The Contemporary New England Witch

The Contemporary New England Witch
Ms Faith

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Predicting Winter, Halloween and the Celtic Wheel of the Year

 Greetings all,

What a gloomy, absolutely perfectly dismal New England day we started with, only to have it end with bright blue skies and fluffy white clouds!  We only needed some wood smoke drifting in the air, to practically transport us back in time a century or two.  I  have been looking for signs of the upcoming winter season and trying to divine whether it will be mild or severe.  Unfortunately, signs I'm seeing all point towards a more intense winter than we've had in a while.   Two unfortunate raccoons we're lying dead in the road on  my way to work this morning.  It's never fun seeing that, and it makes me a little sad, but what caught my attention as I drove by, was the size of both.  They were huge, bigger than any I've seen lately.  Wild animals that live in the natural world around us,  eat more as winter approaches and the their size has historically and in folklore been used to predict the weather.

I have noticed something this year regarding our weather.  It's been almost perfect for New England. We've had hot when its supposed to be hot, rainy when it's supposed to be rainy, now turning cool and colder right on schedule. No crazy heat waves off season, or months of rain throughout summer, just perfectly behaved weather.   Having lived in New England my entire life, I assure you, when New England weather starts to behave itself, I get a little worried!

Now, I'm not saying things have been good so let's see what bad befalls. I don't believe that line of nonsense. But I do have a sense that we will be having a good old fashioned winter, with plenty of snow, often, and a solid winter season right through until spring.  I'm not passing judgment, some of you will love this prediction, some will not.  I myself prefer mild winters with little snow, combined with a late start and early finish.  So I heartily hope I'm wrong.

I've been looking up lately, waiting for the first sign of the Canada geese flying south as if one needs the reminder the summer has passed and winter is on its way.  Yet, somehow its a sign, a symbol of where we are on the wheel of the year.  In the column on this discussion's right, I've put a wheel of the year, a yearly calendar  followed by ancient the Celts,  thousands of years ago.  

Samhain pronounced (sow-wen) is what the ancient Celts called our Halloween.  Samhain is traditionally November 1st.  The night before Samhain eve, known in much of the modern world, as Halloween.  It is our New Year's Day, the first day of the pagan year.  The ancient Celt's priesthood, the Druid's, were astronomers, scientists as well as men and women of religion. The druid's were  likely the most educated group of the Celtic peoples.  They divided the year into eight Sabbats.  Holy days surrounding the planting, growing and harvesting aspect of the calendar.

This was an ancient pagan holiday that evidence exists it has been recognized for almost 5,000 years. In the early15th century the church outlawed Samhain and in its stead placed All Hallow's eve on October 31st, a day of fasting, prayer and penance, for revering the hallowed, the sanctified, the holiest.  The next day November first became All Saint's Day, to honor, as it suggests, all of the Saints and the next day November 2nd, became All Soul's day, to remember everyone else.  Three days to remember those who had passed on but by design and permission of the church.  

Today Samhain (Halloween) November 1st, is our day of the dead. A day to honor the ancestors who without we wouldn't be here. Samhain is a old Celtic word for November. A day of remembrance of our loved ones, friends and family members who are no longer with us to be remembered. It is customary to place a plate, filled with good food, at a place at the table, with an empty chair for the spirits of those departed to  partake of the loving energies and festivities.

In Italian culture there is a fava bean soup that is made and placed on the table of the ancestors, perhaps with photos and mementos of past loved ones.  The soup, delicious, hot, steaming only to be enjoyed by those in spirit form. 

So many cultures have a day reserved for the loved ones who have passed on.  Halloween is a day that many Wiccans, witches and magickal people use to honor our loved ones, the ancestors. It is believed the 'veil between the worlds' is thinnest and communication by oracle or divination is more easily achievable on this day, October 31st/November 1st. Yes, both days are good for divination, oracle boards, runes and the like. 

The other holy days of the wheel of the year in order after Samhain are:

Yule ( Winter Solstice) December 20-24
Imbolc  February 1
Ostara  (Vernal/spring equinox) March 20-24
Beltane May 1
Litha (Summer Solstice) June 20-24
Lughnasa  August 1
Mabon (Fall/Autumnal Equinox) September 20-24
Samhain Novwmber 1

We can talk about the other Sabbats as they come to pass.  I'll touch on more fun, interesting and curious facts about Halloween over the next couple of weeks.  For instance it was on Halloween October 31st in 1517 when a priest, Martin Luther,  posted a document onto the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This document contained 95 heretical concepts that would start the Protestant Reformation.

Tomorrow we'll discuss crystals, gems and minerals:   The magick of stones

There is debate whether they celebrated all of the eight holy days, but the past will always foster debate amongst experts.  What I describe to you is a general understanding and accepted beliefs from the archaeological record  of a culture, hidden and mysterious that dates back almost 5,000 years.

© 2010 Enchantments, LLC Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see

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1 comment:

  1. Interesting about the size of the animals predicting the weather to come -- makes perfect sense! And today we saw geese flying South...(in the Pacific Northwest)...