It is nearly upon us, everyone! Samhain approaches, are we ready? I’ve been ready since last Samhain, you know that. I also have to thank everyone who has purchased my book, Love & Light Blood & Bone, you guys are amazing. And if you’ve taken the time to write a review or even just give it a rating, I could just kiss you on the mouth. This community of witches is so special and I know I’ve said it before but I’m so grateful that I get to talk to you and communicate with you, either through emails, DMs or on the forums. I don’t live in a place that has a huge witchcraft community, but you witches are my coven.
And I’m just tickled shitless by all of the well-wishes and lovely messages I’ve received. My email and DMs are still wide open for any questions or comments, email@example.com or @middleagedwitch on social media. So from the very depths of the deepest parts of my heart, thank you. And speaking of emails, I’ve got one I wanted to read today. This witch writes:
I have a question and I’m wondering if you could give me a little guidance? Losing weight has always been an endless battle. I always begin a weight loss program with a great mindset but halfway into the program I give up. Is there a spell or something I can do to help keep myself focused so I can continue a new program until I hit my desired weight loss goal? I will be starting a new program on Oct 31 and need any helpful hints you may offer? My health depends on it!!
Ok, so this question was one that I answered privately but then I kind of debated whether I would address it on the podcast. Weight loss is very personal, and it’s also incredibly politicized. And I think that’s a very good thing in a lot of ways, I really hate the inconsistent messaging around body image that we see day in and day out from the media. On the one hand, we have the body positivity movement, which is fantastic. And on the other hand, we have an entire media machine feeding us a steady diet of edited images of people who have personal chefs, trainers, surgeons and shapewear. So it’s this mixed message of ‘love the body you’re in’ on the one hand, and ‘if you just worked hard enough, you could look like this’ on the other hand.
It’s infuriating and it’s designed to keep people dissatisfied. But this witch asked for help, and in their own words, their health depends on it. Which resonates with me; my family has a history of serious joint problems and type-2 diabetes, so I also have to keep my weight in check. And it has nothing to do with how I look or whether or not I love myself and everything to do with my health. So I said to hell with it, let’s talk about it on the podcast.
Now there are a lot of things we can do to support these efforts and set ourselves up for success. And I suggest a three-pronged approach. We will start with a candle spell to kick off this program, a spell jar to maintain once a week, and then creating an amulet to wear or carry with us when we’re out that can help when we’re confronted with situations at work or out with friends where we may struggle.
For the candle spell, let’s get a white, red or yellow candle. Spend some time thinking about a power phrase or creating a sigil that is specific to our goal. And the goal does not have to be a number on the scale. It can be a phrase like, ‘My body is healthy and vibrant’ or something along these lines. Carve this phrase or sigil into the wax and anoint our candle with olive oil. Sprinkle some basil, allspice and dill onto the oil and rub it onto the surface of the candle so it sticks. Press a few apple seeds into the wax as well. These herbs and plants support discipline and willpower.
Next, sprinkle some cinnamon and ground ginger over the surface of the candle to help give our efforts a jumpstart. Place the candle in a candle holder and hold our hands over it. We’ve got to get into a good mindspace and focus on our goals. Focus on how healthy and energetic we will feel, how much more comfortable we will be, how much we love ourselves and want to treat our bodies kindly, how easy it will be to stick to the program. Allow all of those feelings to flow from our hands into this candle. Repeat the power phrase over and over if it helps. Light the candle and let it burn down.
For the spell jar, we are going to put some of our own hair in a small jar, along with our phrase or sigil written on a small scrap of paper. Throw some more apple seeds in there, some cedar or oak or even an acorn, some bay laurel, thyme, peppermint and sunflower (sunflower seeds are fine for this). Do the same thing as we did for the candle to charge it with our intent, then screw the lid on and seal it with a bit of the wax from our candle. Once a week, or as often as we feel the need, give the jar a good shake to stir up those energies and help to renew our intent.
