Happy Beltane!

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5 Awesome Beltane Celebration Ideas for Solitaries

 

Posted by Leandra Witchwood on Thursday, 16 April 2015 in Culture Blogs

5 Awesome Beltane Celebration Ideas for Solitaries

Beltane is a time for fun, mythology, food, and happy indulgence. It is great to spend the day in the sun with those you admire. Group outings and coven experiences are wonderful this time of year.

BUT….

Groups and covens are not the only ones allowed to have all the fun. I have been a solitary for MANY years and I have yet to miss a Beltane celebration. Why should I? There are so many fun and inexpensive things to do. With or without a coven or group, you can have a blast.

The best part of going at it alone is, you don’t have to clear or coordinate your plans with anyone! Why? You call the shots!  There are no misunderstandings about when and where to meet. You don’t have to hear anyone complain about this that, and any other issue than may pop up. The only winer in the group is you, so if you can tolerate yourself you’re in business. *chuckle*

In this post I will take you through some of my favorite solitary Beltane activities. Many of these activities are flexible so you can include friends and family if you choose. So here we go!

 

1. Host a Solitary Beltane Tea.

beltane tea

We all know Beltane is the counter to Samhain where the veil once again thins and we are able to commune and communicate with our ancestors and departed loved ones. The practice of having a silent Dumb Supper during Samhain is very common. Why not extend that tradition to Beltane with its own twist?

Serve your tea as you would your Dumb Supper, just make it more colorful with spring flowers and your favorite tea foods and treats. This activity is flexible, invite others to join you if you like. Make sure you take time to fully connect and honor your ancestors and departed loved ones.

2. Get out in Nature.

beltane nature walk

This an inexpensive way to feel the energy Beltane has to spare. Go on a hike, walk in the park, or even visit a botanical garden. Anywhere you can see, listen, smell, and touch nature is a good place to visit. Find a place to sit and quietly meditate or just relax while you feel the breeze and listen to the birds.

Another idea (one of my favs), is include planting as part of your outdoor ritual. I am sure there are plenty of flowers, herbs, etc. you still want to get in the ground. Why not make planting your remaining seed, seedlings, and plants a part of your Beltane ritual? It’s perfect.

3. Attend a May Day Festival

beltane may day festival

Out here we have the annual May Day Faerie Festival at Spoutwood Farm. This is a great event where adults and kids dress up and everyone plays. There are drum circles, belly dancing, bubbles, and lots of faeries.

The nice thing about events like this is that you don’t have to attend with a barrage of friends and family in tow. You don’t even have to dress up. Just show up! Sometimes going alone gives you the best experiences. You meet new people, dance like nobody is watching, and play with the fae. Look for similar events in your area where you can get out and have a great time.

4. Stoke a “Bale” Fire.

beltane bale fire

To me Beltane is just not Beltane without Bon or Bale Fire. Don’t worry if you don’t have a large outdoor place to do this. You can use candles, your fireplace, or a small fire pit; whatever you have available will do. I usually use our outdoor fire pit, which is fairly small and fits nicely on our deck. Your fire can be big or small, either will do.

OH! Don’t forget to take the opportunity to do some fire gazing…

 5. Make a Beltane Craft

beltane craft

Crafts are a favorite in my home because I have a young heathen to entertain. Traditionally, I like to make head/hair garlands, and wreaths. The wreath is for the front door and the head garland I use for some Beltane Magick. Find a craft you have been itching to create and do it!

Making Beltane Special

It does not matter if you have a group to celebrate with or not. Beltane can be an enriching celebration when you get creative and try something new. Sometimes the best spiritual experiences are the ones we discover alone. There is no disruption, or distraction. It is only you and your ability to experience the energy of the moment.

 

Walpurgisnacht is coming!

So ready your bonfires, get all of your old wooden things and load your little dolls with all of the ill-health and bad things that happened for the last year and get ready to burn them on April 30 or May 1 and celebrate the coming year! I will post more as the holiday approaches.

walpurgisnacht dance

I Am Imbolc

I Am Imbolc

I am the dream of awakening.

