Beltane in Southern Hemisphere – Samhain in Northern Hemisphere

Many blessings to those of us in the Southern Hemisphere as we celebrate Beltane and welcome the summer days ahead.  Blessed Be!

BeltaneBlessings

A blessed Beltane to you!

In the southern hemisphere, the first week of November brings the cross-quarter day that marks the end of spring and the start of the heat and energy of summer, and the festival of love. It’s a time of lovers and spells to attract love, and celebrating the fertility of life, not just physically, but also of our dreams and ambitions. Symbolically this day marks the igniting of the fires of creativity and passion, of the fertility of our desires being made manifest, as the universe bursts with a raw energy and power that we can tap in to simply by breathing it in.
In the northern hemisphere Beltane falls around May Day, and while it has no relevance to us in terms of timing, I have been part of a coven ritual that involved a maypole dance, to represent the union of god and goddess at this point in the Wheel of the Seasonal Year. I’ve also leapt over the Beltane fires, although that was before I met my husband, when I jumped over it with friends as part of a personal ritual of purification and preparation, leaping out of my past, burning away the relationship issues that had kept my heart closed, and towards a future where love was possible (I met my partner two months later).
While I’ve been known to dress up as a vampire or a fairy and go to a Halloween party on October 31, privately or with coven members or witchie friends I’m celebrating the new blossoms and the vitality and fertility of Beltane at this time.

So, while it’s perhaps a little easier for northern hemisphere goddess worshippers to celebrate the cycle of the seasons, given that so many of them are actually woven into “normal” life, when you tune in to the earth and the rhythms of nature it is easy to know when it’s the right time to celebrate any of the old festivals. Because whether you live in the north, where they began, or the south, adding your own personal meaning to the traditional forms of celebration, the sabbats are still relevant to our lives. Even today, when we no longer live in harmony with the earth’s rhythms or agricultural cycles, modern pagans celebrate the Wheel of the Year as an honouring of nature and an acknowledgement of the continuing cycle of life, death and rebirth, both literally and symbolically. Becoming aware of the seasonal shifts and the patterns of nature wherever you live, and celebrating these ancient but still relevant festivals, is a simple way to tap in to the magic of the universe and harness it for your own growth. We may no longer grow our own grain or purify the fields with fire, but these celebrations still have power, particularly in the symbolic form – planting the seeds of our dreams in the metaphorical spring, watching them grow and manifest in the world before we give thanks for our literal harvest, then allowing the things that no longer serve us to die off or be released in our own personal winter, then starting all over again with new dreams as we celebrate our own rebirth.
I’ve spent a few sabbats in the northern hemisphere, leaping the Beltane fires in Glastonbury’s Chalice Well Gardens, sitting inside the Great Pyramid on the morning of the summer solstice, watching the sun set over the Hill of Tara at Lughnasadh, and the energy of each season is intense, real and tangible no matter which hemisphere I am in. Whenever I celebrate these magical turning points of our planet I feel so strongly a part of the earth, at one with nature and the universe. And so, regardless of which half of the world I’m in, I always acknowledge the opposite festival as well, in some small way. Perhaps this isn’t as important for those in the north, but for me it seems right to acknowledge the turning seasons all over the world, the beautiful, gracefully balanced dance of light and dark, heat and cold, day and night, that makes up this world that we are all a part of.
We are all connected to the earth, no matter where we live, and we need to learn how to (and accept that we can) follow the seasons of nature in our own unique way, based on the rising and setting of the sun in our own home town, the cycles of the moon as it crosses our part of the sky, and the very personal language of nature that is so different – and yet so similar –according to our own unique landscape.


Serene Conneeley is a healer, writer and witch who lives in Sydney, Australia. She is a reconnective healing practitioner and has studied magical and medicinal herbalism, reiki and many other healing modalities, as well as politics and journalism. Her first book, Seven Sacred Sites: Magical Journeys That Will Change Your Life, has just been published.

 

Samhain  in Northern Hemisphere

Blessings to all my friends in the Northern Hemisphere as you celebrate Samhain and welcome the colder months. Blessed Be!

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Samhain Lore and Traditions

October 31 — Samhain Eve
Also known as: November Eve, Feast of the Dead, Feast of Apples, Hallows
and All Hallows Eve.
Possibly the biggest festival of the Witches’ year, Samhain is a time to remember those who have passed on, celebrate the Summers end and prepare for Winter months ahead. The Sun God and earth fall into slumber, as the nights lengthen and winter begins.

Samhain, (pronounced SOW-in, SAH-vin, or SAM-hayne) means “End of Summer”, and is the third and final Harvest. The dark winter half of the year commences on this Sabbat.

