Monday, October 28, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 28: Just some links

Today I'm going to have a vacation, so here's a couple of blog posts to keep you inspired :-D

The Holiday Prep Plan (Inspired By Halloween Ads That Come Far Too Early)

Inspired Holidays {Day 12}:: A Delicious Discussion of Fall Scents {DIY Cinnamon Stick Candles}

Cozy drinks for chilly days

BBC's Autumn Watch (Yes, it's still Spring Watch, because they'll start the Autumn Watch tomorrow... :-D)

Then I think Hubpages have quite a lot of interesting reading about Samhain, written by other witches and Pagans, and, of course, Pinterest. Lots of info and inspiration.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 27: Surprise Box

Here's a post about "Christmas Eve Surprise Box", and after seeing that picture above about a suitcase turned into a craft storage, I thought that that is a good idea for Samhain - or any other Holiday.

Now, on Halloween, All Hallows Even or Samhain Eve, there is the tradition of trick-and-treating, and I don't think that's a bad tradition. But if you do, this is one suggestion that would make it more fun to stay at home and have a family time.

In that "Christmas Eve Surprise Box", there is a new set of sleepwear or lounge wear and comfy socks; a movie with a good message and some movie treats; books; hot chocolate mix and cups (for Samhain you can have caramel apple cider spices in the cone, or in a sachet.)

Now, in my box or bag there would also be some craft and art supplies, and stationery, and then some "stocking stuffers".

BTW; why isn't there any stocking stuffers or easter basket stuffers for Samhain?

Now, here is where my background comes forth very clearly. When I was a kid there was no candy. Except for big holidays and birthdays, and when we got visitors, who could bring some candy. To me anything sweet, like cake and ice cream is "candy". There were no desserts, no baked sweets like donuts and cookies available every day. There were no Sunday desserts nor Saturday candy, as is a habit now-a-days in Sweden and Finland. So to me the efforts to limit access to candy these days are a bit odd, especially if the person talking about that remembers fondly their own childhood adventures in Candy Land... But - this is the background I use to relate with.  But - I am aware of the "curse of wellfare" we suffer today. We live in the land of plenty where anyone can get as much candy as they want, every day. Where people are fat only because they have an access to sweets, where people are so used to putting sugar in everything, that they would find sugarless products tasteless, even unpleasant. In Finland and Denmark we are raised with dark rye bread with no sugar, no molasses, no malt, no sweeteners of any kind. Today people are richer and eat sweeter, softer bread, and are also more fat and unhealthy.

Now, ranting done :-D

I am not too pleased with the material culture either.
In that article they are speaking of "token presentS"
"creative toyS, plush palS AND a hidden surprise..."
"some small, age appropriate toyS, a gag gift for boys and sweet and shiny trinket for girls"
"Trade the candy overload for tech-related gadgetS, bookS, gift cardS AND accessorieS"
So - trade the sugar overload to thing overload?

What would I put in the Samhain bag?
Something that tastes like Samhain, something that smells like Samhain, something that feels like Samhain to touch, something that sounds like Samhain and something that looks like Samhain.
Samhain ornament or decoration.
A book.
Something to wear, an accessory or a t-shirt, perhaps socks.
I liked this "double dutch theme". Put in the bag some activity and all the tools and materials needed to do it. Now, I don't like the popular culture themed basket ideas. I also don't like the idea of fake tools. Give the kids real tools. Real arts and crafts supplies. And stationery :-D

Saturday, October 26, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 26: Family values

I was on Pinterest and stumbled over this: 5 Steps to Raising a Child Who Will Stay Christian

I wanted to comment, but my response is rather long, and I got the feeling that here we have a person who would shun me just because I'm not Christian, I'm not SAHM, nor a homeschooler, and because I don't have children. Maybe it's just my prejudice speaking, but I decided not to comment on her blog, but write a blog entry about it.

And it's relevant, as holidays are a big opportunity to "indoctrinate" your children to your faith and values. I still have a creche at Christmas, because my mother had one, and I loved putting it up, and always told the story when I did...
(My mother's Christianity and the way she made it a natural part of our home is a big influence on my spirituality. And because of that I believe we are BORN to have the faith we will have, if we were also raised to have the confidence and conviction to shape our religion to fit our beliefs. :-D That is something not many have.)

