Spirit Message of the Moment – Take the Reign of Change

THE SPIRIT ANIMAL – THE RAVEN

“I am Raven. I am the deep magic from the north and the ancient connection between you and the immortal. I am proof that your world is changing. You are missing the hidden threads that bind your experi73372_474598435933242_2130469691_nence. There are great things at work. There are manifestations at your feet. I want to help you see the magic and teach you how to use it. I am the bird that transports you from one realm to the next. I am the portal, granting you access from the solid grounds of Earth. I am that which appears from nothing. There is no greater power than your own will to sustain your vision. When you see me coming down from the lonely mountainside it is time to take the reign. I may appear only once, so grab the chance when you see it. Take your whims and ground them. Take your futility and shatter it to pieces. Stop accepting the chaos around you. Stop allowing your energy to dissipate and give it form and substance.”

MESSAGE FOR YOU

“You are a magician. You are the missing piece of the puzzle. You are connectivity. You are Raven.”

lisahuntToday’s guidance is from The Winged Enchantment Oracle Deck by Lisa Hunt and Lesley Morrison.

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Spirit Message of the Moment – A Winter Freeze

THE SEASON OF WINTER
“Winter is the perfect time for reflection, transition, and release. This card is asking you to take a moment to retreat inside to discover a truth about the matter at hand and d399242_398614763548194_1438693769_niscover what steps you need to take. Do not move into action at this time. It is time to draw your energies inward for introspection and reflection. Keep any plans or projects you are thinking about on the shelf.

Winter heralds the dying off of that which does not serve you. The leaves of a tree are shed in order to make room for spring’s buds. You, too, need this time to rest and release the old. With this release, you allow the new to bloom when the timing is right.

Incubate your plans, ideas, and energy until it’s the best moment to share them with others. Work with the crone sage aspect of yourself in order to impart wisdom, compassion, and truth. Enjoy a life review. Reflect back on your past to appreciate the lessons you’ve gained this year.”

Today’s guidance is from Doreen Virtue & Melissa Virtue: Angel Dreams: Oracle Cards

Spirit Message of the Day – Ideas to Connect With Your Ancestors

Samhain Rituals and Ceremonies
Looking for a ceremony or ritual to celebrate the Pagan sabbat of Samhain? Here’s where you’ll find a number of rituals, all of which can be adapted either for solitaries or a group. Samhain Ancestor Meditation: It’s Samhain, and that means for many Pagans and Wiccans it’s time to commune with the ancestors. Use this simple meditation technique to call upon those who walked before us — you may be surprised at some of the people you meet! Celebrate the Cycle of Life and Death Samhain is known as the witch’s new year. It is a time to think about the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth. With this ritual, you can celebrate all three aspects either with a group or as a solitary.

A Time of Darkness
Samhain is known as the night when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest. It’s a time to sit back and honor the spirit world, and call upon those ancestors who came before us. After all, if not for them, we wouldn’t be here. We owe them something, some gratitude for their ability to survive, their strength, their spirit. Many Wiccans and Pagans choose Samhain as a time to honor their ancestors. If this is something you’d like to do, you can celebrate with a ritual or by hosting a seance or dumb supper in their honor.

In addition to these more formal rituals, you may also want to take some time alone for a quiet meditation. This is a point in the Wheel of the Year when the spirit world is a bit closer than normal, and if you’ve never tried to contact your ancestors before, now is a good time to do it.

How to Honor the Ancestors at Samhain
For many modern Pagans and Wiccans, there has been a resurgence of interest in our family histories. We want to know where we came from and whose blood runs through our veins. Although ancestor worship has traditionally been found more in Africa and Asia, many Pagans with European heritage are beginning to feel the call of their ancestry. This rite can be performed either by itself, or on the third night of Samhain, following the End of Harvest celebration and the Honoring of the Animals.

Here’s How:

  1. First, decorate your altar table — you may have already gotten it set up during the End of Harvest rite or for the Ritual for Animals. Decorate your altar with family photos and heirlooms. If you have a family tree chart, place that on there as well. Add postcards, flags, and other symbols of the country your ancestors came from. If you’re lucky enough to live near where your family members are buried, make a grave rubbing and add that as well. In this case, a cluttered altar is perfectly acceptable — after all, each of us is a blend of many different people and cultures.
  2. Have a meal standing by to eat with the ritual. Include lots of dark bread, apples, fall vegetables, and a jug of cider or wine. Set your dinner table, with a place for each family member, and one extra plate for the ancestors. You may want to bake some Soul Cakes.

