Thursday, October 31, 2013

Samhain, Parting the Veils

Samhain is the last of the three harvest festivals as well as the Celtic new year. In the ancient world Samhain was the time when the last of the crops were harvested for food before winter. It was a crucial time for the harvest as it was a deciding factor in how much food there would be to last through the cold winter months.

It is also a time when the veils between worlds is thin and communication with spirits and other magical beings is possible. Faeries and other spirits roam the earth on this night. It is said that people would leave a lit candle in their windows to help guide the wandering souls on Samhain night.

On Samhain we honor the crone and dark Goddesses such as Hekate, The Morrigan, Cerridwen, Persephone and Lilith. These Goddesses help us to let go of that which no longer serves us. They guide us on a journey to our darker selves so that we may prepare for rebirth at Spring. They also  help us with inner transformation and acceptance.

This is also a perfect time for magic of all kinds. Rituals, spells and divination can be performed on Samhain night. Communication with the dead and faery magic is also popular at this time. Leave out some milk and honey for the faeries or a plate of food for your departed loved ones. You may also wish to leave a lit candle in your window to help guide the souls.

Wishing everyone many magical Samhain blessings!

Picture courtesy of Nicole Evelina

Monday, October 28, 2013

Magic Monday, Samhain Tarot Spread

Samhain is just a few days away! The time of year when the veils between worlds is thin and communication with spirits is possible. This is also a great time of year for divination of all kinds. 

Since Samhain is the Celtic New Year, this tarot spread will give you insight into the coming year. The spread will require seven cards placed into the formation pictured above. Once you have shuffled your deck and spread out your cards you may begin your reading. You may even wish to invite your ancestors to aid you in this spread. 

Card 1: Where I'm at currently in life

Card 2: Where I would like to be

Card 3: What am I ambitious about?

Card 4: What I want to achieve 

Card 5: An area I need to work on

Card 6: An idea I should consider

Card 7: Where do I go from here?

Make sure to write down your reading to use as a sort of guide for the upcoming year. Have fun with your reading!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Samhain Magic, Dumb Supper

Many Samhain celebrations involve a Dumb Supper which is basically a meal honoring loved ones who have passed over. On Samhain the veil between worlds is thin and communication with the dead is possible. This is a great time to set up an ancestor shrine and speak with your loved ones once again. Many of us speak to them on a regular basis already but it is tradition to do so on Samhain.

For the Dumb Supper you may choose to have people over for dinner or even have a quiet meal by yourself. There are some requirements for a Dumb Supper such as setting up an ancestor shrine, not speaking during dinner and making a plate of food for your loved one. Although as with any other magical working feel free to get creative.

On your ancestor shrine have photos of your loved ones, family heirlooms, or anything your loved ones left behind or anything that reminds you of them. Also be sure to have candles, incense and sage on your shrine. If you have people over for dinner have them place mementos on the shrine as well.

For your dinner use only candles for light no electricity and smudge the area with sage. You may also wish to invite the Goddess to join the dinner as well. Once your altar and dinner table is set up you are ready to enjoy your meal! Make your plate of food and make a plate for your ancestors, now you may eat in silence. While you're eating remember the times you had with your loved ones who have passed.

Once you're through eating clean up the table and thank the Goddess for joining you. Now you may go to your altar and talk with your passed loved ones. You may wish to light some incense in their honor as well. Once everything is completed you may blow out the candles and turn on the lights. Write down your experience and pay attention to your dreams that night. Sometimes spirits communicate with us while we are sleeping.

Enjoy your dumb supper!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Berchta, Germanic Goddess of Winter

Berchta, also called Perchta, is the Germanic Goddess of winter, the forests and destiny. Her worship originated in Bavaria which is in Southern Germany. She is associated with other Germanic Goddesses such as Mother Holde and also the Norse Goddess Frigg. Known as "the Bright One" or "the White Lady" she is said to dwell in the forests and caves and amongst the snow.

Berchta is honored at the Winter Solstice in a celebration called "Mothers Night". During this festival everyone stops working on their spindles for the night and enjoys a meal of fish in her honor. As spinning is sacred to her she is said to check all the spindles on this night and reward those who have been working hard. It is said that if she is angered on this night she will slice open your belly open and fill it with straw.

