Love to Our Ancestors on Samhain : Stepping Out of the Shadows

Alexandrian Ritual

Samhain is a time to honor our ancestors.

Time to lay out a feast and invite them to dine, to share their presence with us while the veil is thin.

So, in respect for those who came before, I have made a small Ancestral Gallery of Witches. Give them a smile, tip your hat, light a candle and say thank you for blazing the trail and holding open the gates of Elfhame.  It took a lot of courage, in those old days, to walk between the worlds. My original plan was to give space to thirteen of our forebears in one blog post, but i realized, not everyone would know them, so I shall make a series of posts with three in each — a good magical number. It is amazing to discover these great teachers and mentors all over again and to remember how they kept magic alive for all of us, sometimes at great personal risk.

The three following Witches carried the movement forward each in their different ways.

Stewart Farrar, the journalist, wrote many books that dispelled the negative perception of Witchcraft and made it approachable, almost acceptable.

Sybil Leek — well she was the first Witch I ever knew of. She was a public personality in the 1960′s in America and her book Sybil Leek’s Love Signs or something to that effect was all over the place. I almost didn’t include due to the cheesiness of my her 1960′s PR, but I have discovered in my research, a very interesting person.

Doreen Valiente was the poetess who increased the deep glamor of the Craft with evocative imagery and emotional power. She did not approve of the attention seekers, yet still found herself in the spotlight.

Charm Against an Egg-boat

You must break the shell to bits, for fear

The witches should make it a boat, my dear:

For over the sea, away from home,

Far by night the witches roam.




Stewart Farrar:   Born: June 28, 1916 / Entered Faery: Feb 7, 2000

Stewart Farrar was an unlikely witch.

Farrar was one of the first British officers to enter Auschwitz, an experience that  greatly influenced his personal and political beliefs. It led him to explore philosophies such as Marxism, and at the time he met Alex and Maxine Sanders, he was an agnostic with only a marginal interest in witchcraft.

Farrar was a natural and prolific writer. Back in England after the war, he began a career as a journalist and also wrote detective fiction. It was when he was sent to cover a screening of The Legend of the Witches that he met Alex and Maxine. Though he wasn’t sure of Wicca, she was fascinated by them. The result was one of the most important books on witchcraft, What Witches Do and Farrar’s initiation into the Sanders’ coven. The term Alexandrian Tradition was coined by Stewart Farrar.

While working magic with the Sanders, Farrar met Janet Owen who was to become hos seventh wife. They came to prominence as Alexandrian Witches writing many important books together. The most well know is A Witches Bible.

Witches are practical people;
philosophy to them is not just an intellectual exercise -
they have to put it into practice in their everyday lives,
and in their working,
if philosophy is to have any meaning.

From: A Witches’ Bible, by Janet and Stewart Farrar, published by Phoenix Publishing (1984).

Sybil Leek:   Born: Feb. 22,1917 / Entered Faery: Nov. 26, 1982

All human beings have magic in them. The secret is to know how to use this magic, and astrology is a vital tool for doing just that…

~ Sybil Leek, 1972.

Sybil Leek had an utterly amazing life. Like a character in a romantic novel, she was born into a wealthy Staffordshire family that was fascinated by the magic and the occult, beginning in the 16th century with her ancestor, Molly Leigh. Her father taught her about nature and the power of herbs, talked to her about deep metaphysical subjects on long walks over the hills.  Her grandmother taught her Astrology, psychic arts, and divination. They entertained great thinkers like H.G.Wells, and even Aleister Crowley who encouraged her to become a poet.

She married a concert pianist  at 16 and was widowed at 18. To recover from her grief, her grandmother sent to her to coven in France to be their High Priestess. When she returned to England she lived in the New Forest, the place that Gerald Gardner claimed to have been schooled in Witchcraft. Bored by the place, she ran off with the Gypsies!

Chased out England, she moved to America where she became a regular on talk shows and wrote sixty books on Witchcraft, Magic and Astrology, as well as stories about her extraordinary life.  While in L.A. she met  Israel Regardie with whom she studied Qabbalah and practiced Golden dawn rituals. She is credited with being the one of the  first environmentalist Witches.



