Thursday, October 31, 2013

Samhain song




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The word Samhain means "the end of summer", there is change in the air, the wheel  of the year, the wheel of our lives,  turns from the season of abundance and life, to the season of cold and stillness.   Samhain was a grand celebration, I would like to describe it as all the hopes dreams and fears  of life; of thanksgiving, and petiton, just about everything rolled into one.





 The ancestors are close, the space between worlds is easier to cross not only for the ancestors who had messages or words of advices, but for the "sidhe", the fairy fold who might have other things on their minds.   It was also possible for living to cross into their world.  Places are still set at the table for those who had died recently,  they were also memorialised at the bonfire.   In more recent times turnips were carved into lanterns to frighten away mischievous or fairyfolk and to guide the way for the ones with good intentions.  Pooka, a dark, usually black stallion with glowing red eyes, wandered the land foretelling future events.   Costumes were worn to fool anything with wicked intent, especially avenging ancestors.  A costume could be a disguise or it could be an expression of what one hoped would happen in the coming year, dressing as a wealthy person in hopes of attracting wealth.




In this night, this ancient night , all of the hearthfires and other fire were extinguished,  a bonfire was then lit.  The word bonfire is believed  to  to be derived from bone  fire, because it was believed that animal bones were burnt in this fire.  Objects, or offerings were also  thrown into the fire, perhaps with the making of a wish.   And the hearthfires were rekindled from the bonfire.   The ashes of the bonfire were spread across the fields.   Simply and so very elegantly honoring the bounty of summer, while rendering the bones, which might attract  scavengers,  into ashes and spreading the fields with  those ashes, thus uniting with and honoring the new and the old.


What has just past was warm and safe, what lies ahead is unknown, is dark, filled with dangers real and imagined.   The days grow shorter and colder, and the stillness deeper.   The wheel turns. Our lives turn. The heavens spiral and the light returns.
Great Joy in the New!





v




Dear Great Pumpkin




Dear Great Pumpkin

I am looking forward to your arrival on Halloween night!  It's not so much the candy and the presents, and not so much all the work I put into my pumpkin patch that makes me look forward to your arrival.  The thing I love the very best about Halloween is that is fun.

It's the world turned upside down, shaken until the kid in all of us bursts forth and laughs at all of our most primal fears.  Openly begs door to door and disguises oneself, only to have others guess ones identity.   Where  evil beings and monstrous creations are figures of fun and even death itself can be mocked.  

A night when the ancient magic and wisdom drifts on the breeze and  whispers in our ear.


Happy Halloween


 






Monday, October 28, 2013

a lesson for ............



A Sparkling but chilly Saturday afternoon, I got all dressed up in my Halloween finery, and walked into town with the big kids. We were going to see 36 cartoons at the movie theatre, there is a grocery store's parking lot there now.  It cost 15 cents to get in, but it was free if you were in costume, and afterward prizes were handed out.  The greenfaced witch was the desirable mask, but they ran out and I got a leopard.  Kept that cheap plastic mask until it was nothing but plastic chips,  often wondered why everyone one wanted the green faced witch, I certainly did not.

The green faced witch is an image, an icon that has never sat well with me, I always felt it was a disparaging, mocking commentary, sort of like "little green men" , reptiles are green not humans, and from a very young age I knew witches were people, and nothing like the storybook or Hollywood creations.    They were like an older spinster that lived on our street, everyone called her a witch, she was always sweeping her steps and sidewalk, she had a huge black car, yes car not cat; and usually wore either black or purple clothes, that didn't fit very well and smelled of mothballs.   She was nice to me, she once rescued me after I slid down a steep embankment and got caught in an old wire fence, no easy task for a tiny woman of advanced years.  She took me to her house and put band aids on my cuts, then took me home.  


Upon seeing this  moving video and reading the poem I began to wonder what  history could tell me, though green was a color the ancient Celts associated with fairys, a fairy is not a witch.  Then what about the association with the Green Man,  often the green man was not  depicted as being green. Though I have found old, postmortem illustrations of witches with black, blue or even purplish faces, I have not found any with greenish faces.  



