The History of Samhain and it’s Relation to Halloween

The History of Samhain and it’s Relation to Halloween

My journey exploring Wicca and Paganism began sometime at the beginning of last year. The snow was still on the ground and I was in emotional turmoil. I began checking out every book I could on the subject out of pure curiosity to distract myself and ended up partaking in celebrating some of the Sabbats (although not very well planned out and I hope to get better as time goes on.) I still celebrate Christian holiday’s but I honor the Sabbats as well. As many of you know, Samhain is coming up quickly and some consider this to be the most important Sabbat. It was actually in reading about Yule and Samhain that opened my curiosity to the Pagan way of life. These were holiday’s that were honored and celebrated well before Christianity was an organized religion. Christian’s took dates very near if not exactly the same as Pagan holidays and spun them in their favor. There is a stigma and belief that these Pagan holidays are associated with the Devil and evil. Those of us who are aware of the history can find some humor in that notion because it is completely the opposite. For that, I wanted to do a piece on the history of Samhain and how it has evolved into modern day Halloween.

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THE HISTORY OF SAMHAIN

Samhain, pronounced Sow-en has been dated back more than 2,000 years  to the ancient Celtics. It has been a misconception for some time that Samhain started as celebration of the God of the Dead, however Samhain translates to “summer’s end”. They believed this was the end of summer and the beginning of the new year. Samhain Eve began at sunset of October 31st and November 1st began the new year and start of winter. This is because the Celtics followed a lunar calendar. Historically the celebration commenced on October 31st and carried into November 1st.

HOW THEY CELEBRATED 

At dusk on October 31st local villages began the formal ceremonies to celebrate Samhain, which usually commenced with lighting a large bonfire. These fires were considered sacred and were given sacrifice in the form of crops and animals to give thanks for the previous years crops and herds. These were also considered cleansing fires. To burn the old and make way for the new. The celebration continued with costumes and dancing around the fire. There were three main reasons that the ancient Celts wore costumes during their Samhain rituals:

  1. To honor the dead who were permitted to rise from the other world and be reincarnated or set free.
  2. Hide from malevolent spirits and escape being tricked by them
  3. To honor the Celtic Gods and Goddesses

Many times they did divination of a sort. The methods used in ancient times vary much from today. They would read tea leaves, rocks, or twigs. Some believe the first tarot cards were crafted during this era around Samhain. There is no evidence to support this but it is a legend that has passed down through the years.

After the celebration was finished the villagers would take clubs to catch on fire from the sacred bonfire and bring it back to their homes to light their hearths. They kept the same fire burning for months throughout the winter. Then they would place food and drink on their door steps to appease mischievous spirits who might try to play tricks on members of the household.

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SAMHAIN BECOMES HALLOWEEN 

Christianity cropped up in 800 AD and with it the Church in England tried to bring Christianity into old Celtic festivals and rituals, Samhain being one of them (check the similarity between other Pagan Holidays such as Ostara and Easter, etc.). Pope Boniface IV claimed October 31st as “All Hallow’s Eve” and November 1st as “All Saints Day”. This is when the evolution of Halloween begins. The rituals varied but many are similar to how we celebrate the commercialized version of Halloween and they began at this time. Peasants would attend the festivals in the streets on Samhain and beg for food in return they would pray for the giver’s family to be free of trickery from the spirits. Families passed out “soul cakes” to the poor in return for these prayers. The church encouraged passing out soul cakes rather than leaving food out for the spirits as was done in earlier times.

The costume aspect of Halloween comes from the original Celtic practice of dressing up. People believed that the veil between the other world and our world became thin enough for spirits and ghosts to walk among us. Costumes were used to confuse spirits as to who was a mortal and who was a ghost. They believed it prevented them from trickery. In much later years after English Settlers carried different aspects of different parts of Samhain to America, the costume tradition stuck and eventually became a commercialized part of the holiday. The commercialization of it really began in the late 1800’s. Communities decided to start throwing parties and festivals that were appropriate for children and adults. It was encouraged to remove any sort of grotesque context from the festivities and rather focus on games and food. Between 1920 and 1950 the centuries old practice of “trick or treating” came back to life. Similar to beggars asking for soul cakes, children dressed up in costumes and asked for treats.