I am the returning of the light.

I am the tough green shoot pushing up through the pavestones, I am the first kiss of sunlight on the unfurling petals of the snowdrop. I am the wind which whispers the gentle pull of home to the migratory bird.

I am the drop of ice melting on the mountainside with its great dream of the ocean.

I am the sap rising in the blossom tree just before it reveals its sticky buds to the sky; I am the riotous celebration humming away beneath the earth’s mantle of frozen sleep.

I am the rousing of the bee from its winter slumber, and the soft pad of the mother-wolf’s paw on the snow as she prepares to birth her pups.

I am hope, potential, rebirth and promise. I am the kindling breath which transforms the flicker of inspiration in your creative core into a blazing torch.

Give me the silent crescent moon rising over the sea and I will build you a bridge of silver light so you can walk up and lie in it.

Give me the frost-hardened wilderness and I will breathe radiant green life over it.

Give me the healer, the writer, the craftsperson and the storyteller, and I will replenish her essence and make her new again.

I am Brigid, Bast, Inanna and Hestia. I am the fierce protectress of the sacred fire.

Tonight I bestow my gifts of power and courage at the hearth of your soul: power to step out of the shadows of self-doubt and negativity which have held you in darkness for too long, power to shed all that which no longer serves you, and courage to clear your heart and mind for the dawn that awaits you.

I am the time to honor your unique gifts for their true worth and to protect and nurture your creative self as you would a child. I am the deep longing of the spirit which refuses to be consumed by a narrative of fear and chooses instead to place itself vivaciously on the side of love.

I am the stirring in your belly which knows exactly what you are capable of — and that it’s time the world found out.

I am the fire within which will not be contained any longer.

I am the quickening, I am the serpent uncoiling, I am Imbolc.

I am the dream of awakening.

Caroline Mellor lives close to the sea and the green hills of southern England with her daughter, cat, and husband. As well as being a mum, writer and massage therapist, she enjoys traveling, one-pot cookery, gardening, Yoga, and drinking red wine. When not partaking in one of the above, she is probably daydreaming about her next holiday. You can connect with Caroline through her Facebook page or her blog.

Imbolc 2016: Facts, Dates, Traditions And Rituals To Know

Hail, Brigid!

01/29/2016 07:29 pm ET
  • HuffPost Religion EditorsThe Huffington Post

For many in the U.S., the only ‘religious’ event this time of year is the Super Bowl. But for many pagans and Wiccans, February 2 marks the important holiday, Imbolc, and their attention may be focused somewhere other than the television screen.

GMNICHOLAS VIA GETTY IMAGES
Imbolc is one of four major pagan sabbats, or holidays.

1. Imbolc is one of four major pagan sabbats, or holidays, along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. In between these sabbats, pagans celebrate the seasonal solstices and equinoxes.

2. Imbolc is pronounced “IM-bulk” or “EM-bowlk.”

MICHAEL KRABS VIA GETTY IMAGES
Imbolc falls on the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

3. Imbolc falls on the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Although it is attributed to the ancient Celts, ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and indigenous groups are also believed to have celebrated an equivalent holiday.

4. Nowadays Imbolc may be related to Candlemas and Groundhog Day, and indeed there is evidence from early Irish lore surrounding weather divination this time of year.

ANNIE GORMLIE/FLICKR
Imbolc honors the Celtic goddess, Brigid.

5. Also called Brigid’s Day, Imbolc honors the Celtic goddess of fire, fertility, midwifery and the young. Many Pagans will pay tribute to Brigid by arranging an altar and ‘invoking’ the goddess through prayer.

6. The term ‘Imbolc’ derives from Old Irish and means “in the belly,” or alternately “ewe’s milk.” The interpretation lends significance to the holiday as a celebration of fertility, reproduction and the young — all overseen by the goddess Brigid.

ANDREUSK VIA GETTY IMAGES
Seed and bud imagery may be used in Imbolc rituals.

