Hallows: Suggestions for Celebration

by Elizabeth A Kaufman

Altar detail

For Witches, such as myself, Pagans and other followers of the Old Ways, Hallows (also known as Samhain or Halloween, among other names) marks the third, final harvest and a new year. It is a time of introspection, withdrawal and honoring the Goddesses known as "dark", the Crone or Hag. As Winter draws near, we begin that journey down and within. The scent of woodsmoke, drying herbs, apples and spices fill the air. Out of doors, the temperature has dropped and chill winds begin to stir; leaves crackle beneath our feet as we walk through field and forest, drawing in the aroma of the season, a not unpleasant decay. Autumn, the Grand Dame, makes Herself known to us.

Now, all of this may sound a bit macabre and not very festive, but if you consider carefully, it is indeed a joyful time. We are able, on some level, to reconnect with those who have crossed the veil. The Ancestors of our Way (Witchcraft) and the Hidden Company (those who once practiced our arts, they are no longer physically with us, but assist those who practice those Old Ways) along with family and friends are, perhaps, easier to connect with. For these reasons, various divinatory tools, such as scrying or black mirror, tarot cards, runes, stones and bones, are wisely used to make contact and obtain answers and gain wisdom. These tools seem to come alive, at this time, in a special and more powerful way. Used respectfully, wisely, we can find answers and guidance for the year ahead.

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Festival of Demeter the Bountiful, August 1st

A Ritual by Elizabeth A Kaufman

Altar to DemeterEach year, on August 1st, I begin a series of three rituals honoring the harvest of the year's bounty, whatever that may be, as well as preparing myself for the descent into the waning of the year. In general, my rituals from February through July have focused upon growth and increase. Now, as the first harvest comes in, I gather, give thanks and begin the inner spiritual work of the season.

The gathering of the harvest includes many things, not just food. Creative energies, healing works, spiritual quests are all part of this harvest. We have planted ideas as seeds and now we reap what we have sown. Consider that this is also a time, the waning of the year, where we can go within, below and nourish and feed the sprouted and growing seeds.

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The Nine Nights of the Winter Solstice Hallowing

by Elizabeth A Kaufman

fireplaceAs a Pagan, Goddess-worshipping witch and priestess, I have over the past thirty years celebrated the Winter Solstice in a variety of ways. As my path evolved, I made appropriate changes and adjustments, but never quite found that which truly felt right. In 2007 however,  I came across a rite for Helios on one of the Hellenistic reconstructionist groups I belong to which provided the inspiration I needed.

While that rite, celebrated over three or nine nights, was dedicated to Helios, mine would be dedicated to those goddesses I  most revere. While celebrating the season of turning inward for renewal and hope, I would honor the darkness of the days as looking inward for wisdom, finding that wisdom and then honoring the return and growth born of that wisdom, the return of light.

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