Friday, December 05, 2008


To all of you who were acquainted with the journal Ye Olde English Posy, I am sad to inform you that Sylvia passed away in April. She will be greatly missed will this wonderful lady.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


It’s the end of October, and everywhere in town is decked out for Halloween. Students are excitedly chattering about costumes and parties, children are looking forward to Trick or Treating, and carving pumpkins, and the clocks are getting used to the changes for daylight saving time of last week. So I figured it’d be a good time to take a look at what I could out find about Samhain.. And, whether correct or not, this is what I’ve found…
“From the west comes old DeathA-riding on the stormWith hungry eyes for funeral firesTo burn till the morrow's dawnFor ‘tis the night, here comes the deadUnbound from the UnderworldAnd the children dress as the babes of HellAll the boys and all the girlsAnd the fires shall burnAnd the wheel of life shall turnAnd the dead come back home on SamhainAnd in the night sky on the lunar light they flyAnd the dead come back home on SamhainAt the Sabbat high on the funeral hillWait the witches at the feastFor the first winter's dayThe first winter's sunA-rising in the eastFor Death has come for the summertimeAnd to take the leaves of springHecate, Nemesis, Dark Mother take us in ”- Inkubus Succubus: Samhain.
..Well you can’t expect me to do research without a little music to keep me going, and I thought that Inkubus Succubus’ song entitled Samhain, would act as a pretty decent introduction as to what Samhain is about.
So let’s start with that name - Samhain (pronounced Sow’in(Ireland), Sow’een(Wales), Sav’en(Scotland) (or Samhane in America where they’ve rarely heard Gaelic..) - from what I can gather it’s probably from the Celtic month of Samonios, which was the first month in the Celtic year and started with a 3 day feast to mark the end of Summer. Another source I came across hinted that there is ongoing speculation about whether “Samhuin”, from Gaelic, actually means the end or beginning of Summer, following the logic that when it is the end of Summer here, it is just the beginning of Summer in the Underworld, and thus Samhain refers more to the daylight part of the festival celebrated on the 1st November.
There’s a lot of debate about the origins of Halloween, and many churches are against it, deeming it rooted in paganism, but like many things, the church just used an existing pagan celebration they could not squash, to introduce their own festival day. The Catholic church decided to move All Saints Day to 1st November, when the pagans were honouring their ancestors anyhow, and used the day to honour any Saint who didn’t have their own day. There was a mass to honour ‘all who were hallowed’, commonly known as Allhallowmas, and as such the previous night was the Eve of Allhallowmas, AKA All Hallows Eve, which became Halloween.
More recently dubbed a Festival of the Dead, Samhain is one of the Celtic cross quarter days, and the beginning of the wheel of the year. The crops have been harvested, the wood chopped and stacked, and the animals brought inside as the weather gets colder, and the days get shorter. Focus then, is on the transition between the end of summer and the start of winter, and the new dark half of the year. Situated almost exactly between the Autumnal Equinox (Mabon) and The Winter Solstice (Yule) it was considered by the Celts to be a very important time.
The veils between the worlds were thought to be thinner, allowing the dead to return and offer guidance to the living, joining the feasts once more. Thus it was sometimes customary to honour the ancestors at the feasts by setting places for recently departed company. Food was also placed outside to provide nourishment for the ancestors making the transition between the worlds, and turnip lanterns were lit to guide their way. Thus stems the more modern tradition of carving pumpkins. It is also thought that at the end of the festival, people would don skeletal costumes in order to guide the spirits back to the edge of town. Similarly the modern day ‘trick or treating’ comes from the tradition of poor people going door to door and offering prayers for the dead at Samhain, in exchange for food.
Due to the thinning of the veil between worlds, Samhain was thought to be a good time for Divination and communicating with the ancestors, as the differences between past, present and future on a linear time scale are also merged. After the Romans came, apples became a big part of the harvest festivities in order to tell the future, especially regarding marriage (the apple was probably used as it forms a pentagram when sliced in half, and the Romans associated it with love and fertility, along with the goddess Pomona.). Various techniques were used to predict a future lover. Some people cut the apple in half and ate it in front of a mirror, where the face of your future love was supposed to appear. Another was to peel the apple in one long strand, and throw it on the floor behind you, where the peel would take the form of a letter, which was believed to be the first initial of your future love. The game of bobbing for apples was a way of predicting who would marry in the coming year. Single people would attempt to take a bite of an apple floating in water or hanging from strings, and the first to succeed would be first to marry - placing the same apple under your pillow was meant to instigate a dream of who you would marry. Though it may not necessarily have had any extraordinary magical qualities, the apple bobbing games brought people together and allowed single people to meet from various towns, thus bringing wider communities together.
Which brings us back to the celebrations. Samhain was a time for family reunions and coming together as a community, which would help everyone get through the coming Winter. It was a time for finishing the old year, and making predictions and a start on the new. Because it was the start of a new year it was a time to leave behind restricting habits, and focus on progress and change, with the aid of the ancestors to guide. To symbolise this, all of the village lights would be extinguished and a single communal bonfire would be lit. People would throw objects in to the fire and make a wish, and later the ashes would be spread over the fields. However first, all of the village lights would be relit from the communal fire, strengthening the community bond. The wider communities would be brought together by the lighting of a big fire on the highest area, indicating to the lower villages that it was time to begin the festivities. Far from the single night celebrated today, the celebrations could continue for numerous days, incorporating games and storytelling alongside the feasts, divinations and general marking of the progression of the year.
I’ve focused here on mainly the traditions which are still seen today, but there were countless more, contrasting in the different area’s of Britain and elsewhere. As time has gone by some traditions have been left, but others are prevailing. And as shown by the song I started with, Samhain is very much still a part of modern life, and not necessarily as forgotten or ignored as it may originally appear, even if the everyday Halloween celebrators aren’t aware of its origins!
Well I hope this has been useful, or at the least interesting! If any of it is inaccurate please do let me know. Most of the sources are internet pages and odds and ends out of books or articles - sorry I didn’t think to keep a note of where I got things from. Oh, one more thing.. Have a good Samhain!

