|A portal for dimensional living
Samhain also known today as Halloween is a cross-quarter day and the final harvest festival marking the beginning of the
dark half of the year. This is both the end and the beginning of the Celtic Year. The year is turning to resting tide and all of
nature is responding. We decorate our houses in orange and black and set out Jack-o'-lanterns to glow in the dark as we
hover around fires telling ghostly stories drinking mugs of cider and give candy to children who dare to trick or treat. Yes, it's
Halloween, but just what did this odd holiday evolve from?
The history of Halloween goes back to pre-Christian Europe, when in Ireland it was known as Samhain or 'Summer's end' and
for the Celts, this was the time when the world stood outside of ordinary time as the veil between the worlds grew thin
allowing for the dead to cross between. Feasts were held and places were set at the table not only for the living but for the
dead as they were remembered and honored.
Samhain is a fire festival known for misrule, much like Saturnalia. A great fire was lit, and with its flame, each hearth was lit
to bring protection and happiness to the home through the coming season. Young men would run the boundaries of their
farms after sunset with blazing torches to protect the family from the faeries and malevolent forces that were free to walk
the land at night causing mischief.
Gathering around the bonfire is still practiced across Europe. The fire is lept to shed the old and later the ashes kept to be
use in winter rituals as a fixative in magickal recipes, smudged across the forehead to sharpen clear sight, sprinkled into
charms and amulets to boost protection, and fed to the garden to increase its bounty.
Easy Pumpkin Bread
Makes 1 loaf
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup pumpkin pureé
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Directions: Combine sugar, eggs, and oil in a large bowl; beat at
medium add pumpkin pureé. Combine flour and spices; gradually add
to pumpkin mixture, beating until blended; stir in pecans.
Spoon mixture into a greased a 8 x 4 x 3-inch loaf pan
Bake at 350° for 1 hour
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
3 cups of roasted pumpkin flesh (About 2 3/4-pound sugar pumpkins,
butternut squash maybe substituted)
1 onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons of butter
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Coarse salt and pepper
2 cups organic chicken broth
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup half and half
Directions: In a dutch oven, heat the butter. Add onion and sauté
until caramelized. Transfer onion to blender. Add pumpkin and broth
and puree until smooth. Transfer mixture back to dutch oven and add
syrup and cream. Bring soup to a simmer. Add spices. Remove from
heat and serve. Dress it up with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of
crumbled bacon, or a dash of fresh chives.
|All that falls shall rise again."
- Wiccan Harvest Chant
How to Bake a Pumpkin
Baking a pumpkin is the same as baking any of the
large squashes. When you buy a pie pumpkin, keep in
mind a 3 pound pumpkin will give you about 2 cups of
fresh pumpkin flesh.
Begin by washing your pumpkin and cutting the stem
off. Next, cut it half. Scoop out the seeds and set them
aside. You will want to save some for planting next
summer and some for making Pepitas.
Next scrape away the stringy pulp. Set the pumpkin
halves, facedown in a large baking dish and add 1/2
inch of water.
Next set pumpkin halves facedown in a large baking
dish and add 1/4 inch of water and bake at 400 until
tender, about one hour. When cool enough to handle
pull off the skin. Let cool and drain off the liquid. Use
the tender flesh in your favorite pumpkin recipes.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
You will need:
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, clean and dry
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon paprika
a pinch cayenne
Cut into the top of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Rinse
under cold water, picking out the pulp and fleshy strings. Let
seeds drain. When seeds are dry, place the pumpkin seeds in a
bowl and coat with oil. Add spices and stir until coated. Arrange
seeds on an oiled baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with
salt and bake at 325 degrees until toasted, about 25 minutes,
stirring after 15 minutes.
In the Americas a belief originating with the Aztecs
that the souls of the dead returned to Mexico with
the migration of the monarch butterfly each Fall,
spawned today's popular Día de los Muertos during
which sugar skulls and Pan de Muerto or 'bread of the
dead' an anise flavored brioche is baked to honor the
dead at graveside feasts.
