Samhain Activities

Samhain quickly approaches and among all the candies and costumes it can be easy to forget the purpose of this day — Honouring our Ancestors.

It is believed that at this time of year the veil between this life and the otherworld is at its thinnest and it is therefore easy to connect with the dead. This can take many forms but if you are looking for ideas that may be more group or family friendly here is a good place to start.

Take a walk

I know I put this in every blog but… WALKING! Take a nature walk and discuss or contemplate the nature sloughing off its colourful garb. The flowers wilt and the trees have begun to drop their leaves. The ground is cold and things are rapidly preparing for winter. Remember that this is a cycle and like the plants and creatures around you, life will return.

Host a feast

Invite family and friends around out of the cold and offer them some comfort with food and drinks. This is a great time to share stories of those who have passed. It can be reflective and morose or jovial. There is no obligation to take any one path and often one will lead to another. Celebrate those who came before us and honour them by keeping their stories and memories alive.

Review and share photos

Bring out the old photo albums and sit with friends and family to talk about “that time when…” it can be a great way to remember our ancestors. You may even become inspired to create a collage or scrapbooking page for your altar.

Create the change you want

This is also a good time of year to let go of things. If you have a bad habit, feeling or activity that you would like to let go of, there is no time like the present. If you want to bring it into ritual or even just make the letting-go seem more tangible you can write it on paper and burn it or you can collect all the items that bring you to that action and discard (or donate) them.

Dance and Sing

Many people find that they feel a greater connection to their spirituality by moving or singing. Dig out some music that helps you connect and embrace what your body needs in that moment. This is extra fun to do with friends but I am a big fan of what I call “Solo Dance Parties”. This can also be a great way to shake off some of the impending winter blues and help you to remember that Death is a part of the cycle. It is just as important as Birth and embracing that is the reason for the season.

How ever you choose to celebrate please do it safely and take care of each other. Give thanks to the beautiful Autumnal world around you in whatever way feels best for you; your family/friends and your Groves. If you are alone, be mindful of your body (and mind’s) needs. If you are in a group, help those around you but never neglect yourself. This can be a trying time of year for some but remembering it is all part of the natural cycle will help to strengthen everyone.

Blessed be

Making your own incense

This week we looked at making our own incense as another means of being creative and further connecting with out grove members / values. We had a blast and we documented the whole thing for you so have a look.

Firstly you will need a few simple tools:

Blank Incense Sticks

Dropper

Small Dish

Oils of choice

An Olive Oil Dish

Jars

I say you need these – you don’t NEED all of them but they will make it a whole lot easier and tidier.

Firstly, you should know the difference between Fragrance and Essential oils. There are many factors to consider but to put it simply, Fragrance Oils are chemically created, and Essential Oils are naturally derived. Each has its merits, and some may be stronger than others so be sensitive to those around you and to yourself when you are choosing. You should also know that some of these oils can be corrosive so be careful and cover any surface you deem precious.

Lets get started:

Set your Blank Incense Sticks out in your Olive Oil Dish.

Each stick will require about 20 drops (1ml) of oil to fully saturate the stick. Grab your bottle or small dish if you have mixed oils and your dropper. Have fun with it — mix and match your scents.

Load the Dropper up and start to work your way down the stick one drop at a        time watching how the oils spreads. Go all the way from one end to the other but stop at the stem, that wont burn anyway. Because the sticks aren’t all perfectly uniform you may need a couple more or fewer drops depending on the size of the stick.

Once you are confident the sticks have been fully covered set them in a Jar to dry for a minimum of 24hours.

There! You did it! You made your own incense sticks! Find what connects/relaxes you and enjoy.

Always remember to burn your incense safely with a proper holder. I have seen people stick incense in potted plants and regret it later. Never leave your sticks burning when you are not around to supervise, where there is an ember, there could be a flame.

Blessed be.

The Grove does The Corn Maze

For the past couple years our Grove likes to hike up our rubber boots; get in the car and drive our sorry city butts to the Riverbreeze Corn Maze. It is always a blast for the kids and some good exercise and fresh air for the old folks.

Here are some lovely pictures of some of the fun we got to have.

Sharing this time with the extended family always renews my connection and recharges my batteries. I am so lucky to have them all in my life <3

A visit from the ArchDruid of ADF

Last week, our grove had the pleasure to host the current ArchDruid of ADF, Jean “Drum” Pagano for a few days in our little corner of the world. To say that I found the experience to be both humbling and deeply inspirational, still wouldn’t do this visit justice, but I will do my best.

Most of the grove together for ritual during Drum’s visit

You can only learn so much about a person by interacting with them online. Over the years I have always been pleased with the Mother Grove’s general leadership, but it was a wonderfully reaffirming experience to have a leader of our faith travel to the Maritimes, with a sincere interest in learning who we are, and how we represent ADF in Nova Scotia. To find that leader to be intensely knowledgeable, deeply considerate, and without a demonstrable hint of ego, just further reaffirmed my confidence in both my personal path, and the direction of our organization’s leadership.

After picking up Drum from the airport, we proceeded (in somewhat typical Nova Scotian fashion) immediately to a local pub, and dove right in to wonderful discussion of everything from religion and politics, to our grove’s borderline obsession with bacon.

Despite some fairly wet weather, we were determined to do some sightseeing the following day, stopping at the Atomic Cafe (an excellent, Druid-owned coffee shop), York Redoubt (a historical site and national park where we frequently conduct public rituals) and Peggy’s Cove (a classic NS tourist spot). After a quick supper at the home of the amazing hosts Brian & Karen, a few of us joined Drum for a live radio interview on the local pagan program “The Witching Hour”. Despite the late hour and busy day, Drum still happily continued the conversation and questions that spun out from the interview at a local coffee shop.

Saturday was again a flurry of activity with a quick visit and breakfast at the Halifax Seaport Market, followed by two wonderfully informative free public talks on the history of Druidry, and devotional work as a part of pagan practice.

Following the talks, we toured the Halifax Public Gardens, before continuing on to the home of our members Marc and Lily, for a ritual of welcome and a potluck.

A special thanks to Brian and Karen Larter, without whom, this visit may not have happened – and who opened their home not only to Drum but also to the tagalong van den Hoek family, and were most excellent hosts. Thanks also to Marc and Lily Meadows, who opened their home to the whole grove on Saturday for a fantastic ritual and potluck. Thanks also to Kelly Moore, Don Adams and Dan Negus, for bringing us on the The “Witching Hour” on CKDU radio.

We are so grateful for the opportunity to have hosted a member of the mother grove. May we continue to grow stronger together… “as fast as a speeding oak”  😉