So, this is my response to her:

I am not Christian, but I can understand your concern. I want my children to grow up and keep my faith and stay with my God, just like most parents. I think every parents wishes the best for their children and spirituality, faith, relation with God, is a huge part of this. Even atheists wish their children to grow up and keep the way they believe.

Homeschooling is indeed a very good way to share your values, but there are people who choose not to stay in the faith of their upbringing after they become adults. Because it is not peer pressure that makes you choose to leave the faith of your parents. I hope you agree that having a strong faith and trust in God makes it easy to stand up against values that one doesn't share. We cannot and should not protect our children from alternative ways of seeing the world and relating to God, we should have made our reasons to why we believe the way we do so clear and self-evident, the child knows every other way is ... well... not wrong, precisely, but... not as good for him/her.

The same thing about going to church. I don't want to raise children to have all the outer elements of faith, I want the child to share my faith and values even when there is no support from outside. I want my child to reach inside him/herself and find God there, so that "church" is everywhere the child goes. I want the "church" to be inside his/her heart, not just a building or a room. I want the child to want to go to church because he/she hears God very clearly there, and because he/she wants to hear God.

Because one doesn't need to go to church to be a Christian. One can sleep in on Sundays and still be fine. Why is that?

You say it's because as an adult you're already on course. I say that's not true. Adults also try to figure out who they are, adults also need reminders of who God is, even we who are certain in their relationship with God. It's not going to the church that defines who you are and what is your personal relationship with God. It's the work you do alone to keep your relation with God, and the communication between you two alive, strong and well. It's the fifteen minutes of silent devotion time alone with just God. The morning prayer, the Bible study time, the time you consciously and deliberately focus on your relation with God. Because as we are human beings, we define things, understand things through our human experience, and relation with God, even though it's much more and much deeper than any relationship with anything or anyone else, it needs to be looked at as a relationship with another sentient, living, personal being. We tend to take God for granted, and even though God in many ways is one of the things that are for granted, it's not good for OUR psyche to treat God as something self-evident. We NEED TO WORK ON THE RELATIONSHIP TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE IN A RELATIONSHIP.

The same thing with "they knew so many kids who were "good", who didn't go to church, that they started to suspect that you didn't need to go to church to be good, and then church became superfluous".
What you are saying is that you don't go to church to prove you are Christian or to become "good". You go to church because it's nice, to meet others who believe the way you do, to discuss important issues, to hear God's word proclaimed and explained by others who share your values, to learn more about God - you don't want your children to go to church to be "good" or to be "Christian", but because they want to. 

You ought to make it really attractive and interesting, almost like a Christmas, to make your Sundays holy and to go to church.

And one way of doing this is to learn from Christmas. 