7. Imbolc observes the waning of winter and approach of spring. Pagans often use fire and other forms of light to encourage the lengthening of day. Seed and bud imagery may be used, as well, to promote the growth of new life ensured by springtime.

8. As with many pagan holidays, food and music are essential. Dishes for Imbolc tend to incorporate seeds, dairy and other spring-evoking foods.

EDITOR B/FLICKR
Celebrants often prepare talismans to use during Imbolc ceremonies, including the Brigid’s Cross.

9. Celebrants often prepare talismans to use during Imbolc ceremonies and then keep in their homes. These include a Brideog — a small straw doll dressed in white cloth — and a Brigid’s Cross, also often woven from straw.

10. Imbolc is a time for spring cleaning. Some clean their homes, take ritual baths and de-clutter their lives in other ways. This is believed to create space for the goddess to come into people’s live and for new seeds to take root in the coming spring.

In The Hole of My Grief

I’m still overwhelmed with grief at the passing of my mother. I feel like my days are just melting one into another. The only thing that gets me out of bed is my daughter. She needs me and I need and want to take care of her. I can’t say, however, that I’ve been in the best of moods lately. My emotions are all over the place. I’m so frustrated and angry and sad. Sometimes, out of the blue, my 4-year-old will ask me, “Mommy, are you still sad that Nana died?” I have to say “Yes” sometimes and other times I will say, “I’m still a little sad,” and then I will ask her, “Are you still sad that Nana died?”. She will invariably say, “No”. The last time she said this, I asked her why and she said, “Because Nana is in a better place. Her heart isn’t cracked anymore and she can run and play any time she wants to.” From the mouths of babes. I learn so much from her. I am so grateful that the Creator blessed me with her. I don’t always show my gratefulness through my actions, but in my heart, there is no one else in the world whom I love more than my daughter. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, I see many people saying what they are thankful for. Well, here’s my small list:

  1. My amazing daughter
  2. House to live in
  3. Money to pay rent
  4. Food to eat
  5. Car to drive
  6. My mom is with her Creator and is in no more pain and will have no more sadness ever.
  7. Heat in my house for when it gets cold
  8. Air conditioning for when it gets hot
  9. Electricity and the money to pay the bill
  10. Running water and the money to pay that bill

This is what I’m not thankful for: The pain and large hole in my life that my mother left when she died. On a purely intellectual level, I realize that grief is somewhat selfish. I mean, my mom is in a better place. Her life really didn’t end. Her physical body just gave out and her spirit went somewhere else where she can be totally fulfilled in a way that as a spirit trapped in my physical body I will never understand until I reach that point. Not that I wish for death or anything. I just realize that maybe I should be focusing more on the positive side of her death than the negative outcome it presents for me.

This is my tarot card for the day: The Knight of Cups

knight of cups

I’m not sure what this means for me. Does it mean that I will rise up above the waters of my grief to ride the waves and not drown (like I’m feeling now?). Does it mean that someone will come into my life who will pull me out of my grief and sadness and show me what it means to be happy and adventurous again? These court cards can sometimes represent an actual person, so I’m wondering if it does represent a person, who that person could be and if I already know them.

The Unicorn is a child of the sea – born of foam and restless waves, surging with the wild abandon of the surf. The Knight of Cups is her companion on the eternal quest.

He is the knight of the Round Table on the grand quest for the Grail. He is the romantic who seeks where his heart and emotions lead. He is the artist and the musician and the poet whose eyes see into the unseen nether-realms of imagination. He is the idealist who will not let physical laws stop him from riding with reckless abandon across the wave tops on his journey.

Three Things About Imbolc

While many were watching to see whether the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring in the annual ritual Monday, pagans around the world were having their traditional Imbolc festivities. The festival, which falls on Feb. 2, celebrates the first signs of spring.