Finally, decide what we’re going to use for the amulet. It can be a piece of jewelry, a coin, a crystal (citrine, hematite and tiger’s eye are solid choices). Whatever it is needs to be something we can keep on us when we’re away from home. We will charge this amulet just as we did the spell jar and the candle. In fact, I suggest doing all these things at the same time. Pass our amulet safely and carefully through your candle flame and charge it well. Wear it or keep it with you and check in with its energy from time to time. When it feels depleted, recharge it with your own energy and also charge it monthly under the full moon.
Finally, there may also be some shadow work around this issue that we may need to explore if we think there could be any psychological reasons that you tend to self-sabotage your past weight-loss efforts. And you’re the only one who can know if that’s the case. Journaling your experience and/or talking with a counselor can really bring some of those potential issues to light and help you to confront them in a head-on way so that you understand and recognize any triggers you may have that lead you to falling off the wagon. And of course, always consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.
And now, let’s talk about Samhain and Crone season. Samhain is the last of the three Gaelic harvest festivals, which as we’ve said were the grain harvest at Lughnasadh and the fruit harvest at the Summer Solstice, or Mabon. Samhain marks the cattle harvest, and of course it’s the time of year when the pagans observed that the threshold between this world and the spirit world is the thinnest, so there are very pervasive connotations of death associated with Samhain.
And when you look at all the imagery associated with this time of year, it’s like, a no-brainer, right? Skeletons, ghosts, skulls, it corresponds with these themes. But what’s essential to remember when we think about this time of year is that the cattle harvest, or the slaughter of the cattle to be very blunt, was what our ancestors were counting on to keep themselves, their families, and their communities fed throughout the cold months and the dark half of the year.
Samhain was marked by gatherings and feasts and bonfires with ritual significance. It’s thought that these fires were meant to purify and protect the people and to help to deliver them and their communities safely through the cold winter months. Offerings were made to the gods to help bolster their chances for survival, and of course, it was also thought that our departed loved ones would return to visit and to spend some time amongst the living on this night.
Divination was performed, a little later on in history, seances would be a big part of the evening, along with the practice of mummer’s plays, which were amateur folk plays performed door-to-door by community members in costumes in exchange for food and drink. And of course it’s not hard to see the origins of trick-or-treating there. And can I just say, the US does not get everything right, not by a long shot, but trick-or-treating is the shit and I think everyone should just get on board and do it. It’s some of the most fun kids can have. And grown-ups too. I can’t wait to post up on my porch with a bowl of candy and a pitcher of margaritas. It’s gonna be rad.
Anyway, back to my larger point, I thought I would go through some fun Samhain rituals and spells. We’ve still got a bit of time before the big night, plenty of time to get something together for the sabbat. And the first thing I want to talk about is a ritual for our ancestors or our friends who have passed. I keep an ancestor altar at this time of year. I do not keep it in the bedroom though, those ancestor altars are very active. Lots of knocks and whispers around those ancestor altars. But we’ve got pictures of our loved ones, and we’ve got mementos, and I like to put out saki for Grandpa Charlie, white zinfandel for Aunt Edna, and this year I’m putting out some Diet Pepsi for Grandma J. That was her vice, though lord knows she didn’t have too many. She was a woman of discipline.
But something I love for Samhain is a seven day candle. I spoke of this last year in the Samhain episode, but I think it bears repeating. A seven day candle is one of those tall votives in a narrow glass jar, and they burn for a good long time. They’re cheap as hell and you can get them at the grocery store and even the dollar store. The purpose is to burn this candle for a few hours each night beginning seven days prior to Samhain to call the ancestors home. If you’d like to draw runes, sigils, or even names on these candles, that’s an excellent idea. So is adding a little allspice, garlic, sage, or catnip to the candles themselves, just be careful that you don’t allow these to burn unattended. And seven days before Samhain is the 25th, and as luck would have it, this year the 25th falls on the New Moon and the partial solar eclipse.