In the book The Wizard of Oz  the ruby slippers are silver, and the wicked witch is not green skinned.    However the green faced  witch  image is generally  attributed to Margaret Hamilton's  wicked witch character in the movie version.    The archive of Halloween postcards decor and other items,  amassed by C.J. Russel and the Halloween Queen,  editors and authors of "The Trick or Treat Trader"  no green skinned witches  appear before the 1930's,  orangeish, red and grey skinned ones do appear occasionally.   

Surely the sight of those women, who had been beaten and tortured until they were disfigured and broken, not only broken in body, but in spirit, must have been frightening.  How could these creatures have once been their neighbor, relative , friend,  the  midwife who attended the birth of their children.  Was it that it was safer for the townsfolk to convince themselves that mangled women really looked like that?  Might these same people have been in fear that they would be next?   I wonder where the images come from, the green faced witch, the ancient  witch with the huge nose, pointy chin and warts,  the ragged witch who flys across the full moon, these exaggerated representations,   all probably started with an accepted "truth". Truth in quotes, because it would be better defined as a perception.   Is it really the green skin that is so important, or is it the person, the  person who was wrongly accused tortured and  then died a horrible death.













 Every year they parade her about,
the traditional Halloween witch.
Misshapen green face,
stringy scraps of hair,
a toothless mouth
beneath her disfigured nose.

Gnarled knobby fingers twisted
into a claw protracting form,
a bent and twisted torso that
lurches about on wobbly legs.
Most think this abject image to
be the creation of a prejudiced
mind or merely a Halloween caricature.
I disagree, I believe this to be
how witches were really seen.
Consider that most witches were women,
were abducted in the night
and smuggled into dungeons or prisons
under the secrecy of darkness.
To be presented by the light of day
as a confessed witch.
Few, if any saw a frightened
normal looking woman being
dragged into a secret room
filled with instruments of torture.
To be questioned
until she confessed
to anything that was suggested
to her,
and to give names
or say whatever would stop the
questions.
Crowds saw the aberration
denounced to the world
as a self-proclaimed witch.
As the witch was paraded
through the town,
en route to be burned,
Hanged, drowned, stoned,
or disposed of
in various horrible ways,
all created to free
and save her soul
from her depraved body.
The jeering crowds viewed the
result of hours of torture.
The face, bruised
and broken by countless blows,
bore a hue of sickly green.
The once warm and loving smile
gone.
Replaced by a grimace of broken teeth,
and torn gums
that leer beneath a battered,
disfigured nose.
The disheveled hair conceals
bleeding gaps of torn scalp from
whence cruel hands had torn
away the lovely tresses.
Broken, twisted hands
clutched the wagon for support.
Fractured fingers locked like
groping claws
to steady her broken body.
All semblance of humanity gone.
This was truly a demon,
a bride of Satan, a witch.
I revere this Halloween Witch
and hold her sacred.
I honor her courage
and listen to her warnings
of the dark side of humanity.
Each year I shed tears of respect.
Author unknown


 The following  excerpts will, I hope further explain some of the images in this video.





Helen Duncan
Duncan was found guilty as charged under the Witchcraft Act and sentenced to nine months in Holloway Prison, London, but she was cleared of the other offences. She was the last person in Britain to be jailed under the act, which was repealed in 1951 and replaced with the Fraudulent Mediums Act following a campaign by spiritualist and member of parliament Thomas Brooks.

There are two common misconceptions about Duncan's conviction. The first is that she was the last person in Britain to be convicted of being a witch. In fact, the Witchcraft Act was originally formulated to eradicate the belief in witches and its introduction meant that from 1735 onwards an individual could no longer be tried as a witch in England or Scotland. However, they could be fined or imprisoned for purporting to have the powers of a witch.

The second misconception is that she was the last person to be convicted under the Witchcraft Act. Again this is incorrect. Records show that the last person to be convicted under the Witchcraft Act was Jane Rebecca Yorke in late 1944. Due to her age (she was in her seventies) she received a comparatively lenient sentence and was fined.

