Samhain blessings to you dearest sisters. Samhain is one of our favourite times of the year, it is steeped in magic and mystery and we'd say is one of the most misunderstood of the wheel of the year festivals, we'd even go as far as to say it is a very underappreciated time of the year. This quiet, inward and magical time of the year has been replaced with loud Halloween parties, sugar highs, a lot of single use plastic which perpetuates the image of Witches and Pagans as evil things to be feared. Now, don't get us wrong we are not being spoil sports or party poopers and you know we love to get our Halloween on, but here at Sisters of the Moon we also like to honour the original meanings and sacred practices of the ancient celtic festivals. So much of what were once sacred and transformative rites of passage have been hijacked and commercialized, their true meanings beginning to fade like the ink in an old notebook. Halloween has become a time of the year associated with the spooky, the scary and the gruesome but it's original meaning is really quite beautiful.
Just like Beltane in the Spring, Samhain is a time of year where the veil between worlds thins and we can connect with spirit, with our ancestors and ask for inspiration, guidance and wisdom. At Beltane we connect to the Fae, to the spirits of the Spring and it is a time of playfulness, dance and cheer as we welcome in the light and energy of the Spring and Summer months. At Samhain, we connect to the wisdom of the elders and the magic of the underworld and the dead. It's a time of quiet reflection as we prepare ourselves for the dark, cold winter months. Samhain translated means Summer's End and in the Celtic calendar marks the end of the year. It is the last of the harvest festivals and our ancestors would have been making their final preparations for winter. The last of the livestock was slaughtered, they lit bonfires and gave thanks for all that they had received during the year and used prayer, song and ritual to ask for protection for the winter ahead. They honoured their dead and asked for guidance and blessings from those beyond the veil. Death was viewed as an important and healthy part of the life cycle and was treated with honesty and deep respect.
It's interesting to look at the energies at play at this time of year in modern times. Many schools are on half term as teachers, parents and children prepare themselves for a busy winter term in the lead up to Christmas, full of school plays, christmas fayres and christmas present lists that seem to increase day by day. Businesses are gearing themselves up for their busiest time of the year and we try collectively to rally against our dwindling energy supplies and the onslaught of colds and sniffles, all the while watching our diaries fill up with festive social occasions and to do lists. We know that as soon as October 31st is over, the cheap plastic of Halloween is replaced by the glittery tat of Christmas and the constant reminder that we don't have enough time to get everything done. No wonder we're all in a tizz!
The Magic of Samhain
So, how can connecting to Samhain's true meaning help us? For so many people, just learning that this time of year used to mean that the year was ending, winding down and heading into rest seems to fill them with a sense of peace and comfort. It's not that they are winter time failures and just can't get the balance right each year, it's that we are living out of harmony with the rhythms of the seasons and our own internal rhythms. There's not much that can be done with the standardised calendar that most of us now live by and Christmas has taken on a life of its own, for better or for worse, but we can choose to set boundaries that prevent us from burn out and to engage in practices and rituals that help us to tune back into the ebbs and flows of nature. The most important messages that Samhain offers us is that death and decay give way to new life and new possibilities and are part of the great tapestry of life. Life is by its very nature transient and impermanent. Samhain was a time each year to confront the topic of death as people watched the plants and flowers die and knew that many wouldn't survive the harshness of winter. Nowadays, we don't much like silence or change and we certainly don't like to talk about or think about death. It means when we have to face the inevitable changes and losses of life we are shocked, unprepared and often left feeling alone as we grieve on the outskirts of a society that doesn't know how to be around our sadness. A lovely practice to do at Samhain time is to reflect on your relationship to death, as we asked in our Scorpio blog, do you think about it? Do you talk about it?
