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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Samhain

In the agricultural cycle this was the time when people gave a long hard look at what they had to last them through the cold days of winter. They would slaughter and salt down any animals that they felt either wouldn't make it through the winter or which the couldn't afford to support on the stocks from the harvest. So Samhain was a major feast and often the last time some fresh foods, especially meat, would be eaten until new life started again in the spring.

The themes of this festival are: the end of the old year and start of the new; a time when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest and spirits can roam; a time or remembering those who have gone before by setting a place for them at our feast; a time of looking forward and of scrying.

At this time the Goddess takes on her robes of Crone and the God becomes the Hunter who will lead the Wild Hunt throughout the winter.

As Samhain has become more commercial through its modern counterpart of Halloween, we find newer ideas which also give us themes for the festival: Jack o'Lanterns carved from pumpkins and food prepared to mimic all things ghoulish, ghostly or just plain scary. The old colors of this festival are
dark red, purple and black for the Crone and dark green and black for the Hunter, to which have more recently been added the orange of autumn and of the pumpkin.

Seasonal foods at this time include many kinds of game - pheasant, partridge pigeon, hare, and so on - also seafood such as oysters and scallops.

Seasonal vegetables include the cheap and widely available Brussels sprouts, cabbage, parsnips, peas and winter potatoes. Also, the last autumn harvest should be available, apples and pears in particular. Some feasting suggestions for this season are:

* Potatoes cooked in their skins, either plain or stuffed. I like to scoop the insides out of the cooked potato, mash them and add beaten egg, lightly cooked vegetables, cheese, herbs and spices to make a variety of combinations.

* Sausages. These would have been traditional and as they were intended as a way of preserving meat through the winter would have been full of herbs and spices.

* Barbecue spare ribs served with traditional-style chutneys.

* Everything pumpkin - from pie to soup.

* Baked apples, applesauce, apple pie, etc.

* Fortune Cookies - while not Wiccan in origin, these allow adults an uncomplicated look at the future.

~ From "The Real Witches' Kitchen - Spells, Recipes, Oils, Lotions and Potions from the Witches' Hearth" by Kate West ~

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