Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Wiccan Sabbat Ritual Recipes — Harvest Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Pumpkins are plentiful in the fall and early winter. And with all the jack-o-lanterns being carved in late October, there is certainly no shortage of pumpkin flesh. In this creative recipe, either canned or homemade pumpkin purée can be used.

This recipe has been created specifically with Wiccans and Pagans in mind. It uses the spices of the season, in addition to the pumpkin that is so common in the fall. It is the perfect addition to either a Autumnal Equinox or Samhain feast.

Making the Crust and Decorations for the Pumpkin Pie

The following ingredients should be gathered close at hand:
  • 2 deep-dish unbaked pie shells; if frozen, they should be thawed; they must be deep-dish, with a 4-cup capacity, or additional shells will be needed
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Roll out one of the pie shells on a well-floured surface, or between two sheets of wax paper. Using a very sharp knife, cut out leaves and a large pumpkin, as shown in the picture. Feel free to get creative. Leaves and pumpkins are not the only designs that are possible. Perhaps ghouls and ghosts, and other symbols of the dead, for Samhain?
  2. Place all these cutouts on a baking sheet and brush with the egg yolk. Bake until browned. They brown fairly quickly, so watch carefully. Once finished, remove the decorations from the baking sheet and cool completely.
  3. Increase the heat of the oven to 400° F. Take the second pie shell and line the crust with foil after placing it in a pie plate. Fill the foil with dried beans to hold the foil in place. Bake for 8 minutes, then remove the beans and foil. Prick the dough in several places with a fork, and bake for 6 minutes longer. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Making the Filling for the Pumpkin Pie

The following ingredients should be gathered close at hand:
  • 16 oz pumpkin purée (homemade or canned)
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour, all-purpose
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Combine pumpkin purée, brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a large bowl, mixing well. Add vanilla, milk, cream, and eggs and blend completely. Pour mixture into the cooled crust. Bake at 400° F until the filling is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
  2. Arrange the decorations on the top of the pie. In the case of the example shown, place the leaves around the edge of the pie, and the pumpkin in the center. The decorations can be pressed into the filling slightly, if necessary, to keep them in place. This pie is excellent when served with whipped cream.
Pumpkin pie is a favorite in the fall of most Wiccans and Pagans, especially around the time of the Autumnal Equinox and Samhain. Though it can be served all year round, in the fall it is especially appropriate, and makes a wonderful addition to the ritual feast table, especially when paired with Harvest Mead and stuffed potatoes.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wiccan Sabbat Rituals — A Ritual for Samhain

Samhain, one of the most important days in the Wiccan calendar, is observed on October 31st. Many of those who practice Wicca celebrate this holiday with a ritual. Wiccan rituals are many and varied, and can and should be adapted to the personal tastes of the participants. It is best to see a written ritual as a suggestion, and not a firm rule. The ritual presented here can easily be adapted for either solitary or group practice.

Many Wiccans enjoy having each step of the ritual reflect the current season. In regards to Samhain, this means adapting each step to reflect a time of year that focuses on the dead and worships the Goddess in her guise as the Wise One.

Cleansing the Ritual Site for Samhain

The space used for the Samhain ritual should be physically clean. In addition, it should be cleansed ritually, so that negative energy can be eliminated. At Samhain, this can be done using a jack-o-lantern with a lit candle. Fire is believed to be as purifying as water, so carry the jack-o-lantern around the ritual site.

At the same time, feel the ritual space become charged with positive energy, expelling the negative. Some Wiccans like to chant, perhaps something like, "As the fire burns and purifies, so does it cleanse this place."

A Samhain Circle Casting

Most Wiccan rites use either the athame or the wand to cast the circle. In the case of this particular Samhain ritual, the athame will be used. It should be decorated before the ritual to reflect the season. Red, orange, and black ribbon will suffice.

The practice of casting a circle is more a visualization than anything. Take the athame and, starting in the east, slowly draw a clockwise circle along the outer edge of the ritual area, visualizing a soft blue light glowing at the edge of the circle. This forms the edge of the ritual space.

If one desires to chant while drawing the circle, the following can be used: "With this blade, sacred space is cut between the Realm of the Dead and the Realm of the Living."

Inviting the Goddess and the God at Samhain

Wicca focuses very strongly on a personal connection to the divine, so it makes sense that the divine, the God and the Goddess, would be called upon during rituals. At Samhain, the presence of the Goddess and the God is mostly ceremonial, though this isn’t always the case.

Invoking the God is done by allowing the presence of the God, in the aspect of the Lord of the Wild Hunt, to flow down from the sky and into oneself. This is sometimes accompanied by a chant, like: "Lord of the Wild Hunt, Master of Samhain, come down to this sacred space, and feel welcome."

Invoking the Goddess is done by allowing the presence of the Goddess, in the aspect of the Wise One, to flow up from the earth and into oneself. This is sometimes accompanied by a chant, such as this: "Wise One, Mistress of Samhain, come down to this sacred space, and feel welcome."