"Trees feed as much on decay of the world, passed through the bodies of worms and mushrooms and beetles and the tinier things, as they do on sunlight. They of course eat the sun first of all, and also each breath you exhale, but their roots need the nourishment of the ancient bodies of the moles and salamanders, robins, owls, and foxes that have become part of the dirt. It is a continuum, my boy, life to death to life again, and you, I'm afraid, are part of it." -The Wild Folk by Silvia V. Linstteadt
Calling in the ancestors
Samhain is also a lovely time to connect to your loved ones beyond the veil. This doesn't mean anything scary, it can simply be lighting a candle in front of images or items of loved ones or ancestors and asking them for guidance on your journey through the winter. Feeling the presence and support of our ancestors can be of huge comfort. Halloween has become a time when people like to dress up, often in costumes from other people's culture which more and more people are speaking up about from the point of view of cultural appropriation, Samhain can actually connect us deeply to our own culture. It's a wonderful time of year to find out about our family history and learn about our family tree and roots. There might be parts of that history that are painful and need healing but as we talked about, that's what Scorpio season is all about - doing the work! 'The wound is where the light gets in'.
Samhain poem by Annie Finch
In the season leaves should love,
since it gives them leave to move
through the wind, towards the ground
they were watching while they hung,
legend says there is a seam
stitching darkness like a name.
Now when dying grasses veil
earth from the sky in one last pale wave,
as autumn dies to bring winter back,
and then the spring,
we who die ourselves can peel back another kind of veil
that hangs among us like thick smoke.
Tonight at last I feel it shake.
I feel the nights stretching away
thousands long behind the days
till they reach the darkness where
all of me is ancestor.
I move my hand and feel a touch
move with me, and when I brush
my own mind across another,
I am with my mother's mother.
Sure as footsteps in my waiting
I find her, and she brings arms that carry answers for me,
intimate, a waiting bounty.
"Carry me." She leaves this trail
through a shudder of the veil,
and leaves, like amber where she stays,
a gift for her perpetual gaze.
Samhain used to mark the beginning of the time of rest as the winter descended and the land around our ancestors grew silent and still. The days were short, food was scarce and the weather was biting. But within that time was a deep sense of nourishment and of growth, growth that was happening beneath the surface. Winter was a time for dreaming, for storytelling and for reflecting on the experiences of the year and the lessons within those experiences. No longer ruled by the seasons and lack of light, in modern winter time we can work as hard as we do in the summer months fuelled by artificial sugar and lighting, and for most people that's what they do. Our bodies contain ancient wisdom and they long to live in harmony with the moon and seasons. We truly believe that we have a deep longing to rest and reflect during winter and this modern epidemic of constant busyness and striving for success is leaving the majority of people burnt out, anxious and resentful not to mention the effect that constant consuming is having on our planet.
Use the days around Samhain to journal about your relationship to rest. Do you value rest? Do you view rest as a weakness? What happens when you ignore your bodies need for rest? How can you tweak your timetable heading into winter to honour your bodies need for rest and nourishment?
Reclaiming the Witch
The image of the Witch is so present at this time of year that we really wanted to dedicate part of our Samhain blog to the archetype and history of the celtic witch as she still remains misunderstood and misrepresented. Many people believe that this disconnection to nature's healing rhythms was severed with the persecution of the Witch. So much wisdom and common sense was lost when we lost the Witches of this world or forced them into hiding. The persecution of women as witches is a deep collective wound that we as sisters need to heal together. It's really important to unpack the word witch, it is often associated with the stereotypical image of a hag with warts who is bitter and throws curses on her enemies. Witches are often the bad guy in stories and in the time of the witch trials were to blame for failing crops, death and illnesses in the villages and even for things like bad dreams. When we delve into history and look beyond the patriarchal manipulation of this caricature we find that a witch would have been the woman in the village who held the knowledge of the seasons and wisdom of the moon, her magic would have been the blending of herb and root to heal ailments, she would have been the midwife, the storyteller and the oracle and she would have held people's love and respect. Witches were feared because they were women that knew they had everything they needed within themselves to be well and to be happy, they could commune with the divine with no need of a medium and could help others to do the same, because of this they were a threat and one that needed to be dealt with. During the witch-hunts of early modern Europe, tens of thousands of people were put on trial, tortured and executed as witches, three quarters of whom were women. The word Witch carries pain, misunderstanding and fear and requires a lot of healing in the collective psyche of both men and women.