Pan de Muerto
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons anise seed
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pie Crust
For the ganche: 5 ounces dark chocolate
5 ounces heavy cream
For the pie filling:1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup (or dark corn syrup)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 eggs beaten
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
2 cups Old Fashioned rolled oats toasted until
Oatmeal Pie with Chocolate Ganache
Bring the flavors of fall together with this adaptation of an old Fashioned Oatmeal Pie recipe. Updated with a rich layer of
chocolate ganache this recipe is sure to become a family favorite. It is told that this southern 'poor man’s pecan pie' recipe
came about during the Civil War when pecans became scarce and oatmeal was substituted resulting in a pie better than the
original. Oats hold energy for prosperity and wealth.
Directions: Ready your pie crust.
Make the ganache: Put cream and chocolate in a medium-sized
saucepan, set over medium heat, and stir until smoothly melted.
Remove from the stove and pour into the bottom the pie crust. Place
in the fridge until the ganache has hardened, at least 1 hour.
Make the oatmeal filling: In a large bowl, whisk together brown
sugar, syrup, eggs and melted butter, brandy, vanilla, vinegar,
cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in oats. Pour over chilled ganache
and spread it evenly. Shield edge with foil and bake at 350 until pie
is set about one hour. Allow the pie to cool completely before
In a large bowl cut the butter into the flour. When mixture
forms small beads, mix in sugar, nutmeg, ginger,
cinnamon and allspice. Beat eggs and milk together before
mixing into flour. Stir until incorporated. On a piece of
parchment paper, press into a log. Refrigerated for at least
1 hour. Slice into rounds and place on greased baking
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
If you'd like you can sprinkle cakes with powdered sugar
while still warm.
The Gift of the Pumpkin
Pumpkins have become a symbol of the season. Carved into jack-o-lanterns, they decorate our home. When the seed are scooped
out and the pumpkin is baked, the flesh is used to make savory dishes and sweet desserts. Even the seeds are a tasty treat
packed with nutrients. Whether savory or sweet, pumpkin dishes add seasonal inspiration to any gathering. Pumpkins carry
energy for abundance, banishing, divination, health, prosperity, and revealing the unseen. The recipes below meld these magickal
energies with those of the spices: Allspice - wealth and healing, Cinnamon - love, passion, and success, Clove - love and
prosperity, Ginger - positive energy for good health and success , Nutmeg - clarity of vision and luck, to create dishes that brim
with positive energy to draw the best to you, lift your mood, and set your spirit in a festive frame of mind.
1 cup butter
3 3⁄4 cups sifted flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 -6 tablespoons buttermilk
Directions: Heat the milk and the butter together in a
medium saucepan, until the butter melts. Remove from the
heat and add water. The mixture should be around 100
degrees. Allow to cool if it is too hot or it will kill the yeast.
In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise
seed and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat in the warm milk
mixture then add the eggs and orange zest and beat until
well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and continue adding
more flour until the dough is soft.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead
until smooth and elastic.
Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl cover with
plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in
size. This will take about 1 to 2 hours.
Punch the dough down and shape it into a large round loaf
with a round knob on top. Place dough onto a baking sheet,
loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place
for about 1 hour or until just about doubled in size.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 45 minutes.
Remove from oven let cool slightly then brush with glaze.
To make glaze: In a small saucepan combine the 1/4 cup
sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil over
medium heat and boil for 2 minutes. Brush over top of bread
while still warm. Sprinkle glazed bread with sugar.
Love your Life, Love Your World, Love Yourself
Wheat brims with earth energy. It symbolizes the Goddess, rebirth, and renewal and holds energy for: abundance, beginnings,
fertility, protection, and wealth. Traditionally these cookies were decorated with crosses cut into the top, or currents pressed
Healthy No-Sugar Pumpkin Pie
Not only does this sugar free alternative taste
amazing, this recipe melds the magickal energies of
Pumpkin with the energy of Hazelnuts (healing and
luck), Maple Syrup (love, luck, and wealth) and the
spices: Ginger, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Clove (love,
luck and prosperity) to create a pie brimming with
healthy, positive, magickal energy. You need to toast
and grind 2 1/2 Cups of hazelnuts to make the crust.
Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking
sheet. Bake at 325 for 7 minutes or until they brown
and split. Check at 4 minute mark and stir. Remove
and cool enough to handle comfortably. Gently rub
the skins off. Allow to cool completely and then grind
in a food processor into a meal.