Various other names for this Greater Sabbat are Third Harvest, Samana, Day of the Dead, Old Hallowmas (Scottish/Celtic), Vigil of Saman, Shadowfest (Strega), and Samhuinn. Also known as All Hallow’s Eve, (that day actually falls on November 7th), and Martinmas (that is celebrated November 11th), Samhain is now generally considered the Witch’s New Year.

It is generally celebrated on October 31st, but some traditions prefer November 1st.It is one of the two “spirit-nights” each year, the other being Beltane. It is a magical interval when the mundane laws of time and space are temporarily suspended, and the Thin Veil between the worlds is lifted. Communicating with ancestors and departed loved ones is easy at this time, for they journey through this world on their way to the Summerlands.

It is a time to study the Dark Mysteries and honor the Dark Mother and the Dark Father, symbolized by the Crone and her aged Consort. Tradition also teaches that the aid of spirits and guides from the other world was easily enlisted at this time, so in the increasing moonlight of longer nights, many used this time to hone their psychic and divinatory skills, especially with regard to love and marriage.

Originally known as the “Feast of the Dead” this sabbat was celebrated in Celtic countries by leaving food offerings on altars and doorsteps for the “wandering dead”.Today a lot of practitioners still carry out that tradition. Single candles were lit and left in a window to help guide the spirits of ancestors and loved ones home. Extra chairs were set to the table and around the hearth for the unseen guest. Apples were buried along roadsides and paths for spirits who were lost or had no descendants to provide for them. Turnips were hollowed out and carved to look like protective spirits, for this was a night of magic and chaos.

The Wee Folke became very active, pulling pranks on unsuspecting humans. Traveling after dark was was not advised. People dressed in white (like ghosts), wore disguises made of straw, or dressed as the opposite gender in order to fool the Nature spirits.

The Christian religion has adopted this day as All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day, celebrating the eve as All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. The superstition and misconception linked to this celebration by the early church, led people to take some unusual precautions to protect themselves. They adopted the tradition of dressing in frightening costumes or disguises, and displaying scary looking Jack-O-Lanterns to help protect them from spirits they considered to be evil. In the British Isles, the young people would disguise themselves with hideous masks and walk through the village, lighting their way with lanterns made from carved turnips.

This was also the time that the cattle and other livestock were slaughtered for eating in the ensuing winter months. Any crops still in the field on Samhain were considered taboo, and left as offerings to the Nature spirits. Bonfires were built, (originally called bone-fires, for after feasting, the bones were thrown in the fire as offerings for healthy and plentiful livestock in the New Year) and stones were marked with peoples names. Then they were thrown into the fire, to be retrieved in the morning. The condition of the retrieved stone foretold of that person’s fortune in the coming year. Hearth fires were also lit from the village bonfire to ensure unity, and the ashes were spread over the harvested fields to protect and bless the land.

Symbolism of Samhain:
Third Harvest, the Dark Mysteries, Rebirth through Death.

Symbols of Samhain:
Gourds, Apples, Black Cats, Jack-O-Lanterns, Besoms.

Herbs of Samhain:
Mugwort, Allspice, Broom, Catnip, Deadly Nightshade, Mandrake, Oak leaves, Sage and Straw.

Foods of Samhain:
Turnips, Apples, Gourds, Nuts, Mulled Wines, Beef, Pork, Poultry.

Incense of Samhain:
Heliotrope, Mint, Nutmeg.

Colors of Samhain:
Black, Orange, White, Silver, Gold.

Stones of Samhain:
All Black Stones, preferably jet or obsidian.

Traditional Foods:
Apples, Pears, Pomegranates, All Grains, Pumpkin-pie, Hazelnuts, Cakes for the dead, Corn, Cranberry muffins and breads, Ale, Cider, Herbal teas (especially Mugwort) and Meat unless vegetarian and then tofu will do.

Herbs:
Calendula, Cosmos, Chrysanthemum, Wormwood, Hazel, Thistle.

Incense:
Mint, Heliotrope, Nutmeg, Sage or Floral’s.

Woods and Herbs Burned:
Apple, Heliotrope, Mint, Nutmeg, Sage.

Sacred Gemstone:
Aquamarine.

For further information on rites and rituals to celebrate the sabbats, we reccommend:

Pagan Holidays and Earth Magic by Kardia Zoe

However you choose to celebrate Samhain, be adventurous and investigate some of the older traditions. There is a large amount of interesting and sometimes comical lore surrounding this date. As an aside, it’s OK. to dress up as Witches’, Goblins and have fun with the more nonsense aspects of this holiday. It is good however to set aside some time to learn the true meaning behind this date and follow those observances as our ancestors did.

Blessed Be!

Reference:  https://wicca.com/celtic/akasha/samhainlore.htm

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Halloween Month – Demon’s Reach By Will Macmillan Jones

Today I have Demon’s Reach, book five in the Mister Jones Mysteries, by my friend Will Macmillan Jones.  If you like being kept on the edge of your seat then this is the series for you.