Excitingly, we now find ourselves in a time of people reclaiming their wild magic! Men and women throughout the world are reclaiming their wildish natures and re-learning how to honour and live with the cycles of the seasons and the rhythms of the moon. The wild is rising!
How can you continue to wake the witch within you?
Who would you be if you stepped into your power?
Do you feel yourself dimming your light in order to fit into society's patriarchal structure?
How can you regularly connect to the magic of nature? Do you work with the moon? Do you work with plants? Or tarot?
Here are a few of our favourite books for connecting to and reclaiming the Witch:
THE FAMILIARS by STACEY HALLS
THE RULES OF MAGIC by ALICE HOFFMAN
THE WILD FOLK by SYLVIA V LINSTEADT
WITCH by LISA LISTER
WAKING THE WITCH by PAM GROSSMAN
THE WITCH by RONALD HUTTON
Altars are a wonderful way to connect to the festivals of the wheel of the year. For a Samhain altar, collect natural objects that help you connect to death and decay such as dried dead flowers or dead leaves and found animal skulls. Crystals for protection such as obsidian would be a nice addition to help guard against unwanted spirits and plenty of candles to represent the fires that used to be lit at this time of year. Using sacred smoke such as Frankincense resin incense or our personal favourite, Storax, to cleanse your space and help you release all that no longer serves you. You could also place images of ancestors or loved ones on your altar and light candles in front of them and you can do the same with images of Liminal Goddesses that can guide you though this time of transition such as Hekate or Ceridwen.
Once you've created your beautiful Samhain altar and have called in the wisdom and warmth of your ancestors and loved ones, turn to your journal and begin to write down your intentions for the winter. How would you like to be this winter time? How would you like to feel? Where do you need better boundaries? How can you stay connected to the wisdom of nature and the wisdom of winter? What growth can you allow to take place behind the scenes without feeling the need to be seen as productive? What are your favourite parts of winter? What are your least favourite parts and how can you prepare for those?
It's important to remember that Samhain is a transitional time, it's not really a time to start anything new, it's this wonderful space between things, like the blank pages in a new notebook. Can you let yourself be held in this powerful space between? Can you let yourself honour the dark before the light? Can you learn to let things die in order to let new things grow in their place?
We really hope you've enjoyed our blog post, we will be back tomorrow with our tips for keeping your cool during Mercury Retrograde which also starts today. For now, we leave you to enjoy this blessed Samhain eve, we hope you connect to the magic within and around you.
Dearest moonbeams, we are approaching the New Moon in Scorpio which is heading our way on Monday 28th October. With Samhain just around the corner, we are fast approaching the end of the celtic year and the veil between the worlds is beginning to thin. It's time to go deep and wake the witch within! We can use this magical, feminine water sign to dive down into the shadows of our psyche and 'do the work'. Scorpios have an almost disdain for the mundane, the shallow and the ordinary and like to spend a lot of their time in quiet, deep contemplation on the how's and why's of the world and are also unafraid to confront topics such as death and dying. Scorpio has two ruling planets, Mars and Pluto. Mars brings the energies of sexuality, action and primal passions and Pluto has this connection to the underworld and therefore the cycles of death and rebirth and the parts of ourself that are unseen, hidden and secret. Scorpio is very much about making the unconscious, conscious.
Here are some journaling questions to get you started with some of these themes:
What is your relationship to death? Do you talk about it? Do you think about? Do you shy away from the topic?
What is your relationship to transformation? Do you enjoy reinventing yourself or do you resist and struggle against changes in your life?
As we look to nature, we can see that things are dying. As we mentioned, it's almost the end of the celtic year and Samhain means death of the year. What is dying in your life at the moment? And how could you see this as part of the natural flow of life?
Where is there space being created how could you resist the urge to fill that space?
Key words/themes associated with Scorpio are: transformation, passion, death, karma, emotions, intuition, magic, regeneration, rebirth, sovereignty, the witch, the dark goddess, the liminal.
One of the archetypes associated with Scorpio is the Witch or Sorceress, we are going to be delving more into the witch archetype a lot more in our Samhain blog but some wonderful questions to begin to ask yourself during this new moon are:
What is my relationship to the word witch?