So we can use this time to set intentions for release. Releasing anything that we are tired of carrying with us. Releasing bad habits, old thought patterns, old resentments and anger, anything we are ready to lay down. Samhain is such a major holiday for the witch community, and we are going to be well-served by using this sacred time of year to support our intentions of release and renewal. Remember, we’re still in the waning time of year, all the way until the winter solstice at Yule in December. So this is a wonderful time to align our intentions with the wheel of the year. This waning energy is perfect for sending things away.
We can do that in lots of ways. A great way, and one which lines up with the fire festival aspect of Samhain, is to write those things we’re releasing on a bay leaf and throwing it into a fire. If this is a larger intention than will not fit on a bay leaf, we can write it out longhand on a sheet of paper. Especially if this is like, a letter that we are writing. It can be a letter to a departed loved one expressing our love and grief. We can send that love and those emotions directly to them in the smoke of the sacred fire. It’s cleansing and it’s such a powerful form of release.
On the other hand, if we’ve been wronged or mistreated and we’re trying to release that resentment, then this can be a letter of anger. And I’m going to take a little detour from my notes real quick and say this, because I’m feeling like this needs to be said. Remember, when we release feelings of anger and resentment and injustice, it doesn’t have to mean that we forgive whoever it is that’s wronged us if we’re not feeling that forgiveness in our hearts.
All this means is that we are done holding this fire, we are done burning for someone else’s wrongs. Doing this is also an expression of faith that whatever this person has coming for them will find them in time. So keep that in mind. Sometimes when we’re sitting in those feelings, and we’re unable to move on, it might be because we’re not sure that the guilty party is going to get their comeuppance. Maybe it seems petty, but it is difficult to heal when we feel like the person who’s wronged us has moved on and is pretending that they didn’t do anything wrong. If this resonates with you, you may also consider some reversal work, some return-to-sender work to go along with your release.
If that’s the case, write your piece, put everything you have to say on paper. Pour it out like venom, like lava, everything you’ve felt, everything you’ve wanted to say, every emotion, all of it. Get every last bit of it out of your heart, your mind, your soul, scrape all the remnants of vitriol from inside you and put them on this paper. And send that shit back where it belongs. You may choose to anoint this paper with reversal oil which we’ve talked about before but I’ll go through it again here.
To make reversal oil, which you can also buy if you have the means, you will either combine cinnamon, rue, and rose essential oils, or you can infuse olive oil or vitamin E oil with actual cinnamon, rue, and rose petals. Heat these together over low heat for 20 minutes, then strain out the plant matter and put the oil in a little bottle to use anytime you want to block someone’s negativity or their evil eye or when you want to return their hateful deeds and their awful treatment back to them. This is valid work.
And here’s where I say a big fat HOWEVER. However, once you’ve done this, once you’ve done this spell and you’ve burned these feelings and returned them whence they came, you’ve gotta let go of it. You’ve gotta stop picking at that scab. Trust in your magick; trust that your work is going to go where it’s directed and it’s going to unfurl just as it’s meant to. And then move forward by living well. Samhain is a wonderful time of year for letting go, because that’s what nature is doing all around us this time of year. The leaves are turning and falling off their trees, the grass, the flowers, everything is dying back right now.
But not forever. The trees letting go of their leaves are not afraid they’re not going to come back. Nature knows it has to put everything to rest so that something new can grow in its place. This is the symbolism of this time of year. Nature can’t be in a constant state of blossoming and growing, and neither can we. Nature must rest, and so must we. And we can’t be afraid that we’re never going to have another period of growth; we have to understand that we must draw inward from time to time, and rest, and be still, so that we can make room for new growth.
This is another gorgeous intention that we can set at this time of year. We can set intentions for creativity, for growth in our lives, in our businesses, in our relationships. We can set very powerful intentions for being open to ideas and new avenues of growth, of messages from our intuition, from Spirit, from our guides. Nature waxes and wanes, just as the moon does, and just as we do. We can reflect the energy of these seasons in the spellwork that we choose to do.
