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  • Writer's pictureNichol Skaggs

Samhain – Halloween – October 31

Samhain” means “End of Summer”. Its historical origin is The Feast of the Dead in Celtic lands. It is believed that on this night, the veil Between the Worlds is at its thinnest point.

In honoring the Goddesses (Hekate – Greek Goddess of magical crossroads) and (Celtic Crone Goddess Cerridwen – keeper of the cauldron), we honor the darker aspect of ourselves and our life. They are also the keepers of arcane wisdom and herbal lore who are associated with broomsticks (for cleansing thresholds) and cauldrons (for brewing natural medicines).

Gift idea for Poets, Fertility, Growth, Dreaming, Planning, Honoring your Ancestors, Wisdom, Healers, Change and for Letting Go. Print (Canvas/Framed) Shop: Gift Shop:

In this Samhain painting I chose to reflect the aspect of the Goddess Cerridwen as the Crone. The Crone is the Old one, who teaches us wisdom and helps us let go when we need to change and grow. Growing older means losing something as well as gaining something. The Crone teaches us that letting go is a natural part of life.

When we let go, we make space for something new, just as when a person dies, they make room for another person to be born. When we let go of the old year, let it die, we make room for the new year to be born.

The time between Samhain and Winter Solstice (Yule) is the waiting time, like when a babe is in the womb, not yet ready to be born. We don’t yet know what the new year will bring, but we can dream, and imagine, and plan!

We can feel close to the Crone at this time of year by spending some time with an older person. Visit your grandparents, or an elderly neighbor, who can tell you stories about their life.

“Halloween: Samhain is the time that the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is the thinnest. In ancient times it was believed that this is the time that our ancestors would return to visit us, to give help and advice. People set out lights in hollowed-out turnips (or Skulls) to guide the spirits of the dead (the fore-runners of the modern Jack-o-lanterns) and put out food as an offering (which evolved to the modern tradition of “trick-or-treating”).

HERBS of Samhain: Mugwort, Mistletoe berries, Vervain/Verbena, Allspice, Belladonna, Catnip, Deadly Nightshades, Mandrake root, Oak leaves, Sage and Cowslip.Incense of Samhain: Heliotrope, Mint, Nutmeg.SYMBOLS: Black cat, Skulls, Jack o ‘Lantern, Bat, Fairies, Ghost, Scarecrow, Waning Moon, Pumpkins, Pomegranates, Gourds, Indian Corn, Fallen Leaves.CELEBRATE: Masks, costumes – trick-or-treating – feasting and partying to defy the coming darkness (bob for apples, roast nuts, pop popcorn) – harvest feasts – bonfires- rituals to honour the dead – Witches Ball.The most common colors associated with Samhain are Orange and Black. However, Red, Brown, and Golden Yellow are also appropriate colors for this Sabbat.FOOD: Gingerbread, Apples, Mushrooms, Acorns, freshly roasted Nuts, Nut Breads, anything made with Apples or Pumpkin, meat (especially Bacon), Doughnuts, Popcorn, Cakes with lucky tokens in them, and red foods because the ancients held them sacred to the dead.DRINK: Mead, apple cider, mulled cider, mulled wine.Animals associated with Samhain include owls, bats, cats, and dogs.Stones to use during the Samhain Celebration are Obsidian, Onyx, and Carnelian.Mythical beasts associated with Samhain are the following: Phooka, Goblin, Medusa, Beansidhe, Fylgiar, Peryton, Erlkonig, and Harpies. Plants and herbs associated with Samhain are Mugwort, Allspice, Sage, Gourds, Catnip, and Apple Trees.

More about the Goddess Cerridwen.

She is called ‘the White Lady of Inspiration and Death’, Cerridwen’s ritual pursuit of Gwion Bach symbolizes the changing seasons. Her cauldron contains awen, meaning the divine spirit, or poetic or prophetic inspiration. Her link as the Mother of Poetry is seen in Her reborn son Taliesin, and in the Welsh word that makes up part of Her name, cerdd, which also means poetry. Cerridwen signifies inspiration from an unexpected corner. Plans may go awry; projects may change. Do not be too quick to hold a project to its course–instead let it take its shape as it will.