Berchta is portrayed in two forms. Sometimes she is said to be beautiful with a white robe and a crown. Other times she is portrayed as a hag with straggly hair and long teeth, while flying on a broom with a goose flying beside her. She is closely associated with the goose and according to Jacob Grimm, author and mythologist, has a goose foot or swan foot which is thought to be a sign that she has the ability to shape-shift.

Berchta is also honored at the time between the winter solstice and the new year. She is said to travel around with her wagon to visit children. She rewards those who behave well with gifts and punishes those who have been bad. There are other Goddesses who practice the same act such as La Befana, an Italian deity, who has similar characteristics to Berchta.

Berchta is known as the great teacher and initiator. In her myths the act of her belly slicing is seen as a form of initiation. She teaches people the stories of her culture and prefers not to break away from cultural norms. She works at the spindle spinning the fates of many and teaches us that we have the power to decide our destiny. Berchta's sacred colors are black and white, her sacred animals are the goose, bear and wolf and her sacred herbs/trees are elm, juniper and willow. She is also associated with the spindle and the Wild Hunt.

Enjoy honoring this Germanic Goddess of destiny! 

Picture courtesy of Source Ceremony

Monday, October 7, 2013

Magic Monday, Reading Tea Leaves

Reading tea leaves, also known as tasseography or tasseomancy, is a form of divination which involves interpreting patterns formed by loose tea leaves at the bottom of a cup. Coffee grounds can be used as well. The practice of reading tea leaves comes from the ancient Middle Eastern, Asian and Greek countries. This form of divination is very meditative and taps into the subconscious mind to interpret the symbols. It can be seen as a way to stimulate the imagination and open your psychic abilities.

To practice a tea leaf reading you will need the following:
  • Loose tea leaves of your choosing
  • White cup
  • Hot water

The first step is to make tea, pour the loose tea leaves into the cup and then pour hot water in the cup. Let the tea steep. While the tea is steeping focus on quieting your mind and meditating. Clear your mind of all thoughts to ready yourself for divination. Once your tea has cooled you may begin to slowly sip it and focus on the reason for your divination or answer to the question you seek. If you're right handed drink the tea with your left and if you're left handed drink with your right. You will most likely have floating leaves but try your best not to drink too many.

After you've calmed your mind and body after drinking your tea, leave a small amount of tea at the bottom of the cup. Now take the cup to the sink, hold it in your hands and swirl the cup three times which will cause the leaves to disperse around the interior of the cup. Pour out the remaining liquid and keep your cup turned over for about three breaths before you look at the leaves. Now you can start interpreting your leaves!

Jot down the first symbol you see and pay attention to which symbols are near one another. Also write down what each symbols meaning is. The cup will be divided up into three categories: the rim, the middle and the bottom. It is said that the first symbol you see corresponds to your character, the rim represents the present moment, the middle represents the near future and the bottom represents the conclusion.

There are some lists of symbols and their possible meanings which you can find here. Although tasseography is a different form of divination in which you tap into your subconscious mind to interpret symbols which is very personal. Not everyone will see the same symbols you see so not everyone may have the same meanings for them. Whichever meaning, just like the symbols, comes into your mind first go with.
Have fun reading your tea leaves!

Picture courtesy of  Tasseography

Saturday, October 5, 2013

In Honor of Those Lost During the Salem Witch Trials

Examination of a Witch by T.H. Matteson

In honor of the witchy season, Samhain and Halloween, I decided to write about and honor those who were killed during the Salem witch trials of 1692. Most of us, especially witches, know what happened during this horrific time. Many say the chaos of the Salem witch trials, as well as the witch trials around the rest of the world, was a war against women, not just witches. I tend to agree but I also think that during that time period mass hysteria spread about evil and the devil which stemmed from the fear of their God or religion. Because of this thousands of women were burned at the stake or hung for being accused of witchcraft. There were also many men that were murdered during this terrible time in our history.

