Samhain: Reconnecting to the Path

FS_Bewitched_Paper9Samhain approaches.  Do you feel it in the air?

As one of four Fire Festivals, this is one of the most important celebrations of the year for modern pagans and one I particularly enjoy.

Samhain’s original purpose was to celebrate the final harvest of the year and prepare for the hard days of winter, for our ancestors farmed the land and lived from its bounty. They had no science, no technology. Everything they had came from the land on which they made their homes; their lives depended on what they could hunt or gather and so they lived with, and by, the seasons. In their tribal culture, they had to make the best use of what nature provided during the growing season and store sufficient to ensure their tribe’s survival through the winter ahead.

Samhain was celebrated around October 31, when the last harvest had been gathered and the food had been safely stored. The last of the grain harvest would be put aside for animal feed. Cattle would be culled and only those best suited to surviving the lean months would be kept until spring. For the poorer farmers, it was a question of how much livestock they could afford to feed over the winter months. The meat from the cull would be salted and cured to keep the families fed until the land began to produce food once again.

Everyone, high born or low, was involved in this work. But at the end of all their labours, they would feast. This was a way of celebrating their work’s end and of giving thanks to the gods and goddesses of the land who had provided their food.

It may seem odd that the end of summer should be celebrated as the most important of the ancient festivals. But to our ancestors, all things began in darkness; the Celtic day began at dusk and so it is logical that their counting of the year would begin at the onset of darkness too.

Samhain was not just a time of gratitude and thankfulness to Gods for their generosity but also a time to ask for their protection through the winter to come. For just as Samhain marks the end of one season, it also heralds the beginning of the new and to our Celtic forefathers, Samhain was the New Year, or the turning of the Wheel. One of their many gods would straddle this time nexus, looking back over the passing year and looking forward to the days ahead.

It was in that spirit of reflection and remembrance that their simple harvest festival of thanks and feasting took on another role, that of honouring their beloved dead and inviting them, for one night of revelry, to join them again in the physical world.  These were superstitious folk, who believed that by doing this, the restless earth bound souls of their departed would be able to rest and not trouble them in the year to come.

This custom lives on in Hallowe’en with its themes of ghosts; is echoed by All Saints Day in honour of the Saints of Christianity celebrated on November 1st and echoes once more in Latin America on El Dia de los Muertos; the Day of the Dead. On this day families decorate the graves of their dear departed with flowers, sweets and other gifts. And so, the two themes most evident in modern Hallowe’en celebrations ~ of remembering the dead and divining the future ~ are inextricably linked to these first pagan customs.  The bonfires now associated with November 5th, also hark back to the Samhain festival, which is always celebrated with fire.

In your own ritual, you may like to honour this tradition by naming and celebrating your own departed loved ones, then ‘return to the light’ by welcoming in any newborns who have come into your life during the past year as well as giving thanks for new friends and opportunities.

In this way, your Samhain festival will be a very special reminder of the endless cycle of death and renewal, the mystery of one and the bright joyfulness of the other.

And so we meet at old Samhain
The season’s wheel must turn again
And merry maids and merrier men
Will celebrate its turning!

We eat the fruit and plant the seed,
We carve the ‘neeps and drink the mead,
On meat and roasted roots we’ll feed
All while the logs are burning!

Spirits of old, come gather near,
Loved ones passed we still hold dear,
Gather all, be of good cheer,
The night is swiftly turning!

We bid farewell to summer’s light,
Hecate guide us through the night,
And in our hearts, forever bright,
Lugh’s flame is gently burning!

Freespirit © 2005

Brightest Blessings for Samhain x

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Bewitched Digital Embellishment Pack

In this bumper embellishment pack you will receive 29 beautiful embellishments in in transparent .png format, all featuring a funky Halloween theme.

I just love Halloween, or Samhain as I say, its such fun and for those of us who follow the old path, a very sacred time too.

You can probably tell how much fun I had designing these embellishments – I really let my imagination go wild with, because we’re all children inside, right?
Included in the pack is a bat, two owls, three cats, two gremlins and two witches.  There are also five decorated brads, three pumpkins, two toadstools, a witches hat and a broomstick.  There are two overlays, one is a darkly gothic purple rose border and the other a spooky graveyard silhouette.

The three transparent shapes can be filled with colour or texture (in your own preferred program), used as masks for photos or left as they are to add a touch of drama to your page.   I have added a picture of the shapes filled with papers from the Bewitched Paper Pack – please note the shapes will be black and the fills are not included in this pack.

Go wild with these embellishments.  Use them to decorate your Halloween party invitations.  Print several black cats, cut them out and hang them in your window.  Make a poster to put on your door to wish Trick or Treaters happy Halloween!  Decorate your layouts in your album of all your Fright Night monsters – large or small!

This is a digital download, for use with a suitable computer program.

No physical product will be sent.

Kits may be used in your artwork and printed as often as you wish.

Kits are for use in scrapbooking, card making and other arts and crafts.

These products may be used in digital form in scrapbooks, card making and other arts using suitable computer programs which are able to utilise .jpg and transparent .png files.

