by Merhamet Miller
It is no big secret in the magical community that Samhain is the time most people will go to open circles.
Like Christians run to Christmas pageants and Christ-masses, magical people run to Samhain to get their ”yearly spiritual infusion”.
The thing is they don’t really have a lot of variety to choose from, since most of us all do the same thing at Samhain – Necromancy.
Whoa! You say. No, I am not a dark Magician you got the wrong spiritual magical being here.
Do you put out a dumb supper or leave food out for the dead at Samhain? That is a form of Necromancy.
Do you face the West or go to the west quadrant of the circle you cast and invite in the Dead? Well that is Necromancy.
Do you light candles sending energy to your dead, or possibly sing chants to them, or lay out offerings to them? Then that is Necromancy.
I said it, I let the cat out of the bag so to speak, almost every magical person practices some form (low or high) of Necromancy.
Why do we use Necromancy at Samhain?
Magical folk say that Samhain is a time when the “veil is the thinnest”, thus we use that time to communicate with our dearly departed, and some of our magical ancestors.
In modern scientific terms we are claiming that Parallel Universes do exist and we have access to them more readily during Samhain.
What we humans cannot usually see so clearly is staring us in the face right now: all times, all places, all existences are accesible and we always knew time was not linear….DUH – we are witches!
Traditionally you lay out a skeleton head on the altar at Samhain, have a black altar cloth and burn black candles.
This is a time honored tradition that goes back further than we can re-collect, one that has to do with calling on the God of Death, or a Psychopomp God like Pan or Anubis or possibly Hel.
How else can you communicate with your dearly departed on Samhain?
Black is the psychological color associated with death in most cultures, and though in the Neo-Pagan world it deals with banishing, on Samhain those rules usually do not apply.
If you do not see black candles on the altar you will always see white ones, because white is associated with death, too, being the color of our bones after the flesh is removed.
And it is psychologically purifying and cleansing.
The West is always associated with death.
Either the youngest woman in the group or the Maiden Priestess in the group goes to the quadrant of Water, the West end of the circle, where many cultures state the Gates to the Underworld are.
That Maiden/young lady will state aloud a summons:
“Spirits walking on this night
Harken! Harken to my call!
Gather in this Circle Light,
Enter! Enter! One and all!
Whether you are plant or pet
or Human spirit roaming free
into this Circle you are let.
Blessings we bestow on thee
please say to us what you must say,
and give us all your worries deep.
And we will guide you on the way,
to peace and rest and gentle sleep.
Spirits walking on this night –
Harken! Harken to my call!
Gather in this Circle Light,
Enter! Enter! One and all!”
(The Craft: A Witch’s Book of Shadows By Dorothy Morrison)
You lay out pictures, or talismans or objects of your dearly departed on the altar to summon the dead.
Each person in the circle takes a turn stating the name of their dearly departed, and what they loved about them and what they miss about them now.
They cry, or laugh, it is very emotional and the spirits of the dead ignite on that energy emanated.
The hand bell is rung and every person in circle states: “We will remember _________________” together and it is amazing.
This is done all night long until each and every person in the circle; including the Priest and Priestess have honored their dead.
People from different faiths especially Anthropology majors, Sociology majors, love to come to Samhain rituals; and seem to always be amazed at how moving they can be.
What they never really understand is the custom of pulling at the Pomegranate and the Apple.
The Eldest Crone in the circle holds the Pomegranate and she goes around to each person in the circle and says…”Behold the seeds of death, partake” and each person that is there takes one seed and eats that seed understanding that as they take in the seed of death it is also symbolic for letting go any pain, hurt, or grieving of the previous year.
Swallowing that seed is also committing to working your shadow working with the Goddess that winter.
The Crone offered you a boon; you took it…did you think this was all just theatrics?
After all have eaten the fruit of death; the youngest Maiden in the circle steps forth and offers a piece of apple that has been cut carefully to show the star in the middle.
“Behold the fruit of life…” she states as each person takes a piece of apple and bites into the juicy offering.
Many innately know that with biting into the Apple they have now replaced their sorrow and previous year’s fears and sadness with new hope, a fresh slate, a new beginning.
By Imbolc, when the Maiden goddess returns, you will be done with your shadow workings and ready to launch your new improved self.
That is what eating the apple means, so please do eat the apple after the pomegranate; you don’t want to work on shadow work all year, do you?
At this point all circles divide a bit; they will either use divination of tarot cards, or runes to predict each person’s individual future for the New Year.
The people in circle ask questions of the dead (it is understood that the person doing the divination is a channel for your dearly departed on this night) trusting that the dead have a better perspective than us living.
If you have a gifted Priest or Priestess they might serve as a medium or use their channeling ability at this time to help you get some of the answers you seek from your dearly departed and this is done one on one.
No one bats an eye at this, but if you throw the word Necromancy out there many people run for the hillsides making the sign of the Pentagram like it is a cross holding back vampires.
The shift in energy begins at Samhain; no matter where you live.
If we all lived closer to the land, we would slaughter cattle and livestock to store back in the winter to help us survive; and begin some earnest canning. The harvest is over; the dark half of the year begins in which the Crone Goddess reigns supreme.
The energy of the Lover God transmuted to the Father God to shift again into the Ruler God who then sacrifices himself for the good of the people and then he returns to his kingdom and reigns in the Underworld for part of the year.
After Samhain is the most auspicious time to make a do-able plan on what new adventures you will go on.
These next few months it may seem like you are picking yourself apart or seeing flaws in others more but in reality you are being forced to work on shadow issues and notice how you project your issues onto others.
Keep this in mind this winter, when you find yourself experiencing either the winter doldrums or embroiled at the brink of an internet war.
This is the dark half of the year; work on yourself!
Remember no one forced you to take the magic of the Crone this year.
Thank the Goddess; the Maiden will be back in full throttle around January 31st-February 2nd if you live in the Western hemisphere.
Samhain is the biggest time of the year for most magical folk because it is a time when we can commune, connect, celebrate our weirdo selves and cackle unabashedly.
It is the embarking of a New Year where for just an hour or two all differences in magical theories and paths, and ways of being are laid aside so that we can all do what we do best; become the Magick.
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About the Author:
Merhamet Miller is a prosperous bold sorceress who teaches classes about various magical subjects, Nest Coordinator for Quantum Myrrh www.quantummyrhh.webs.com and lives on a sustainable rabbit farm with friends and chosen family. You can catch her online at her facebook group Blood and Bone, Flesh and Stone, where she discusses and shares her interests of quirky “Occultisms”.
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