A Simple Samhain Ceremony with Children

samhain 2Long before the church said it was evil and before Hollywood and candy companies made a fortune, a simple holiday took place on October 31st.  The third and final harvest festival and the eve of the new year called Samhain (pronounced Sow-en).

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The hard work of farming, hunting, and filling the larder was through as the winds changed, the sun went to bed earlier and earlier, and dark settled upon the land.  It was an inevitable time for introspection, remembering those that had passed on throughout the year, and reminiscing around the table with mead and friends.  A million miles from the Celtic homes, the Day of the Dead was being celebrated in Mexico.

There was a time when everyone was attuned to the spiritual energies around us.  It was nothing weird or scary, it just was.  October 31st is when the veil between the worlds is thinnest.  Our deceased loved ones can always hear us but at this time of year, sometimes, they can reach us and they can certainly hear us better.

For children, sugar rushes and the perfect costume steal the holiday.  I wanted Maryjane to know what the real holiday was all about.  I simplified the ceremony so that my four year old granddaughter could understand.  Of course children innately know these things. I had her draw pictures of the people or animals she wanted to talk to.  She wrote adorable letters instead.  One to Anakan the snake, one to Grandma Kat, and one to Grant, her mom’s boyfriend’s brother who died a few years ago in a car accident.

20171023_111031We decorated the alter (the wood stove) with a beautiful nest we had found, a feather, and a butterfly that has passed away on my porch.  Her letters and a bell were really all we needed.

20171023_111026She chose a candle and so did I.  I chose pink for love and she did the same.  We thought of our people that we loved and missed (for me; Nancy, Kat, Great-Grandma, my Uncles…) and lit the candles.  We looked at pictures.  She sat in her little chair and read the letters to them and listened.

20171023_111014By incorporating the original spiritual belief systems and the nature based holidays, children learn connection to all things and great empathy.  Children naturally understand.  Giving them a basis to work with as they get older to celebrate and remember will help them create their own traditions.  It helps children learn to deal with grief and I know Kat, Anikan, and Grant enjoyed hearing that little voice.

Easy Halloween Costumes

The two storage boxes of costumes were given away a few years ago when the children decided they were too old for costumes.  It was filled with everything from my old cheerleading outfit from high school to feather boas, bandanas, cat ears and tail, masks, and tons of odds and ends to pull together great costumes in a pinch every year.  We rarely bought a costume.  Sometimes we just picked up odds and ends to complete a look.

One year the girls wore fancy dresses they had from a wedding.  Shyanne wore a mask over her eyes with feathers on it and lots of beads we brought back from New Orleans and was a “Mardi Gras Girl”.  The same year Emily wore her fancy dress, put a little blood on her face, donned a crown and was “Bloody Mary”.  Andrew wore his regular clothes, added a vest and a bandana and became an instant pirate, eye patch and all.  Or the time we picked up some items from the thrift store and turned Andrew into a little old lady!  He had little grey shoes, an old dress, a grey wig, spectacles, pantyhose, and a walker.  It was hilarious!  They have had some great costumes over the years.  I loved Emily’s chicken costume that she had one year.  White shorts and shirt over red tights, dishwashing gloves as feet, and a long feather boa surrounding her tiny frame made her a great chicken!

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The kids are pretty well grown up now and Doug and I are left to our own devices.  The Harvest Festival on Main street where our shop stood always invites us to don our best attire and at the last minute we don’t disappoint.  One year Doug could not think of a thing to wear so he simply wore his bathrobe and stuck a few of my curlers in his hair.  Laughter met him everywhere, and still to this day that is the costume folks remember him in.

Putting a costume together is easy.  One needn’t spend a fortune purchasing a costume.  It also seems that the costumes geared for women are all a little…ahem…chilly.  Can’t go trick or treating with half your clothes on.

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Long skirts and shawls can be put together and instantly transform you into a pioneer girl with the help of a bonnet, a witch if you should find an inexpensive witch hat, a larger feathered hat makes you old time high society, a bun makes you a school marm.  White face paint makes you dead.  Always an easy costume fix.  You could wear anything, paint your face white and be a dead painter, chef, housewife, witch.

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Doug wore his kilt last year and with the help of Emily’s makeup magic (white paint included) became a dead Celtic gentleman.  I was a dead Celtic woman (who may have been a witch, but there really was no proof) thanks to my own dead looking makeup, long skirts and corset, plus a head band that looked like a witch hat.

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This year we were gypsies.  Doug was wearing his own button down shirt and jeans.  I added the vest that my mother made me.  The other side is of a cow and farm scene; turned inside out it became a gypsy vest.  He wore my sash around his middle and a bandana around his head.  I put a sarong around my head, wore multiple shirts and my high heeled black boots.  Lots of black eyeliner and bling completed the look. We didn’t have to buy a thing.

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There are so many fun items you could put together, even if you are just answering the door for trick-or-treaters!

We’ll be in bed early this Halloween after we go with Emily to take Maryjane trick-or-treating.  We have an early flight Friday so I won’t be wearing a ton of gypsy makeup the night before!  I found a shirt for two dollars that says, “This is Grandma’s Costume”.  I will be a grandma for Halloween!

The Spookables are Coming! (a poem and memory)

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Holidays are filled with memories, photographs, and reasons to smile.  Each year changing slightly.  New traditions being made.  This picture was taken fourteen years ago before taking the cutest kids in the world out trick-or-treating.  This year I have been invited to accompany Emily and Bret while they take the newest cute kid out haunting.  The other picture is this year’s Pumpkin Festival I told you about.  No Andy, as he was on a trip with his friend.  But, Shyanne and Emily, Bret for two years now has graced the pictures, and this year, their lovely daughter, who has added a whole new dimension to holiday fun!  Now, a lovely, festive poem to get you in the spirit!

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The Spookables are coming.

they’re coming to the door,

looking for some candy,

and just a little horror!

In the dark they run around,

their laughter fills the air.

Miniature monsters free,

new identities they wear.

Sweets, smiles, ’tis Halloween night,

oh, what fun to behold!

Jack ‘o lanterns ablaze,

an eve of spooks young and old!