By the time the 1990s arrived American’s were spending upward of $6.9 billion on the holiday on candy, decor, and pumpkin patches.

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SAMHAIN TRADITIONS WE STILL FOLLOW 

  1. Black and orange is the color scheme. We associate these colors instantly with Halloween but they were originally much more important a part of Samhain and the Sabbats. Black represents the time of darkness after the death of the God. The waning light of October is represented by Orange and shows Yule is on the way.
  2. Jack-O-Lanters. The ancients that celebrated Samhain used to light candles and put them in hollowed out Gourds for the dead to follow the light as they walked the earth on Samhain.
  3. Tricks or Treats. It would now be frowned upon to give children or beggars home baked treats on Halloween but the idea originated with them as well as placing food outside the door to protect one from trickery.
  4. Costumes. Although much more commercialized and more geared towards children, there is no doubt that dressing up in robes and costumes on October 31st began more than 2000 years ago.

So there you have it. A brief but thorough explanation of how Halloween came to be. Today we celebrate it with trick or treating and watching slasher movies, but Pagans still honor it as a sacred holiday. Do I believe the veil thins on October 31st and our dead walk the earth? Not necessarily. But I do believe it’s a good time to focus on ancestral history, the turning of seasons, and honoring those who have died. That is for another blog. Coming up on the 2nd part Samhain blog series: altars, rituals, foods, and what modern day pagans really do on Halloween!

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Collaboration with Sarah Fawn Empey

Collaboration with Sarah Fawn Empey

I recently had the opportunity to do an interview for the wonderful, witchy, Sarah Fawn Empey. The universe and our blogs brought us together for this opportunity. She has a wonderful site with not only blog posts, but other witchy resources. To see the blog head here –> Interview with the witty witch

While you are there, click the home button and check out her services and posts!

I PROMISE to bring you a blog about the Full Blood Moon tomorrow. I have been caught up in listing real estate and my sobriety journey or else it would have published Monday. Keep coming back, there are a lot of fantastic, magickal happenings in the month of October…one being my 30th birthday 😉

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Grief.

Grief.

I am sitting at my computer at a loss for words. Tears are streaming down my face.

When I woke up this morning it was to the news that America has suffered its deadliest mass shooting. On the heels of trying to process this news, I found out one of my favorite artists, Tom Petty has died. There is only so much an empath’s heart can take.

We should not live in a world where we fear going to events that are meant to unite us. Football games used to be a time for friends and family to get together and have fun and now people are battling over whether you should sit or stand for the national anthem. Mass killings are happening at concerts. The divide is killing us. Literally. What is happening to this country? I used to be proud to be an American, now it’s a fucking joke. We need to come together again. It does not matter if you are conservative or liberal we all have red, American blood running through our veins and that blood is being shed.  How do we overcome this?

I don’t want to get into politics but the change has to start somewhere and it isn’t happening in the White House. It isn’t happening with the lawmakers. It needs to start on the foundation of our country. The American citizens are the backbone of this country and the sooner we realize it and band together, the sooner we can start to recover.

To those that think the mass shooting had nothing to do with politics…I wouldn’t be so sure. If you have been watching American Horror Story Cult, you get a glimpse into the fanatics and the chaos that can ensue from something like a historically brutal election. People can come unhinged. When the climate of the country is so volatile, volatile minds will start to react.

POTUS- your country is unraveling at the seams. What are you going to do?

“I say to you all, once again — in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” – Albus Dumbledore

YOU ARE VOLDEMORT TRUMP!

I am not just praying for Vegas. I am praying for every city and citizen of this country.

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If Love Could Have Saved You, You Would Have Lived Forever.

If Love Could Have Saved You, You Would Have Lived Forever.

Today marks 7 years since my older brother chose to end his own life. In the past this day has been one of great sorrow and all I could do to cope was drink. The only way I could try to process the feelings and look for answers was by searching for them at the bottom of the bottle. The answers were never there and never will be, because my brother took them to the grave with him. The mess that suicide leaves behind is incomprehensible.

