Posts Tagged ‘samhain’

Walpurgis Night- observed on April 30th in Germany, Czech Republic, Finland, Estonia, Sweden and elsewhere.  A night when children light candles and play tricks on their neighbors.  A night in which Catholics honor Saint Walpurga.

Celebrated by modern day pagans as the night of witches.

“Walpurgis Night was when, according to the belief of millions of people, the devil was abroad—when the graves were opened and the dead came forth and walked. When all evil things of earth and air and water held revel.” ~ Bram Stoker, “Dracula’s Guest”

Gustav Meyrink's Walpurgisnacht

“WILD HUNT (Ger. wilde or wüthende jagd; also wildes or witthendet heer, wild or maddening host; nachtjäger, night huntsman, etc.), the name given by the German people to a fancied noise sometimes heard in the air at night, as of a host of spirits rushing along over woods, fields, and villages, accompanied by the shouting of huntsmen and the baying of dogs.” from 1900 The International Cyclopaedia: A Compendium of Human Knowledge, Volume 15.

Occuring exactly six months after Samhain, Walpurgisnacht is considered to be, the “other Halloween”, as it is also a time when the veil opens between the worlds of the living and the dead. It is on this eve that German witches were said to meet upon the Brocken.  This, the highest of the Harz mountains,  famous for casting enormous shadows of a person into the mists below.   There they would pay honor to their “devil” and celebrate the coming of spring. It is also on this night that the Wild Hunt ends. The collected souls, taken by the Goddess Holda into the earth so they may be reborn.

it is a time for speaking to those on the otherside.  Of divination and magic.  Of daring a glimpse into the dark.

Goddess Holda wild hunt

Walpurgisnacht- A lovely time to call upon Hecate as she has also long been associated with the Wild Hunt.  Roaming the nights with her sacred black dogsGoddess of the crossroads, the moon, sorcery, and ghosts. She who rules in the underworld, earth, and heaven.  She, Queen of the Witches.

hecate

Goethe’s Faust: “To the Brocken the witches ride…” (“Die Hexen zu dem Brocken ziehn…”)

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As Halloween approaches, I wished to continue my theme from last week.

For Italian Witches, or those who follow the spiritual path of Stregheria, the pagan holiday of Samhain is known as, Shadowfest. ( La Festa dell’ Ombra). On October 31st, the deceased return to the world of the living for three days until they depart again on the second of November.

As hosting a Dumb Supper is traditional for some witches, it is customary for Sicilians to gather at the graves of loved ones and leave them food. One of the most traditional foods to be served is fava bean soup. Since the days of the Roman Empire, the bean has been associated with the dead due to a single black mark on the white petal. Bowls of the soup are left outside at the witching hour for the spirits to enjoy, and then buried when the sunrises.

Today in Italy, it is common to eat fave dei morte sweets shaped as skeletons. While modern Sicilians also partake in sugary figures shaped from legendary heroes.*

This practice of honoring the spirits of the dead for multiple days can also be found in Mexico’s, Día de Muertos which also lasts from October 31st through November second. Skulls made of sugar, marigolds, and favorite foods are brought to the graves of loved ones. November first, Día de los Angelitos, is set aside to honor children, while the second day of the month, Día de los Muertos, is to remember the adults beyond the veil.

Day_of_the_dead_at_mexican_cemetery_4

* information from Raven Grimassi’s, Hereditary Witchcraft

Doorbells ringing.
Impatient knocking.
“Trick or treat.” Cute little ghosts and goblins and witches standing at your threshold, holding out bags to be filled with sweets.
While this is the image most conjure in their minds regarding All Hallows Eve, October 31st holds a very different, very sacred meaning to the hearts of many others.
Amongst other names…
Samhain (sow-en) to the ancient Celts and many modern Pagans
Shadowfest to the Strega

As the veil between the living and the dead lies at its most fragile, it is the opportune time for seances, scrying, and magic.
It is time to honor the God and Goddess.
But most of all, it is time to remember our ancestors.
We walk upon their bones every day. Their blood flows within us.
It was they who reaped and sowed, toiled in fields, built shelters, dared to dream and travel to new lands, survived and fought against slaveries and holocausts, and every day injustices.
Halloween is a night to say, “Thank you.”

And one does not have to be of any particular religion or spiritual practice to do so.
One of the most lovely traditions is to host a Dumb Supper. This may be done solo, or with friends and family in attendance.
If one wishes to host one, there are no rules. One may wish to call upon a few specific loved ones who have passed away, or their whole lineage. A general guidelines one may wish to follow would be to remember that the supper is for those who have gone before. Therefore, you may wish to cook your grandmother’s favorite meal, or dishes belonging to their ethnic background. Prayers belonging to the religion they practiced might be recited. Their favorite flowers bought. Their favorite pieces of music played.
The meal is served backwards….yes, dessert before the main course! Some even set the table in opposite fashion. In any event, once the food is served, the supper is enjoyed in silence, hence the name.

Once everyone is done, the remaining food is left overnight for the spirits to partake of their essence.
Afterwards, enjoy a night of magic filled with family, love, and remembrance.

Samhain