For the crust: 2 cups ground hazelnuts
5 Tablespoons of melted butter
3/4 teaspoon of salt
Press in to pie dish and bake at 350 for 8 -10 minutes
Filling: 3 eggs
2 cups baked pumpkin
3/4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons arrowroot flour
grated zest of 1 lemon
Directions: Cream together eggs and syrup. Add
pumpkin. Mix until smooth. Add the rest of the
ingredients and mix. Fill crust and bake at 350 for
50-55 minutes or until pie is set. Cool and refrigerate.
This custard-like pumpkin pie is best served cold.
Today we use the corn doll both as a symbol of bounty, as a fertility amulet, and as a symbol of the season.
Samhain and Dead
Halloween is associated with death, not only did this day mark the time when the surplus livestock were butchered for winter’s
meat, but for the ancient people of Britain and France it marked the death of the old year and the beginning of the new and on
this night both faerie and spirit activity increased as the veil between this worlds grew thin so that the dead could return to warm
themselves at the hearths of the living, and some of the living slip through doorways to visit the sidhe in the Otherworld.
According to Eliade's Encyclopedia of Religion, "The Eve and day of Samhain were characterized as a time when the barriers
between the human and supernatural worlds were broken... Not a festival honoring any particular Celtic deity, Samhain
acknowledged the entire spectrum of nonhuman forces that roamed the earth during that period." Which include the dead, Spirits
of the Land, Nature Spirits and all of the Fey.
Halloween's associations with death persists today as modern cultures across the world take time this month to remember their
ancestors. In Czechoslovakia and Sweden a chairs is placed beside the fire for the dead to warm themselves. In Belgium candles
are lit and placed in the windows to remember those no longer living. In China Halloween is known as Teng Chieh. In Korea it is
Chusok. Lanterns are lit and offerings of fruits and rice dishes are left at ancestor's graves. Yue Lan or the festival of the Hungry
Ghosts is observed in Hong Kong. While in Mexico Halloween is known as El Dia de los Muertos, or the day of the dead. Unlike our
spooky holiday observation, Dia de Los Muertos is a joyous celebration to remember and honor the dead as their spirits return to
the family homes. Many families make altars and decorate them with candy, photo’s, flowers and food. Candles are lit to help the
dead find their way back to their homes and family graveside feasts are held.
Spend some time this day remembering your ancestors. Make an altar and set out an offering. Host a dinner in honor of a loved
one. Set a place at the table for them and prepare their favorite dishes. Invite those who would benefit most and encourage them
to tell their favorite stories…and remember. When we pay homage to the dead we teach and understand that we are a part of
something much larger than the here and now. In paying homage to endings and transformations as the seasons shift we connect
with the 'something bigger'. Recognizing our ancestors presence and speaking with them allows them to live on. Through this
simple acknowledgment, we give life back to those who gave life to us, allowing for a relationship that continues on through
death. It allows us to understand that we are a part of the natural world and that death and rebirth are all part of one continuous
As we descend into the dark half of the year we are called to turn inward and face our shadow-self. Now is the time to banish
habits and behaviors that do not serve us. It is a time to sort out unfinished business as we look back and take stock of the
lessons learned. The veil between the worlds is thin this night, allowing for communication with the spirits and faerie folk. It is a
time to venerate our ancestors and purge ourselves of things we are better off without. It is a time to forgive and forget, a time
of purification as we give up things we do not need, replacing bad habits with good ones. In the past, this night was all about
setting things in order, as you didn't know who would live through the coming harshness or whose help you might end up having
to solicit. Accounts were settled, rents and debts paid. The nip in the morning air and the cooling nights carry the promise of
winter's return as the harvesting tide flows into the season of rest. Soon winter will be upon us.