The witch hunts began in Europe around the 14th century and by the 1700's tens of thousands of people accused of witchcraft had been tortured and burned at the stake or hanged. About 75% of those killed were women. According to Steven Katz, author of "The Holocaust in Historical Context",  this can be seen as a time of "genderized mass murder". When people migrated to the states and settled in the New England area they brought their fear of witchcraft and women with them. The first women accused of witchcraft in Salem was Tituba, a slave to Revered Samuel Paris.

Tituba: First women accused of witchcraft in Salem. It is thought that Tituba practiced a form of folk magic and was said to have been caught teaching the Reverend Paris's daughters, Betty and Abigail, how to perform divination. Revered Paris beat Tituba until she confessed. Once on trial, Tituba, trying to save herself, wove a tale about all the women in the village being witches. She named Sara Good and Sara Osbourne as practitioners. Tituba was never killed for witchcraft. Instead because she gave up the supposed other witches in town she was jailed for a few months.

Sara Good: Born in 1653, Sara married William Good around 1687 or so. The couple was very poor and practically beggars in the village. She was an easy target for accusations of witchcraft. Sara was not well liked in Salem and was put on trial for witchcraft in 1692. She was the first one put on trial. She was also accused of afflicting Betty and Abigail. People were scared into testifying against her including her daughter and her husband. She never confessed to the crimes but was condemned to be hung after the birth of her child. Her infant died in jail before Good was executed at the gallows.

Sara Osbourne:
Born in 1643, Sara was married to Robert Prince who died prematurely in 1674. She then became involved with Alexander Osbourne who she hired as a farm hand. She had a legal battle with her children over her deceased husbands estate and was not well liked by his family. She was brought to trial for witchcraft in 1692. Sara never confessed nor did she accuse anyone else of witchcraft. She died shackled in prison before she could be hung at the gallows.

Rebecca Nurse: Born in Norfolk county, England, Rebecca was 71 years old when she was accused of witchcraft. Her sisters, Mary Easty and Sarah Cloyce, were also accused of witchcraft. It is said that Rebecca was one of the most unlikely of those accused due to her flawless reputation and her age. While she was on trial many people spoke up for her declaring her innocence. The jury originally gave Rebecca a verdict of not guilty but because of the outcry from the two afflicted girls, the judge asked the jury to reconsider and so they then gave Rebecca a guilty verdict. She was executed on July 19 and there is said to be outrage at her execution. This was seen as the first time any negative voice towards the executions was heard from the people of the village.

Bridget Bishop: Born sometime between 1632 and 1637, she married three times and her last was to Edward Bishop. Bridget is said to have owned a tavern in town and was accused of witchcraft because of her "flamboyant ways". She liked gossip, entertaining guests at her home until late, drinking and fighting with her husbands. She is said to have worn the color red at times which was seen as a sign of evil and she was accused of conversing with the devil. All this made her a prime target for accusations of witchcraft in Puritan New England. Bridget was the first to be hanged for witchcraft and she professed her innocence up until the moment she died.

Giles Corey: Giles was accused of witchcraft by Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam Jr., the afflicted girls. They claimed to have seen his spector and that he asked them to write in the devils book. Giles was eighty years old when he and his wife Martha were put in prison for five months on accusations of witchcraft. When it was time for his trial, Giles refused to stand for trial and there was a severe punishment for this. In September of 1692 Giles was stripped naked and a board was placed upon his chest where heavy stones were to be placed. Giles was pressed to death, slowly, as the whole town watched. It is said that he begged for more weight so that his death would come quicker. He was buried in an unmarked grave on gallows hill.

During the Salem Witch Trials more than 200 people were accused and 20 were executed. May we honor the lives of those lost and may we never forget what mass hysteria and paranoia can cause.

To read more about the Salem witch trials and the people involved check out: Famous American Trials

Friday, October 4, 2013

Winner of Giveaway from Carioca Witch!

Thank you to all who entered! And the winner is......Sheryl! Congratulations! Thank you to Nydia for donating her adorable sugar skull. I hope everyone had fun playing and checking out all of Nydia's wonderful creations. Enjoy your sugar skull Sheryl! 
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