For pagans, or Wiccans, in the Northern Hemisphere, Imbolc (pronounced “im’olk”) takes place during some of the coldest and darkest times of the year, when people are longing for the warmth of spring and summer. Still, the festival is meant to recognize the small seasonal changes that are starting to appear.

“It’s a time of year when you can physically begin to see the shift,” Bo Nelson, a Wiccan from Wisconsin, told International Business Times. “Sure, it is still cold, and here in Wisconsin we got the most snow we have seen all year hours after our celebration. But the days are getting longer and there is hope and excitement that spring is soon to come.”

For those unfamiliar with Imbolc, below are three answers to common questions surrounding the pagan festival:

What is the history behind Imbolc?

Imbolc originated as a Gaelic festival that celebrated the beginning of spring. Until today, it falls at the midpoint between the winter and spring equinox, usually around Feb. 1. The word “imbolc” refers to sheep’s milk in Old Irish. During ancient times, lactating ewes represented one of the first signs of spring.

Imbolc is also called Brigid’s Day, referring to the Celtic goddess of fertility (later canonized in Catholic tradition) who was reborn on Imbolc from the crone of winter to the maiden of spring. Brigid represents regeneration, livestock and light. Pagans honor her memory during this time by lighting candles and hearth fires and celebrating the sun’s rays.

What are the rituals associated with the festival?

Pagans tend to celebrate Imbolc with rituals that focus on spiritual purification and dedication. Wiccan priestess Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church in Wisconsin, suggests performing purification rites to cleanse one’s body, thoughts and emotions. Other rituals include participating in torchlight processions to jump-start the upcoming agricultural season, lighting candles to represent the return of the sun, and starting a sacred fire in honor of goddess Brigid’s sacred flame.

While some rituals take place in group setting, Imbolc celebrations also encourage personal reflection.

“It is a time when we as individuals begin to make our own personal goals as well, and we talk about the ‘seeds’ (both symbolic and literal) we tend to plant in the coming year,” Nelson said, describing how common topics of conversation in his community involve talking about summer vacations and plans for their gardens. “I think we naturally spend all winter looking forward and making plans for the spring and summer, but Imbolc is the time when we first begin to put those goals into motion,” he said.

Like other pagan holidays, there’s not one single way to celebrate. Nelson’s family draws upon the candle tradition by collecting candle wax from his family’s home altars and from candles burned during other festivals throughout the year.

“At Imbolc we will take the chunks of wax and we will carve in words or wishes for ourselves, our family and our community for the upcoming year. We then melt all the wax down in a single pot and create new candles out of them to light in honor of the festival.  The candles will be lit regularly from then until spring returns,” he said.

For Heather Greene, the managing editor of a pagan news site, the Wild Hunt, Imbolc is an elusive holiday.

“For me, Imbolc is an honoring of what’s not present yet. It represents the words yet to be spoken, the potential in our spirits, the ‘calm before a storm’ of growth, the quiet before the show, and the unknown baby before its birth,” Greene told IBTimes. “Imbolc’s beauty is in its waiting and not knowing.”

How is it related to Groundhog Day and Candlemas?

Imbolc is considered a precursor to two February holidays: Groundhog Day and Candlemas Day. The latter is a Christian tradition that originated in the fifth century to commemorate Mary’s ritual purification 40 days after the birth of Jesus Christ. At the time, children would be taken to the temple in Jerusalem and presented to God by their parents.

In early Christianity, Candlemas was a day when candles were brought to the church to be blessed. Candles served a practical and spiritual purpose. Not only were they light and heat sources during winter but they also reminded believers of Christ and the “light” he brought to Earth. Clergy would distribute the blessed candles. Their longevity represented how long and cold winter would be.

Groundhog Day also shares similarities with Candlemas and Imbolc. The secular festival which takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, among other locations across the state, stems from German lore, where a sacred badger can determine the coming of spring.

http://www.ibtimes.com/imbolc-2015-3-things-you-need-know-about-pagan-festival-1802496

Celebrating Dia de Los Muertos or the Day of the Dead: November 1st

Day of the Dead Traditions

Common Day of the Dead traditions include creating altars to honor the dead, laying out offerings, sharing stories of the deceased, as well as cleaning and decorating gravesites. Because Day of the Dead is a very festive, creative holiday, current Day of the Dead customs also include festivals, parades, and the making of Dia de los Muertos crafts.