ASSOCIATIONS: Pantheon: Celtic Element: Earth Sphere of Influence: Magic and fertility Preferred Colors: Green Associated Symbol: Cauldron Associated Animal: Owl or Crow Best Day to Work with: Monday Best Moon Phase: New Strongest Around: Imbolc Suitable Offerings: Vervain, acorns Associated Planet: Moon

Cerridwen/Cerridwyn is a Celtic Welsh Goddess. She tends the caldron of wisdom, knowledge and divine inspiration. Her name comes from “ceryd” which is Welsh for chiding love and “gwen” which is Welsh for white and blessed. She is the Mother and a Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess and is often represented as an old hag or witch and called Hag of Creation and the Old One. Cerridwen is a shape shifting Goddess able to shape sift from an old hag to a beautiful girl and various animals. She is a corn goddess and is symbolized often as a sow as well, an animal of abundance and fertility, as the Goddess of Sovereignty. This totem animal also represents the fecundity or the Underworld and the strength of the mother. Cerridwen is one of the faces of the dark Goddess and a goddess of dark prophetic powers.

Cerridwen’s cauldron is one of the many cauldrons of Celtic lore. The Cauldron in Celtic tradition was central to the religious mystery and represented the regeneration in the womb of the Goddess. Her cauldron was called Amen and was the Cauldron of Divine Knowledge, Wisdom, Rebirth, and Inspiration. It’s transforming magic happens through change, experience, and divine inspirations.

Cerridwen lived in the middle of Bala Lake in North Wales underwater with her husband Tegid Foel and her two children. Her two children were born from the womb as twins, a daughter Creirwy and a son Afagddu. Creirwy was a very beautiful fair maiden and Afagddu was a very ugly boy, the shadow/unknown we all fear. Together they represent the light and dark.

For love of her son Cerridwyn set about to brew a magick potion in her cauldron of 6 herbs that would share the secrets of light/knowing and make him a brilliant, wise, inspiring man and a talented bard. The magic potion was to be stirred and boiled For a year and a day (our time of learning).

A year and a day as common in Celtic magic and to be condensed down to three powerful drops containing the wisdom of the world and the rest would be poison. Nine muses tended the fire and a male child stirred the greal (Holy Grail). This could represent the old ways fading away as wisdom for the spiritual awakening of the youth. The first three drops of the potion would impart knowledge of the light while the remaining would be poison.

Helping tend the cauldron of Cerridwen’s magical potion for her son was a young man named Gwion-Bach. He helped stir and keep watch over it. One day when Cerridwen went out to collect more herbs for the brew the potion bubbled up and splashed onto his hand by accident the three drops of wisdom and in pain and he instinctively put his fingers in his mouth. He instantly gained the wisdom and knowledge of the world and could understand all the secrets of the world past and future. This may be inspired by a Celtic divinatory practice of thumb chewing in early Ireland called Imbas Forosnai to gain wisdom and perception.

Furious Gwion had licked the magical drops met for her son Afagddu, Cerridwen began to chase him in rage shape shifting into different animals. Gwion became a rabbit and she became a dog. He became a fish and jumped in the water and she became an otter. He became a bird and she became a big hawk, Finally he became a grain of corn and she became a hen and ate him.

The grain of corn impregnated Cerridwen and she was pregnant for 9 month and 9 moons.

In one ending…. She was so angry she plotted to kill the baby once she gave birth, but the reborn Gwion was too beautiful at birth to kill. Instead she sewed up the newborn in a seal skin bag and threw him into the ocean.

The baby was rescued by Celtic Prince Elphin son of King Gwyddno Garanhir from the water. He was called Taliesin which means “behold radiant forehead”. Taliesen also becomes associated with Merlin the magician in the Arthurian cycle. He became the legendary and greatest Welsh bard and satirist in the land, a counselor of kings, and was perceived as the genuine incarnation of Druidism.

The Welsh belief that for true inspiration to be brought to the world there must be death and rebirth is represented by this story. Cerridwen’s womb like her cauldron has potential to birth all manifestation and is the beginning and end of life.

### In another ending… As the story continues, 9 months later Cerridwyn gives birth to the boy in a new form. A beautiful child of the light and wisdom. Through Cerridewn’s caldron/gift, he was initiated into the mysteries of the Goddess and reborn to share/ teach the wisdom. The 1st son, still one with the boy/his new brother (all male blood flows as one) but angry at the turn of events remained in the shadow. Still of the Goddess and a constant reminder of our hidden selves.

The aspect of Goddess Cerridwyn reminds us , we are all of the Goddess. As women we are born of Her blood, beautiful in her image and blessed with all the magick and wisdom of Her caldron. It is only when we turn away from Her, do our shadows grow and become empowered. Think Goddess™!

Samhain - Cross Quarter Day , Brew, Cauldron, Celtic, Cerridwen, Crone, Fairy, Halloween, Herbs, Moon, Muses, October, Owl, Potion, Samhain, Skulls, Vortex, Wisdom

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