If your family has household guardians, include statues or masks of them on your altar. Finally, if a relative has died this year, place a candle for them on the altar. Light candles for other relatives, and as you do so, say the person’s name aloud. It’s a good idea to use tealights for this, particularly if you have a lot of relatives to honor.

  1. Once all the candles have been lit, the entire family should circle the altar. The oldest adult present leads the ritual. Say:

This is the night when the gateway between
our world and the spirit world is thinnest.
Tonight is a night to call out those who came before us.
Tonight we honor our ancestors.
Spirits of our ancestors, we call to you,
and we welcome you to join us for this night.
We know you watch over us always,
protecting us and guiding us,
and tonight we thank you.
We invite you to join us and share our meal.

  1. The oldest family member then serves everyone else a helping of whatever dishes have been prepared, except for the wine or cider. A serving of each food goes on the ancestors’ plate before the other family members recieve it. During the meal, share stories of ancestors who are no longer among the living — this is the time to remember Grandpa’s war stories he told you as a child, tell about when Aunt Millie used salt instead of sugar in the cake, or reminisce about summers spent at the family homestead in the mountains.
  2. When everyone has finished eating, clear away all the dishes, except for the ancestors’ plate. Pour the cider or wine in a cup, and pass it around the circle (it should end at the ancestor’s place). As each person recieves the cup, they recite their genealogy, like so:

I am Susan, daughter of Joyce, the daughter of Malcolm, son of Jonathan…

and so forth. Feel free to add in place names if you like, but be sure to include at least one generation that is deceased. For younger family members, you may wish to have them only recite back to their grandparents, just because otherwise they can get confused.

  1. Go back as many generations as you can, or (in the case of people who have done a lot of genealogy research) as many as you can remember. You may be able to trace your family back to William the Conqueror, but that doesn’t mean you have it memorized. After each person recites their ancestry, they drink from the cider cup and pass it to the next person.
  2. A quick note here — many people are adopted. If you are one them, you are fortunate enough to be able to choose whether you wish to honor your adoptive family, your biological family, or a combination of the two. If you don’t know the names of your birth parents or their ancestry, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Daughter of a family unknown.” It’s entirely up to you. The spirits of your ancestors know who you are, even if you don’t know them yet.
  3. After the cup has made its way around the table, place it in front of the ancestors’ plate. This time, a younger person in the family takes over, saying:

This is the cup of remembrance.
We remember all of you.
You are dead but never forgotten,
and you live on within us.

Take some time to meditate on the value of family, how fortunate we are to be able to know the connections of kin and clan, and the value of heritage. If your family has a tradition of music or folktales, share those as a way to wrap up the ritual. Otherwise, allow the candles to burn out on their own. Leave the plate and cup on the altar overnight.

Tips:

  1. If you didn’t do a separate ritual for animals, you can add photos and candles for deceased pets to your family altar.
  2. If you like, you may wish to follow this ritual with a Seance.

What You Need:

  • Items to represent your family members
  • A meal to eat
  • A cup of cider or wine to drink
  • Candles

A Feast with the Dead – Speaking to the Dead
Although traditionally a seance is a good way to communicate with those who have crossed into the spirit world, it’s also perfectly fine to talk to them at other times. You may find yourself walking into a room and suddenly reminded of someone you’ve lost, or catching a whiff of a familiar scent. For me personally, every February I find myself picking over birthday cards and thinking to myself how funny my grandfather would find this one or that one. I make a point of telling him about them, even though he died in 2002. You don’t need a fancy or formal ritual to speak to the dead. They hear you.

How Do We Know They’re Listening?
In some spiritual paths, one may be viewed as crazy — or at the very least, a little bit daffy — if they speak to the dead. But think of the people you know who have lost a spouse, particularly one they were married to for a long time. Many of them will tell you they talk to their deceased loved one. We can ask them for assistance, for companionship, or just for them to hear our words. Chances are good that if you ask, your life will change significantly.

What Can We Say to Them?
Ask anyone who’s lost a loved one, and there’s a good chance they have something they didn’t get to say. Whether it’s “I love you”, “I forgive you,” or just plain old, “I really miss you,” there’s nearly always something we wanted to say but never got around to. When you talk to the dead, share with them the things in your life that are important. Maybe you need to let Grandma know that you’re finally going to have that baby girl she’d been hoping for. Or perhaps you need to tell Cousin Joe you’re sorry you broke his iPod. Whatever it is, if it’s on your mind say it. Only then will you be able to move on.