Additionally, it has often been suggested that the reason for Duncan's imprisonment was the authorities' fear that details of the imminent D-Day landings might be revealed, and given the revelation about the Barham it is clear to see why the medium might be considered a potential risk. Nonetheless, then prime minister Winston Churchill wrote to the home secretary branding the charge 'obsolete tomfoolery'.
~~bbc.co.uk
 
 
 
Friday, 29 October, 2004, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
           
Town pardons executed 'witches'


Dozens of "witches" executed in a Scottish town more than 200 years ago are to be pardoned to mark Halloween.Prestonpans, in East Lothian, will grant the pardons under ancient feudal powers which are about to disappear.Descendants and namesakes of the 81 people executed are expected to attend Sunday's ceremony.More than 3,500 Scots, mainly women, were executed during the Reformation, for crimes such as owning a black cat and brewing up home-made remedies.The atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion reached its peak under the rule of King James VI - later King James I of England.On Sunday evening, 81 pardons, secured in the Prestoungrange Baronial Court on 27 July this year, will be publicly declared and a wreath laid at a specially-commissioned plaque.



Roy Pugh
It will recognise the crimes that were perpetrated against these people
Roy Pugh
Historian
Local historian Roy Pugh, who helped secure the pardons by presenting evidence to the court, will make the declaration in what he described as a "simple and solemn" ceremony.He said: "It will recognise the crimes that were perpetrated against these people."It's too late to apologise but it's a sort of symbolic recognition that these people were put to death for hysterical ignorance and paranoia."


 
 


Saturday, October 26, 2013

the last of the tomatoes

Picked the last of the tomatoes because snow is in the forecast, but then there really were only a dozen good tomatoes left on the vines, and I just keep hoping that, I just kept hoping.



We are about 2 months from the winter solstice, it really is time to put the garden to bed for the year. I keep telling myself that as I watch the rainbows cast by the sun at it lowering angle strikes the prisms in the kitchen window it's time to take the screens out of the windows.  It will make the house a tiny bit brighter during the winter months, when any little bit of sun is welcome.  The silent and somber landscape begs us to look closely and see it's hidden secrets, it whispering sounds, subtle colors.  Like a soothing sameness it allows us to quiet our minds, and  rechannel our energy.  Perhaps to look forward, and perhaps to turn inward, and perhaps just to daydream and explore the world through books or the Internet machine. 

It's soup and casserole weather,  something that may not be necessary in our world of central heat, however since there is less to do outside, there is time to prepare soup and bread or may-be a ham and Swiss strata.  Hot cuppa tea. anyone
 


And almost right on cue the snow started, soft feathery flakes began to cling to everything.  Colors began to blurr, the sky and the ground began to merge in the distance.   The aroma of woodsmoke drifted on the wind, and I traded in my shorts and T shirt for jeans and a jacket.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Octobermoon

~~ unknown, taken in Milford, Ohio

Frost Moon, Ivy moon, Maple Moon, StMichaelmas Daisy Moon, Changing Seasons Moon. Rutting Moon, Samhain Moon, Looking Back Moon, Falling leaves Moon, Quiet Moon.  Geese Flying Moon.

There will be a penumbral eclipse of tonight's moon, the change  will be subtle, I am told, but hopefully It will not be obscured by rainclouds. 

October" full moon is also known as the Blood Moon, because cattle were frequently slaughtered at this time  Called the Hunter's Moon it sometimes guided the hunter's or the poacher's  efforts. 

Sometimes called the Raven Moon or the Augury Moon,  augury is a method of predicting the future using the actions of birds or the number of bird seen.  The bird used most often were  magpies if you live in Europe,  crows and ravens also  participated,  birds known even then for their intelligence.   The Romans  consulted them often.  The word augury simple means  omen.
 Counting Rhyme (from The Folklore of Birds, by Laura C. Martin, 1993) One for sorrow, two for mirth,
Three for a wedding, four for a birth,
Five for silver, six for gold,
Seven for a secret not to be told.
Eight for heaven, nine for hell,
And ten for the devil's own sel'.


