As the season begins to change, and the year's outer growth cycle comes to an end, the autumn reveals many new possibilities. The festival of Samhain, at the end of October, marks the end of the old year's cycle and the beginning of the Celtic New Year. Traditionally it is a time to honour our interconnected world, especially the unseen world of spirit; to welcome a time of rest and renewal; and to remember those who have died.
* Samhain is a time to give thanks for the year that is now finishing. Name all the good things as well as the challenges, and look for the hidden blessings that may be found within them. Nurturing new directions brings hope and purpose to your winter months.
* Gather with friends and family for a Samhain celebration. Ask everyone to bring food and drinks to share, and a special stone. Each holds their stone as they contemplate and reviews the year that has ended. Each speaks from the heart and takes a wide overview as well as a personal perspective. Each names a new hope or new direction that has been revealed and embeds it in the stone, which can be decorated.
* A samhain tradition is to make a representation of the old year, using willow whips, ivy or old man's beard as a base, and weaving in plants and natural things from the old year, such as herbs, sprays of berries, dried grasses, the last flowers. Alternatively invite everyone to make a Samhain head-dress using similar materials, or to pick a seasonal posy, to honour the passing year.
* As the trees shed their leaves and bring their energy into their roots, ask yourself what do you wish to let go of from the old year? Let them go with thanks and appreciation of the lessons learnt. This makes space in your life for new things to begin. Ask yourself what will strengthen the roots of your being, and help you to grow strong on the inside? Write about this in your journal.
The Elder was once known as the country medicine chest because of its many medicinal uses. Our family would not be without Elderberry syrup, a highly effective boost to the immune system, that will clear chesty coughs and sore throats and when taken at the first sign of a cold can prevent it from happening altogether!
Gather bunches of ripe Elder berries and strip them into a large pan with your fingers. Add cinnamon stick, chopped lemon, a few star anise, cloves, some slices of ginger... Be intuitive with these! Stir it up and stand overnight.
The next day on a low heat, bring to the boil, letting the juices flow. When cool strain through muslin or a clean cotton pillowcase, squeezing all the juices out. Then measure the liquid. You need the same amount of clear honey to liquid.
Return to a clean pan. Heat gently and when hot but not boiling, stir in the honey. When it has completely dissolved, pour into sterilised dark bottles. Tighten the lids while hot. Label and date. Once opened it needs to be kept in the fridge.
The dose is a teaspoonful for adults or half a teaspoonful for children, three times a day NB: DO NOT GIVE TO CHILDREN UNDER 3.
Elder trees are easy to grow. Cut some lengths of twig and push into the ground or into a pot of compost. They will take root in the winter months and sprout in the spring. Next winter find somewhere to plant them out, ensuring your future supply of Elder flowers and Elder berries!
Glennie Kindred 2015
For lots more ideas about celebrating the Earth Festivals:
The Earth Pathways Diary can be ordered from www.earthpathwaysdiary.co.uk
Also my newly revised Sacred Earth Celebrations from www.glenniekindred.co.uk