Monday, 31 October 2016

Feast of the Dead

     Samhain is a very special time of the year. There are many festivals around this time and they often include remembering the spirits of the dead.
     In Witchcraft we remember all our friends, whether they are currently incarnate or not and also include those who inhabit alternate realms such as elementals and the Faery folk.
     There is a welcoming chant in some traditions which calls in all these spirits to join our celebrations, and includes the line:
"We call upon those who are yet to be."

     This recognises those spirits who are unborn, for one reason or another, so Samhain is an ideal time to remember those spirits who have not managed to come to birth in this world.
     Many women and families have experienced the loss of an unborn child, whether through miscarriage, termination or through an inability to conceive, or even through a phantom or Fairy pregnancy. Even though we do get on with our lives, we never forget these experiences, and those spirits do not forget us either. So today is an ideal time to welcome them to our festivities.

     Light a white candle, or a pure beeswax one, and place around it three black stones, three haematites or even three glass globs. These stones represent the tears shed for the unborn, so use which seem right to you - three stones found in your garden will be fine.
     Now light some incense, something floral, or a favourite, I would use some of our lovely Om Nag Champa for this.
     Then say:
Sweet spirit who we are yet to see
We remember and honour you.
We ask you to come and be with us, in friendship and love
To share our food and our fireside, and the magic of Samhain.
On this night which is between the worlds,
You are welcome
Blessed Be!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Ghostly Encounters

     Last evening I was sitting at one end of our sofa, with China our rough collie asleep at the other end and Graham in his usual position on the floor, watching TV.
     From upstairs came a very familiar 'thud' sound. The sound of a dog dropping off the spare bed and onto the floor. There was a pause and no further sounds, although having heard the 'thud', I was wondering how long it would take the dog to get downstairs and into the living room.
     Right on cue, the living room door creaked open. I was watching and instinctively leant forward to see the dog as it entered the room.
     Of course, there was nothing to see.
     But here we are, heading swiftly towards Samhain/Halloween, the time when spirits return to visit those they love. Plus it is now three months gone since Maeve died, and I've found that when a loved one dies you often get a brief visit just after death and/or then hear nothing until after three months have passed.
     If you have read my book 'Journeys to the Summerland' you will know that I usually encounter the dead in dreams or astral journeys to their realms, but I have also had experiences in this world too. Immediately after my dad died, I heard his voice comforting me, as any parent would, 'Don't cry, it's alright.'
     And our Yorkshire Terrier, Snag, settled himself in front of the fire and snored.
     Snag was quite an active member of the household for a while, one visitor reporting that when they tried to put their elbow on the sofa arm, they were warned off with a growl - that was Snag's favourite perch.
     I know that many bereaved people long for some sort of contact or message from their loved ones, and they may feel disappointed or bereft when there is no instant connection.
     From personal experience I would say: 'Give it time.'
     As you might imagine, when someone dies, the spirit has a lot of adjustments to make, including getting used to the idea that they are dead, and in many cases coming to terms with the fact that even without a body, life goes on.
     This is a generalisation, but something I have noticed time and again in my own and other people's experiences: it usually takes 3-6 months for the spirit to get through its own acclimatisation, enough for them to decide to pop back and see how their loved ones are faring.
     So coming up to Samhain I am expecting that we will get other visitations from various friends, relatives and pets.
     And I am looking forward to them all.

'Journeys to the Summerland' by Chris Sempers £4.50 plus p&p available from Raven

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Pagan Year Poem

We are currently working on our next mailshot and Newsletter (due out end of Oct) and I am also finishing off the Raven Almanack of Moveable Feasts for 2017.
     One thing I like to do is put a little seasonal poem at the start of each month, but finding something new or different is getting difficult, since I have been doing this for maybe 20 years or so.
     So I thought to myself; 'I haven't seen a Pagan version of this type of poem.' So I decided to have a go and see if I could come up with one.
     And here it is:


In January, dark and drear,
Resolve to have a magic year.
February, time of frost and cold,
Brigit's fest of bright Imbolg.
March with storms and winds so strong,
When day and night are equally long.
When April comes with many showers,
The Goddess' dance brings out the flowers.
May starts with Beltane fires bright,
And lovers in the woods all night.
June's for love and marriage vows,
The Solstice Sun is highest now.
And August is the feast of Lugh,
With corn to cut and beer to brew.
September leaves and nuts turn brown,
When equal night and day are found.
October darkens, magic grows,
Samhain meets, and pumpkin glows.
November ghosts and spirits sees,
The trees are bare and puddles freeze.
December brings the longest night,
Gifts given by Yule candlelight.

C P Sempers October 2016

Sunday, 2 October 2016


It is another lovely autumn day. So nice that Graham and I have been sitting outside our front door in the warm sunlight, and while we were there I suddenly noticed that the Honesty was ready for cutting.
     Honesty is a plant which seeds itself all over the garden, and although it has pretty pink flowers in the spring, it is mainly grown for its magical papery silver seed cases, which gave the plant its country names of Moonwort (because they look like the silvery full moon), Fairy Silver and Prick-Song Wort.
     The seed cases were said to be used by the Fairy folk as
currency, or as a deception, depending on your point of view. It was said that often musicians were asked to play for the fairies, and would be paid with pouches of fairy silver, a dream-like currency which vanished with the sunrise, and all the musician would be left with is a handful of Honesty seed cases.
     Prick-Song Wort is another musical name for the seedcases because they resemble the notes in a musical manuscript. In the Middles Ages musical notation was a little different to now, and music was copied by pricking each note with a pin through several sheets of parchment at the same time, the pin pricks then being encircled, and very much resembling the Honesty seed cases. So the music was called Prick-Song, and the Honesty was therefore Prick-Song Wort.
     Honesty is usually used as an addition to dried flower arrangements, simply because it looks so pretty. I remember when I was a very little girl helping prepare Honesty with Aunty Laura in Withern in Lincolnshire. We would carefully peel off the dried, brown outer cases from each side to reveal the satiny, silver inner leaf, and Aunty Laura would insist on us collecting all of the flat brown seeds, so that she could scatter some in her garden and give others away.
     The Honesty in our garden come from our friend Gran Walker from Alford in Lincolnshire. Many years ago now, she gave us some plants from her garden, she was another Witch and lover of herbs. We still have other plants she gave us including Tree Mallows and Lincolnshire Spinach, also known as Good King Henry. The Honesty seeds she gave us have scattered plants all around the garden and seem to particularly like growing in at least partial shade.
    Magically Honesty can be used in spells to gain money, increase cash flow and give you some spare cash in your pockets. It can also be used in dreaming spells, to banish nightmares and bring sweet dreams. It is, of course, a very special plant to the Fairy people, so it can be used to help communication with nature spirits, and to transport you in your sleep to the realm of Fairyland.