Counting Rhyme  One crow sorrow,
Two crows mirth,
three, a wedding,
four, a birth,
five brings silver,
six takes wealth,
seven crows a secret,
More I can nae tell.
~~~source unnamed Counting Crows  One for sadness, two for mirth;
Three for marriage, four for birth;
Five for laughing, six for crying:
Seven for sickness, eight for dying;
Nine for silver, ten for gold;
Eleven a secret that will never be told.
~~~~source unnamed poems from http://www.shades-of-night.com   Tonight, as the full moon rises through the bare branches, gleaming and casting reflections on  window sills candle sticks and crystals, I wonder if geese will cross her face on their journey south.  The first fire of the season has been kindled and the house is filled with a soothing warmth.  I can't help but look back at the past year, both good and bad , under this Looking Back Moon.   Looking forward also under  Raven Moon,  Augury Moon with anticipation, hope,curiosity and resolution.   





Thursday, October 17, 2013

old houses, have memories

House, abandoned, the weeds and shrubs and even trees grown up around them.  Forgotten, may-be haunted, or just needing some paint.  some with curtains at the window and some with shreds of curtains hanging through the broken panes.   Some windows where the rim of  stain glass squares remain, even when the main clear pane is just shards scattered over the rotting veranda, a veranda that  has become a trellis for a camphor vine.
The hydrangea next to the  walkway is  now taller that the house and  obscures any holes is the roof and bits of gingerbread that might still hang  from the gable.  How long this house has been empty is anyone's guess, who lived here, I don't know, why they left is a mystery, but one thing of which I feel sure is that houses have a memory, and some even whisper, if you  care and listen .

A house is made of bricks and beams.
A home is made of love and dreams.


Wood, was once a living thing, and sometimes  I wonder, could it hold memories, and could the foundations stones hold memories in the the silica that they are composed of.
Are what we call haunted houses merely the memories the house has?


Why do some houses seem inviting and warm,  and others  neutral and uninteresting, some even creepy, when there is  no apparent reason, like neglect or a tragic history?   Could it be that houses themselves have a life? 
A  young couple, who I got to know well over the years, bought a old house, a rickety, crooked house, that would have  been torn down and replaced by  a new one.  That was their plan. They were short on cash, and a few years passed.   Instead they began to fix up their old house, after all they  felt safe and happy from the very day they moved in.  The young family had what seemed to be more than their share of hardships out side of that house, but inside, life was always good.   Even visitors to the house have commented on how  good they felt when they were in that little house.   

I have always wondered about things like that, there are so many possible explanations, which invites me to choose my own explanation, that because houses are made by people of natural materials, houses just might have a life and memory of their own.
Kinda makes you think do they also have emotions of their own?   Well who knows. I surely don't know.  when I see an old house,school, store, or whatever standing empty  it makes me wonder, what story it might have to tell, what bit of history is being lost, and will someone ever come along and rescue it if , provided it is even possible to do so.

I have often wondered how it feels to live in one of those old Victorian mansions, yes even the part where I spend most of a winters days just keeping a fire going in the heating plant.   Keeping it dusted and swept up would take the rest of my time.  so you see it is more curiosity than the romance.   
We live in a really old cottage, it spoke to us, so we bought it.  No, it didn't really speak , not in our case anyway.  

The seasonal tours  houses decorated for Christmas are something I enjoy, even though they are usually not very authentic, I admire the creativity of the people who open their homes to gawking fools like me.   One particular house, a huge Victorian gingerbread castle that had been empty for some time,and I fervently hoped I could one day buy,  was rescued, several times by people who ran out of money or ambition,was then bough by a couple from the city.  They  hosted a charity event, a  "Victorian Tea", recently, and of course I went.  Glad to see the old "painted Lady" finally restored.   The last time I saw her was more than 10 years ago when I helped turn her into a "haunted house", a fundraiser to help restore the house.  I can clearly recall people answering voices I never heard....which I thought was a joke considering the season.   During the tour I noticed several people abruptly start looking around, like they heard something out of place.  Eventually one man spoke up and asked the tour guide if the house was haunted; he tour guide took a noticeably deep breath then asked him why he thought that,  and he replied something like  "I must be hearing things."           .
Then there are those houses who stand forgotten until the earth reclaims them , until they are recycled back into the wood they were built from, peaceful they wait.








~~photos by  Abandoned, Old & Interesting Places - North Carolina

Saturday, October 12, 2013

I like this picture

 
 
 
 
 
~~artist unknown
 
 
I like this picture, no I tell a lie, I love this picture.  The beautiful colored leaves, colorful mums, ripe pumpkins standing guard, I can smell the crisp air and the hint of coal smoke on the breeze, the smell of fallen leaves in the bright sun.   Rustling leaves are almost the only sound, the drone of the crickets is gone, faintly off in the distance a dog or more likely a coyote.  A chattering chipmunk who thinks I am in his way and a lone bird calling, this is quiet. This is autumn.
 