Wear special, nice clothes for Sundays. One thing I learned from Victorian girls' books was that most of the heroines enjoyed dressing in pretty dresses and getting their hair done and all that. Starched, clean and new apron was a biggie. Pretty hair bows was a biggie. A new, pink parasol was a biggie. Shiny shoes and comfortable, neat black stockings was a biggie. I remember how we made covers for our New Testament at school, and how fun it was to choose colors. (Now, if you want to know how to do that, here's a tutorial of felt notebook cover. We were 8, I think, and did it of felt and stitched it together with embroidery thread. I think mine was bright red and I used white thread... and the result looked like made by an 8-years-old :-D But it was fun and made me very proud and made reading the book more fun.)
Make Sundays family days, when you do things together and enjoy being a family. Talk with your children, and even more important, LISTEN to your children. Give them your undivided attention on Sundays. Talk about what was said at church. I always loved it when "big people" spoke to me and with me as if they were interested of me and my opinions and way of thinking... that didn't happen often, though, which made the few times it did happen very memorable. Most adults are so busy with "important stuff" so that they have no time nor patience to listen to children who might not be very evolved in thinking, nor have anything "new" or "worthwhile" to say. That's not the point here, either. The point is to let the children know they are important. The little "stupid", "worthless" human being is important. Not only to you, but to God.
Give them gifts on Sundays. It doesn't need to be anything big or fancy, just a pretty card with bible quote on, or let them have a Sunday Book. A Sunday Book is a bit like "December Daily" or "Project Life", but only about Sundays. It's supposed to be kind of an art journal or scrapbook, where the children may collect photos of themselves in Sunday Finery, or doing things they themselves consider "good" and "Sunday-worthy"; clippings, scraps, pictures cut from magazines and those "Sunday Cards" I mentioned above, their own drawings, songs and stories they think are relevant and make them think of "good" things. If they want to add things in their Sunday Book that are not "good" and "Sunday-worthy" to YOU, let them. Trust in God. There should be only positive thoughts associated with the Sunday Book - and Sundays. There should be no questioning, no judgment, no shame, no insecurity, no "this is not good enough... I can't do this..." thinking.  This is also the reason why you may not help with the books, nor ask to see them, nor watch them even if the kid wants you to see it. Tell them that what is in that book is between them and God. That you gladly and willingly take part of any other art and crafts they do, but not this. The understanding that there is no-one judging the book, that no-one else but they - and God - sees it, that diminishes the self-criticism, and removes any inhibitions one might have, both conscious and subconscious. Give them a book they find beautiful, or use a binder where they can make the cover picture themselves. A binder might be better, because it's easy to remove pages and add pockets... though perhaps one shouldn't have the option of removing pages... to understand that what ever one creates is "good enough", that we are good enough, and that "done is better than perfect". They say that Arabic craftsmen intentionally add a "mistake" or fault in their work, to remember that only God creates perfection. (And also to keep hubris in check :-D)

I don't approve the idea of trying to controll and steer our kids' relationships with other people. I believe that all the people in our lives are there for a reason, and I trust more God's intentions with our lives than another human being's intentions, even when that another human being happens to be my mother or father. I noticed, when I was a child, that I spread my values and behavior standard around me. In my home the manners were important, and I never swore or used sloppy language - and when my peers were with me, they never swore either, or apologized immediately after a swearword. It's not only others who influence us, we influence others as well. Perhaps your child is meant to spread Christianity among non-Christian peers, friends, schoolmates?

Really, the only friends, who share their values and beliefs, your children NEED to "hold them accountable and grow in their faith" is their family and God.
In your article about helping your children make good friends, you mention being a child of a single mother, and refer to the wide spread idea among Christian families that there is something suspect in single parent families. You would have excluded me from the possible friends for your children, because I'm not Christian, and never was, and through that you would have let your prejudices keep your children away from a friend with good values, strong faith and nice behavior, and who would have been a very good friend, loyal and brave, ready to stand by and up for her friends. I wish you could be able to see behind the shallow shell of words we use to define our faith, and look into the core of things.

To my readers I would like to say this:

The values are instilled in us already at the age of 5.
The values we were taught before we were 5 are our values we keep our whole lives.

Religion is not a value. Values don't have religion. There are no "Christian values", or "Pagan values". There are just values. People who believe differently can still share values, and most of people born and raised in the same culture do. An Atheist can have the same values as a Christian. A Pagan can have "Good Christian values", better so than a Christian.

Also, considering my own choices, thinking and experience, to keep my children within my faith, I have to be able to admit being fallable and not knowing everything.

 I have to present being Pagan as a positive thing, that I am Pagan because that way of believing, that lifestyle, that world view, that philosophy best resonates with what I know to be true inside. Not scare with hell fire and brimstone, not present the religion and living observant as a set of rigid rules and "no-nos".

Be the parent you want your children to believe God is. Be on their side against everyone, even the authorities in my religion and even against my husband. I have to put my children first in every situation, if I want them to know God does that.

