Festivals for Winter, Recipes, Wellbeing

Samhain is upon us again – spoken as ‘saawan’

  • Festive foods such as pumpkins, squash, root vegetables, all mark the end of the autumnal growing season in the UK.
  • Nuts and berries, dark breads, representing the darker time of year.
  • Dried leaves and acorns, symbolizing the shedding of the trees as autumn rolls in.
  • A cornucopia is filled with such abundance and winter fruit and vegetables all representing the bounty of the fields and gardens.
  • Mulled cider, wine, or mead (Mead is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains, or hops) is taken during Samhain. There is a recipe below to try.
  •  and this is a great time to honour the blessings of the orchards and vineyards all over the land.

This is known as the ‘All Souls Night, Feast of the Dead, Festival of Remembrance, Feast of Apples, New Year’…interesting Divali is also close to this festival and has similar rituals of blessed food and festivities with loved ones.  Remembering Laxshmi the goddess of love and light and inviting loved ones into the home to share food and cheer. 

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Samhain, like Divali is also an important festival in the Wheel of the Year, and a  Pagan tradition with celtic roots.

It is the third and final harvest festival of nuts and berries and a fire festival like Divali. With the harvest in, all is complete, it is the end of the cycle of birth and growth.

Samhain is New Year for modern day witches and Halloween bring an extra spooky rare and blue moon our way. 

The moon is the most important tool for any spell-casting, or intentions, and manifestations. It’s the nurturer and giver of emotions, the illuminator of all mysteries, revealer of secrets, natural timekeeper of the world, ultimate life source, and controller of the water on this planet.

Magically speaking, blue and full moons are amazing opportunities to release and heal. And, being that a blue moon is an extra full moon that we’ll be experiencing this month,

Diwali, is a the vibrant festival observed all over India and the UK with utmost devotion and joy and celebrates the victory of good over evil and knowledge over darkness.  I am from a family of farmers and so this time of year is important for me from my native roots and also my acquired pagan customs since living here in the UK from birth.

Lakshmi puja, lighting lamps, exchanging gifts, bursting crackers and decorating the house with rangoli. Packets of money and nw clothes are given to children as they are given new hope for the new year.

Traditionally the veils between the worlds are at their thinnest. Boundaries dissolve and all is laid bare. It is time to honour and offer hospitality to, our ancestors. With the veil between the worlds being at its thinnest. Ghosts and goblins are said to walk the land, playing tricks to remind them of the invisible forces beyond their ken. It is traditional to remember, honour and perhaps contact the ancestors – those who have already passed over the river into the land of shadows. Reflect on your inheritance; acknowledge their experience and wisdom. It is said to be the most potent night of the year for meaningful dreaming and for divination. Go gently into the night, for therein lies the greatest mystery of all – that of the miracle of rebirth. Surrender so that you may receive.

At Samhain the dark half of the year commences. It is a truly magical time. Death is always followed by rebirth and while this is the end of the old year, it is the beginning of the new year and soo will be Divali too. and the day begins for both traditions at sunset and with the darkness.

For both festivals light is always born out of darkness, they are inseparable, interdependent, and necessary. Darkness is fertile with ‘all potential’.

With the beginning of this dark phase comes the opportunity to rest and reflect on the past and to dream of new beginnings. The seed now hidden in the earth will germinate in its season. Look for the seeds in yourself!

Honouring our Ancestors

Honouring ancestors is a very special thing to do at this time of year and can be done in many simple ways.

Think about all those departed souls from your life, both family and friends, children may wish to remember their pets – place photographs of them on an altar. Offer them your hospitality, welcome their presence into your home- send them love and wish them well.

At your Samhain and Divali feasts, consider laying an extra place for them to join you at the table – cook and eat their favourite dishes, talk about them – re-member them, bring them closer.

Make an offering for departed pets too by leaving some dog food outside on Halloween night, many night creatures appreciate this offering. B

Candle Ceremony for The Ancestors

This is a wonderfully simple ritual which can be shared with both friends and family, or worked alone.  It begins in darkness and ends full of light.

Seed Scattering Charm for the Ancestors

This simple charm is designed to honour the Spirit of those who have passed onto the Summerland. The seeds you scatter will grow in memory, a gift of remembrance to the Earth.

You will need. A packet of seeds of your choice; A small dish; A small white candle in a suitable holder

The night before your Seed Scattering Charm, pop the seeds into the dish and light the candle, take the seeds and scatter them, saying ‘You are remembered and held in my heart’. Repeat three times.

Where to do this? You can go to a favourite special place of your choice, a place that holds fond memories of the people you are honouring, or even your own garden – the idea of watching the seeds germinating and growing in honour of people you love is very special. The charm works just as well if you plant the seeds in a small pot.