Friday, October 10, 2008


Had an email tonight about somebody researching the goddess Verbaia, to which I replied. She is an ancient Celtic goddess representing water, springs, wells and floods. Many wells at one time were sacred to her. She is an aspect of the Celtic goddess Brigantia, Bride, Brittania, Bridget, and many other names.
I live in a region in the north of England formerly called Brigantia in her honour. The rivers of the region to me belong to Verbaia, particularly when there is flooding. At these times I make an offering to Verbaia, either flowers, or if its in winter, bound grasses, to appease the waters. I like to think that these offerings will help to prevent a death in any way.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Link to my other journal

This is the old journal which I had on AOL. Have at last found a way to import it all onto Blogger. Aint I clever!!!!! Nah, just looked up a few pointers. So, I now have 2 journals to go at.
Hi Nancy, you are very welcome to read both of them.

Friday, October 03, 2008

How the weather is getting cold!!!! The temperature seems to drop by 2 degrees every day. This week we have had torrential rain on and off, at times i have gotten rather wet, to say the least.
However, the trees are beginning to get their lovely golden tints. Soon we should have a wonderful display of colour to gaze at. That is, if the sun comes out!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New blog

AOL have booted all our journals, so will be posting here from now on.

Monday, October 02, 2006


I am an hereditary witch from Lancashire, close to the slopes of the famous Pendle Hill. Its really something I dont talk of too much, not being a convert from Christianity or any other religion. Its something that I grew up with, was born into, so its natural to me. Unlike modern day wiccans I dont always celebrate the seasons by doing a special ceremony, I just note when the day arrives and go on regardless. By that I dont mean I ignore dates completely, I usually just note what the weather is like, what plants are growing, and natural things that I observe year to year. I cannot put myself into a modern day pagan category. Maybe I am a druid, but I dont think they do magic, maybe I am a wiccan, but their rules are too stringent. I could be a heathen because some of their deities are important to me,also a celtic pagan for the same reasons. Foremost in my mind is a sense of belonging to my roots and to my dwelling place, the ancient rocks that underlie these hills, the rivers and streams that course, the hills that tower and overlook me. In these places I find the spirit of kindredship, the genius locus, the goddess who I am a child of.