My brother’s girlfriend and two young daughters were the first to arrive on the scene (my brother shot himself.) His oldest daughter wrote this poem

“I came home I seen a mess you told me sorry but it doesn’t help, it doesn’t help. Why did you do this to me? So I just went outside to see the moon then I seen the stars. So reach for the stars and we’ll be all right. I promise you, so let’s reach for the stars we’ll be fine reaching for the stars, reaching for the stars.”
~Lexie Ellis

If little Lexie can find hope in the stars, so can I. I no longer want to be a part of the mess and the cycle of addiction and mental illness. This year I am choosing to honor his life with sobriety and sanity. I am going to laugh and cry in his memory, but I will not drown it with alcohol. I don’t talk to Dale much anymore and I feel compelled to today. Here is my open letter to him. Simply because if we keep quiet about the after math of suicide the stigma remains.

Dale,

I cannot believe it’s been seven years since I got the phone call that you had left us. So much has happened in that time, it feels like I have lived a whole lifetime split in two. A life with you in it and one without you. I have been married and divorced (you know the women in our family, it was destined to end badly the first time.) I have loved and lost. I have lost a lot. I know you have watched over me and seen me spiral out. I know you always had higher hopes for me because you always told me “you are the smart one in the family keep going in school and do something big”. I finally did it big brother! I graduated, become a real estate broker and I am sober. I enjoy my life and nurture my mental illness so that I can have a full and happy life that addiction and depression robbed you of. How I wish I could spend one more day with you in our tree fort without a care in the world other than swapping pogs and laughing…or terrorizing our sister on Burrito night. The laughs and the joy we had as children carry me through the dark days when I am missing you. I know I haven’t always clung to the happy times and have felt anger towards you for leaving us behind but I have come to peace with it. I saw a psychic (Dont even roll your eyes at me, we played with a Ouija board together for years) and she told me “he just wasn’t meant to be on this earth in this life for a long time. He is in the white light and at peace.” I believe that. You were a funny, caring, wild, and sensitive soul who just got lost somewhere along the way and had to be called home to do your work from afar. I feel your love wherever you are. When we meet again I imagine myself sitting with you in the kitchen and me making you a Pb&J because you said I make them best because of my OCD…”you put the peanut butter all the way to the edge of the crust”. Today I will focus on our laughter, perfect Pb&j sandwiches and no brown shoes.

xoxo Skully

 

If you or someone you know is suffering, please reach out. You matter. Call 1-800-273-8255

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Why I Chose the 12 Step Program.

Why I Chose the 12 Step Program.

Many people have come to me and asked me what methods I choose for sobriety and how and why it works for me. So I thought I would take some time to write about why I chose the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and WHY it works so well for millions of people around the world.

First, a little history on Alcoholics Anonymous. AA was founded in 1935 by Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson. The number of members, was obviously quite small and often the most severe cases of alcoholism. As the success of the program grew, more and more people came to the rooms of AA, even those who were not in a desperate way yet.

AA’s use the 12 steps, 12 traditions and the corresponding literature (commonly referred to as the ‘Big Book’ and the ’12 and 12′). There are other books such as the Daily Reflections, which covers a different step or part of the Big Book to focus on for just one day. NA is a similarly devised program that uses what they refer to as the “Basic Text” but their 12 steps are the same as AA. Some alcoholics choose to join NA and some Opiate addicts prefer AA….it is a personal preference.

How does it work? It is believed that when one works the 12 steps honestly they will come to a spiritual awakening. The 12 steps are as follows:

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

As you can see these steps can be uncomfortable to work through, particularly without your drug of choice to numb the feelings you are inevitably going to experience. This is why it is recommended you get a Sponsor. A sponsor is someone who has gotten sober in the program and can guide you through the 12 steps. They are a life line when you feel like relapsing and give you a daily dose of tough love to keep you on track.

The AA symbol is a triangle that stands for unity, service and recovery.

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Aside from the spiritual awakening you come to by working this program, you gain a fellowship of other sober people. The fellowship of AA is unlike anything you will experience. These are not just “friends” these people become your family. You need unity in your recovery or you will be destined to fail. Many people have tried to stop drinking or using on their own accord only to relapse over and over again.

At the end of the day it is your sobriety and your addiction and you have choices. You can choose to stay in your addiction and misery, or you can give the program a shot. What works for some doesn’t always work for others, but AA has saved lives over and over again and keeps people from drinking every. single. day. ONE DAY AT A TIME.

If you are interested in the program but don’t know how to start, please reach out to me. We live by the anonymity code so this is a safe place to come.

