Sacred Month of Samhain October 31st – November 27th
For my predecessors in the Deanic Faith this month was also named Samhain (pronounced Sa-Win or Sow-in).
Arch Matrona Georgia Cobb has mentioned that another pronunciation for Samhain (usually pronounced Sow-en) is also Shah-vin. And I have found this here: (http://clubs.ncsu.edu/spm/FAQ/11pronounce.html).
It is also the Irish for November. We use the older word Simovane which is pronounced Shim-o-vane, very similar to the short Sha-vin. Thank you, Arch Matrona Georgia.
From The Tale of Thirteen Months copy write of Arch Madria (Bishop) Pamela Lanides
Samhain’s magick’s in the wind.
The supper is served and the veil has thinned.
The luminous Darkfire shadows the hill,
where runes divine the Great One’s Will.
The Madrian1’s later named it the month of Werde, or Fate.
From The Tale of Thirteen Months copy write of Arch Madria (Bishop) Pamela Lanides
Werde ends Summer’s Noontide fate,
spinning the threads of Dia-Janna’s Gate.
Lady Werde’, the soul’s destiny winds,
but with Our Lady’s Grace, it need not bind.
There were 2 groups of Madrians, 1 the publicity seeking, lesbian separatists and 2 the more secretive gender inclusive group from which Clan Jana originates. So in future I will number the source Madrian1 and Madrian2.
Feast of Simovane
Notes from Madria Olga transcribed by Arch Matrona Georgia
The fire-festival of late Autumn is a festival of transformation, fire being the element of transformation and death, the agent of the transformation of the soul’s state of being. The fire also symbolizes purgation and purification which many souls experience during the process of change which begins with physical death.
Samhain is strictly a three-day festival, although the main celebration is usually on the first day. The souls of the dead are made expressly welcome at the Rite of the day, and offerings of “soul cakes’ or candles may be in memory of friends and relatives for aid and comfort.
The festival is celebrated with bonfires and fireworks, and with ritual games such as Duck-Apple and Snap-Apple. The apple as symbol of eternal life, is closely bound up with the meaning of the festival; baked and toffee apples and cyder are seasonal foods, together with baked potatoes, parkin and popped corn. It is a time when the worlds are close and discarnate souls may return to their earthly habitations.
This world shall dissolve and its splendors be vanished; its pains and its sorrows shall pass like the summer rain. Life is not long, death is swift in the coming, and the ninety and nine thousand things shall be gone, but the Truth shall remain.
Originally 3 days at the beginning of the month.
1 Simovane older form of Samhain, pronounced Shimm oh vian, which means Summer’s End. (Note, the Celtic lands generally had two seasons, Winter and Summer.) / October 31st: Feast of Ancestors.
The apple is also considered one of the foods of the dead, so they are often piled high on Samhain altars, for Samhain (Simovane) is sometimes known as the Feast of the Apples.
2 Simovane / November 1st: Feast of Harvest’s End. Third Harvest Festival.
3 Simovane / November 2nd: Feast of Darkfire. (Celebrating the luminous Dark Light of the Great Mother). Cross Quarter Day.) Third Fire Festival.
In the Janite Deanic tradition formally Clan Jana, only the Feast of Ancestors is held, in consideration of time constraint.
FEAST OF ANCESTORS (Silent Supper)
As noted in a previous article, Simovane (Shim-o-vane) is an older Celtic word for Samhain (Sow-en). In our modern day parlance, Simovane/Samhain is the spiritual aspect of Halloween; Halloween being the holiday (a word derived from holy day), Simovane being the holy day.
Simovane is a three day festival. In Clan Jana, we begin with the Feast of Ancestors on the eve of 1 Simovane/Oct. 31. This is followed by the third and final Harvest festival of the year which takes place on 2 Simovane/Nov. 1 which, in turn, is followed by the Feast of Darkfire on 3 Simovane/Nov. 3. Darkfire is celebrated in honor of the Dark or Great Mother.
On the Feast of the Ancestors, when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, we remember our loved ones who have passed beyond the veil. In many cultures, there is a tradition of offering the ‘Dumb Supper’ or as it is now being referred to, the Silent Supper, where a place is set at the table for the ancestors. It is called the dumb or silent supper because the supper is eaten in silence in honor of those who have passed beyond the veil.
The practice of the Silent Supper in honor of those who have died spans many cultures.