Appeal ALSO to their "shallow", selfish, "bad" emotions and thinking. We all have that side, and most of us love Christmas best of all holidays, because of the gifts and beauty and good food. Come on, admit it! We love getting things. We love pleasures and comfort. We love satisfaction. There doesn't even need to be a need to get satisfied, the "needs" can be created, by creating a want and masking that as a need.
As I believe we are all just human, let's make this thing as attractive to the human side of us human, as we assume it should be to the spiritual side of us. This is where the traditions, pleasures and holidays come to play. It's not helping anyone to condemn the "bad" in them, or to try to appeal the goodness and kindness. That will only create shame and codependency, and neither is a good base for a good relationship with God just as little as it is with anyone. I mean, if I want my children to grow up believing in a loving and accepting God, a God I can speak to about ANYTHING, even the stupid, petty little problems I have, even the stupid things I have done, even the thoughts I consider being "bad", I have to be able to trust that my God won't condemn me, think less of me, but like a wise, good mother listens and sees to that I get the best help and advice I can, that I feel her strength in my life, that I can trust in that She loves me and cares about me and has my best interests in mind.

Friday, October 25, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 25: Touch

In my mind a good Holiday celebration appeals to and stimulates all senses. The sensory experience of a feast is a huge part of creating memories.
It is also the only way you can separate reality from movies and internet... those appeal only to eyes and ears. You can't feel the softness of a pretty afghan in a movie, you can't taste the delicious looking pie or smell the glorious flowers of a nice decorating photo on the Pinterest. You have to experience that in "real life".
This is very important and a big reason to why you should bother at least a bit and actually do SOMETHING to hallow the Sabbaths.

So, how to appeal and stimulate your sense of touch?

Touch can be manipulated through materials, weight, softness, and comfort. The first thing that comes to mind is blankets, but remember that we feel everything we touch. From door handles to cutlery, our clothes, the floor and everything we sit on... Try to create as much sensory experience and as good sensory experience you can. 

Also, think back to your idea of Samhain. What tactile experience would you associate with those things? How could you express, for example, belonging to a family line through touch? 

It could be, for example, to use some of the items that you have inherited, or if you haven't inherited anything, you could research the time of some of your ancestors, and try to recreate the life as they knew it, by getting antique items. Now, I am rather sensitive when it comes to that, so I can't go and get just any old thing, but I have items my ancestors have hold, even some they have made themselves, and I like to have them available at this time of the year.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 24: Taste

In my mind a good Holiday celebration appeals to and stimulates all senses. The sensory experience of a feast is a huge part of creating memories.
It is also the only way you can separate reality from movies and internet... those appeal only to eyes and ears. You can't feel the softness of a pretty afghan in a movie, you can't taste the delicious looking pie or smell the glorious flowers of a nice decorating photo on the Pinterest. You have to experience that in "real life".
This is very important and a big reason to why you should bother at least a bit and actually do SOMETHING to hallow the Sabbaths.

So, how to appeal and stimulate your sense of taste?

By food, of course. Food, drinks, sweets and snacks. Everything that we put in our mouth we taste.

Taste is not quite as straight forward as the other senses. Taste is more of a holistic experience. We can influence our taste experience by our thoughts. We all know that if we expect to taste something awful, we are most likely to experience the taste as absolutely awful. It's like asking a child to "just taste it, if you don't like it, you don't need to eat it!", and the kid tastes a little tiny bit of something with his/her face wrinkled, already prepared to refuse the food, and immediately when his/her tongue touches the food starts gagging and spitting and expressing in every possible way how disgusting the thing was. Whereas the reaction could have been quite different, if the child had tasted the new thing either without knowing it was there, without any expectations, or among peers who liked the food.
Also, we know that the looks of the food, the smell of the food, the feeling of the food in mouth, the texture, how "slimy" or "chewy" the food is, if there are bits of bone, shots or some such in the food, the sound of eating the food, all that influences the taste experience.

"Atmosphere, colors, aroma, texture and taste impact the sensory appeal of meals. Sounds, sights, smells, feelings and palates make up a total dining experience. Each of the five senses plays an important part in the eating experience."

So - you should really take care of all these things when planning the Samhain menu.

If you haven't got already menu traditions for Samhain, build it on the menu traditions of your family. (If your family doesn't have a menu tradition, or you don't like it, or it doesn't fit your values or for what ever reason, build a new traditions build on other menu traditions, for example Thanksgiving dinner, Pesach Seder or some other such big family dinner.