Brightest Blessings and Happy Haunting! FS x

Bewitched Digital Paper Pack

In this paper pack you will receive ten beautiful papers, patterned and/or textured in .jpg format, 8” x 8”, 300dpi

I just love Halloween, or Samhain as I call it, its such fun and for those of us who follow the old path, a very sacred time too.

I let my imagination go wild with this fun pack, because we’re all children inside, right?  So there’s some real spooky backgrounds as well as some to set off the fun embies that I’ve made to go with this paper pack.

Go wild with this paper pack – use it for your Trick or Treat party invitations as well as in your scrapbooking layouts of all your Fright Night monsters – large or small!

This is a digital download, for use with a suitable computer program.

No physical product will be sent.

Kits may be used in your artwork and printed as often as you wish.

Kits are for use in scrapbooking, card making and other arts and crafts.

These products may be used in digital form in scrapbooks, card making and other arts using suitable computer programs which are able to utilise .jpg and transparent .png files.

Brightest Blessings and Happy Haunting! FS x

Samhain

Every year throughout October, we prepare for Hallowe’en. Some people love it, some try to ignore it, others loathe it but we all feel its presence. Like a dream in the collective unconscious it creeps into our awareness and will not budge until the last trick or treater has gone home and laid its ghosts to rest.

The first signs appear, of course, in the shops. Bats; broomsticks; spiders; cauldrons and pumpkins can be seen everywhere. Then the preparations infiltrate playgroups, nurseries and schools. Because children love Hallowe’en and for them, its all about Trick or Treat. For the young, the emphasis is on treats – dressing up and going around the neighbourhood with a goody bag, which will, with luck, come back bulging with goodies. For the older child it may turn to trickery, ranging from harmless pranks to more serious misdemeanours. People who fall pray to these tricks may be heard to mutter about American Ideas, believing it to be yet another notion from across the pond that has taken root in our culture.

But did it really begin there? Or does Hallowe’en draw on an altogether more ancient heritage?

The truth is, like most modern festivals, its roots probably go back to the mists of time before recorded histories began. All we can be reasonably certain of is that this celebration, to our pagan ancestors, was the most important festival of the year.

To our Celtic forefathers, Hallowe’en was known as Samhain. The word Samhain means more literally Summer’s End. To these farming folk, there were really only two seasons – summer and winter. And this concept became reflected in their spiritual beliefs as dark and light; bountiful and barren; active and inactive.

Its original purpose was to celebrate the final harvest of the year and prepare for the hard days of winter. For our ancestors farmed the land and lived from its bounty. They had no science, no technology. Everything they had came from the land on which they made their homes; their lives depended on what they could hunt, grow or gather and so they lived with, and by, the seasons. In their tribal culture, they had to make the best use of what nature provided during the growing season and store sufficient to ensure their tribe’s survival through the winter ahead.

Samhain was celebrated around about October 31, or when the last harvest was in and the food was safely stored. Cattle would be culled and only those best suited to surviving the lean months could be kept until spring. The meat from the cull would be salted and cured to keep the families fed. The final harvest from fruit and vegetables was gathered and carefully packed to ensure good keeping. The last of the grain harvest would be stored for cattle feed.

Everyone high born or low was involved in this work. But at the end of all their hard labours, they would feast. This was a way of celebrating both their work’s end and of giving thanks to the Deities of the land who had provided their food.

It may seem odd that the end of summer should be celebrated as the most important of the ancient festivals. But to our Celtic ancestors, all things began in darkness; the day began at dusk and so it is logical that their counting of the year would begin at the onset of darkness too.

And perhaps it seemed only right to thank the Gods for their provisions after the harvest while also petitioning them to protect them through the winter to come. For just as Samhain marks the end of one season, it also heralds the beginning of the new. And so to our Celtic forefathers, Samhain was the New Year, or the turning of the Wheel. One of their many gods would straddle this time nexus, looking back over the passing year and looking forward to the days ahead.

I think there were other, more pragmatic reasons for beginning the year as the days of darkness approached. If we look at the lifestyles of these people, they were run by the seasons and at the end of the harvesting period, the time of planning for the next year’s work must be done. It would be no good leaving it until our New Year, when the days were so short that little work could be done. In October, however, there was still some daylight to get outside and do essential repairs on the land; hedges to cut back; fences to mend; decisions to be made about spring planting. And I wonder if this is how our now diluted New Year’s Resolutions came about – essentially an in-depth planning strategy for the next year’s labours, begun immediately after the New Year Feast of Samhain.

There may have been an even stranger reason, to our modern way of thinking. During the summer, any fighting over boundaries would be done; many of the men folk would go to battle, leaving the youngsters and the women to care for the land. As the days began to grow shorter and darker, the men would finally come home, for the darker months decreed that any hostilities would cease and for a few months the men would be back with their families, safe in their simple homes. What better time to celebrate?