Samhain Ritual Work

There are many options available for those who wish to ritually celebrate Samhain. Some groups and individuals prefer to mark this part of their ritual with a story or reenactment. Others prefer a dance, such as the Ronde of the Dead. Perhaps this is a good time for the selection of a Winter King and Queen – the possibilities are endless.

Regardless of what method is chosen to celebrate Samhain, it is a good idea to share the meaning of Samhain with all participants. It serves as a lesson for those who are unfamiliar with the lore of Samhain, and a reminder for those who are familiar with Wiccan tradition.

The Feast of Samhain

All participants gather at a feast table that has been previously arranged. Each participant prepares a plate to be placed on the ancestral altar. This is the Dumb Supper, a tribute to the dead. All participants may then enjoy the feast.

Closing the Samhain Ritual

Even the most sacred of occasions must come to an end. The closing out of most Wiccan rituals is simply a reverse of what was done in the first place. One may bid farewell to the Goddess and the God simply by allowing Their essence to flow back to where it came. A chant may be used, like: "Wise One and Lord of the Wild Hunt, many thanks for Your presence"

The circle should be ritually closed. This is done with the athame, which is used to draw the energy (the energy that was used to cast the circle) back into the blade and grounding it in the earth. An example of a chant is as follows: "The Circle of Samhain is now open. Go in peace."

This is a very simple ritual for celebrating the Sabbat of Samhain. Rituals should be adapted and personalized to suit the individual or group using it, for Wicca is a religion of individuality.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Wheel of the Year — How to Celebrate Samhain

The season of Samhain, which takes place on October 31st, is a powerful time for many of the Wiccan faith. It can be said that there are as many ways to celebrate this holiday as there are Witches. A Samhain ritual is probably the most common way to mark this significant date, but there are other ways to mark this occasion.

Decorating and Crafting for Samhain

Decorating for Samhain is a fairly simple process. This is the Feast of the Dead, and in ancient times it was the final harvest of the year. Samhain lore speaks of the spirits of the departed returning to be with their loved ones, and this is said to be the time of the year best for communicating with the dead. So, decorations associated with the dead are most appropriate.

Since this day is also Halloween, decorations shouldn’t be difficult to come by. Spirits, ghouls, and ghosts are especially good choices. Black, a favorite color for this time of year, is most often used to decorate altars, temples, and shrines.

Crafts are equally easy to decide upon. Masks and costumes can be made to represent different aspects of the Goddess and the God, or the spirits of the dead. These masks can also be simply painted black, and can be used to decorate a ritual space.

Jack-o-lanterns are a great deal of fun for people of all ages. They can be carved in many different patterns, and when they are finished, they can be used in ritual. For example, one option is for all participants to lift the lanterns above their heads and slowly make their way to the ritual site. In times of old, folk could frighten away both spirits and other people by carrying their lanterns aloft. In those days, these lanterns were made of turnips.

During the ritual, these jack-o-lanterns become Spirits of Nature. In some groups, each participant takes a turn to speak for these Spirits, giving wise counsel to the group. The ritual continues with divination, scrying, and meditation. Then, the lanterns are once again raised to depart the ritual site.

Making Merry at Samhain

Some Wiccan groups enjoy the practice of selecting a Winter Queen and Winter King at Samhain. These two preside over the festivities, and hold a place of honor. Sometimes they are selected at random, other times they might be elected.

Relighting the Samhain fire is still occasionally practiced by some Wiccan covens. The ‘hearthfire’ of the home is extinguished first. This used to be the central fireplace of the home. In modern times, it can be symbolic, perhaps a large candle in the center of the ritual site. Whatever is used, it is relit from the Samhain fire or cauldron.

The reenactment of mystery plays is a wonderful way to celebrate Samhain. Tales such as the Descent of Inanna or the story of Persephone and Hades (not forgetting Persephone’s mother, Demeter) are perfect fits for Samhain.

Many solitary Wiccans enjoy creating an ancestral altar, to honor the spirits of those who have passed before. This altar is ceremonial in nature, and used only for meditation and communing with the spirits of the dead. It is usually decorated with black candles, and with the pictures of the departed.

Mundane Actions to Mark the Sabbat of Samhain

This is a good time of year to pay off debts and settle quarrels, since it is the Witches’ New Year. The idea is that these things not carry into the next cycle. Another common practice to is ensure that one has room in their schedule in the coming year for rest and reflection. For some, this might prove difficult to accomplish.

Writing a will, or updating an old will, seems particularly appropriate at this time of year. Most Wiccans prefer to have a Wiccan funeral or memorial service, and this preference should be put in writing. Samhain is the perfect time to ensure that this has been done.