I know that "disgusting foods" is part of the modern Western Halloween traditions, but I think it would be better for a Samhain dinner to try to make the food look and sound as delicious as possible.

Put a little extra effort on decorating the dishes.
Easiest way is to use edible marigolds (Calendula Officinalis) - use only petals. Marigolds are symbolic to Day of the Dead festivities and they are called "the poor man's saffron". The taste can vary, but these flowers have taste, and they also dye the food yellow, like saffron and turmeric.
Nasturtiums are also very pretty and right color.

You could also carve vegetables, especially carrots. It's relatively easy to carve flowers of carrots.

The easiest way is though to add some fresh herbs. A sprig of parsley makes miracles.

No, not like this... this isn't easy :-D
But you don't need to bother this much :-D

This pinecone appetizer looks interesting, too.
You can use a piping bag to pipe your mash into pretty forms (or make ghosts...)
It's easy to create a "spiderweb" on your starter soup - I like it better like that, off center.
You can serve the stew from a pumpkin

Some other tips, hints and ideas about food:
- serve pickles and condiment sauces. That's a really easy way to add flavor and color to your dinner, and everyone may adjust the meal to their specific taste.
- Don't forget to make all the meals special, from breakfast and lunch to dinner and movie snacks
- watch the smell of cooking - see that you don't burn anything, but that there's a lovely, appetizing smell of food in the air
- warm the plates for warm dishes, cool them for cold dishes. That enhances the eating experience.
- don't throw away your work on letting people eat by the television. Take some time to dine together, and sit down.
- set the table. 
- you can have some nice, soft music in the background, if you want to.

Taste is linked to emotional states, and so it can alter mood and brand perception.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 23: Smell

In my mind a good Holiday celebration appeals to and stimulates all senses. The sensory experience of a feast is a huge part of creating memories.

It is also the only way you can separate reality from movies and internet... those appeal only to eyes and ears. You can't feel the softness of a pretty afghan in a movie, you can't taste the delicious looking pie or smell the glorious flowers of a nice decorating photo on the Pinterest. You have to experience that in "real life".

This is very important and a big reason to why you should bother at least a bit and actually do SOMETHING to hallow the Sabbaths.

So, how to appeal and stimulate your sense of smell?

"Smell is the sense most linked to our emotional recollection. It can create instant connections between a brand and other memories. Neuromarketing studies show that 75% of emotions are triggered by smell. Smell is linked to pleasure and wellbeing, emotion and memory. We remember just 1% of what we touch, 2% of what we hear, 5% of what we see, 15% of what we taste and 35% of what we smell."

To me the smell of Samhain is obviously the pumpkin pie spices and gingerbread spices :-D
But also the smell of wet soil and dying leaves, the crisp frost in the wind, the smell of cold water by the lake... The hint of snow...

Other people think about caramel apples; pumpkin and other root vegetables (not that they have much scent); butter and brown sugar, maple sugar; acorns, almond and nuts; woody scents; smoke... naturally the traditional foods one prepares for Samhain.
Here's some "Halloween Scents"

Most Samhain insences are tree based.

Bay leaves - leaves of several laurels and myrtles.
Resin of benzoin tree
Oil of camphor laurel
Cedar, cypress, pine, sandalwood
Copal and Amber are both tree resins.
Eucalyptus leaves
Frankincense or olibanum, resin from Boswellia trees.
Myrrh is also a resin. These trees one gets insence are called "frankincense and myrrh trees" or "incense trees".
Mastic is a resin obtained from the mastic tree.
Ylang-Ylang is an aromatic oil from the cananga tree's flowers.

Frankly, I would add Juniper to the list.

Artemisia family (mugwort, sagewort, wormwood and tarragon) might be associated with Samhain because of their magical qualities, their association with Artemis or because of their bitter scent with wood-y character. Or because they have sort of wood-y stalks.

Heather is a plant that typically flowers late autumn (and has a wood-like stem)

Lavender is to me typical "old lady scent" (and also has a bit of wood-like stem.)