 
Autumn, is a time when past and future meet, time appears to be fluid and what separates the world of living and dead, the worlds of living and dead, becomes very unstabler. The belief that the veil between worlds has become very thin, even permeable is one our ancestors knew and passed down to us.  Autumn remains a time to reflect for many of us as the light and warmth of summer becomes the dark and chill of winter.
 
 
Autumn is the olden tymes or the year, for at Samhain the New Year begins, and may-be that has something to do with reflecting on the past.  The connections to our own past, as well as the long past, and even the legendary past, are much easier to make.  Amid all our modern lives the circle of all life and time is easiest to see  at this time of year.  Misty mornings and earlier and earlier sunsets, which made our ancestors ponder what was beyond the circle of the fires light or what mysteries the mists were hiding, really isn't lost on us.
 
 
 Hand woven fencing enclosing a yard, and that could be fuel for the bonfire is piled high in the center of that yard. Pumpkins at the entrance, an entrance topped by a a carefully woven hat. A blending of ideas and cultures, field pumpkins were not known in Europe until the seed was brought back to England after the first colonys were settled in America,the idea a pumpkins as guardians may come from a belief that vampires were more sensitive to and therefor more repulsed by them than garlic.  Here was the place where people would come on the last night of the year, to build fires to fend of evil, while they honored those who had died in the past year, and as a beacon so that those who had wandered off and might be lost on the other side of the veil could find their way back. A place to give thanks for the harvest and to ask for safety in the coming dark half of the the year, as everyone made ready to wait for the days to grow longer and warmer again.
 
 
 
 
 
 



Monday, October 7, 2013

Soul cakes


 
In 1963, the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary arranged a traditional song celebrating the practice (entitled "A Soulin") and included it on their album "Moving." The lyrics go as follows:
Soul, Soul, a soul cake!
I pray thee, good missus, a soul cake!
One for Peter, two for Paul,
three for Him what made us all!
Soul Cake, soul cake, please good missus, a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry, anything good thing to make us all merry.
One for Peter, one for Paul, & three for Him who made us all.


I remember when people still handed out homemade cookies in waxed paper sandwich bags at Halloween, and it was something kids were  allowed to eat, somehow I can't see that happening now.  And that makes me feel sad.

It wasn't until a few years ago, when I was very absentmindedly watching the Food Network that I first heard an explanation of "soul cakes". the program also showed how they had been made in the  Middle Ages.  

 
"A soul, a soul, a soul cake.
Please god missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry.
Up with your kettles and down with your pans
Give us an answer and we'll be gone
Little Jack, Jack sat on his gate
Crying for butter to butter his cake
One for St Peter, two for St Paul,
Three for the man who made us all."
Soul Cakes were also part of All Saints' Eve superstitions. It was believed that the spirits of the departed would return to their homes on this night. As a result candles were lit to guide their way and food and drink (including soul cakes) were put out for them.  ~~Jennifer Seitzer


Being sure I could find more recipes and instructions on the Internet than I could possibly sort through, i didn't bother to write it down. 

It is easy to see that the those who could afford to make "soul cakes" were only trying to help family members and dear friends escape the fire of purgatory by paying the poor for their prayers. I wonder where in all of this is the idea that having others pray on your behalf fits in with Halloween, but still it is an honor to be prayed for and at that time it was All Souls Day, a day to honor the dead.   Which causes me to wonder, why this soul cakes exchanged for prayers should be  thought of as the forerunner of candy bars exchanged for the favours of neighbor hood youngsters in costumes so that they would not soap windows, matchstick door bells or some more destructive form of mischief.  Halloween as we know it is a relatively new holiday, but it has very deep roots, and a complex history  of blending with Christianity.