An Altar to the Ancestors
In many cultures, ancestor worship is an ancient practice. Although traditionally found more in African and Asian societies, more and more Pagans of European heritage are beginning to embrace this idea. After all, we all want to know where we came from. You can build an altar to honor your ancestors, featuring photos, heirlooms, and even a family tree sheet. Leave it up all year long, or set it out at Samhain. This is a good time to perform a ritual for Honoring the Ancestors.

Why on Samhain?
Why hold a Dumb Supper on Samhain? Well, it’s traditionally known as the night when the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its most fragile. It’s the night when we know for sure the dead will hear us speak, and maybe even speak back. It’s a time of death and resurrection, of new beginnings and fond farewells.

Menus and Table Settings
Your menu choices are up to you, but because it’s Samhain, you may wish to make the traditional Soul Cakes, as well as serving dishes with apples, late fall vegetables, and game if available. Set the table with a black cloth, black plates and cutlery, black napkins. Use candles as your only source of light — black if you can get them. Realistically, not everyone has black dishware sitting around. In many traditions, it’s perfectly acceptable to use a combination of black and white, although black should be the predominant color.

Host/Hostess Duties
When you’re hosting a Dumb Supper, clearly the point is that no one can speak — and that makes a host’s job very tricky. It means you have the responsibility of anticipating each guest’s needs without them communicating verbally. Depending on the size of your table, you may want to make sure each end has its own salt, pepper, butter, etc. Also, watch your guests to see if anyone needs a drink refill, an extra fork to replace the one they just dropped, or more napkins.

The Dumb Supper
In some Pagan and Wiccan traditions, it has become popular to hold a Dumb Supper in honor of the dead. In this case, the word “dumb” refers to being silent. The origins of this tradition have been fairly well debated — some claim it goes back to ancient cultures, others believe it’s a relatively new idea. Regardless, it’s one that’s observed by many people around the world.

When holding a Dumb Supper, there are a few simple guidelines to follow. First of all, make your dining area sacred, either by casting a circle, smudging, or some other method. Turn off phones and televisions, eliminating outside distractions. Secondly, remember that this is a solemn and silent occasion, not a carnival. It’s a time of silence, as the name reminds us. You may wish to leave younger children out of this ceremony. Ask each adult guest to bring a note to the dinner. The note’s contents will be kept private, and should contain what they wish to say to their deceased friends or relatives.

Set a place at the table for each guest, and reserve the head of the table for the place of the Spirits. Although it’s nice to have a place setting for each individual you wish to honor, sometimes it’s just not feasible. Instead, use a tealight candle at the Spirit setting to represent each of the deceased. Shroud the Spirit chair in black or white cloth. No one may speak from the time they enter the dining room. As each guest enters the room, they should take a moment to stop at the Spirit chair and offer a silent prayer to the dead. Once everyone is seated, join hands and take a moment to silently bless the meal. The host or hostess, who should be seated directly across from the Spirit chair, serves the meal to guests in order of age, from the oldest to youngest. No one should eat until all guests — including Spirit — are served.

When everyone has finished eating, each guest should get out the note to the dead that they brought. Go to the head of the table where Spirit sits, and find the candle for your deceased loved one. Focus on the note, and then burn it in the candle’s flame (you may wish to have a plate or small cauldron on hand to catch burning bits of paper) and then return to their seat. When everyone has had their turn, join hands once again and offer a silent prayer to the dead. Everyone leaves the room in silence. Stop at the Spirit chair on your way out the door, and say goodbye one more time.

Samhain Ancestor Meditation – Calling Upon the Ancient Ones
When performing an ancestor meditation, people experience different things. You may find yourself meeting a specific person that you are aware of in your family history — maybe you’ve heard the stories about great-uncle Joe who went out west after the Civil War, and now you have the privilege of chatting with him, or perhaps you’ll meet the grandmother who passed away when you were a child. Some people, however, meet their ancestors as archetypes. In other words, it may not be a specific individual you meet, but rather a symbol — instead of adventurous great-uncle Joe, it may be a non-specific Civil War soldier or frontiersman. Either way, understand that meeting these individuals is a gift. Pay attention to what they say and do — it may be that they’re trying to give you a message.

Setting the Mood
Before you perform this meditation, it’s not a bad idea to spend some time with the tangible, physical aspects of your family. Bring out the old photo albums, read through wild Aunt Tillie’s diary from the Great Depression, get out your grandfather’s old pocket watch that almost sank with the Titanic. These are the material things that connect us to our family. They link us, magically and spiritually. Spend time with them, absorbing their energies and thinking of the things they’ve seen, the places they’ve been.

