. I don’t know why my ancestors left the shores of Europe. I don’t know what adventures they had. I don’t know their hopes or their dreams. All I do know is that I would not be here if it were not for these people.

How you honor your ancestors is really up to you. I tend to create an altar for them and I burn incense in their honor. This year, I will be doing some journey work to meet up with my first ancestors. I hope to find out more about my roots and where my pagan blood comes from.

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I will also be celebrating Halloween by decorating my home, carving a pumpkin, and handing out sweets to the neighbor kids who come by our door. I will put on my best witch get up and welcome the trick-or-treaters with a smile. For children, this is a special night where they get to be whoever they want to be and get candy. I loved Halloween as a child. I loved running around the houses and collecting candy.

I hope that you have a safe and happy Halloween and a peaceful Samhain this year!

Blessed Be,

Priestess Spiritsong

Lughnasadh is coming

We are quickly coming to the end of summer and the start of the major harvest seasons. Lughnasadh is the Sabbat that takes place on August 1, halfway between the summer solstice and the equinox.

We are quickly coming to the end of summer and the start of the major harvest seasons. Lughnasadh is the Sabbat that takes place on August 1, halfway between the summer solstice and the equinox. This festival is alternately known as Lammas, or Loaf Mass, because it marks the first harvest of wheat and grains. Customarily, our ancestors would celebrate this time by making bread and storing the grains away for winter.

In Irish mythology, the Lughnasadh festival is said to have been begun by the god Lugh as a funeral feast and athletic competition in commemoration of his mother or foster-mother Tailtiu. She was said to have died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. Tailtiu may have been an earth goddess who represented the dying vegetation that fed mankind. (linked reference)

As someone who does not take part in agriculture directly and does not have a corn or wheat field to tend, I typically will celebrate Lughnasadh with a feast of the local harvests, share stories, and play games or have friendly competitions.

Lughnasadh is the first the three harvest festivals and it’s a good opportunity to give thanks to the Gods for sacrificing themselves for us, so that we might be fed through the winter. For me, the harvest festivals are a clear sign that the work of the year is coming to a close.I don’t actually have any food storing to do since I live in a society where I can work all year long and earn my pay so that I may keep a roof over my head, cloths on my back, and food in my pantry. So what I end up working on during the year is a goal.

My goal for this year has been to grow my skills as a yoga teacher and work on gaining employment at a yoga studio. Typically, I start this kind of work at the Winter Solstice but this year I added a second project that works in tandem with the first and that is to deepen my path as a Priestess. I want to be able to offer something more to my path as a yoga teacher that includes my pagan spirituality.

When I pause at the solar festivals to give honor to the Gods and give thanks for all that they have provided us with, I like to look back and see my progress and forward at my possible futures. I will normally do some ritual work to bring forth my desired future and to lay the groundwork for what I need to achieve by the next Sabbat. I will often give back to the earth a special loaf of bread that I bake myself as my thanks for the Gods providing me with all that I need.

This year, I have been working with my coven to help them support their families. We have been quite successfully so far but we all had to go through a rough spring and early summer. We are just about ready to celebrate the union of two coven members and the joining of their families. All the while, they have found ways to support their new marriage, just in time for the ceremony. I cannot wait to see what the harvest has in store for us this season!

Blessed be!

~Priestess Spiritsong Dreamweaver