Will Demons Reach

 

 

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All families have secrets or skeletons in the cupboard, hidden away from view. Most of those secrets are better left undisturbed, for very good reasons. When Mister Jones agrees to deal with the Estate of a recently deceased cousin, he finds that the secrets hidden by his family are very dark indeed, and that the skeletons in this cupboard are very real – and not yet entirely dead.

Drawn once more by Fate into a world where magic and myth are all too real and danger lurks at every turn, Mister Jones confronts a past that seeks again to become the present, and to plunge his future into a rising Darkness.

Can he escape the Demon’s Reach?

 

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Halloween Month – Death Walks Through By Lisa Williamson

Today I have Death Walks Through, a short story collection by my friend Lisa Williamson.

Death Walks Through

 

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Every culture has some type of figure of Death. The Grim Reaper who collects souls as they lie dying. For some he is the cruel face of an end come too soon, for others a gentle healer of life lived too long.

But there is another face to this spectral figure. Death walks through the world, helping those souls that linger between this world and the next, those trapped by circumstance, wish, desire or loss.

So many souls linger needing but a gentle voice and hand to help them move past the final moments of their lives.

This collection contains 15 tales of beings who either know not that they are dead or just how to move on.

This book collects together 14 previous published short stories and includes one totally new story.

 

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Halloween Month – Bumps In The Night By Anthony Renfro

Today I have for you Bumps In The Night, a collection of short stories, by author Anthony Renfro.  There is also an excerpt from The Dragon.

 

BumpsInTheNight

 

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4 Stars out of 5: Unique stories

6 tales filled with gore and suspense.

The Headless Fountain Man

A simple photo. A quick snap shot. One woman’s perfect picture is about to become her scariest nightmare.

Devil at the Wheel

A Joyride in a Chevy Chevelle. The car was just sitting there for the taking. What could possibly go wrong? Vinnie and Mike are about to find out what can and will go wrong once they turn the key. Evil awaits.

Fear of the Scarecrow

This short story is about a desperate man hungry for revenge. Sometimes revenge comes with a price.

The Dragon

A simple machine. Able to answer requests. Able to play music. Able to turn on lights and answer questions. Fun and enjoyable technology, but what happens when this machine is able to manifest actual things. In this short story two guys worst fears will come to life.

Webs

A pyramid in the deep dry desert. What secrets lie within its walls? One explorer is about to find his greatest desire and his worst nightmare inside this ancient artifact.

A Haunted House Tale

This short story is about five students on Halloween night who discover the secrets and terrors of the town’s most famous haunted house. Will they live to see the morning?

 

Excerpt2

EXP: The Dragon

“This is too cool,” Pat replied. “Let’s see what else we can ask it. Dragon, what color is the sky?”

“It is blue,” she replied, softly, easily. “Would you want to know why?”

“No,” Doug replied, as he looked at his friend with a bit of anger in his eyes.

“What?”

“We can ask it baby questions all night, but let’s try something tougher? Let’s try something for giggles.”

“Like what?” Pat asked, almost knowing that whatever his friend was going to do was going to be bad. He had a way of getting both of them into trouble. It was his idea, of course, to break into this house.

Doug thought about the question for a moment, staring out the window, staring at the black of night draped all over the lake. Thinking of a question, a real doozy, he turned to face the machine. “Dragon, what is 666?” He asked, smirking like a kid standing in front of a cookie jar.

“That is the number of the beast. Shall I summon it or a demon for you?” Dragon answered with her soft female voice never once raising or lowering her tone.

Pat looked at Doug, and Doug looked at him. Pat saw in his friend’s eyes that dark mischievous look, and before Pat could tell his friend not to do it Doug’s mouth was opening, spilling out this next phrase.

“Sure, Dragon, summon a demon for me. A really nasty one from the deepest pits of Hell,” Doug replied, and laughed.

Pat punched Doug on the arm. “What the hell did you do that for?”

“Just thought it would be funny. Besides, it won’t do it. Machines can’t make things manifest like that. If they could, don’t you think I would have asked for a girl instead?” Doug replied.

“But they’re making these machines smarter these days.”

“So, she can now conjure up a demon out of thin air. Tell me you’re not that stupid.”

“Guess you’re right. That would be impossible,” Pat replied, and looked at the machine.

The machine did not respond to Doug’s command. It just sat there silent and lifeless, almost like it was thinking or pondering something.

“See, told you nothing would happen,” Doug replied, turning away from the machine that was now kind of given him the creeps. He didn’t like the fact that it hadn’t responded with a response that it couldn’t do the requested action. That bothered him for some reason, and he didn’t know why . . .

 

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Halloween Month – Riptide:Betrayal of Blood By Claudette Melanson

Today I have Riptide:Betrayal of Blood, from the Maura DeLuca trilogy, by author Claudette Melanson.