You can perform this ritual anywhere, but if you can do it outside at night it’s even more powerful. Decorate your altar (or if you’re outside, use a flat stone or tree stump) with the symbols of your ancestors — the photos, journals, war medals, watches, jewelry, etc. No candles are necessary for this meditation, but if you’d like to light one, do so. You may also want to burn some Samhain spirit incense.

Claiming Your Birthright
Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Think about who you are, and what you are made of, and know that everything within you is the sum of all your ancestors. From thousands of years ago, generations of people have come together over the centuries to create the person you are now. Think about your own strengths — and weaknesses — and remember that they came from somewhere. This is a time to honor the ancestors who formed you.

Recite your genealogy — aloud if you like — as far back as you can go. As you say each name, describe the person and their life. An example might go something like this:

I am the daughter of James, who fought in Vietnam
and returned to tell the tale.
James was the son of Eldon and Maggie,
who met on the battlefields of France,
as she nursed him back to health.
Eldon was the son of Alice, who sailed
aboard Titanic and survived.
Alice was the daughter of Patrick and Molly,
who farmed the soil of Ireland, who
raised horses and tatted lace to feed the children…
and so forth.

Go back as far as you like, elaborating in as much detail as you choose. Once you can go back no further, end with “those whose blood runs in me, whose names I do not yet know”. If you happened to meet a certain ancestor, or their archetype, during your meditation, take a moment to thank them for stopping by. Take note of any information they may have given you — even if it doesn’t make sense just now, it may later on when you give it some more thought. Think about all the people you come from, whose genes are part of you. Some were great people — some, not so much, but the point is, they all belong to you. They all have helped shape and create you. Appreciate them for what they were, with no expectations or apologies, and know that they are watching over you.

How To Celebrate the Cycle of Life and Death
Samhain is a time like no other, in that we can watch as the earth literally dies for the season. Leaves fall from the trees, the crops have gone brown, and the land once more becomes a desolate place. However, at Samhain, when we take the time to remember the dead, we can take time to contemplate this endless cycle of life, death, and eventual rebirth.

Here’s How:

  1. For this ritual, you’ll want to decorate your altar with symbols of life and death. You’ll want to have on hand a white candle and a black one, as well as black, red, and white ribbon in equal lengths (one set for each participant). Finally, you’ll need a few sprigs of rosemary.

Perform this rite outside if at all possible. If you normally cast a circle, do so now.

  1. Say:

Samhain is here, and it is a time of transitions.
The winter approaches, and the summer dies.
This is the time of the Dark Mother,
a time of death and of dying.
This is the night of our ancestors
and of the Ancient Ones.

Place the rosemary on the altar. If you are doing this as a group ceremony, pass it around the circle before placing on the altar. Say:

Rosemary is for remembrance,
and tonight we remember those who have
lived and died before us,
those who have crossed through the veil,
those who are no longer with us.
We will remember.

  1. Turn to the north, and say:

The north is a place of cold,
and the earth is silent and dark.
Spirits of the earth, we welcome you,
knowing you will envelope us in death.

Turn to face the east, and say:

The east is a land of new beginnings,
the place where breath begins.
Spirits of air, we call upon you,
knowing you will be with us as we depart life.

  1. Face south, saying:

The south is a land of sunlight and fire,
and your flames guide us through the cycles of life.
Spirits of fire, we welcome you,
knowing you will transform us in death.

Finally, turn to face the west, and say:

The west is a place of underground rivers,
and the sea is a never-ending, rolling tide.
Spirits of water, we welcome you,
knowing you will carry us
through the ebbs and flows of our life.

  1. Light the black candle, saying:

The Wheel of the Year turns once more,
and we cycle into darkness.

Next, light the white candle, and say:

At the end of that darkness comes light.
And when it arrives, we will celebrate once more.

  1. Each person takes a set of ribbons — one white, one black, and one red. Say:

White for life, black for death,
red for rebirth.
We bind these strands together
remembering those we have lost.

Each person should then braid or knot their three ribbons together. As you do so, focus on the memories of those you have lost in your life.

  1. While everyone is braiding or knotting, say:

Please join me in chanting as you work your energy and love into your cords:

As the corn will come from grain,
All that dies will rise again.
As the seeds grow from the earth,
We celebrate life, death and rebirth.