Day of the Dead Customs of Creating Altars

Creating an altar is one of the most important Day of the Dead customs
Photo Credit: Carlos Martinez

The key purpose behind these Day of the Dead customs is to make contact with the spirits of the dead, to let them know that they are not forgotten and that their loved ones on earth still care about them. It is a way of keeping the connection between loved ones alive, though they may be physically separated by death.

Day of the Dead traditions can vary from town to town, with each community embracing their own unique blend of rituals, customs, and celebrations. Although the Day of the Dead customs in a small village in Mexico may differ from the Day of the Dead customs in a large American city like San Francisco, there are still several common Day of the Dead traditions that are carried out no matter what the location.

Here are the most common and important Day of the Dead traditions:

Day of the Dead altars

Day of the Dead tradition of creating an altar

Day of the Dead altar
Photo credit: mcbarnicle

Creating Day of the Dead altars is one of the most important Day of the Dead traditions. Day of the Dead altars are typically created inside people’s homes to honor the spirits of their deceased loved ones. When Dia de los Muertos is embraced by the community, non-secular altars are also created in schools, government offices, and other community spaces.

Day of the Dead altars are set up on the two days leading up to Dia de los Muertos. Altars contain “offerings” for the dead, known as ofrenda. These include items such as:

  • candles
  • fresh flowers or flowers petals (usually marigolds)
  • photographs of the deceased, along with other memorabilia
  • the favorite foods and drinks of the deceased (lovingly-prepared)
  • incense
  • water
  • sugar skulls
  • pan de muerto (bread of the dead)
  • statues of saints
  • other items

You can click here to learn more about Day of the Dead altars or see an example of how to build your own.

Decorating Gravesites

Day of the Dead traditions of decorating gravestones

Decorated gravestone in Mexico
Photo credit: Thelmadatter

On the Day of the Dead, many families will congregate in graveyards to clean the graves of their loved ones who have passed. They decorate the graves with Mexican marigolds called cempasúchil, often lovingly arranged into huge arches. The arches and graves are adorned with photos, mementos and gifts, such as the dead person’s favorite foods and drinks. These gifts, or offerings, are meant to attract the dead, helping them find their way back to their loved ones on earth. The burning candles and scent of copal incense also help guide the departed back to earth.

The tradition of grave-cleaning on Dia de los Muertos takes on a festive air. Graveyard picnics are common as people interact with the spirits of the deceased as if they were still alive. These graveyard visits often turn into all-night vigils with candlelit ceremonies and hired bands to play the favorite music of the dead.

The event becomes a social gathering marked by a combination of festivity and introspection, as everyone honors their dead loved ones, communicating with their spirits while reflecting on their own mortality in the circle of life and death.

Sharing Stories about the Deceased

Day of the Dead tradition of sitting at gravesite and telling stories

Telling stories by the graves
Photo Credit: Tomascastelazo

Part of honoring the dead is to tell stories about them, such as funny anecdotes or poems that poke fun at their quirks (known as calaveras). It is believed that the dead do not want to be thought of in a sad or somber manner – they want to be remembered and celebrated, since they are still alive – just in another form.

Therefore Dia de los Muertos is the right time to poke fun at your late Aunt Maria’s obsession with hair spray or to re-tell that day when Uncle Jose was so drunk he fell into the lake. In fact, you’d even place a can of Aunt Maria’s favorite hairspray on her altar and a bottle of Uncle Jose’s favorite whisky on his altar!

In Mexican culture, these stories form part of each family’s oral tradition, as tales of family members are passed on from generation to generation. It keeps the family history alive.