 

Soul Cakes for All Hallows' Eve






Photo courtesy of Historical FoodsFrom the kitchen of One Perfect Bite..."Witches, ghosts, and goblins. Stealing down the street, knock on every door way, trick or treat!" The treat nowadays is candy, but the practice of dressing in costumes and going door to door for sweets dates back to the Middle Ages when the poor went begging for soul cakes. The cakes, which are actually cookies, were made for All Souls' Day. The devout mixed a measure of superstition with a dose of religion and believed that each cookie represented a soul that would be freed from Purgatory when the cookie was eaten. The cookies, called souls, were etched with crosses that clearly identified them as Alms for the dead and there was an expectation that a prayer would be said each time a cookie was eaten. Over time, the practice of souling was moved to All Hollows' Eve and the Alms for the dead were replaced with candy and other sweets. The cookies are a curiosity and it is their history that makes them interesting. There are dozens of recipes for "souls", most of which make a spicy shortbread-type cookie. Actually, the cookies aren't bad when freshly baked, but they stale fast, so eat quickly and, for heaven's sake, don't forget to say your prayers. Here's the recipe.

Soul Cakes
...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup superfine sugar
4 cups flour, sifted
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon apple pie or pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon allspice
3 tablespoons currants or raisins
a little milk

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously coat a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
2) Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and pale in color. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time.
3) Combine flour and spices. Fold into creamed butter.
4) Gently stir in currants or raisins. Add enough milk to make a soft dough.
5) Form into flat cakes and cut each top with a knife to make a cross.
6) Bake on prepared cookie sheet until golden, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Yield: 14 to 16 cakes

This Soul Cake recipe is from the Cheshire region, on the border with North Wales. A Soul Cake (or Souling Cake) is a small round cake, like a biscuit, which is traditionally made for All Souls’ Day (the 2nd November, the day after All Saint’s Day) to celebrate the dead. These plain cakes, often simply referred to as souls, were given out to the soulers, children and the poor, (beggars) who would go from door to door during this period saying prayers and singing psalms and songs for the dead.
Traditionally each cake eaten would represent a soul being freed from Purgatory. The practice of giving and eating soul cakes is often seen as the origin of modern day Trick or Treating, which now falls on Halloween (two days before All Souls’ Day). The tradition of ‘souling’ and giving out Soul Cakes on All Soul’s Day originated in Britain and Ireland hundreds of years ago, from giving out bread on All Souls’ Day during the devout Middle Ages  John Mirk .

    
Soul cakes were traditionally baked as a gift for the spirits of the dead. In many European countries, the idea of "Souling" became an acceptable alternative for Christians

Most commonly linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, which occurs on the last day of fall, the celebration was originally meant to put summer to sleep and prepare for the bleak months ahead. But beyond the practical, it was also a day when the physical and spiritual worlds collided. The souls of the deceased were thought to return to the physical world on Samhain eve. To ward off the spirits, giant bonfires were built, and human sacrifices were made (allegedly) to procure safety against the marauding dead souls.
As things evolved over time, Samhain became All Souls' Eve and All Souls' Day, and soul cakes came into existence — but when and where aren't exactly clear. Some suggest that treats were made for the bonfires and were a form of ill-fated lottery; he who selects the burnt cake becomes the human sacrifice ensuring bountiful crops the following year. Others say that the cakes were scattered around to mollify evil spirits condemned to exist in the form of animals.
What is known is that by the 8th century, soul cakes were given to beggars (soulers) who would say prayers for the dead on All Souls' Eve. And the price? One soul saved per cake. In other places they were given to wandering mummers, the costumed predecessors of buskers, as they entertained on Halloween. Today's trick-or-treaters are thought to be their descendants, and soul cakes are thought to be the first treats for tricks.  ~~John Mirk



 


Though Samhain, the Celtic new year, was still celebrated, the Christian tradition of "souling" sometimes 'soul caking' was practiced on All Saint's Day, and all souls Day, November  first and second.   Singers went from door to door to beg for cakes as the repetitively droned on singing. At that time Allhallow's Eve was a time of pranks and partys, where people played games and practiced divination's of a sort acceptable to the church, sand song, told stories and bobbing for apples was also a popular activity.  Though Samhain was a rather sober holiday, the Christians had a more light hearted celebration.

Churches often distributed the rich fruitcake like  soulcakes to the poor and the cakes that were given out at home were often accompanied with requests for prays for the departed, sometime in the form of  "soul papers" which were simply written requests for prayers on behalf of the deceased.