Two things you can do to honour the Full moon 31st October 2020 10:49am:

Moon Water and Moon Crystals ritual

Take a jar, or container of water and place by the window to make moon water. The same can be done with crystals (place them by the window to absorb the energy) overnight. The energy of the moon will be given to the water and crystals. You can use the water to drink, cook, or bathe in. You can add the crystals to a healing bath to help calm your personal vibe or keep the moon water essence. Using the lunar energies in this capacity will help to center emotions and attain clarity.

Blue Moon Circle

A blue or full moon circle is a confidential meeting and ritual in which coven members or friends spill all the tea in their lives with each other. Call upon your coven or friends to meet up on Zoom. Give everyone space to discuss their emotions and feelings openly. Let everyone talk. Do not chime in with advice or commentary, as it’s their time to express their emotions without judgment. This will help everyone connect and become closer to each other. It also allows all the participants to feel good when they get all of their feelings out.

Other symbolisim for this season

The Apple

There are many apple games played at Samhain which grew out of the belief in the Apple as a sacred and magical fruit. The Apple is a symbol of life and immortality. In Celtic tradition, apples were buried at Samhain as food for those souls who are waiting to be reborn. The Apple, cut crosswise, reveals the five pointed star, or pentacle at its core and the symbol of the Goddess.

Symbols of Samhain

The Pumpkin

Pumpkins are very much an American tradition now heavily marketed in the UK and Europe. If you consider the Celts regarded the human head as the Seat of the Soul, the concept of the carved pumpkin with a candle inside it can been seen as a Light shining from the Soul. However the pumpkin has nothing to do with Samhain and has a darker side that is unsettling for me at this time of year as it does not resonate with light and the lighter side of these festivals.

The Cauldron

The Cauldron or Holy Grail is closely associated with Samhain. It is feminine, and is the cosmic container for all life and death, of transformation and rebirth.

The Besom Broom

The besom is used as this time both practically and symbolically. It sweeps away the last of the Autumn leaves, but is also used ritually to sweep out the old, to clean and clear away old energy, creating space for the new. Traditionally besoms are made from birch twigs – the birch is associated with purification and renewal.  In preparation for  Divali we clean our homes  and get rid of things that we no longer want or need so again the symbolism is uncanny for both these festivals.

You could of course make a besom at this time of year by gathering a large bundle of birch twigs tied together and many of my ancestors ddi this in India. Drive a broom handle into the middle of the bundle – ideally hazel or ash.

Acorns

The Acorn is the seed of the great Oak, representing wisdom, longevity, rebirth – a promise of strength to come. An acorn in your pocket is an amulet of good fortune to come. All nuts from our indigenous trees – walnuts, hazelnuts, conkers and so on – are pure potential and carry the attributes of the mother tree.  I was taught to  use nuts at Divali and Dates have become a fond favourite too to place on our altar for sweetening things up  in our lives.

Colours of Samhain

Black for death and endings, orange for the vitality of life within death, purple for wisdom, insight and inspiration.

Divali colours are gold, reds, orange, yellow, green and pink-  and correspond to our chakras.

The Samhain Altar

A cauldron. Apples, nuts and berries. Black candles to honour the passage to the Summerland and the Ancestors. Photographs of deceased family and friends.

Besan (Gram Flour)  Barfi for sweetening up your life

Ingredients of Besan Ki Barfi

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2 cup gram flour (besan)

20 gm raisins

20 gm Fresh homemade ghee – clarified butter

1 teaspoon powdered green cardamom

2 cup powdered sugar

20 gm pistachiosStep 1

Take a pan, keep it on medium flame and heat the gram flour – keep on a medium heat. Saute it for around 10-15 minutes- stir regularly until the flour browns.Step 2

Add  sugar and fresh chopped pistachios. Mix well and remove the pan from flame. Stir in freshly ground cardamoms (and raisins – optional)  into this mixture. Mix well.Step 3

Take a tray and grease it with homemade ghee. Transfer the mixture into the tray and spread it evenly with a greased spatula. Cut the mixture into small cubes about 2 inches in diameter-  Wait until it cools down- serve with hot tea.

Clarified Butter -to add to your Besan Barfi

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use And use a good quality product.

simply simmer in a stainless steel pan – dissolve butter-  wait until the whey falls to the bottom of the pan –  pour out the clarified butter and pour into a glass jar or use straight away for this recipe.

For those times when you want the flavour of butter, rather than oil, you’ll want to use clarified butter can stand being cooked longer, and to a higher temperature, than regular butter. Clarifying butter removes the milk solids, which are what causes the butter to burn if cooked for a long time.

Happy Samhain and Divali to all.

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