Celebrating Samhain

crone samhain

Article by Selena Fox

As October turns to November, thousands of Witches, Wiccans, Druids, and other Pagans across America, Canada, Europe, and elsewhere observe the sacred time of Samhain. Samhain is a festival of the Dead. Meaning “Summer’s End” and pronounced saah-win or saa-ween, Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest and the start of the coldest half of the year. For many practitioners, myself included, Samhain also is the beginning of the spiritual new year.

Originating in ancient Europe as a Celtic Fire festival, Samhain is now celebrated worldwide. The timing of contemporary Samhain celebrations varies according to spiritual tradition and geography. Many of us celebrate Samhain over the course of several days and nights, and these extended observances usually include a series of solo rites as well as ceremonies, feasts, and gatherings with family, friends, and spiritual community. In the northern hemisphere, many Pagans celebrate Samhain from sundown on October 31 through November 1. Others hold Samhain celebrations on the nearest weekend or on the Full or New Moon closest to this time. Some Pagans observe Samhain a bit later, or near November 6, to coincide more closely with the astronomical midpoint between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice. Most Pagans in the southern hemisphere time their Samhain observances to coincide with the middle of their Autumn in late April and early May, rather than at the traditional European time of the holiday.

Samhain also has been known by other names. Some Celtic Wiccans and Druids call it Calan Gaeaf, Calan Gwaf, Kala-Goanv, or Nos Galan Gaeof. In Welsh, it is Nos Cyn Calan Gaual. It also is known as Oie Houney. A medieval book of tales, the Yellow Book of Lecan, reports that common folk called it the “Feast of Mongfind,” the legendary Witch-Queen who married a King of Tara in old Ireland. In the ancient Coligny Calendar, an engraved bronze dating from the first century C.E.and dug up in 1897 in France, Samhain is called Trinouxtion Samonii, or “Three Nights of the End of Summer.” Variant spellings of Samhain include Samain, Samuin, and Samhuinn.

samhainaltar08

With the growth and spread of Christianity as the dominant religion throughout Europe, Samhain time took on Christian names and guises. All Saints’ Day or All Hallows on November 1 commemorated Christian saints and martyrs. All Souls’ Day on November 2 was a remembrance for all souls of the dead. With the coming of Christian Spaniards to Mexico, the indigenous customs of honoring the dead at this time of year mixed with Roman Catholicism and gave birth to the Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos, in early November. Samhain shares the ancient spiritual practice of remembering and paying respects to the Dead with these related religious holidays of Christianity.

Halloween, short for All Hallow’s Eve, is celebrated on and around October 31. Although occurring at the same time of year and having roots in end-of-harvest celebrations of the ancient past, Halloween and Samhain are not the same, but two separate holidays that differ considerably in focus and practice. In contemporary America and elsewhere, Halloween is a secular folk holiday. Like its cousin, Thanksgiving, it is widely and publicly celebrated in homes, schools, and communities, large and small, by people of many paths, ethnic heritages, and worldviews. Furthermore, Halloween has evolved to be both a family-oriented children’s holiday as well as an occasion for those of all ages to creatively express themselves and engage in play in the realm of make-believe and fantasy through costumes, trick-or-treating, storytelling, play-acting, pranks, cathartic scary place visits, and parties.

DSC 8619

In contrast, Samhain and its related Christian holiday counterparts continue to be religious in focus and spiritually observed by adherents. Although observances may include merry-making, the honoring of the Dead that is central to Samhain is a serious religious practice rather than a light-hearted make-believe re-enactment. Today’s Pagan Samhain rites, while somber, are benevolent, and, although centered on death, do not involve human or animal sacrifices. Most Samhain rituals are held in private rather than in public.