Around the time of Sukkot, a fall festival of Judaism, when Jews build their Sukkahs, (booths, shelters for the festival of Sukkot), they put a table and one chair for each family member, plus an extra chair. This extra chair is for a “guest”, which is thought to be an ancestor. A prayer is said to invite them in to dine with the family under the sukkah. (1)
A custom and belief within the Catholic Church, that is no longer well known, is practically a universal folk belief that the souls in Purgatory are allowed to return to earth on All Souls Day. In Austria, they are said to wander the forests, praying for release. In Poland, they are said to visit their parish churches at midnight, where a light can be seen because of their presence. Afterward, they visit their families, and to make them welcome, a door or window is left open. In many places, a place is set for the dead at supper, or food is otherwise left out for them. (2)
In Mexico, there is the Festival of the Days of the Dead. This festival is over 3,000 years old, but now has Christian over-tones. (3)
The more we research, the more we discover that many, if not most, indigenous cultures had some type of feast day which honored those who died with a food offering.
The Dumb Supper was not originally part of the old Celtic tradition of Samhain, which dates back to the fifth century B.C.E. Samhain was originally called Trenae Samma and was the Celtic celebration of the end of the harvest. For three days, the Celts would feast, dance and make merry. Gradually, remembrance of those who had passed on during the previous 12 months came to be included. It was believed that for one night that signified the end of autumn and the beginning of winter, the dead could return to the land of the living to celebrate with their family, tribe or clan. (4)
Some practice the Silent Supper by shrouding everything in black, the table, chairs and so forth. The meal is eaten in a solemn manner. Others simply offer a plate of goodies and drink either on a table especially set up for the occasion or on the home altar. I practice the latter. I have an enclosed porch and so I prepare a tray of feast foods and drink and leave it on a table with candles. I sit by it for a while, in order to ‘greet my guests’. I have felt my father’s presence on more than one Simovane.
When we think of our ancestors, “we are reminded how human lovers tend to appreciate a blend of respect, passion, kindness, and quality time with each other. Plants enjoy a nice balance of sun, moisture, and healthy soil. The Buddha seems to have a taste for incense while the love goddesses may favor honey, flowers, and all things sweet. Just as we feed our human relationships with particular kinds of attention, engagement, and gifts, so can relationships with the ancestors be fed through the practice of making intentional offerings. Acts of ritual feeding may underscore a request we are making of our ancestors, convey gratitude for support already received, or just be a way of sustaining the intimacy of ongoing relationship.
As a general progression, it’s a good idea to first determine what kind of offering is called for. Then present the offering along with your intention, after which you may inquire as to whether the offering has been received well. Finally stay open to guidance or ripple effects such as intuitive communications, messages in dreams, or other signs from the ancestors. Physical offerings may include food, drink, coins, cloth, tobacco, ash, tears, stones and other found objects, flowers, fire, and creations made with our hands. Offerings to the ancestors may also take less physical forms such as song, dance, prayer, practices of healing and forgiveness, release of a pattern or relationship that no longer serves, and commitments undertaken for personal or collective good.
One specific practice that expresses the importance of making offerings is that of the spirit feast or ritual meal shared with the ancestors. After you have identified where you will share this meal with your beloved dead (e.g., a special place in nature, your ancestor shrine, at a cemetery) and what type of food and drink offerings they would enjoy from you, you are then ready to call them to be present. Again, the only “right way” to invoke your ancestors is whatever works for you. (5)
Another common practice on this night is divination, whether through the tarot, runes, pendulum or other forms.
My favorite prayer to end the Silent Supper is an haunting, consoling and beautiful prayer written by Silver Ravenwolf which may be found in a ritual from her book, Halloween. I keep my list of those who have died nearby so that I may recite their names at the proper time:
By the threads that still connect us,
by the silver cord unbroken,
by the love that is eternal
now (name list of loved ones who have passed beyond the veil), I will call you.
As the Western Gate stands open
to that land of golden sunsets.
In that peace that is unending
in that life that is eternal.
On this night of ancient wonder
where our souls can join together,
I’ll close my eyes and see you smiling
as I slowly reach to touch you,
in that land beyond the dawning
where your journey never ended
where the pathway still leads upward
on that circle laid through time.
May the moonlight guide your footsteps,
may the starlight be your pathway,
as we journey to the center
on this ancient night together.
When our souls can be united,
when our worlds are now the closest,
when the silence choirs our love
when the circle is unbroken.
By the mystery all surrounding
with this breath by which I call you,
in the flickering of the firelight,
I say your name(s) within my heart.
It echoes down through time unending
in the protection of this evening.
May your presences wash through me
and together we are one.
You, who have passed to another plane
(read names, again)
I remember you. (6)
Let us bless the Queen of Heaven.
Blessed is She.
Let us thank the Seven Great Geniae.
Thanks be to the Seven Genaie.
ArchMadria Pamela Lanides
1) Thank you to Shoshanna Marie Woods.