When everyone has finished braiding and chanting, take a moment to meditate on the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Is there someone you know who reminds you of a person you’ve lost? Have you ever looked into a baby’s eyes and seen your late grandfather looking back?

  1. Finally, ask everyone to take their knotted ribbons home with them and place them on their personal altar if they have one. That way, they can be reminded of their loved ones each time they pass by.

Tips:

  1. Rosemary is used in this rite because although it seems to go dormant over the winter, if you keep it in a pot you’ll get new growth in the spring. If there’s another plant you’d rather use, feel free.

What You Need:

  • Ribbon in black, red and white
  • A white candle and a black one
  • Rosemary

Excerpts taken from Patti Wigington via About.com.

Click here to learn more about spiritblogger. Click here to learn about the history of Samhain.

Spirit Message of the Day – A Pagan New Year’s Eve

A WISHING EXERCISE FOR SAMHAIN
The Pagan new year’s eve is Samhain October, 30th, All Hallow’s Eve – the night before Halloween. “Many covens and circles celebrate this most sacred of pagan holidays as
groups or often opening their circles to others who wish to participate; however, I find myself preferring a solitary ritual. For me, much of the meaning of Samhain suggests such a practice, though traditionally it is a communal celebration.

Samhain is pronounced as sow-in (in Ireland), sow-een (in Wales), and sav-en (in Scotland). It marks the end of the harvest, the end of the year, and the death of the god. Self-reflection becomes not simply a custom, but a necessity. One cannot (or at least should not) allow the Wheel of the Year to turn without some kind of examination of what has occurred. How have I spent the last year? Did I grow or remain stagnant? Did I live according to the values I claim to embrace? These are questions which must be addressed in solitude and solemnity.

Just as Samhain ends the old year, it must begin the new, though many witches do not celebrate the New Year until Yule. Reflection should continue during this dark time, but reflection should be accompanied by a growing sense of the changes to be made and the light to be sought. I sometimes make many lists during this time – lists of what I have accomplished and what I still want to accomplish, things  I have neglected and those I have tended, and other similar lists. Samhain symbolizes both the past and the future, illuminated by the cycle of the seasons, forever linked as steps on the journey we must all make.

The Goddess tells us: “And you who seek to know Me, know that your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.” We must look inside ourselves for self-knowledge and for the spirit that will sustain us in life’s trials. Silence is one of the keys to seeking truth, for we cannot hear the answers in the midst of this noisy world in which we walk every day, nor in the noise of holiday celebrations however joyous.

A TIME FOR INTROSPECTION
Samhain is also said to be the time when the veil between the living and the
dead is thinnest, allowing us some communication with those who have departed. How befitting this is for such a time of endings and beginnings. Reflections on death can be as instructive as the self-examinations just mentioned. When we think of those who have died, it reminds us of time passing by and of things we could have or should have done. These reminders, coupled with our lists of past and future actions, encourages us to take our New Year’s resolutions far more seriously. We know our time is limited, and most of us have much to do in our allotted time. Most of us have to make a living somehow, but death reminds us that we had better spend some of that time in pursuit of our other dreams lest they be lost in the struggle merely to survive.

The Samhain rituals I follow change a little from year to year. I don’t like to have a set of mandatory words or actions that might prevent me from exploring new possibilities in meaning. However, I do include the traditional Samhain rituals of sharing a feast (even if I am alone) and some form of divination. Since it is best that you write/say your own words in performing rituals, I will only include an outline here.

Prepare Your House or Room
Use black and orange candles, pumpkins (carved or not) and other traditional “Halloween” items if you wish (most are actually traditional for Samhain).

Prepare a table for the Feast of the Dead. It should be covered with a black tablecloth and set with black dishes (black paper plates will do just fine). Place a chair at the head of the table, draped in black cloth, to represent the spirit. The spirit’s place is set with a plate with a white votive candle on it. Set places for each of the dead that you hope will join you., and place black votive candles on their plates. Plates for the living (in my solitary ritual, just one) are empty, of course, awaiting the feast food to be served.

Food preparation – My feast is usually very simple: bread, fruit, nuts, and juice or wine. If you’ve invited living guests, it is common to make the feast potluck. However, since the actual feast will take place in silence, try not to have too many things that would have to be passed or requested.

