Happy Halloween 2014! Just a few more months to go!
All Hallow's Eve 2014 - this is my favourite time of the year - dark, misty nights, the scent of leaves and wood burning in the air and the mystical, magical, slightly spooky feeling! Kids and adults dressed in costumes, with candy and parties to make it festive.
This year our favorite spooky holiday will fall on Friday, October 31st, the same date every year, and is also known as Samhain.
Another name for this festival is All Hallow's Eve.
This is because November 1st is known as All Hallow's Day and November 2nd is All Soul's Day.
November 1st is sometimes called the Day of the Dead and is a time in which many cultures show respect for those who have passed on by visiting graveyards with gifts and offering up prayers for the departed souls.
Samhain is considered by many as the most important Sabbat or Festival for the Wiccan community and Halloween 2014 will be no exception!
Soul Cakes have been around for centuries.
These sweet, warm cakes were usually given out at Halloween night to singers and entertainers who called door to door – the original trick or treating!
They were also used to pay travellers and beggars who visited houses on All Hallow's Eve offering to say prayers for family members who had departed this life.
The ancient history surrounding these little cakes makes them all the more tasty.
It's pretty essential to eat these while they're still warm, maybe with a little butter or whatever takes your fancy on the night of Halloween 2014...
Makes approx. 12 delicious Soul Cakes
For the glazing:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Mix together the flour, spices, and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly by hand or with a mixer.
Crush the saffron threads into a saucepan and warm gently over a low heat until you can just get their scent – do not burn or singe! Add the milk and heat just enough to warm.
Cream together the softened butter and sugar. Mix in the egg yolks. Finally, add the flour and spices and blend well. The dough will be stiff at this point.
Add the milk a spoonful at a time mixing well each time. When the dough is soft, stop.
Flour a board and knead the dough until smooth. This will take a few minutes. Roll to about 1/2 inch thick and cut 2 inch round cookies. If you don't have a cookie cutter, a drinking glass might work fine.
Place on a dry baking sheet, decorate with raising, and then brush with egg yolk.
Bake for 10 minutes or so until lightly browned.
Serve the Soul Cakes warm with apple cider, mulled wine, or your favorite Halloween punch.
For Halloween 2014, we just had to include a recipe for Irish Barmbrack. This yummy fruit bread/cake is centuries old and traditionally eaten at Samhain. Various items are placed in the brack, foretelling what the coming year will bring for the recipient of that piece.
A pea or bean to denote no marriage in the year.
A matchstick to foretell domestic disharmony!
A silver sixpence would bring good fortune to the lucky person.
A piece of cloth to indicate poverty or ill luck.
A ring to foretell marriage within the year.
A thimble to show spinsterhood.
A button to show bachelorhood.
The 'special lucky' ingredients:
a pea, matchstick, coin, small piece of cloth, ring, thimble, button
Wrap each 'lucky' item carefully in greaseproof/wax paper.
The secret to making a Barm Brack is the soaking of fruit overnight in the tea. Add the sugar and egg to the fruit mix the next day. Sift in the remaining dry ingredients. Mix very gently. Stir in the wrapped 'lucky' items and try to distribute them evenly. Use a 7" round baking tin at 350°F for 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
The Barm Brack can be made up to a week in advance and stored in an air-tight container – it actually tastes much better this way!. Traditionally served spread with pure butter and a hot cup of tea – delicious!
Why not take a look at Magical Spell Bottles as well - just to get in the mood for Halloween!
~ On Halloween 2014, the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead are at their thinnest and this is the most opportune time to try to make contact with those who have passed on…
~ On All Hallow's Eve, all the Fairy forts, dwellings, mounds and hills are flung wide open and their occupants, all members of the Fairy Kingdom come forth and wander all over, sometimes causing grave mishief. Only the foolish or the bold venture out after dark on All Hallow's Eve.
~ An old belief is that all souls in Pergatory are let out for two days at Halloween 2014. Watch your back!
~ If a bat flies into the house at this time of year, it indicates that there are ghosts around.
~ Everyone in the household should place stones with their own personal marks into the Halloween 2014 fire. These need to be be retrieved from the ashes of the fire on November 1st - if your stone is undamaged it's a sign of luck for the coming 12 months. If damaged or not found in the ashes, this indicates a spell of misfortune.
~ To find out who your future husband will be, stand in front of a mirror at midnight, light two candles and start brushing your hair. The ghost of your sweetheart will appear in the glass.
~ Spiders in the house on the night of Halloween 2014 indicate that the spirit of a loved one is watching over you from the other side. Be kind to that spider!
~ Walking around the outside of your home counterclockwise and backwards before the sun sets on All Hallow's Eve is said to protect against negative entities and souls. It will also make you quite dizzy...
~ Another tradition regarding marriage is to place a sprig of fresh rosemary and a silver coin under your pillow on the night of October 31st. Your future partner is reputed to appear in your dreams.
~ Placing a black candle in each window of the house at Halloween is an ancient Irish custom, believed to protect the occupants from the dead wandering around outside. It must be allowed to burn down completely – not to be blown out, for this is considered the height of ill luck. Note: If following this Samhain tradition, please make sure to place lighted candles in safe, fire-proof containers, away from fabrics, draughts, children and pets! Be careful and responsible!
~ If you're out for a stroll on Samhain night and hear footsteps behind you, never look back to see who it is - if it's a spirit, superstition says you may soon be joining it on it's nightly wanderings.
~ In many Celtic countries, plates of food are left out on Halloween night, both for the Dead and the Fairies that are surely out and about this most magical of nights. Why not try it this Samhain?
~ If a candle goes out suddenly or the flame turns blue on Samhain, beware, there's a ghost about…
~ Crossroads have always had significant other-worldly properties in Ireland, for they are the places that ghosts are frequently seen and heard at any time of the year. However, at Samhain, if one journeys to a crossroads, it is likely the wind will tell you all you need to know for the following twelve months.
~ Hawthorn trees and bushes are to be avoided on October 31st, for the chance of becomed 'bewitched' near these plants is very high.
~ The traditional Jack-o-Lantern lit at All Hallow's Eve is specifically to keep ghosts, ghouls and other worrisome things away.
Each player is blindfolded and gets to touch three different objects placed on a table. Depending on what objects are touched, their fortune is told. Objects should be moved around before each person has their turn. Objects include:
I remember this one from my childhood – yikes! On Halloween 2014, have jars filled with the following shocking items, dim the lights very low, and dare everyone at the party to stick their hand into the jar and guess what's in it. Of course, be as fiendish and ghoulish as you like…
Dim the lights, gather everyone in a circle on the floor, with a small flashlight in the centre. One person starts the first sentence of the Scary Scary Story. Each person adds a sentence or two going around the circle at least once. Try our chilling suggestions for a beginning line:
"It was late one fall in Halloweenland, and the air had quite a chill.
Against the moon a skeleton sat, alone upon a hill.
He was tall and thin with a bat bow tie;
Jack Skellington was his name.
He was tired and bored in Halloweenland -
Everything was always the same..."
Nightmare Before Christmas
Wishing you a Spooky, Mystical and Fun-Filled Halloween 2014!
~Siobhan and the Ghouls at Moonslipper
Ghosts in the family, pictures of their ghosts sent in by readers.
Spell Bottles from Moonslipper
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