While  gathering this information, there are occasions words and phrases that could be associated with other holidays, especially Christmas.  My curiosity will lead me to read more, and may-be write more. In part that is why I included the video,  OK that and a bit of nostalgia.



The following recipes are from  About.com, I particularly like the Buttery Soul cakes, but then I would wouldn't I?
Irish cakes
You'll need:
  • 4 C flour
  • 1 pkt active dry yeast
  • 1 C milk
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 tsp each cinnamon & salt
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 C lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 C golden raisins
Cream yeast with 1 tsp sugar & 1 tsp milk, let it get frothy. Blend flour, spices, & salt together, then cut in butter. Add the rest of the sugar to the flour mix and blend. Add milk & beaten egg onto the yeast mixture; combine with flour mixture. Beat until stiff.
Fold in raisins and zest, cover with a damp cloth and let rise. Divide in two, place each half in greased 7" round pan. Cover, let rise again for 30 minutes. Bake 1 hour at 400 degrees

    1. Quickie Shortbread Soul Cakes

    2. You'll need:
    3. 1 stick of butter, softened

    • 4 Tbs sugar
    • 1 1/2 C flour
    1. Cream together the butter and sugar. Use a flour sifter to add the flour to the bowl, and mix until it's smooth. Divide the dough into two parts, and shape each half into a flat circle about half an inch thick. Put them on an ungreased baking sheet (baking stones are really nice for this) and poke lines with the tines of a fork, making eight separate wedges in each cake. Bake for 25 minutes or until light brown at 350 degrees.
    1. Buttery Soul Cakes

    2. You'll need:
    3. Two sticks butter, softened

    • 3 1/2 C flour, sifted
    • 1 C sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg & saffron
    • 1 tsp each cinnamon & allspice
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tsp malt vinegar
    • Powdered sugar
    1. Cut the butter into the flour with a large fork. Mix in the sugar, nutmeg, saffron, cinnamon and allspice. Lightly beat eggs, and add to flour mixture. Add malt vinegar. Mix until you have a stiff dough. Knead for a while, then roll out until 1/4" thick. Use a floured glass to cut out 3" circles. Place on greased baking sheet and bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while the cakes are still warm

    Wednesday, October 2, 2013

    Hello October


    Hello October!!!!!!!


    Just smell the air. Look at the view.   The brilliant blue skys, and the leaves, Wisps of wood and coal smoke, or may-be it's the scent ofburning leaves in the air. The pumpkins. skeletons, ghosties and ghouls, who are carefully arranged on the front porch.  the cornstalks and scarecrows, right next to the gravestones and skull shaped lights along the walkway.
     A new kind of fascination for the kid  we will always be, you know the one to who loves to dress up and walk around with their kids on Trick or Treat night, who savors those days of when  all of the candy and the spooky-cool chills were for them, and who has had their costume planned  planned for months.


    Watching "it's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and reciting the lines while we  carve pumpkins, both real and fake ones, and eating candy corn from that extra bag we bought, just in case, because well you just never know and it would be a shame to run out.  And  keeping that in mind, you bought several more bags  so that you have enough until next years  Halloween candy hits the shelves. 
    There are those quiet moments when we watch the sky and wonder what it would be like if there really was a Great Pumpkin.  And then realise that as Linus did, we have doomed ourselves to another year of not knowing, because of insincerity, gor in a  brief lapse of  our childlike faith, we thought "if". 

    After we have done the grown up chore of cleaning up the pumpkin guts, we can sip a pumpkin latte with  a cider candy garnish, aswe watch the first night of classic horror films and documentaries on the paranormal.    Perhaps one will get a new idea for decorating the kitchen door. Or just doze off. 



    Can you feel the magic?  the anticipation, the sorta not right but it's really OK?   The spooky in the the familiar, the sense of stepping off into the unknown or returning to a past time.   The veil between worlds is thin at this time of year.   Or is your imagination growing stronger?
     
     
     
     

    Familiars, with guest blogger Carolyn Emerick

    Familiar and other sinister spirits riding with the witch, on a vintage Halloween postcard. | Source The Familiar Spirit: Compan...