Do I see myself as a witch? If so, what sort of witch? A green witch, hedge witch, sea witch etc?
Is there room in my life at the moment for rituals and magic? If not, how could I make more space for this?
Who would I be if I stopped denying, hiding or dimming my magic?
Scorpio rules the sexual organs, urinary tract, hips, pelvis and sacrum and it's element is water. Scorpio season is a wonderful time to reflect on your relationship to your cycle . If you're still bleeding some guiding questions to sit with are:
How do you view your blood? Do you view it as primal magic? Or are you ashamed of it?
Are you aware of your cycle or each month is it still something that takes you by surprise?
Do you put expectations on yourself to be the same throughout the month or do you honour your internal rhythms with rest and self care?
Perhaps you could start a cycle tracker journal. We absolutely love the work of Melanie Swan over at the sacred womb - she has a podcast dedicated to all things womb and has some wonderful free resources as well as running courses to help you reclaim your cycle and your magic. It's absolutely magical that the cycles of a woman's body so beautifully match the cycles of the moon and the seasons. There is so much we can learn from this constant flow of life, death and rebirth.
In her book 'Witch' Sally Lister talks about a woman's pelvis as being like a witch's cauldron:
"Women's pelvic bowl is her very own internal witch's cauldron: it's the place where lady magic is created, where feelings, emotions and thoughts are alchemized and it's the cosmic container for all life, death, transformation and rebirth."
Due to it's ruling element and anatomical associations - Scorpio's chakra is the Sacral Chakra. Sacral chakra work requires us to go deep into our emotional wounds and begin a process of healing, releasing, forgiving and moving forward. Let's begin collectively as women, to heal any shame we may feel in relation to bleeding, not bleeding, being a mother, not being a mother, our sexual wants, needs and desires, feeling like we're not enough, feeling like we're too much. Let's also heal the bonds of sisterhood and stop judging other women based on any of the above
"Have the courage to love yourself. Have the courage to act as you really feel - to act, if need be, against everything that the whole world is trying to persuade you to do." - Moon Times
Celebrate your body, celebrate whichever part of the life cycle you are in, celebrate your sexuality, your desires, your passions. Celebrate being you! In all your glory!
Self Care Practices for Scorpio
Womb breathing is such a simple and yet beautiful way to connect to yourself and to feel grounded and at peace. Find somewhere to sit where you can be comfortable and undisturbed. Place your hands either on your womb or you can take Yoni Mudra and rest your thumbs on your womb. Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. As you breathe, begin to take your breath all the way down to the bowl of your pelvis. You could even imagine your pelvis like a witch's cauldron as per Sally Lister's description above or focus on the vibrant orange colour of the sacral chakra. With every breath, feel a warmth and a spaciousness being created. Stay as long as you like with this practice.
Sacral Chakra Aromatherapy Blend
This warming, spicy and soothing blend would be lovely rubbed into the lower back and lower belly (not suitable in pregnancy or whilst breast feeding)
Choose 25ml of base oil
1 drop Sweet Marjoram
1 drop Jasmine
2 drops Ginger
3 drops Mandarin
2 drops Ylang Ylang
Scorpio Diffuser Blend
Cypress, Pine and Sage pure essential oils. Cypress is associated with Pluto, PIne with Mars and Sage with Samhain. This combination of oils is a great energetic clearer, perfect before or after ritual or spell work!
Hekate is an ancient Goddess associated with the Dark Moon, the liminal, witchcraft and magic. She guides Persephone on her journey through the underworld and so we can turn to her on our own journey of transformation.
Lilith is another dark Goddess, she will help us reclaim our wild and call back all the parts of ourselves that we have buried or hidden out of shame.