Sybil Leek was an excellent Astologer and this is an amusing quote from one of her many books:

Sometimes astronomers and scientists make dogmatic statements in print that “they have never discovered any truth in the claims of astrology.” What they probably mean is that they have not taken the trouble to study it other than simply reading a three-line version of Sun-sign astrology in their local newspaper. Such dogmatic statements should really open up a whole forum in which the scientist should truthfully answer the question “Have you ever studied astrology?” I can only presume that fear is the basis of all such statements. Why do people become illogical and emotional when they speak of astrology? Are they afraid we may all regress into a primitive state in which their work may not be justified or appreciated? Are they afraid that astrology may be opening doors to new scientific discoveries and new dimensions of reality and may upset their status quo? Of course, anything written in a controversial vein about astrology generally hits the headlines, but it is the idea of controversy, not the validity of an argument, that really makes news…

Doreen Edith Dominy Valiente:

Born: Jan. 4, 1922/ Entered Faery: Sept. 1, 1999

I find this photo above most mysterious. I think its the intensity of her face that does it.

She is the poet of the Craft. Her version of the Charge of the Goddess has come down to us as the primary invocation

to the Queen of Heaven, the Great Goddess in all her forms.

I have posted the Charge of the Goddess here: Wicca: The Charge of the Goddess

You will have to scroll down below the Bluebeard’s Castle stuff to find it.

Doreen Valiente was High Priestess in Gerald Gardner’s  Bricket Wood  coven. While he loved the limelight, she felt the Craft should maintain its age-old  secrecy.  I find it interesting that the Priestesses of two major covens of this period,  Doreen, Maxine Sanders, were very reluctant to go public with their Path, while connected to men who wanted gloried in the attention. Perhaps that is because the history of the Witch Craze suggests that those who ere put to death were predominantly women, or maybe that women enjoy  the  hidden, more subtle, magical  powers  of moonlight.

This wonderful poem by Doreen says it all.

The Witches’ Creed

Hear Now the words of the witches,

The secrets we hid in the night,

When dark was our destiny’s pathway,

That now we bring forth into light.

Mysterious water and fire,

The earth and the wide-ranging air,

By hidden quintessence we know them,

And will and keep silent and dare.

The birth and rebirth of all nature,

The passing of winter and spring,

We share with the life universal,

Rejoice in the magical ring.

Four times in the year the Great Sabbat 

and the witches are seen

At Lammas and Candlemas dancing,

On May Eve and old Hallowe’en.

When day-time and night-time are equal,

When sun is at greatest and least,

The four Lesser Sabbats are summoned,

And Witches gather in feast.

Thirteen silver moons in a year are,

Thirteen is the coven’s array.

Thiteen times at Esbat make merry,

For each golden year and a day.

The power that was passed down the age,

Each time between woman and man,

Each century unto the other,

Ere time and the ages began.

When drawn is the magical circle,

By sword or athame of power,

Its compass between two worlds lies,

In land of the shades for that hour.

This world has no right then to know it,

And world of beyond will tell naught.

The oldest of Gods are invoked there,

The Great Work of magic is wrought.

For the two are mystical pillars,

That stand at the gate of the shrine,

And two are the powers of nature,

The forms and the forces divine.

The dark and the light in succession,

The opposites each unto each,

Shown forth as a God and a Goddess:

Of this our ancestors teach.

By night he’s the wild wind’s rider,

The Horn’d One, the Lord of the Shades.

By day he’s the King of the Woodland,

The dweller in green forest glades.

She is youthful or old as she pleases,

She sails the torn clouds in her barque,

The bright silver lady of midnight,

The crone who weaves spells in the dark.

The master and mistress of magic,

Thet dwell in the deeps of the mind,

Immortal and ever-renewing,

With power to free or to bind.

So drink the good wine to the Old Gods,

And Dance and make love in their praise,

Till Elphame’s fair land shall receive us

In peace at the end of our days.

And Do What You Will be the challenge,

So be it Love that harms none,

For this is the only commandment.

By Magic of old, be it done!

Doreen Valiente

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A Faery Feast for Samhain

You Are Invited to a Faery Feast for Samhain

Two Halloweens ago, I was prompted to do special dinner for my Faery allies.
I had just arrived back in the States after nine years living in England, and was staying with a couple of old friends, Mark and Corby,  who were also very powerful witches. There had been many magical rituals done in that house over the years on a regular basis, so the atmosphere was perfect for me to re-settle with my Faery co-walker and  other friends who had come over the ocean with me.