A SAMHAIN RITUAL
Light the candles and turn out the lights. Call the quarters (ask
the Guardians of the Watchtowers to witness and protect your circle). Cast a protective circle of white light. Invite the deities. There are certain Goddesses and specific guardian angels that I always invite to my rituals. It seems especially important to invite them on Samhain, as I will want to thank them for their help during the past year, and of course, ask that they continue to help me in the coming year. If the departed loved ones were especially close to any deities, I invite them as well.

FEAST OF THE DEAD
FeaLight the candles on the plates of the dead and the
spirit. The feast should take place in silence so that you can think about your departed friends and relatives. Think of their passing and your hopes for their joyous return. If someone is recently departed, try to put aside your sadness and think of that soul as well and happy in the presence of the Goddess. Speak in silence an invitation to these loved ones, asking them to join in your feast. Use your own words for this. You know these individuals and can speak to them in a way to which they are likely to respond. Sit at your table and eat the food you are offering. Feel the presence of those who have joined you and rejoice in their presence. Allow them to speak to you of whatever they want to communicate. Take as long as you wish at the table, listening to those you have invited and speaking to them in silence. When the feast is over, thank your spirit guests for coming, bid them farewell, extinguish the candles on the plates, and leave the table.

Banishings and Resolutions
Next light one black candle. Now is the time to bring out one of those wish
lists! Before Samhain, write a list of things from the last year that you want to banish: bad habits and addictions, unkind feelings toward others, unkind feelings toward yourself …. anything you do not want to carry over to the New Year. Light a black candle, read your wishes aloud over the candle and next burn the list, asking the Goddess and God to help you get rid of these and all negative things in your life. Speak aloud to the deities about your sincere wish to remove these things from your life.

MAKE A WISH
Now you should speak to the deities about
those things you want to bring into your life and keep in your life in the New Year. Make your wishes known to the universe and release them with faith and trust. Things you most desire can include, wishes, goals, hopes, dreams, and rewards for efforts made and positive actions taken. This is a good time to make your new years resolutions and announce how you will accomplish your goals. The universe will support and help those who are sincere in your efforts to help yourself. Visualize what you most desire, your life, lifestyle, attitude, health, friendships, relationships with others, work, workplace and release the how it will come to pass.

Divination
Because the two worlds are so close at Samhain, it is the
perfect and important time of year for divination. I prefer to use a cauldron of water for scrying, since the cauldron seems to fit the mood of Samhain – in perfect Halloween tradition. You may prefer oracle, tarot cards, a pendulum, or runes….whatever method works best for you. Obviously, the goal of this divination is to become aware of who you are in the present in order to see what lies ahead in the next year.

Meditation
All of my rituals include some form of meditation. This is
when I ask my personal Goddesses to guide me, advise me, and generally keep me on the right path. I also use this time to thank them in a more personal way than by reciting a poem of thanksgiving. At Samhain, I thank them for all their gifts in the last year and ask them to continue helping me in the New Year. Sometimes this part of the ritual takes the form of a shamanic journey in which I am taken to a far away place (sometimes familiar, sometimes not) and where I may be given signs that will help me know what I should do (either in general or in specific situations). Take as long with your meditation as you need.

Thank the Deities
Give thanks to the deities you have invited by
offering them food. I usually say something like: “All things come from the Earth and to the Earth they must return.” Whatever food and drink I offer (usually bread and wine), I eat a little and save the rest to place or pour on the Earth later. Open the circle – Thank and dismiss the Guardians.

A word about invitations to the dead: For my solitary Samhain Feast of the Dead, I invite not only departed humans but also special animals since, when one of my beloved pets has passed awa, his or her passing leaves an empty place in my household and in my life, just as the passing of a person would. I choose to believe that the Goddess takes these creatures and cares for them as She would any human. So, at Samhain, I invite these loving creatures to join in my feast where I can once again feel their presence and their pure love and devotion. In their honor, I also invite either Bast, the Egyptian Cat Goddess, or Diana, Goddess of the hunt and mistress of dogs, both wild and tame.”

Excerpts taken from Branwen’s Solitary Samhain Ritual posted on http://awitchintime.wordpress.com

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Spirit Message of the Day – Samhain Breads & Butters

SPECIAL SAMHAIN RECIPES FOR FALL
 
Apple Sauce Loaf
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. applesauce
1/2 c. nuts

Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Sift together dry ingredients and gradually add to mixture. Stir until well mixed and add applesauce and nuts. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Mix together 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 1 tbsp. water and pour on cake while still warm.

APPLE BREAD
1/2 c. margarine
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. sour milk or orange juice
1 c. chopped cooking apples (no need to peel)
1/3 c. chopped walnuts

In mixer, cream margarine and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, soda and salt. Add to mixture and alternate with liquid. Add apples and walnuts. Turn into greased 9×5 loaf pan. Bake for about 1 hour at 350.