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Praise for Riptide:
“I will scream it from the rooftops how much I love this series.”
“I can only say that Riptide is one of the best modern vampire stories I have ever read, and I read them all from Stephen King to Ann Rice to Stephenie Meyer.”
“Riptide was action packed and the fight scenes were well written but more than that it was the story of family and love, of taking responsibility, and dealing with hate when all sane avenues fail.”
“The lore is superb, as is the writing. I can’t wait to catch up with Maura again!”

The 3rd book in the 1st of several trilogies featuring Maura & her family!

2017 New Apple Solo Medalist for Summer eBook – Young Adult General Fiction
Maura has never felt so alone in her life…nor has her existence ever been so overshadowed by peril…

Not only do both her parents—her distant but loving mother and recently- returned father—remain absent from her life, but due to the hideous error in judgement executed in collusion with her best friend, Valdamir, and adoptive sister, Susie, Maura has been cut off from the pair’s friendship and support, forbidden by both her father and the fallout from the dire outcome to see either of them. The heartbreak she suffers, brought on by the weight of these estrangements, is only intensified by the continued mysterious absence of her supernaturally-destined mate, Ron…whose disappearance delivers grave consequences Maura would have never dreamed possible…

Despised by her vampire cousin, Aldiva, for reasons Maura cannot yet comprehend, the young changeling will be forced to guard her back with every step, as she comes to realize this member of her vampire family would love nothing more than to bring about her demise. Aldiva’s wrath calls forth other members from both Vancouver covens, forcing them to rush to Maura’s aid—even though her father, their king, has expressly forbidden the other vampires to initiate contact with his daughter. Will her extended family on Vancouver Island obey, abandoning Maura to her doom, or will they instead rebel against Maxwell’s wishes in order to save her life?

In addition to the menace personified in her unsolicited enemy, the unlikely vampire princess will find herself drowning as she is pulled down into the depths of a far more devastating crisis…one which may condemn her to a fate she considers much more undesirable than death. But in order to tear herself free from the deadly pull which is drawing her under, Maura must enlist the help of her preternatural family, exposing her newfound friends to a danger none of them have ever had the misfortune to face before. Can she be saved or will the riptide drag Maura under…along with those she loves the most…

In this third and final book of The Maura DeLuca Trilogy,the first of several trilogies to come, the reader will delve even deeper into the secrets guarded by Maura’s father, the mystery of Ron’s role in her life and the identities of the mysterious Vancouver Island Coven members who have, up until now, remained hidden in the shadows. This trilogy rounds out the segment of Maura’s life during which she discovers she is a member of The Born—a human destined to complete her transformation into a vampire! This series of young adult fantasy novels has been enjoyed by readers of nearly every age and are found by them to be dramatically different from any other vampire books they have read in the past. Discover a magical world filled with fae, angels, elves, pixies and other enchanting creatures in addition to two families made up of some of the most likeable vampires—for the most part—to ever exist. Scroll up to read a sample once the book is available!

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Halloween Month -The Curse of Clyffe House By Will Macmillan Jones

Today I have The Curse of Clyffe House, book four in the Mister Jones Mysteries, by my friend Will Macmillan Jones.  As in all this series it will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Curse of Clyffe House

 

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The Curse of Clyffe House is the fourth in the Mister Jones Mysteries collection

It was supposed to be a holiday, time away whilst his friend and neighbour wrote a book about their last adventure. But as soon as Mister Jones arrives at the holiday cottage things start to go wrong, and waking up to find a skeleton in his bed is only the start. Terror stalks this cottage and before long Mister Jones discovers an ancient Evil is plotting to wreak devastation across the land; and it will start with his death.

Poison, fear and a horrific Shadow from long ago stand between their survival: can Mister Jones and his friend defeat the Curse of Clyffe House and live?
Praise for the Mister Jones Mysteries collection on Amazon:

‘I could not put the book down’

‘Creepy and unsettling’

‘Don’t read alone in the dark’

‘Sparsely told in a classic horror style’

‘A mad rush into danger that horror lovers will adore’

‘A classic, Dennis Wheatley feel’

‘Read it in one sitting’

‘Two days later, I can still remember every detail’

 

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Halloween Month -A Haunted House Tale By Anthony Renfro

Today I have A Haunted House Tale by author Anthony Renfro.  It will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Haunted House

 

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Will this evil house devour more victims? This short story is about five college students on Halloween night that set out to discover the secrets of the town’s most famous haunted house.

Bonus Short Story: The Living Sand – This short story is about two boys who discover a hidden beach and the evil deadly secrets that lie within its soft white grains of sand.

Bonus Short Story: Demon Energy – This short story is about a man possessed and tormented by a thousand demons and his struggle against a losing battle to save his soul.

 

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