I will just say that, contrary to tradition, I have never found bodies of water to be a barrier to magical contacts if they are strong.

As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, I had been back in Seattle for about a month when I was seized with the desire to have a feast for the Siddhe on Samhain. What came to me first was the traditional color scheme: black, white, and red.
Then I had a shopping list given to me along with instructions on how I should prepare the feast.

The results were astonishing!

Sharing the Magic!

This year, the Faeries have encouraged me to share this ritual with the community in the hopes that this Samhain we may all participate in a Faery Feast together. They literally PROVED to me that they loved this feast and want more magical people to discover how easy it is to connect with Faery in a real way. This empowers them to bond with us more strongly so that we can help Mother Earth in her struggle with human error.

This year is great because Samhain is on Monday and the Full Moon is on Sunday, November 1st.

A Table for a Feast:

Do this in a mindful way to charge your feast with magical power.

* A table laid with a black cloth
* Red dishes or paper plates for any odd number between 3 and 13.
* Wine goblets for that many
* Forks and red napkins for that many
* Three to nine black candles
* Amber and benzoin incense
* A white cake baked from scratch

(I actually took the day off from work to make this cake. It takes quite a while and you need to concentrate your desires into it as you make it. I got my recipe from Joy of Cooking)

* Candles for the cake
* A bottle of good red wine
* Something with blackberries. I used blackberry brandy.
* Birch Twigs for purification placed decoratively on the table
* A bouquet of red roses. White will work as well if you prefer. It’s a different feel.



Plan to stay up until dawn. A good Hostess or Host does not abandon their guests.

On All Hallows Eve make the cake. You will not eat any of it. It is for them.
Set the table
You will have to anoint the black candles with rose or lily oil, or any oil that associated with Samhain, or transitioning to the Otherworld, better known as Death.

Candle Anointing Technique:

* Pour oil into dominant hand, getting your fingers wet
* Hold tapered candle in the other hand
* Beginning at the bottom of the candle smooth the oil, going in a spiral, along the length to the top. Do this for each candle.

At Midnight:

The order isn’t important. These are just what you need to do:

* Put the cake in the center of the table and light the candles
* Light the black tapers.
* Burn the incense
* Pour wine into each goblet
* Cut the cake and put a slice on each plate
* If you have a bowl of blackberries, put them on the table. If its brandy, put a bowl of brandy o the table.
* Pour a glass of wine for yourself

Read a poem aloud, something by Taliensin, Yeats, or Fiona Macleod is good. A story, a witchy song or chant, play some Celtic music especially tunes by O’Carolan. Choose according to your relationship with the Siddhe.

I like Thomas the Rhymer. You can find the text to that ballad here:

Thomas Rhymer: An Exploration of A Faery Ballad

Now just be with them. Be open, receptive.
My two friends were supposed to keep watch with me, but in the end one of them begged off, so there were two of us. Mark and I sat quietly until about 3AM, when an incredibly lovely, healing energy came down over the table. We both felt it. We basked in this energy until the first light of dawn and then went to bed.

The Flowers of Annwn

The next day, I cleared the table.
There is a tree in the back garden at that house where Mark and Corby left offerings, so I put all the cake under there and poured the wine and the bowl of blackberry brandy.
(You can have any left over wine or brandy for yourself, just not the cake.)

Two weeks later, the most amazing thing happened. Corby had been the first to look outside and whet did he see, but three big, red amanita muscaria mushrooms growing just outside the branches of the tree where I had left my offerings.

“It’s the Flowers of Annwn!” he shouted. “The Lords of the Underworld have answered!”

Here are pictures of all of us with the  mushrooms.

Do you have any idea how awesome that is? I am not a mushroom eater so I still have some dried pieces of it to use talismanically.I would probably take too much a get sick or some

thing. But amanita muscaria’s connection to Faery is legendary. These mushrooms are also sacred to the ancient goddess, Elen of the Ways, the antlered Goddess of the woods.

When I did this spell I was deep into writing  magical fiction and concentrated heavily on receiving artistic inspiration as I made the feast. The five full outlines and three first drafts of some great novels, one novella and full first draft in one month is a testament to the power of this ritual.

Since, as in everything, you get what you give, make this the same feast you would give to your favorite people, because that is what the Faeries can be to you.

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