APPLE MUFFINS
2 cups self rising flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chopped dried apple*
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin tins. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and add the egg, milk and oil. Stir the ingredients until they are just blended. Do not overmix. Spoon the batter into greased muffin pans, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. * Dried apples can usually be found in airtight pouches near the raisins in the supermarket.

APPLE SPREAD
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
1/4 c. mayonnaise
dash of sugar
1 c. chopped apple with peel
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Mix together the cream cheese and cheddar cheese until well blended. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Serve with crackers or fresh vegetables.

GOLDEN HERB ROLLS
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1/4 cup water
4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 package quick-rising yeast
2 teaspoons dried savory leaves, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed, crushed
1 cup canned pumpkin
4 eggs, divided
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 20 to 24 muffin cups. Combine milk, butter and water in small saucepan; heat until butter is melted. If necessary, cool to 120º F. to 130º F. Combine 3 cups flour, sugar, yeast, savory, salt, thyme and dill in large mixer bowl. Add milk mixture and pumpkin; beat for 2 minutes. Stir in 3 eggs and remaining flour. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place for 10 minutes or until doubled. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling 1/2 to 3/4 full. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place for 30 to 40 minutes or until doubled. Beat remaining egg and brush on top of rolls; sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until rolls are golden and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans; serve warm or cool on wire rack.

MORNING GLORY MUFFINS
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup raisins
4 large grated carrots (2 cups)
1 apple, shredded
8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift together the sugars, flours, cinnamon, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Add the fruit, carrots, nuts, and stir to combine. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, oil, and vanilla. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir to blend well. Spoon mixture into cupcake tins lined with muffin papers. Fill to brim of each cup. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Toothpick inserted into the middle of muffin will come out clean when muffins are done. Cool muffins in pan for 10 minutes then turn out on rack to cool. Yield is 16 muffins. Muffins improve even more after 24 hours. Freezes well.

PUMPKIN MUFFINS
3/4 cup natural bran
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup mashed or canned cooked pumpkin
2 eggs (unbeaten)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk

In bowl, combine bran, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt and raisins; toss to mix. Add pumpkin, eggs, oil and yogurt; stir just combined. Spoon batter into paper-lined or nonstick muffin tins. Bake in 400 degree F oven for 25 minutes or until firm to the touch. Makes 12 muffins.

PUMPKIN PIE MUFFINS
2 cups flour
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 cup chopped dates (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease twelve muffin cups. In a large bowl, stir together first 9 ingredients. In another bowl, stir together pumpkin, butter, buttermilk, eggs, molasses and vanilla until blended. Make a well in center of dry ingredients; add pumpkin mixture and stir just to combine. Stir in pecans and dates. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups; bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center of one muffin comes out clean. Remove to wire rack. Cool 5 minutes before removing muffins from cups; finish cooling on rack.

Savory Samhaim Butters

AUTUMN BUTTER
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup butter, softened

Mix all ingredients until well blended. Spread onto your favorite muffins, quick bread, sweet crackers, or drop a dollop onto morning pancakes.

CINNAMON BUTTER
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Serve over sweet bread, muffins, or morning waffles. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.

PUMPKIN PIE SPICE BUTTER
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
4 tbsp canned pumpkin puree
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp freshly grated or dried nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Keep tightly covered in the refrigerator up to three weeks. * 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice can be substituted for cloves, ginger and nutmeg.

RASPBERRY BUTTER
1 cup raspberries
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon blackberry liqueur
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

Boil raspberries, water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until syrupy, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Strain through sieve to remove seeds. Cool. Process with remaining ingredients until smooth and well mixed. Can be prepared one day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature and stir before serving.

Excerpts taken from http://www.ecauldron.net/

Spirit Message of the Day – Chop Wood, Carry Water

A FLOWER NAMED NASTURTIUM
“The zingy orange flowers of the Nasturtium reflects an equally vibrant message from its overlighting spirit: that of flexibility. In this ever-changing world, where new difficulties arise constantly, one way of being is to remain flexible and not be resistant to change. It is said, and it is true, that the only constant in our lives is change. As long as we are aware of this fact, we can work to be more willing to change ourselves as life unfolds.”

“The more fixed we are about an idea, the more rigid and inflexible we become. Fixed behavior causes blocks in the flow of energy and it can build up and begin to affect our mental and physical well-being. The more we cling on to a certain way of being, the more tension and fear we create around us.”