Remember when Myspace Quizzes Were a Thing!?

Remember when Myspace Quizzes Were a Thing!?

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I was reminiscing about the “good old days” and decided to do a search for those Myspace quizzes we used to fill out. They are a fun little way to pass the time and you get to learn more about The Witty Witch!

 

THREE WAYS I AM STILL A KID
1. I love Disney movies
2. Puppy cuddles make me happy
3. I sometimes eat ice cream BEFORE dinner

THREE WAYS I AM ALREADY OLD
1. Golden Girls is one of my favorite shows
2. If I don’t go to sleep by 10 at the latest, I am exhausted the next day
3. My knees creak when I bend

THREE THINGS I WANT TO DO
1. Travel more
2. Love more
3. Sleep more

THREE WAYS THAT I’M A STEREOTYPICAL “GIRL”
1. Pink is my favorite color
2. I love makeup and shopping
3. I have way too many heels that I never wear

THREE NEW THINGS I WANT TO TRY IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS
1. Travel to a new destination
2. Different style yoga classes
3. Snowboarding…again

THREE THINGS I LIKE ABOUT MYSELF
1. I am always mindful of other’s feelings
2. I am ambitious
3. I am successful

THREE THINGS I STRONGLY DISLIKE ABOUT MYSELF
1. Sass
2. Stubborn
3. No willpower

THREE THINGS THAT SCARE ME
1. Abandonment
2. Flying in planes
3. Pharmaceuticals

THREE OF MY EVERYDAY ESSENTIALS
1. iphone
2. ice water
3. Big book of Alcoholics Anonymous

THREE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX (OR SAME) THAT APPEAL TO ME
1. Sense of humor
2. Integrity
3. The ability to be my friend before anything else

THREE THINGS I JUST CAN’T DO
1. Eat fish
2. Say no
3. Drink alcohol

THREE CAREERS I’M CONSIDERING
1. Real Estate Broker
2.
3.

Name: Brianne
Birthday: October 20th 1987
Birthplace: Washington
Favourite Color: Pink
Favourite Drink: Ice water with lemon
Favourite Food: Mashed potatoes
Favourite Sport: Football
Time right now: 12:46 PM
Hair Color: Blonde
Nail polish right now: Light pink
Size feet: 5
Dress size: Not sure
Height: 5’1″
Perfume: Chanel Chance or Wildfox
Glasses?: Yes
Last party?: Graduation party for myself
Favorite Male celebrity: Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling
Favorite Female celebrity: Stevie Nicks
Favourite season: Autumn
Cold or hot nights: Cold
Tea or Coffee: Coffee
Favorite Band: Fleetwood Mac
Favorite TV Show: American Horror Story and Golden Girls
Best friend: Too many to name
Can you trust this person?: Obvs.
Do they approve of the last person you kissed?: Who cares
Song you can’t stop listening too: Silver Springs by Fleetwood Mac
Flats or heels: Flats