And in that spirit of reflection and remembrance, their simple harvest festival of thanks and feasting took on another role, that of honouring their beloved dead and inviting them, for one night of revelry, to join them again in the physical world. This custom lives on in Hallowe’en with its themes of ghosts; is echoed by All Saints Day in honour of the Saints of Christianity celebrated on November 1st and echoes once more in Latin America on El Dia de los Muertos; the Day of the Dead. On this day families decorate the graves of their dear departed with flowers, sweets and other gifts. And so, the two themes most evident in modern Hallowe’en celebrations ~ of remembering the dead and divining the future ~ are inextricably linked to these first pagan customs.

So the ancient worship of the land brought about through our reliance upon nature made way for the coming of more modern religious practises. Its sacred purpose has been re-written; but Samhain or Halloween, our ancient heritage is alive and well.

Freebie Friday #3

Hi folks

Bet you thought I’d forgotten you!  Had a really busy day with my little granddaughter who is staying until Halloween!  We’ve done everything and I’m Freespirit @ totally exhausted!

Here is a Bewitched Mini Kit that I think you might like to finish off your Halloween collection!  Enjoy.

Click image to download

I’ll pop in with lots of chat on Monday after Trick or Treat.

Happy Haunting – Freespirit xxx

Scrapchat 3

I’m so excited, I just finished my latest kit, Bewitched, all ready for Halloween!

I just love Halloween, its a very special time for me, but for many folk it is simply a fun time to share with the children.  And as long as we make sure the littlies are safe on their Trick or Treating (accompanied by an adult of course) and that they respect peoples’ wishes and only go to houses where they are joining in the fun (its usually easy to tell by the decorations who is playing and who isn’t) then its a lovely fun evening for kids, young and not so young!

Well, I just had a blast making this kit.  In the embellishments kit, I went mad with owls and bats, gremlins and cats, pumpkins, a spooky graveyard silhouette and a rather neat witch!  There is a matching paper kit, with some spooky backgrounds and some that coordinate.

I reckon you can have some real fun making all sorts of Halloween stuff from the papers and embellishments in Bewitched.  Party invitations, menu sheets, posters for the doors and windows.  You could print off some black cats, cut them out and hang them up as decorations.  Most of all, you can do some pretty neat layouts for your albums.

Did you check out the link to Scrapbook Max?  Seriously, its my favourite program.  I have loads of photos on my pc – don’t we all, now that we have digital cameras?  Until I got into digital scrapbooking I had no idea what to do with them really.  Now, I can quickly and easily create a page.  Once you have made a page, you can do what you want with it: share it on facebook; load it onto your phone or ipod; you can post it on your favourite boards to share with the forum community; attach to an email.  You can also print them out to give them as presents or simply to make your own keepsakes.  Check it out on my link – there’s a free trial.

I made a page using the new kit to show you what you might do with it.  I’ve used the tombstone shape as a photo mask of my scary little coven.  Well they’re just too darn cute to be scary, aren’t they?  I was totally bewitched by both of them.  We did have fun and I’m so looking forward to doing it all again this year.

Bewitched 2009

I think I may post some ideas on here about thing you can do with your scrapbooking.  I make all my own cards and its so easy to do, and such fun.  So keep on checking here for scrapbooking ideas and more freebies.

Brightest Blessings

Walk in Beauty – Freespirit

Scrapchat 2

Wow, what happened to September?  Here we are in October and Halloween is looming large on the horizon!  The mall is full of cutsie little outfits for fluffy pumpkins and scary monsters.  Don’t you just love it?

Anyway, I have been working very hard and my new kit for  the season will be in the shop by the end of the week.  As promised, there are some freebies all ready for you to grab.  I hope you like the Quick Page.  For those dedicated scrappers, you’ll recognise the term Quick Page.  For newbies to digital scrapping, it couldn’t be easier.  Just load your QP into your program of choice, pop a photo onto the page so it is roughly in the place where the tombstone shape has been cut out.  Then simply send your photo to the back and hey presto, a suitable picture of Halloween monsters, ghouls or other such scary folk will be nicely framed on your page.  Save and publish or print, if you wish.  Or if you want to personalise it more, then you can pop on some embies, journalling or a page heading first.

Now don’t forget,  my standard is 8″ x 8″, 300 dpi saved as .jpgs for papers and quick pages.  This is an ideal size for printing on your home computer and will produce excellent results.  My embellishments are always produced as .pngs to preserve transparency, and I usually make them large, so you can use them with confidence on your pages.

I’ve done a couple of FREEBIE shapes for you to use on your Halloween layouts too and these will be here later today, so don’t forget to check back.  My friends who use Scrapbook Max (THE BEST scrapbook program there is) will understand what shapes are and no doubt will grab these freebies quick sharp.  But for anyone new to the term, these are just transparent .png files, made in black, which you can use as you wish on your LOs (layouts).  Put the .png on your digital page and fill it with whatever colour or texture you wish.  Or you can just use them as they are, to create a little drama on your monster halloween LO.

Well, I must get that kit finished now but I’ll be back with more Scrapchat soon.

Many and many blessings to you

Walk in Beauty – Freespirit