Instead of going trick-or-treating many practicing witches instead mark October 31st by celebrating Samhain, a Celtic and Pagan holiday celebrating the beginning of winter. It's held on the night of October 31st, when it's believed that the veil between the world of the living and the dead is thin.
We're bringing you one way to celebrate Samhain, excerpted from the Modern Witchcraft Guide To The Wheel Of The Year: From Samhain To Yule, Your Guide To The Wiccan Holidays by Judy Ann Nock.
THE DEAD SUPPER
One way to acknowledge an old custom is with a modern recipe. Set out a “dead supper” for wandering spirits on Samhain night. Discarnate spirits and the fallow earth are within the realms of Hecate, the crone goddess of wisdom from the Greek pantheon. Honor her at this time as well. You will need these things:
• 2 mixing bowls, one small and one large
• 3 knives, two dull and one sharp
• Cookie sheet
• Pastry brush or a new and clean paintbrush suitable for using with food
• ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
• ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour
• 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 3 tablespoons honey
• ⅓ cup butter
• 2 eggs, divided
• 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
• 1 tablespoon water
• 4–6 tablespoons heavy cream
1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. In a small mixing bowl combine the cinnamon, clove, and salt. Stir in a clockwise motion with the index finger of your left hand, saying:
“Lady of the crossroads three
With spices I come to honor thee
Cinnamon for the psychic eye
Clove to please you most
And salt to purify.”
2. In the large bowl combine the flour and baking powder. Add the spice mixture and the honey.
3. Using the two dull knives, cut in the butter using crossing motions until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in 1 beaten egg and the pomegranate seeds.
5. Add the cream very gradually, a tablespoonful at a time, until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl.
6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about ten times. Pat the dough into a rectangular shape about ½ inch thick, and using the sharp knife, cut the dough into about fifteen small diamond shapes.
7. Place the cakes on an ungreased cookie sheet. Beat the other egg and, using the brush, paint the tops of the cakes with egg. Bake the cakes for 10–15 minutes or until they are golden brown.
8. Place the cakes along with a chalice or glass of dry red wine, or alternately, cranberry or pomegranate juice, on your doorstep next to your jack-o’-lantern. Speak the following words aloud as you do so:
“Blessed spirits of my ancestors
And all my beloveds who have gone from this life,
Ye who dwell in the summerlands
Who hath crossed the long river of night
To realms beyond the veil
And sailed in the Makhent boat of Ra
In darkness to arrive on a distant shore
Far beyond my reach
Partake of this repast I have set out for ye
And know that love yet flows in my blood
And the blood of the Mother flows in me.”
If, in the morning, the cakes and wine are gone, you can take this to mean that spirits visited you in the night. If the cakes and wine remain at the light of day, pour the wine or juice as a libation into the earth and crumble and scatter the cakes to feed the birds.
Samuin, Samain, Sauin, All Hallows’ Eve, and Hallowe’en are some of the other names for Samhain. In the New World, Samhain was Christianized and became All Souls’ Day or, alternately, All Saints’ Day. It is also celebrated as Dìa de los Muertos in lands that were conquered by the Spanish.
Excerpted from The Modern Witchcraft Guide to the Wheel of the Year: From Samhain to Yule, Your Guide to the Wiccan Holidays by Judy Ann Nock. Copyright © 2017 Adams Media, a division of Simon and Schuster. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Top photo: Hecate (detail) by Richard Cosway, British Museum, via Wikimedia Commons
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