This is seriously going to get personal, you ready? Yep.
If you were caught cheating, would you fess up? I wouldn’t cheat.
The last time you felt honestly broken? Right now.
Are you craving something? Serenity.
If you could have one thing right now what would it be? Internal peace.
Would you rather have ten kids, or none? NONE. Ten!? WTF.
What do you hear right now? Music
Is your bed against more than one of your walls? Yes
What’s on your mind right now? How tired I am.
Are you there for your friends? Always.
Last person to see you cry? My AA friends.
What do you do when you get nervous? Drink a lot of water, pee, repeat.
Be honest, do you like people in general? I try to.
How old do you think you will be when you finally have kids? Who knows at this point.
Does anyone completely understand you? Mm, doubtful.
Do you have a reason to smile right now? Yes, always, no matter what.
Has anyone told you they don’t ever wanna lose you? Many times.
Would you be happier if life had a rewind button? No.
Do you tell your mum or dad everything? For the most part.
Does it matter to you if your boyfriend or girlfriend smokes? No.
Are you going to get hurt anytime soon by someone? Let me check my tarot cards and get back to you…
This time last year, can you remember who you liked? Yes.
Do you think more about the past, present, or future? I’m an anxiety gal, always the future.
How many hours of sleep do you get a night? I try to get 8 or more.
Are you easy to get along with? Lord it depends.
Do you hate the last girl you had a conversation with? No.
What was the last drink that you put in your mouth? Water
What size bed do you have? King
Do you start the water before you get in the shower or when you get in? Before. What kinda psycho do you take me for?
Do you like the rain? Love it.
Do you think someone is thinking about you right now? I hope so.
Have you ever done something you told yourself you wouldn’t do? All the damn time.
Would people refer to you as a goodie goodie, bad news, or neither? Bad news I am sure.
Who were you last in the car with, besides family? AA friend.
What’s the last movie you saw in theaters and with who? IT, boyfriend.
Have you ever kissed someone who had a boyfriend/ girlfriend? Not that I know of.
Have you ever been hurt by someone you never thought would hurt you? DUH.
Do you regret a past relationship? Nope. Lessons learned.
Would you rather spend a Friday night at a concert or a crazy party? Home with Netflix
Do you tend to fall for the same type of person over and over? Yes lol very much so.
Have you made a joke about somebody that made them cry? I don’t think so…I’m not an asshole.
Do you care too much about your appearance? Probably more than I should.
Are you a jealous person? From time to time.
Have you bought any clothing items in the last week? Yes.
Do you miss anyone? Yes.
Last person who made you cry? None ya business.
Does your ex piss you off? Whose doesn’t?
What are you doing tomorrow? Work and an AA meeting.
Are you the type of person who has a new boyfriend/ girlfriend every week? No lol.
Is there anyone you want to come see you? My family in Wisconsin.
Have you ever been cheated on? Yes.
Ever given your all to someone who walked away? Yes.
Do you like cotton candy? No.
Who was the last person you had a serious conversation with? A girlfriend.
Are you planning to get knocked up or knock someone up by age 17? I am 29 so that’s a hard no lol.
Do you have siblings? 10
Have you ever fallen asleep on someone? Yes
How has the past week been for you? Stressful
Do you have a friend of the opposite sex you can talk to? Yes
What’s on your mind right now? What isn’t on my mind?
What were you doing at midnight last night? Sleeping.
What is your current mood? Drained
Who was the first person you talked to today? My mom
Will this week be a good one? I hope so
Anything happen to you within the past month that made you really happy? Yes, women’s retreat!
Who were you with last night? Boyfriend
Did you talk to someone until you fell asleep last night? Yes.
Do you have any plans for the weekend? Yoga, meetings, family time

New Moon in Virgo – Healing

New Moon in Virgo – Healing

The September 19th-20th New Moon falls in the earthy sign of Virgo and is going to send us on a healing journey.

The new moon always represents the end of one cycle and the commencement of another. For this particular new moon you will be faced with what could potentially be temporary discomfort to heal. Your old and new wounds will open so that they may be healed. You may feel tempted to hide away or push this pain down, but Virgo is a healing sign and there is no better time to let it open so it can heal from the inside out.

In Alcoholics Anonymous we are constantly taking personal inventory and confronting it. We learn that it is necessary for serenity and internal peace to address the wounds we have tried to bury. Although non-alcoholics are more prone to feeling and processing their wounds, they are still human and still bury emotions or hurts from time to time.

During this new moon phase you should sit in quiet and meditate on the things that hurt you or no longer serve you. Journal all your life’s frustrations big or small. Light healing light blue candles and white to cleanse your space. Light some sage or palo santo to clear away the bad energies as they spill from you. Do not simply let your hurt out and blow it away. Reflect on it. Did it make you grow? Did you learn from it? Once you have embraced the lesson it has served give thanks to your higher power and let it know that it has served its purpose and may now be released.

The new moon in Virgo is the first we have had since the solar eclipse. Take a look at the goals you made for yourself and check in on your progress. There may need to be some adjustments made at this time. The new moon is a perfect time to figure out what you need to do going forward to manifest your goals and dreams.

It is also a time for holistic healing of our bodies. Do something kind for your body. Take a detoxing salt bath, sip some organic tea, drink lemon water, or get a massage. Do something to show thanks for your health and continue to promote it.

I normally recommend crystals to use during a certain moon phase but because healing comes at such a personal level and I cannot possibly list every healing crystal, I have provided a link that you can search your ailments during this time and find the crystal that suits you best. Emotional Healing Crystals

 

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