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October 20, 2020
The first of October Raven and Crone opens the shop altar to the community. We invite you to take a card and place the names of your dead on the altar and to hold a space for our collective grief. At noon on October 31st you gather with us in front of the shop, and as a community we remember and honor our beloved dead and all those who have crossed over since last Samhain. We say their names aloud and place them in the cauldron fire, to honor the sacred cycle of life, death, rebirth, and regeneration.We feel their love and to tell their stories. This year, to keep our community safe, we will not gather at the shop. We chose to share the ritual with our community through this newsletter. We hope to see you in person next year.
What is remembered lives..
We are part of the Earth and StarsAnd we shall return to themWe are part of the Sky and WaterAnd we shall return to themWe are part of the fire and stormAnd we shall return to them
Samhain Ancestor Prayer
This is the time when the gateway between our world and the spirit world is the thinnest.This is the time to call out those who came before.This is the time I honor my ancestors, spirits of my father and mothers, I call to you,And welcome you to join me for this time.You watch over me always, protecting and guiding me and I thank you.Your blood runs in my veins, your spirit is in my heart, your memories are in my soul.With the gift of remembrance, I will remember all of you.You are dead but not forgotten and you live on within me and within those yet to come.Credit Patti Wittington
Prayer to the Deities of Death
The harvest has ended, and the fields are bare.The earth has grown cold, and the land is empty.The gods of death are lingering over us,Keeping a watchful eye upon the living.They wait, patiently, for eternity is theirs.Hail to you Anubis! O jackal headed one,Guardian of the realm of the dead.When my time comes, I hope you may deem me worthy.Hail to you Demeter! O Mother of darkness,May your grief be abatedWhen your daughter returns once more.Hail to you Hecate! O keeper of the gate,Between this world and the underworld.I ask that when I cross over, you may guide me with wisdom.Hail to you Freya! O Mistress of Fólkvangr Guardian of those who fall in battle.Keep the souls of my ancestors with you.Hail to you, O gods and goddesses,Those of you who guard the underworldAnd guide the dead on their final journey.At this time of cold and dark,I honor you, and ask that you watch over me,And protect me when the day arrives that I take my final journey.Credit Patti Wittington
Calling of the Names and Placing into the Cauldron.“It would not be possible to talk of the ancestors without spending a moment on the forgotten dead. Millions of people have died that no one remembers. Millions. There are more forgotten dead than remembered dead. Giving a nod to those that have been forgotten feeds the deep ancestral well that we are all connected to. There are also the forgotten dead of the Craft. The Witches, teachers, midwives, herbalists, wortcunners, root doctors, and priestesses that hid their practices in the dark. Those Witches that were brave enough to teach what they knew to at least one other person. There are those Mighty Dead that did the work of lineage building and torch bearing when no one knew what they were doing. It is to these forgotten dead that we owe more than we can ever fully comprehend. It is to these dead that we owe gratitude and love, those whose names are gone and whose lineages have been lost to the sands of time. We mourn them in order to avoid losing any more.”Excerpt: What is Remembered Lives~Phoenix LafaeChant
The leaves are leaving the branch cold is the dayWinter is coming…Fly Fly FlyThe leaves are leaving the branch cold are the daysWinter is coming
Credit Beth PhippsClosing:Walking. I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say.Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.Linda Hogan
We stand on the threshold to the dark time of the year, and a large part of October and Samhain for many Witches, Pagans, and Pagan-adjacent paths of practice are focused on remembrance and the veneration of ancestors.
Rosemary is one of the herbs and scents that have been documented as being used for funerary purposes and as offerings to deities for thousands of years. Even Shakespeare paid tribute to the power of Rosemary in Hamlet, with the line, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.”
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a native of the Mediterranean. It’s Latin name translates to sea (marinus) dew (ros) and is likely it was named as such because it often grows near the coast in that region of the world. As an herb, remnants of it have been found in tombs of the First Dynasty in Egypt (roughly 3100 B.C.E.), was considered a sacred plant by the Greeks and Romans.
While it is often referenced as an offering when it comes to love and death, Rosemary is also often used for protection—both physically and psychically. Medical and clinical research supports its use to stimulate the central nervous system, and its positive effect on assisting in concentration and focus.
Rosemary has many therapeutic uses and it is categorized, in part, as being: analgesic, antidepressant, astringent, cephalic, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, hypertensive, stimulant, and tonic. It has become a favorite element of many skincare products—everything from dandruff shampoo to clarifying facial soaps to even over-the counter formulas for preventing hair loss. Rosemary can also be used in topical balms and ointments to help ease muscle stiffness and even provide some relief with arthritis or other joint and muscle issues. Be mindful that it can function as a stimulant and hypertensive, so it should be used cautiously or not at all by anyone who has elevated or high blood pressure.