Goddamn, this is not really the direction I meant to take for this episode, but sometimes that’s what happens when I open my mouth and words come out. Okay, so to get back on track here. Another cool Samhain ritual is actually to try some automatic writing, also sometimes called spirit writing. And this goes along with the concept of the thinning veil and communication between this world and the spirit world being so much easier during this time of year. And you don’t have to try automatic writing, there are certainly other forms of divination we can do, like a nice tarot spread or crystal gazing, but I like automatic writing because it allows us to act as a physical conduit between our realm and the other.
All that automatic writing is, is sitting down and just mindlessly scribbling on some paper with the intention of allowing your intuition or spirit or your guides to channel through you and eventually to manifest a message through your pen.
So first you’ll want to cast a good strong circle and be very clear about who is permitted to enter your circle. You can invite your spirit guides or a specific ancestor to help you with this, and it’s cool because when you use automatic writing in this way, it can act like a seance or, more actually like a ouija board session, except you don’t need more than one person and you can get your answers a lot faster. Anyway, you’ve set your circle, and I like to light a candle to help with my focus.
That’s a tip that I got from a witch called Ithil and I have found that it’s such a great suggestion. Light a candle and just kind of let your vision settle on the flame. It’s very hypnotizing, it’s very meditative, and I find that it helps me to quiet my thoughts and be able to get into a nice mindspace. And just let your pen start to glide over the page. When you feel like you’re in a good, trancelike state, you can ask questions and let your pen flow. This can take some time, and it can take a little practice, but it’s really illuminating and frankly it’s really fun. I like communicating with my guides in this way. I find it’s just a little easier for me to get what I feel are very clear messages.
I will also wear headphones and listen to either binaural audio or music at 114 hz to both block out the ambient sounds of my house and family, and also to help me get into the right mindset to more easily be able to receive these messages. Because, I have to admit, it’s sometimes a struggle to connect with my guides with meditation only. If my house is noisy, if the neighbors are mowing the grass, if the pullchain on the ceiling fan is clicking, I am not going to be able to hear a goddamn thing out of my guides. But, automatic writing is a bit more reliable. At least for me. Give it a try, especially this time of year.
Our guides and our ancestors are so close right now. If they’ve got messages for us, it’s going to be a lot easier to hear them now than any other time of year.
And I also wanted to talk about the Crone today. This is the third aspect of the triple goddess, with the other aspects being the Maiden and the Mother. We spoke of the Maiden at Ostara and we spoke of the Mother at Beltane, but now it’s the Crone’s turn to get some recognition and some love. The Crone archetype represents the wisdom of age, and the freedom and the confidence that wisdom earns. The Crone has seen it all and she has done it all.
Every wrinkle on her face is a lesson she has learned. Every gray hair is an experience she has had. The Crone trusts herself. She is not invisible, she is not ignored. She isn’t merely decorative, either. This is not where her value comes from. The Crone is a fountain of knowledge and experience. The Crone always knows what to do. And so this is who we are all creating within ourselves as we learn new spells, as we build our knowledge of herbs, of stones, of natural remedies, but it’s not just about magick. The Crone is created as we learn and gain experience in all aspects of our lives. In our careers, in our hobbies, in relationships, everything.
And this is the aspect of ourselves that we honor when we respect our own boundaries. When we set and hold boundaries, when we say no and keep to it, when we refuse to be people pleasers, when we stop worrying about people thinking of us as difficult, this is when we embody the Crone. She is the voice in our heads telling us not to let someone walk all over us. She is the voice who encourages us to call people out when they’re bullshitting us. The Crone is not cruel, she is just not interested in being anyone’s doormat, and she sure as hell isn’t going to bend over backwards for people.
I love the Crone, and I have loved becoming more like her. This is her season. We can call upon her wisdom and her strength any time of year, when we are in need of her wisdom, when we are building our knowledge base, and when we need the encouragement to honor our own boundaries. This is the magick of the Crone. This is her area of expertise. So I encourage you to find your voice and to let the Crone speak through you when you find your boundaries being tested. I promise you, it’s a game changer.
Join me next week, enjoy the New Moon and the eclipse coming up, and we’ll talk again soon. My name is Eli Ro, and this has been the Middle-Aged Witch podcast.