Samhain’s long association with death and the Dead reflects Nature’s rhythms. In many places, Samhain coincides with the end of the growing season. Vegetation dies back with killing frosts, and therefore, literally, death is in the air. This contributes to the ancient notion that at Samhain, the veil is thin between the world of the living and the realm of the Dead and this facilitates contact and communication. For those who have lost loved ones in the past year, Samhain rituals can be an opportunity to bring closure to grieving and to further adjust to their being in the Otherworld by spiritually communing with them.

samhain blessings

There are many ways to celebrate Samhain. Here are a few:

      • Samhain Nature Walk. Take a meditative walk in a natural area near your home. Observe and contemplate the colors, aromas, sounds, and other sensations of the season. Experience yourself as part of the Circle of Life and reflect on death and rebirth as being an important part of Nature. If the location you visit permits, gather some natural objects and upon your return use them to adorn your home.
      • Seasonal Imagery. Decorate your home with Samhain seasonal symbols and the colors of orange and black. Place an Autumnal wreath on your front door. Create displays with pumpkins, cornstalks, gourds, acorns, and apples. Set candles in cauldrons.
      • Ancestors Altar. Gather photographs, heirlooms, and other mementos of deceased family, friends, and companion creatures. Arrange them on a table, dresser, or other surface, along with several votive candles. Kindle the candles in their memory as you call out their names and express well wishes. Thank them for being part of your life. Sit quietly and pay attention to what you experience. Note any messages you receive in your journal. This Ancestors Altar can be created just for Samhain or kept year round.
      • Feast of the Dead. Prepare a Samhain dinner. Include a place setting at your table or at a nearby altar for the Dead. Add an offering of a bit of each beverage being consumed to the cup at that place setting, and to the plate, add a bit of each food served. Invite your ancestors and other deceased loved ones to come and dine with you. To have this as a Samhain Dumb Supper experience, dine in silence. After the feast, place the contents of the plate and cup for the Dead outdoors in a natural location as an offering for the Dead.
      • Ancestor Stories. Learn about family history. Contact one or more older relatives and ask them to share memories of family members now dead. Record them in some way and later write accounts of what they share. Give thanks. Share what you learned and have written with another family member or friend. Add names of those you learned about and wish to honor to your Ancestors Altar.
      • Cemetery Visit. Visit and tend the gravesite of a loved one at a cemetery. Call to mind memories and consider ways the loved one continues to live on within you. Place an offering there such as fresh flowers, dried herbs, or a libation of water.
      • Reflections. Reflect on you and your life over the past year. Review journals, planners, photographs, blogs, and other notations you have created during the past year. Consider how you have grown, accomplishments, challenges, adventures, travels, and learnings. Meditate. Journal about your year in review, your meditation, and your reflections.
      • Renovate. Select an area of your home or life as a focus. Examine it. Re-organize it. Release what is no longer needed. Create a better pattern. Celebrate renewal and transformation.
      • Bonfire Magic. Kindle a bonfire outdoors when possible or kindle flames in a fireplace or a small cauldron. Write down an outmoded habit that you wish to end and cast it into the Samhain flames as you imagine release. Imagine yourself adopting a new, healthier way of being as you move around the fire clockwise.
      • Divinatory Guidance. Using Tarot, Runes, Scrying, or some other method of divination, seek and reflect on guidance for the year to come. Write a summary of your process and messages. Select something appropriate to act upon and do it.
      • Divine Invocations. Honor and call upon the Divine in one or more Sacred Forms associated with Samhain, such as the Crone Goddess and Horned God of Nature. Invite Them to aid you in your remembrance of the Dead and in your understanding of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. If you have lost loved ones in the past year, ask these Divine Ones to comfort and support you.
      • Transforming Expressions. If you encounter distortions, misinformation, and/or false, negative stereotypes about Paganism and Samhain in the media, contact the source, express your concerns, and share accurate information. Help eradicate derogatory stereotyping with courteous, concise, and intelligent communications.
      • Community Connections. Connect with others. Join in a group ritual in your area. Organize a Samhain potluck in your home. Research old and contemporary Samhain customs in books, periodicals, on-line, and through communications with others. Exchange ideas, information, and celebration experiences. Regardless of whether you practice solo or with others, as part of your festivities, reflect for a time on being part of the vast network of those celebrating Samhain around the world.