“The Nasturtium flower spirit calls you to relax, let go, and see things in a new light. Free up those old thought forms and conditioning you are clinging to and release them into the changing flow of life. This will bring with it more mental and physical flexibility. Watch yourself, observe those fixed ideas you are holding on to and practice surrendering to them, enabling them to melt away. Feel how much more space you have when you do this, bending and flexing like the Nasturtium flower, full of life and vigor.”

Today’s message is from Flower Spirit Cards by Melanie Eclare  


CHOP WOOD, CARRY WATER
“Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” – Swami Sivananda


“Work. What does the word mean to you? Is it something to be avoided? Is it a means to an end? Is it the only appropriate focus of your attention and energy? Is it a way to avoid the rest of your life? Is it a joy? Is it a part of  your spiritual practice?There is a Zen saying, “Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water.” What’s the difference? The tasks are the same. The need is the same. What about the frame of mind? Who is chopping? Who is carrying water?

When you labor, stay awake. Notice the frame of mind you bring to your work. Do you approach your work as if it were a nuisance? Do you remove your consciousness from work so that you are filled with resentment or worry?  What would you need to do to be more fully present in your work?

Practice mindfulness in work. It does little good to attain clarity of mind on your meditation cushion if you lose it as soon as you become active. Start with simple activities like brushing your teeth, ironing clothes, or washing dishes. Be fully alert as you move. Notice the position of your body in space. Notice the feelings in your body as you move. Pay attention to the thoughts that enter your mind when you do the task. See if you can let them go and just focus on the work itself.

If you are cleaning a countertop, feel the sponge in your hand. Feel the wetness. Feel the texture. Observe how the sponge moves in your hand from the sink to the counter. Sense your movements as you scrub. What do your eyes see? What do you hear as you work? Clean that countertop as if it were the most important thing you could do. Move with fluid motions. Waste no energy. Allow yourself the grace of economy of motion. Be grateful for the countertop, the sponge, the water, the soap. Be grateful for the hand, the arm, the whole body that can move a sponge. Be thankful for the floor you stand on and the roof that protects you. Without letting your mind wander too far, be grateful for all the circumstances that put you where you are at that moment with that sponge and that water and that countertop.

We travel to the ocean or to mountains, rivers and canyons, in part to escape the mundane world of work, but also to experience the awe that arises more spontaneously in nature’s magnificence. We give ourselves an incredible gift when we can  experience some of the same awe in the mundane world of our daily lives. The weed that grows in the crack of a sidewalk is a phenomenon as miraculous as the redwood tree that towers into the sky. The raindrops that streak the window are no less an occasion for awe than the spray that dampens our face at the waterfall. The fingers that tap a keyboard are as worthy of praise as the feet of a ballet dancer.

When we open awareness to the tasks in our lives they become lighter. When we are able to be in the moment, we no longer feel compelled to watch the clock. Whatever your work might be, bring all of yourself to it. When you are fully present, you may find that your labor is no longer a burden. Wood is chopped. Water is carried. Life happens.”

Zen Excerpt from Chop Wood, Carry Water

Spirit Message of the Day – A Letter To All Spiritblogger’s Blog Readers

SPIRITBLOGGER’s BLOG ANNOUNCEMENT
Interested in learning more about who I am? As an extension of my free blog, first published in May of 2009, I recently launched a new business called Angel Soul Storms. To learn about my background and available card readings, check out my web site at www.angelsoulstorms.com. Don’t forget to sign up to receive a free copy of my monthly eNewsletter beginning this Fall/Winter.

Why Angel Soul Storms?
It’s my belief that all of our personal storms originate in the soul which we are destined to weather if we focus on living an authentic life full of awareness. These chosen storms often serve as a catalyst so that we can move forward, grow, and expand mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Once we are well grounded, we can better navigate even the stormiest roads of peace. With the soul of an angel, I strive to live each day with purpose, and each moment with positive intention, personal integrity, and aim to touch others lives with compassion and grace. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.”

With a mission to help empower others to remember who they are with unique talents and innate abilities, I am here to help guide people who have interest in learning how to connect with their higher self, and find joy on their chosen path and life journey. I am here to provide common sense guidance for successfully facing life’s challenges head on; as each storm can only help to make our spirit stronger.
I look forward to working with you.
Cheers & Bright Blessings,

– The Spiritblogger
angelsoulstorms@gmail.com