This year’s flu season coupled with the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 spawned pandemic of COVID-19 has the potential to have a larger impact, especially when it comes to respiratory infections. The use of Rosemary in a diffuser can help reduce or clear mucous secretions, especially for those who suffer from seasonal allergies. Used as a tonic, it can help to strengthen the heart, particularly in persons who have low blood pressure and circulation issues.
In the season of Samhain, using Rosemary either as an essential oil, burnt offering, or simply as a touchstone on an altar to help honour the memories of our beloved dead are wholly appropriate. The scent of Rosemary can be used to help one focus on unlocking past memories or to clear away mental cobwebs before beginning any magical working. Its use can also be valuable prior to and while performing any divinatory practices to remove and protect against negative or unwanted influences. Rosemary can be a wonderful ally and addition to the season opening before us.*Please note that no matter how safe and natural you believe essential oils to be, you should never use them straight or “neat” directly on the skin. There are a few exceptions, but even those should only be used that way under the advice of a certified or registered aromatherapist. Young children, the elderly, anyone with a comprised immune system, and those who are pregnant may require a formula that is much reduced in active ingredients.
*Essential oils of any variety should always be cautiously used around pets, and never used on cats or in any way that would allow them to ingest it—like breathing in vaporized spray or licking it off of their fur.
Houseplants for Witches ~ Liz Widdershins
Most witches have a working knowledge of at least a handful of plants they use in their craft. Many of us even have a garden full of perennials and herbs that we use. But what about houseplants?
People have kept houseplants for millennia, from the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians to the Victorians and their elaborate terrariums. So why not use them in our Craft?
Here are a few common houseplants and their possible uses in magic. Some associations are historical in origin, while some come from the author’s gnosis.Moth Orchid, Phalaenopis spp.
Moth orchids, with their large pale blooms, are aligned with the Moon and the planet Venus. They are found throughout the world, and are often associated with love, beauty, and luxury. The common name Moth also ties them to the insects and their noir mystique.
Spider Plant, Chlorophytum comosum
Known for producing prolific “babies,” spider plants can thrive in a wide range of conditions and have been shown to provide air-purifying properties. Because of these traits, I see spider plants as providing abundance, especially in creative and artistic pursuits. They also bring resilience and strength to those who care for them.
Fiddle-Leaf Fig, Ficus lyrata.
With its large leaves and high price point, this plant is associated with luxury and wealth. If you keep this plant thriving with offerings of bright light and the right amount of water, it will invite prosperityand success into your life. Try tying ribbons of green and gold, or tie petitions for money and wealth onto its branches like the wishing trees of the UK and Japan.
Snake Plant, Dracaena trifasciata.
Native to tropical regions of West Africa, this plant is sacred to Orishas Oya and Ogun. It is also known to ward off the evil eye. This plant’s energy is strongly protective. It is easy to grow, requiring very little water and not much light. Grow this plant in your home to embrace its protective energy.
Arrowhead Vine, Syngonium podophyllum.
Named for its leaves, the shape of which resembles an archer’s arrow, this plant suggests Sagittarian energies. While most houseplants remain small, they can attain great size when growing in their native range. This plant is aligned with Jupiter and will bring success and good luck to its keeper.
Friendship Plant, Pilea peperomioides.
This plant’s name derives from its ability to propagate readily. Given proper care, it will grow and divide faster than you can find homes for it. Use this plant to foster and promote friendship, especially when combined with rose quartz. If given with intention, this plant can help a budding friendship blossom and grow. If kept in the home, it will invite friendship and fun times. Try putting a few leaves in a pair of bottles or charm bags, one for you and one for a friend.
Dumbcane, Dieffenbachi spp.
This plant is sturdy, thriving in a wide range of conditions. It evokes strength and resilience, and can bounce back from significant damage. Its presence may be soothing to people who are healing from physical or emotional trauma, or to those who are emotionally vulnerable.
Pitcher Plant, Nepenthes spp.
These carnivorous plants lure unsuspecting bugs into their pitcher-like traps, where they are digested by chemicals produced by the plant. These plants represent secrecy, invisibility, and stealth. Use them to magically guard secrets by whispering your intentions to them. Keep them in your home to enhance personal mystery.
Shamrock, Oxalis spp.
Folklore abounds surrounding shamrocks and clovers and their ability to bring good luck. Although botanically different from clovers (Trifolium spp.), shamrocks (Oxalis spp.) are known for their associations with good luck, abundance, and serendipity. Because of these traits, this genus is easily associated with Jupiter and Mercury. Several species are easily available as houseplants, including Oxalis triangularis, the large purple shamrocks, and Oxalis ‘plum crazy,’ a variegated hybrid. With proper care, these plants will flourish, and so will your luck.
***DISCLAIMER***. Some of these plants are toxic or poisonous. Never ingest any of these plants. Wash your hands after handling. If you have pets or small children, please consult a garden center for suitable plants.