"Like the screech owl for whom Lilith is named, Her screech cannot be silenced. She is all women who have been subjugated, humiliated, and cast out from male-defined society. Her rage is the rage of women who have realized that our natural women’s sexuality has been made dirty by men who fear the power of it and the power of free women." - Motherhouse of the Goddess
Kali is the hindu goddess of death, karma and transformation. If you're having trouble breaking free from certain Karmic patterns and habits, want to move forward but keep clinging on to the past then Kali can help you with her powerful fire of transformation. She has a wrathful appearance showing that she helps us to conquer our inner demons and fears. Beware when calling upon Kali, she is the great mother and will give us what we need in order to transcend but it won't necessarily be what we want.
Ceridwen is another goddess of transformation, her name comes from the celtic word 'Cerru', meaning cauldron. She is a Welsh Goddess associated with creativity, power, the moon, magic and the Crone. You can read the story of Ceridwen here.
Persephone is often referred to as the Queen of the Underworld. In the Greek mythology, hers is a tragic story of grief and loss. She is kidnapped by Hades and taken to live in the Underworld. Her mother, Demeter, the nature Goddess is so bereft that she stops tending to the nature and everything dies. Zeus (persephone's father) intervenes and sends Hermes to the Underworld to rescue Persephone but Hades has already tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds which bind a soul to the underworld. Persephone then has to spend 4 months of every year in the underworld as Hades' wife and returns to the world and her family for the other 8. Persephone's descent into the underworld each year causes the crops to die and in the myths is how we end up with winter and the cycles of the seasons. Persephone's story is one that can inspire us to take our own journey into the underworld, into the dark and shadow parts of our self. It also demonstrates the quality of autumn/winter and this need for things to die in order for new things to grow.
We hope you've enjoyed our new moon blog. We'll be back in a few days with a blog dedicated to Samhain. New Moon blessings to you all xx
Tonight we welcome in the Full Moon in Aries, also known as the Hunter's moon or the Blood Moon. We have the sun in Libra, the sign of relationships and balance, and the moon in Aries, the sign of the self. At first it might seem that these signs contradict each other but when we look closer they actually help us to navigate our Autumn theme of finding balance. Libra is a sign that is always wanting to make peace and harmony, their focus on relationships and partnerships can sometimes mean their own needs and boundaries get overlooked. Aries is a self reliant, head strong fire sign with clear boundaries and an often devil may care attitude. Somewhere between these two signs is a wonderful balance of taking care of our relationships and community and taking care of ourselves.
Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, and when the moon is in Aries it asks us to take a step back and ask ourselves 'who am I?', 'What do I want?', 'What are my goals?'. If we feel we've been getting lost in other people's dramas and problems now is a wonderful time to come home to yourself in order to establish balance. This means you can also spend some time asking yourself if you feel your needs are being met, your voice is being heard and if you're being true to yourself. How could we add some of that powerful self reliant Aries energy into our life at the moment? Moon in Aries is a wonderful time to concentrate on our relationship to self, to check-in with our self love and self care knowing that these have a huge impact on our relationships.
A major theme that runs through Autumn due to the seasonal energy but also the astrological energies at play during these months is COMING HOME. We do this by getting our homes nice and cosy for the colder months after spending so much time away from our base over the summer. But it's really important to have this same sense of coming home to ourself at this time of year to make sure that we are rested, nourished and balanced for the coming dark months. Once again, as we looked at with the New Moon in Libra, it's time to focus in on our boundaries. It's important to start asking ourselves how much bandwidth we are likely to have over the winter months so that we don't run the risk of saying yes to everything and end up burning out. The end of the year brings with it lots of pressures to socialise and be constantly festive whilst holding down our usual commitments and responsibilities during cold, dark days and of course all the seasonal colds and bugs that do the rounds. As an act of self love and care and to establish healthy boundaries, dedicate a page in your journal to what your seasonal needs are for winter. It might be earlier bedtimes, a few weekends where you can just be at home without needing to socialise or be anything for anybody else. Once you've worked out your winter bandwidth, you're then going to need to learn to own the word 'No'. Aries are very good at saying no, they have a clear idea of what they want and don't want and aren't afraid to say it. Do you struggle with the word no? The shadow side of Libra is people pleasing to the detriment of the self, does that sound familiar to you? Do you find yourself saying yes to things and then immediately wishing you hadn't? We then have to dedicate so much time and effort into thinking about how to get out of certain commitments, wouldn't it be easier to just be honest and say no in the beginning? People pleasing and worrying what other people will think of us is a huge source of anxiety and stress and a massive energy drain. Think of how much more energy and time you'd have for your goals if we let go of this need to be liked.
