Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

by Mari Ziolkowski

Day of the Dead Skull

Halloween, All Saints’, All Souls’ Day.  Didn’t understand what all these days pushed together meant when I was growing up Catholic.  Except for candy and trick or treating.  That was the big thing.  And carving pumpkins. . . .

The saints weren’t really anyone I could relate to.  Too holy.  Why they had a special day right next to Halloween was anyone’s guess.  All souls too. ‘All’ was too large a number for me to contemplate.

And then you get too old for trick or treating, and Halloween just becomes a holiday for little kids.  A reminder of fall, and the leaves changing colors . . . and occasionally a scary movie.  In your twenties, maybe a costume party or two …. until you move to the border, and start traveling in Mexico. And run up against so many skulls on display this time of year.  Skeletons playing the piano, skeletons dressed up for a wedding, skeletons reading a book, skeletons dancing . . . skeletons basically doing all the everyday things that people do.  Mummy museums - dead people on display.  Picnics in the graveyard with your dead relatives.  A beautifully decorated sugar skull given to me as a gift.  I was totally confused.  What was all this fascination with death? Continue reading "Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)"

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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The Path to Avalon – An Inner Journey for Samhain

By Laura Nutley (Cariad)

Mists of AvalonAs many of us know, Samhain, or Calan Gaeaf (the Welsh name for the sabbat) is a time of introspection and self examination. At this time of year the path to Avalon takes on a particular resonance through the shared themes of transformation, regeneration and inspiration.

I have been drawn to the Avalonian tradition for some time and am fortunate enough to live near Glastonbury, which has been a place of pilgrimage for me for many years. Glastonbury is widely believed to be the physical world’s representation of Avalon. A portal to a place of many names: the Isle of Women and the Isle of the Dead. It is also a gateway to Annwn, the Otherworld of Welsh mythology: a place where two realities co-exist side by side and where the energies of Avalon permeate the landscape and touch those who visit there. Glastonbury, and all that is associated with it, is therefore especially relevant to this time of year and the festival of Samhain. The themes of thresholds to be faced and traversed and of regenerating yourself for the year to come through inner transformation are inextricably woven into both.

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The Goose, The Crow and The Cross Bones Portal

by John Constable - aka John Crow

Photo on gates shows skull from Cross Bones excavation (photo: Max Reeves)The hermetic teachings comprising The Southwark Mysteries were first revealed to my shamanic familiar John Crow on the night of 23rd November 1996, at Cross Bones Graveyard in south London, by the spirit of The Goose.

Goose, as in Winchester Goose. A medieval whore from the Liberty of the Clink, outside the law of the City of London. Licensed by the church, by the Bishop of Winchester, yet allegedly buried in unconsecrated ground. Her bones unearthed when London Underground dug up Cross Bones, the ancient burial ground for prostitutes and paupers.

Her ‘Secret History’ was revealed in Her astral journeys and conversations with John Crow. The ‘Constable’ part of me was merely a witness and scribe, recording the archaic verses in a form of channelled writing. Yet I also journeyed with them, in body, up Redcross Way to the rusty iron gates of the works depot, where the spirit voices became more insistent:

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