Divination for October – a one card draw and interpretation
Deck: The Halloween Tarot by Karin Lee, art by Kipling West, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Card: King of Imps (Wands)The underlying energy of the month this year is liable to be flavored with compassion, honesty, and genuine helpfulness. There is also the potential for displays that reflect the power and beauty of the season, be it in art, action, or another form of expression.October is generally a busy month for most magical practitioners, and while in-person events are likely to be severely limited or completely non-existent, there may still be an inclination to overextend. It would be wise to contemplate any choices in the offering, and avoid making hasty or impulsive decisions.
~A Note~ Supply chains and availability
At the beginning of the pandemic in March many noticed a variety of items and products were either in very short supply or simply unobtainable. Anyone looking to purchase basic cleaning supplies, disinfectant, toilet paper, or even various food items soon noticed a scarcity on the shelves of stores.
After a few months production began to catch up and soon there was good availability again for most products, especially basic essentials like toilet paper and meat products. Though items like disinfectant wipes are still hard to come by and many suppliers are uncertain about when they will be readily and reliably available again.
We often take for granted the abundance of supplies that are just a trip to a retailer or a mouse click away. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a devastating light on how fragile many of our supply chains really are. Most consumers would not have given a second thought to the reliability of fresh meat being available at the grocery if asked about it in December or January. But as the pandemic spread to meat processing and other plants across the country, everyone was given a harsh lesson in not just supply and demand, but also the production process.
Unfortunately, these shortages do not just apply to essentials like food and paper products which are admittedly the most concerning. Many of the products that magical practitioners use regularly like herbs, incenses, and oils are already becoming increasingly difficult to get.
Many of the products that are produced in countries like China and India, which have been and continue toimpacted by the pandemic, have seen their production levels either drastically reduced or stopped all together.
Whether we are talking about raw materials or a finished product, like brass incense burners or bells, as stock in U.S. warehouses becomes depleted new shipments are delayed or products are simply not available.
A lot of printing, which affects not just books but also tarot cards, is done in China, with Italy also produces a significant amount when it comes to tarot decks. There has been considerable fluctuation is the availability of tarot decks. Unavailable one week, and then returned to stock the next only to be out-of-stock again with no date of next availability being given.
Within the U.S. many businesses have been impacted by closures due to the pandemic, some may never reopen.
An additional problem is the numerous fires in the Western half of the U.S. The fires are having a terrible impact on the lives of those in affected areas, and of course the environment. They are also affecting a number of products, like herb bundles used for ritual and brooms.
While Asheville Raven & Crone is focused on providing as many local products as possible, we also try to offer products that are sustainable and ethically harvested. The decision to discontinue carrying white sage was made due to the lack of a reliable and ethically source for it. The fires out west over the past decade have also negatively impacted the amount of white sage growing.
All of this is a long way to say, we are liable to be out of some products and some may never make a return to shelves. We will continue to provide viable alternatives wherever we can, and offer suggestions on when other items may be available.
Ancestor veneration is a part of most cultures but many of us in the West are only now being reintroduced to the notion. Here are some simple ways to ease into a venerative practice that happens in all the seasons of the year—not just at Samhain.
Regardless of your spiritual tradition, there is much comfort to be had in considering the lives of the family members who have gone before us. Are you the family genealogist? Many families have a person who seems to relish the responsibility of tracking the bloodlines of the various branches of a family tree. These “stealth Ancestor worshippers” are a treasure-trove of information as we consider honoring our Ancestors.
Creating a family shrine somewhere in the house is helpful in reminding us that we’re starting a new practice. The shrine doesn’t need to be elaborate or large—a shelf with some photos andmementos will do in a pinch—and you may find yourself expanding it as your practice expands.
Great-grandmother’s doily, a family photo from three generations back, father’s spectacles—when you put your mind to it, you may find all sorts of little jewels that you’d almost forgotten you “inherited.” And if you have nothing at all from any family members, a pretty cloth, a vase with some flowers and a candle will also afford a welcome to your spirit-family.
The next step is to offer refreshment and hospitality. A bone china teacup with coffee and a couple of cookies is a good place to start. Put them on the shrine and leave them for a day or two, then dispose of them. Our spirit-kin don’t need much time to “drink” their coffee and a moldy cup of cold coffee is not very hospitable, is it?
Ancestor communication may come in your dreams or in little signs, like coins or specific birds.
Keep an eye open for things out of place that remind you of a deceased loved one. It can be a shiny penny on a table or a smell that has associations with those who have gone before.
Ancestor veneration is a satisfying and beautiful addition to a spiritual practice. Start simply and try to maintain it throughout the year, with your mother’s favorite flower on her birthday, or a slice of your grand-father’s favorite cake on the anniversary of his death. Then when Samhain comes, you can go big as you want and welcome your beloved people to your hearth.~Byron Ballard
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