Aries rules the head, sinuses and eyes so whilst the moon is in Aries it's really important to look after these areas of the body. We'll be more susceptible to picking up colds during moon in Aries days, especially if we're already run down so wrap up warm, rest and take care of yourself. Aries can often suffer from being too much in their head and because they are a fire sign are often called hot headed. If you resonate with this and have been dealing with thoughts of overwhelm, it would be really helpful to dedicate some time for meditation to help soothe your mind and calm your thoughts. Journaling about what's overwhelming you could also be really helpful, especially in relation to the people pleasing and over committing that we just spoke about. Maybe it's time to scale back and admit we can't do everything? Full moons are a great time to take an honest look at what isn't working and let it go, we may have just started a new project or venture and for whatever reason it's just not in flow, sometimes we need to push through and sometimes we need to let go and accept that perhaps it's not the right time. How much are we clinging on to this particular thing out of fear of what others might think?
“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”
Full Moon Releasing Fire Ritual
Using a black or red coloured candle would be really nice for this ritual if you have access to one, if not use any candle. Light the candle and place it on your altar, spend some time sat in front of the candle watching the flame as it flickers and dances and begin to connect with the element on Fire. Then close your eyes and begin to focus on your breathing. As you breathe in and out, connect to the Air element of Libra and this season of change. Bring to mind the image of autumn leaves dancing on the wind. Then start to take your breath down into your low belly, feeling like you're breathing into the bowl of your pelvis. Then imagine fire embers in your low belly, as you continue to guide your breath down into your belly, these fire embers begin to transform into flames. Feel this fire in your low belly warming you from the inside, and concentrate on this connection between the air element of Libra and the fire element of Aries. Your wish for balance is represented by the Air you're breathing in, this air is stoking the Aries fire of transformation and power. Imagine this fire at your belly is burning away all that no longer serves you, old stories, old habits and patterns and any fears. Once you have focused on this for a while, write on a piece of paper a list of all the things that you want to release. If it feels safe to do this, you could then burn this paper on the candle and feel strongly that all these things have been released - if you don't want to do this with fire, just imagine it taking place. Then come back into your meditation. Once again focus on this fire at your low belly and now imagine the flames travel up through your central channel and rest at your heart centre. Concentrate on a feeling of warmth at your heart space and this feeling of an open and yet empowered heart space. Stay a while in this warmth at your heart and then imagine that the light from the fire begins to encompass your entire body from your head down to your feet. The light from the fire at your heart has created a force field around you, imagine that this force field represents all of your new boundaries that you are establishing this full moon. As you breathe in and out, imagine that this light glows more and more vibrant. Stay as long as you like with this visualisation and then come out of the meditation when you are ready.
Warming body oil
This aromatherapy body oil will help you connect to the fire of Aries whilst at the same time help with the stiff joints, sore muscles and will help to boost your immune system:
25ml Base oil of you choice
1 drop Black Pepper essential oil
2 drops Ginger essential oil
3 drops Orange essential oil
2 drops Marjoram essential oil
Essential Oils for Sinuses
If you feel your sinuses are blocked, these essential oils can help to clear them. Use just a drop or two of one of these oils in a bowl of hot water, place a towel over your head and breathe the steam in:
If you feel like you need some help from Goddess to help you let go of the past and establish new boundaries here are a few fire Goddesses to connect with at this full moon:
Brigid, Durga, Hestia, Isis, Kali, Lilith, Hestia, Hekate, Brigid.
We hope you enjoyed our blog post and we wish you a blessed full moon. We will be back soon to bring you a self care survival guide for Mercury Retrograde which is coming up on October 31st, we will also be posting a blog dedicated to the magic of samhain and of course the upcoming new moon in Scorpio.
See you soon dearest moonbeams x
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