3) http://www.azcentral.com/story/entertainment/holidays/day-of-the-dead/2014/09/24/day-of-the-dead-history/16174911/, http://www.pbs.org/foodancestor
5) http://ancestralmedicine.org/five-ways-to-honor-your-ancestors/ (thanks to Sophia Ruth).
6) Silver Ravenwolf, in her book, Halloween, Customs, Recipes and Spells published by Llewellyn.
FEAST OF ANCESTORS (continued)
Important thealogy of the scary imagery
Oil Lamp Beauty by forsakenraptor
All of the frightening images of goblins, witches, the use of the color black, ghosts etc. symbolizes the darkness of ignorance and being spiritually lost. It symbolizes the unknown which is illuminated by the light of the lanterns and the bonnie fire. Fire on Earth is directly linked to Spirit and the Holy Mother Mari as the supernal Sun. The lantern guides us along the pathway to our Divine Mother and Eternal Life.
Here is a nice list of symbolism, many of which also occur in our Faith.
One of our members, Sophia Ruth, has graciously shared with us many wonderful Simovane (Samhain) traditions of the British Isles. Thank you so much, Sophia Ruth, for this invaluable article.
There are many wonderful traditional foods for the Feast of the Ancestors. The caramel apples of New England are known as toffee apples in the British Isles. Both cultures share the traditions of apple dunking, the apple being the symbol of Eternal Life. The British game of snap apple is equivalent to the hanging donuts game of the U.S., and both cultures share the tradition of bobbing for apples. Many of our members place an apple on the home shrine or altar because it is a symbol for eternal life. Popcorn, candied corn, pumpkin cookies and pretty much pumpkin anything along with apple cider may round out the fare.
The idea of the thinning of the veil at this time of year pervades many cultures. As noted in the previous article, in Catholic Culture it was believed that the souls of purgatory were allowed out to visit their descendants on All Souls day. (2) Though in many cultures, it was not only good souls that we able to cross the veil and so these cultures had traditions in place which would protect against the evil spirits.
One such custom was the carving of white turnips in order to make them look like skulls. This was intended to scare away evil spirits and is the equivalent of our Jack O’ Lanterns carved from pumpkins.
[ During my childhood we did not have pumpkins. My mother would carve the biggest turnips from the garden. It was very hard flesh and needed a very sharp knife. As children we would draw a frightful face each and mother would carve that for us on our vegetable.
A small tea light candle would be lit inside them and they would be placed on the front garden wall if it was not too windy (otherwise on the front windowsill).
Turnip Carving: Carved pumpkins are a Halloween classic, but before these squashes came to Britain from America, the Scottish were carving turnips into lanterns. The story of Jack O’Lantern may have grown out of the practice of carving turnips into faces and placing candles inside, or vice-versa. The original idea was probably to frighten evil spirits away from the home. A bone-white turnip with its resemblance to a human skull would certainly look more frightening than the big orange pumpkins we carve today.
2016 autumn in Britain became tropical with pineapple carved lanterns.
We played apple games:
Apple ducking or bobbing
“The game is played by filling a tub or a large basin with water and putting apples in the water. Because apples are less dense than water, they will float at the surface. Players (usually children) then try to catch one with their teeth. Use of arms is not allowed.”
The person who catches an apple can either take it to bed and place it under their pillow, hoping to dream of their future best friend or if older their romantic partner. Or they could peal and eat it, the skin ribbon was circled 3 times sunwise around the head and thrown behind. Guess the initial of the alphabet and take a look. The initial of their future best friend or if older their romantic partner. As children we played this version, so that we could eat the apples!
Either the washing line or rope suspended between two trees has apples suspended from it. The people are blindfolded and the first full bite meant that you could keep the apple. We also played this version.
But not the following one.
“Today, some parents may keep their kids away from the tub of apples for fear of spreading germs, but bobbing for apples is a comparatively safe tradition when compared to another old apple-centric Halloween pastime: Snap Apple. In the game of Snap Apple, an apple was speared on one end of a stick while a lit candle was fixed at the other end. The stick was spun around, and the participants’ goal was to take a bite of the apple, avoiding a face full of hot candle wax—definitely not a game to play with kids!”
Snap apple night, or Halloween or Colcannon night.
“Until recently trick or treat was unknown in Scotland. Instead children here dressed up in old clothes, or pretended to be evil spirits and went guising. The custom traces back to a time when it was thought that by disguising children in this way they would blend in with the spirits that went abroad that night. Any such child who approached a house would be given an offering to ward off evil. These days children who knock on their neighbours doors have to sing for their supper. Or tell stories for a gift of sweets or money.”
In other areas of the British Isles, children were dressed in ragged old jumpers and jackets with strips of material hand sewn on. They would enact a little play on the doorstep about a good person saving someone from a ghost or monster for a biscuit or sweets!