There are many more activities that can be enjoyed during Samhain. This is a period of rest and reflection, a time to meditate more than usual and indulge in the quieter activities of life. Any activity that's associated with these qualities is a perfect activity for Samhain.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Wheel of the Year — Samhain and Its Lore

Samhain (pronounced SAH-win), also called All Hallows Eve, All Souls, and Halloween, takes place on October 31st and is one of the most important Sabbats in Wicca. It is both the beginning and end of the Witches’ calendar, similar to New Year’s Eve.

The Themes and Practices of Samhain

The Goddess takes on the role of Wise One at Samhain, and so it is a time to practice divination and seek wisdom. The God leads the Wild Hunt to collect the souls of the dead. It is the end of the old year, the beginning of the new, and a time when the veil between the worlds is thin.

Many Wiccans set aside some time after sunset on October 31st. They perform divination using Tarot cards, runes, or whatever tools they prefer. Black candles are lit, which represent the passing year, and give those celebrating this holiday a time to reflect on the last turn of the Wheel of the Year. Thanks is given to the Goddess and the God for the past year.

White candles are lit to represent the year which has yet to unfold. Celebrants are given the opportunity to think about what they hope to achieve. They then ask the Lady and the Lord for blessings in these matters. Often, divination will be used to attempt to see into the possible future of these hopes and dreams.

As a part of the Wheel of the Year, Samhain is the time when the God perishes in Wiccan lore. The Goddess morns Him, but knows that She carries His seed within Her, and that He will soon live again.

Some symbols associated with Samhain include:
  • Scythes
  • Bones
  • Jack-o-lanterns
  • Dark mirrors
The Feast of Samhain

Traditional foods at this time include many types of game, such as pheasant, partridge and hare. Seafood such as oysters and scallops are common also. While these things were wild and therefore inexpensive in the days of old, today they can be somewhat expensive.

Seasonal vegetables are often cheap and widely available, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, parsnips, peas and winter potatoes. Apples and pears are usually fresh as well.

Some feasting suggestions for this holiday are:
  • Potatoes cooked in their jackets, either plain or stuffed.
  • Lightly cooked vegetables, perhaps with cheese or herbs to add variety.
  • Sausages are traditional since they were a way or preserving meat though the winter.
  • Spare ribs, or pork belly strips served with chutneys.
  • Pumpkin soup or a pumpkin pie heavily laced with cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Baked apples.
  • Fortune cookies, while not Wiccan in origin, allow a type of uncomplicated divination.
Feasting With Children at Samhain
Children are notoriously hard to please when it comes do dinners and feasts. However, there are some foods that can be dressed up to help please the younger crowd and still fit in with the Samhain theme. Some of these are:
  • Zucchini cut lengthways with zigzags and painted with tomato purée. These can be roasted and used as monster mouths.
  • Mini pizzas can be decorated to make ghastly faces.
  • Black pasta can sometimes be found at this time of year, and often entertains the children.
Beverages For Samhain
There are many beverages suitable to Samhain that can come right off the shelves. Red wine is great and often used to honor the Goddess and the God. Brandy or sugar can be added for a little more flavor. Harvest Mead, a rich blend of fruit and honey, is another popular drink at this time of year.
For family events, non-alcoholic cocktails are a perfect substitute. Fruit juice and carbonated beverages are also a good idea. Food coloring can be added to entertain the little ones, even if these drinks are milk based. For those who like sweets that are a little ghastly, red dye can be added to milk and ice cream, making a vampire’s blood drink.
Celebrating Samhain
There are many ways to celebrate Samhain. There are celebrations, both religious and secular, that are celebrated around the world on this night; Halloween, Guy Fawkes’ Night and All Hallows’ Eve, are just a few examples. For the most part, they reflect some version of the feast of the dead.
One very contentious subject at this time of the year for some Wiccans is trick-or-treating. For those families that choose to participate in this practice, it can be highly entertaining for the children. A simpler idea for children and the young at heart is bobbing for apples, either in water or on strings suspended in the doorway.
This is also a traditional time for scrying or divination of all kind, and many different forms of divination are used. Some enjoy attempting to see the initial of their future partner by peeling an apple in one piece and throwing the peel over their shoulder to see what shape it lands in. Other prefer to use more traditional tools such as the Tarot.
Many Wiccans and Pagans celebrate this season with a powerful ritual. As Sabbats are celebratory in nature, magick is generally not worked at these rituals.
Dressing For Samhain
Fancy dress is an excellent way to get everyone into the spirit of Samhain. Some Wiccans feel most comfortable in their ritual robes. Costumes are also in keeping with the spirit of Samhain. The particular costumes used do not matter, though ghoulish and ghastly costumes are more traditional. Traditional colors for Samhain include red, orange, and black. These can, of course, be incorporated into dress or celebration.
Samhain is a wonderful time of celebration for Wiccans around the world. It is a time of merriment and feasting, and a time to remember those who have passed from this life and into the next.