Irish-American Witchcraft: Summer’s End

Irish-American Witchcraft: Summer’s End October 20, 2015

Samhain is a big holiday for me every year. I celebrate it as a three day event, honoring the Gods one day, the ancestors the next, and the aos sí the third. My family has a variety of traditions each year – lighting a sacred fire, leaving out food for the dead, and making offerings to the Fair Folk who we believe move their homes at this time. And of course the kids go trick or treating and do the whole secular Halloween thing as well.

trees in a forest on a cloudy day
All Photos Courtesy of Morgan Daimler

In my personal practice of witchcraft this is not only the time when the year changes from light to dark, from old to new, but also when the liminal Gods  transition the rulership of the year, just as the Other Crowd themselves move their homes. The warmth and growth of summer is past and the harvest is in, now is the time of cold and decay as the old is recycled back into what will form the new again. Where I live it is about now that we get the first hard frost and in this month that the trees shed their brightly colored leaves and reach naked branches up to the moon at night. The air turns hard and cold and the sky fills with birds seeking a fairer place to winter over. The smell of wood smoke is sharp outside as people begin to light their fires to keep warm. So the rulers of the Light half give way to the rulers of the Dark half, the Wild Hunt rides again through the skies, and the security of summer gives way to uncertainty of winter.

a candle, cauldron, and some crystals

It’s, by far, my favorite time of year.

A samhain altar with offerings
skull bowl
The following is a poem from the Finn Cycle in Old Irish often called “Summer has Gone” (with my translation) which I personally use every year at Samhain as a prayer:
Scél lemm dúib:
Dordaid dam,
Snigid gaim,
Ro-fáith sam;
Gáeth ard úar,
Ísel grían,
Gair a rith,
Ruirthech rían;
Ro-rúad rath
Ro-cleth cruth,
Ro-gab gnáth
Guigrann guth;
Ro-gab úacht
Etti én
Aigre re
É mo scél.
News for you
Hear  stag’s cry
Winter’s snow
Summer gone
Wind high, cold,
Low the sun,
Short her track
Heavy  sea
Deep-red ferns
Lost their shape
Often heard
Wild goose’s voice
Cold takes hold
On birds’ wings
An ice time
This my news

apples on the tree


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