“In parts of Scotland it was customary to throw a silver coin through the front door of the house on the morning of November the 1st. The coin had to remain hidden where it had fallen to bring luck in money matters concerning the house.”
We may incubate ancestral dreams. Simply create a question or statement like, “Ancestors, please share a message with me in my dreams.”
Or “Ancestors, please tell me a story about Grandma.” Or “Ancestors, how can I heal
_____ part of my life?”
Prayers of Gratitude:
“One does not evolve spiritually in a vacuum. The strength of one’s spiritual House depends on the integrity of one’s lineage. By this, I mean being in right relationship with our ancestors. This is attained by honoring them regularly, rightly, and well. One’s ancestors and the vaettir of our world can assist us in our journey and in our spiritual Work. We can learn much from them but only if we empower them to act with us. A brick house requires many separate bricks to be built. Bricks cannot be secured without mortar. Paying homage to one’s ancestors and the spirits of the land is the mortar and clay from which those bricks are formed. We begin in the physical because we are physical beings. Our own physicality, the sense of touch, of sight, sound, smell, and hearing are the primary filters through which we experience our world. The first step in growing strong and whole and heal in this tradition, is honoring those who have struggled to do exactly that before us. This process is helped by the fact that many spirits choose to stay as guides/watchers and protectors.”
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
A pouch or bag for your seeds
The night before your Seed Scattering Charm, pop the seeds into the dish and light the candle. Think about the person or people you wish to honour and remember, and as you do so say ‘gone from sight but not from the heart. Merry Meet Merry Part.’ Or you can use your own words. Leave the seeds in the dish overnight and let the candle burn down completely – always taking safety precautions. When you are ready place the seeds in your pouch and hold the pouch in your right hand on the way to a place of your choosing. On arrival 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.
Charm donated with generous heart by the Counter Enchantress.”
“The Ivy Leaf:
Each member of the family places a perfect ivy leaf into a cup of water and it is then left undisturbed overnight. If, in the morning, a leaf is still perfect and has not developed any spots then the person who placed the leaf in the cup can be sure of 12 months health until the following Halloween. If not….. ”
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.”
May Dea’s Face shine upon those who have passed beyond the veil.
We wish our ancestors who visit us this night, Hail and Welcome. We remember you, always.
This year The Feast of Ancestors was especially relevant, as my human birth Mother passed between the veils this Summer. I set up my altar early with her Italian Millefiori Micro Mosaic flower brooch, also the enamel 5 petaled flower pendant ( I think of as a dianthus flower for our Great Mother) which I wore to my Mom’s Life Celebration Service and Party. The ear of barley is from a walk my Dad and I took on Father’s Day before we knew that Mom was in the last days of life. This is the first altar setting that I have had with all the 5 sacred symbol pendants of our Janite Deanic faith. The altar cloth is a commission from Rosalind of https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MyfanwysAppliques in Haverfordwest, Wales. I conducted my silent supper early too. On the actual day I was on a 2 stage journey to visit my Dad. My bonnie fire (good fire) was as usual in England around November 5th / 4th Samhain, it came via a delightful invitation, from one of the married couple who run the nursing home, that my Mom lived in. The bonnie fire (good fire) was on the grass lawn surrounded by specimen broad leaf trees. It was wonderful to be surrounded by the carers and their grandchildren. Sharing and making happy memories.
I later purchased my Dea candle stick and Janati candle stick to add to my altar.
In the style of Walther & Sohne pink glass heart shaped 1930s candlestick
Bagley amber glass angel wing shaped 1930s candlestick
Janite Deanic Altar Instructions
Images of Dea and the Janati may be pictures, icons or statues. Devotees may have one image or many according to desire.
The altar is placed in the East or as close as possible to the East. The devotee or priestess should be facing East when facing the altar.
Two main altar candles are placed at the back of the altar. These may be in the form of oil lamps or candle lamps.
A central candle for Dea is placed in the middle of the altar. One Janati candle should be placed in something silver. I use the silver tree sold by Yankee Candle as shown above. It can also be a simple silver candle holder or it can have other forms that might be symbolic of the Janati. The Janati candle is placed to the right of the altar.
On the altar should be a bowl of holy water, a vial of holy oil and incense (unless one is allergic to incense.)
The altar cloth is always the Elemental color of the Season. In the Deanic Faith, the color for Fall is Green, for Earth. Priestesses will accent their white dresses/robes with the liturgical colors which are the colors of the Jana of the Season. For Fall, the liturgical colors are blue and purple for Madria Thema. So, a priestess might wear a sash, shawl or scarf/mantilla/chapel veil in either purple or blue colors or both.
During liturgy or ritual, the ‘patene’ or sacred plate of bread, which is placed to the right and the chalice of white wine, on the left.