It doesn't all have to be about spooks at this time of the year although it's both fun and traditional for it to be.
This year here at our new home, Magpie Cottage, we are going to see Samhain as the signal that it’s time to slow down a little, to stay close to home and hearth and dream a little about the things we hope for in the new year ahead.
Traditionally seen as a marker by many peoples in the northern hemisphere as the end of the summer and moving into winter it’s unsurprising that our ancestors saw this as an important time of the year to mark in some way. The light is in decline and the darker part of the year beginning. Big things to deal with not only for those of our past but also for us too.
Our mental health has been stretched to the limits just lately and so many of us feel vulnerable. It becoming darker and colder isn’t necessarily a thing to celebrate… or is it ?
We need time to rejuvenate, just as the land does after its harvest. Having less daylight means that we can cherish the light hours by getting outside as much as we can, go about our daily business but realise that from late afternoon maybe it’s time to cosy.
We love the word cosy, it evokes hot water bottles, big woolly socks, a blanket around us, a hot cuppa and comforting, satisfying food.
These are a few suggestions for things to do to make you cosy into the late Autumn and Winter seasons.
You can bake - our current easy to bake favourite is sultana and apple tea loaf fresh out the oven with a steaming hot cuppa at about 4pm.
You can sit and either read a book - it’s the season for ghost stories. There are some excellent podcasts too to listen to. Wrap a blanket around you, dim the lights and have a mulled drink or a hot chocolate.
Or perhaps put on warm socks, cuddle a hot water bottle and tell each other ghost stories.
You can make something by doing some slow stitch or knitting or crocheting - maybe gifts for Yuletide. Homemade and with a loving intention behind them makes these the best gifts to receive
Sit with your feet up by the fire and think about things to look forward to as you look into the flame and allow yourself to drift as you consider the. Shapes in the fire and what they are telling you.
Start planning your Yuletide celebrations - remember it’s all about marking these special times in our own way.
Finally add fairy lights, soft lighting or candlelight to give a magickal atmosphere to these darker times.
Hallowe’en another name used at this time of the year originates from a time when the following days of All Saints and All Souls’ Days were important to many who followed a Christian tradition. The eve of the hallowed day of Saints on 1st November was thought to be a time when any evil doing was most likely to happen and that the passageways between the realms of the supernatural and our homes were open for witches, ghosts, fae beings to use. Action had to be taken to prevent this and most commonly it involved fires kept alight in chimneys (although in Northern England the tradition was to extinguish hearth fires) bonfires lit in villages, charms and amulets on thresholds and worn by people. Also carving lanterns from turnips originally, which were lit up and carried or put in windows also served the purpose of warding off evil.
Farm animals passed between bonfires in the belief the smoke purified and protected them as they were moved to the low fields to winter.
Fun was also part of the marking of the season with leaping over fires for good health and good luck. It was also a good night for divination and the main topic seems to be who will be a future partner. In some parts it was known as Nut Crack Night as nuts in shells were thrown into fires having first put an initial of an intended loved one on it. Depending on where you are in the country the meaning of the nut bursting or burning would be interpreted as either a positive or negative sign.
Mischief Night is another name for this time which derived in Northern Britain and is probably the one thing we can now associate with in current Halloween celebrations , as it was probably the origin of trick or treating. It was most likely that this tradition was taken to America by migrants who made America their home. As they say the rest is history as these ‘new’ Americans developed the trick or treat we know and (some) love of today. At its heart mischief night was acknowledging the trouble that could be caused by the supernatural activity that was set free for one night only ! It gave a good excuse for random unkind acts to be dished out, usually by youngsters, on villagers who they may have took a dislike to.
Through the commercialisation of Halloween it has inadvertently meant that this is one of the times where we have not only kept a very old seasonal celebration alive, having forgotten so many, but made it into our own. It’s totally moved from being a marker of the Celtic year end and time to honour ancestors, from a Christian motivated time of fear of the supernatural to a time particularly for children and families to have slightly dark fun and chills.
Of course some, like ourselves, prefer to respect and observe the old ways and go about things in a much quieter way by remembering what and who we have lost this year, honouring our ancestors and opening a new part of the year by preparing ourselves to hunker down for winter with a feeling of welcome rather than dread.
Wishing you a Magickal time and thinking of all those who need light in there lives. Remember the light half of the year will return but for now get cosy x