The Halloween Celebration
Venders join the dance of the season as they fill their windows with festive decorations featuring fall colors and we decorate out
homes in Orange and Black with skeletons, ghost, and jack o lanterns. Nuts and potatoes, apples, pumpkins and squash find their
way to our tables as summer's lighter fare is replaced with warmer, heartier dishes. Through the ages, food has played an
important role in Halloween celebrations. Ceremonial breads were baked and trick-or-treating spun out of the European Christian
tradition of going from home to home, asking for soul cakes, or currant buns on All Souls' Day. When the treat was given, the
beggar would, in return, offer up a prayer for the soul of the homeowner's relative. The tradition of giving Soul Cakes, a small
cake filled with allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon or currants, originated in Britain or Ireland during the Middle Ages. Soul cakes, farthing
cake, or Saumans loafs were made for distribution among the poor and handed out to children with "a blessing upon the living and
a prayer for the dead." In Scotland, the soul cakes were made of oat flour and known as Dirge Loaves, while in Italy, the food of
choice for All Souls' celebrations is a cookie called bones of the dead or 'Ossi di Morto'. In the Americas a belief originating with
the Aztecs that the souls of the dead returned to Mexico with the migration of the monarch butterfly each Fall, spawned today's
popular Día de los Muertos during which sugar skulls and Pan de Muerto or 'bread of the dead' an anise flavored brioche is baked
to honor the dead at graveside feasts.
The Corn Dolly
Samhain is the third and final harvest festival. To the early agrarian societies the end of November
signaled the final harvest, and the last grains were treated with special honor and made into a dolly,
a hollow shape that allowed the spirit of the field to spend the winter in the home of the maker.
Though corn was a staple to the people of the New World, it did not appear in Europe until after the
Europeans came to the America. The old references to 'corn' actually refer to the cereals grains
wheat, flax, oat, barley, and millet. While New World corn dollies were made from corn husks, the
old world corn dollies were fashioned from the last sheaf of wheat or other cereal crops, and kept for
the winter to be plowed into the first furrow of the new season so the grain goddess could return
again to the field. It was believed that the spirit lived in the field and retreated as the grains were
harvested going from field to field to hide in the last grains which were gathered with great
ceremony and braided into an effigy so that the spirit could live inside, warm and safe, and not go
homeless. "Among the customs attached to the last sheaf of the harvest were hollow shapes
fashioned from the last sheaf of wheat or other cereal crops. The corn spirit would then spend the
winter in this home until the "corn dolly" was ploughed into the first furrow of the new season.
"Dolly" may be a corruption of "idol" or may have come directly from the Greek word eidolon, which
means ghost/spirit or image." - James Frazer, The Golden Bough. She was kept in a closed box until
Candlemas, and at the new season, she was returned to the field where she was ploughed into the
first furrow to ensure fertility to the coming crops.
The spirit of the field was both honored and feared for the spirit of the grain lived in the field and
could take the shape of a man, woman, or animal. Confronting it was avoided. Children were warned
not to go into the fields told "the Big Dog sits in the corn", "the Corn-Cat will come and get you" or
"the Old Rye-Woman will tear off your head!" At harvest strangers were treated with suspicion and
often maimed or murder as it was thought they might be the wandering spirit.
Click here to read about modern Corn Dolly rituals in the village of Siddington in Cheshire.
Leave a dish of Colcannon for the Faeries
Colcannon is an Irish dish made from mashed potatoes, and cabbage or kale, and onions. Recipes vary region to region with
some specifying finely shredded Savoy cabbage, while others use chopped kale or chard. The variety of onion also changes
from green onions, to leeks, or shallots, or a combination and other still add parsnips to the mash. One thing that is
constant is that Colcannon is a traditional potato mash eaten on Samhain. Often a ring or a coin is hidden in the dish to
grant luck to the one who finds it, or even romance or a marriage proposal. It is customary to scoop out a serving, dress it
with a chunk of butter and set it on the step to appease any roaming ghosts or faeries that were passing by.
You will need:
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter - plus more for serving
3 cups finely chopped cabbage (kale, chard, or other leafy green)
1/2 cup chopped leeks (green onions maybe substituted)
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and set aside. Add butter to a stockpot or dutch oven and heat. Add the
onion or leek and simmer for several minutes. Add cabbage to the leek mixture and sauté for 5 minutes. (If using kale
remove the stems. If using chard cut out the center stems.) Remove from heat and mash in the potatoes and cream. Add
salt to taste and serve hot, with a knob of butter in the center.
This disk is often served with pan-fried sausages. For a variation: Sprinkle chives or bacon over the top or sub out half of
the potatoes with mashed parsnips.
Set out a serving to feed any hungry spirit that may be passing by.