Yarrow, a wood-y stalked plant used in divination.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice and/or cloves are pumpkin pie and gingerbread spices. In the German gingerbread spice, Lebkuchengew├╝rz, there's also coriander, cardamon and mace, sometimes even aniseed and black pepper, and sometimes citrus scents, orange, lemon, bitter orange (pomerange) and bergamot, but I don't associate citrus to Samhain and autumn, as they get ripe in time to Yule and Imbolc, and also as they are - to me - symbols of sun and summer.
Cinnamon, nutmeg and mace, cloves, allspice and black pepper, are all spices that we get from trees.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 22: Sound

In my mind a good Holiday celebration appeals to and stimulates all senses. The sensory experience of a feast is a huge part of creating memories.
It is also the only way you can separate reality from movies and internet... those appeal only to eyes and ears. You can't feel the softness of a pretty afghan in a movie, you can't taste the delicious looking pie or smell the glorious flowers of a nice decorating photo on the Pinterest. You have to experience that in "real life".
This is very important and a big reason to why you should bother at least a bit and actually do SOMETHING to hallow the Sabbaths.

So, how to appeal and stimulate your sense of sound? And what are the sounds of Samhain?

Sound is very important part of evoking emotions to influence experiences. In movies, sound is even more important than the visual impact. It's the film music and sound effects that color the scenes and make us feel what the film maker wants us to feel. The same scenes change mood by the sounds. If one plays melancholy music behind a love scene, we think it's the last time they see each other. If the music is scary, we are expecting to find out there's something fishy going on. Perhaps one of them is about to kill the other? If the music is epic, magnificent, symphonic, we read great passion in the relationship. If the music is cute and sweet, we smile...

I think it's interesting that I haven't found anything written about this specific subject. All holiday decoration and preparation out there on-line is very much about the classic details, more or less modernized, but not about what in the classics make them classics. Classic love songs are those that create a response and resonance in most of us, of love and being in love. Classic Christmas carols are those that create the response and resonance of Christmas and the values and traditions and wishes we have about it.

So - what are the values, traditions, event, activities, experiences and emotions you associate - or wish to associate - with Samhain? I believe quite a lot of Christmas carols are "traditional", because we want to be connected with our history and culture. I, at least, want the "folk art" connection. I like the German folklore themed Yule, and I know I'm not the only one, because Santa and Mrs. Santa both are dressed in German style folk costumes in Yule-y colors; red, white and green. All the elves are dressed in some sort of Renaissance Fair Yule style. So, my favorite Christmas carols are from time at least 200 years ago. I love Piae Cantiones. (Of course I have some favorites among the modern songs, but my favorite music is very "Pagan". You know, folk music, ethnorock, meditation music, Gothic songs, fantasy and fairytale film music, songs with Pagan theme etc. Here's 15 Pagan songs that are quite OK. If you want to emphasize the fact that Samhain is a Pagan holiday, you use Pagan music to do that.

Sound is a very powerful way to make memories and create Holiday spirit. I know myself that Yule doesn't feel right without the "right" music, my favorite carols. I have a playlist on my MP3 player for just Yule Spirit. :-D Now, there's tons of Christmas songs, but very few for Samhain, with the Pagan message. I have started collecting autumn songs and other songs that deliver the message I associate with Samhain, and I suggest you do the same.

You can listen to the Christmas music, and see how it is build. It's not rocket science to write new lyrics to old songs, and most Christmas music (at least the eldest) is folk tunes with new lyrics. The lyrics aren't especially advanced or great poetry, and mostly just repeating something about Jesus.  I'm not expecting that all Pagans become composers and poets just to get nice music that sets the correct mood, but, as I said, it's not rocket science, and "done is better than perfect". You don't need to write award winning songs and lyrics, just enough to have something that works for you. We really cannot expect that the Western popular culture, that builds on 1700 years of Christian spiritual monopoly, does that for us non-Christians. :-D

Also, one needs to remember that music is not the only auditory stimulant there is. Again, think about Yule.
Jinglebells? The mere sound of sleighbells makes you think of Yule.
What does snow sound? Not only the sound of snow under your steps, but I can hear snow fall. I bet you know exactly what I mean... I'm back in the forest at Yuletime, walking among the trees when the snow falls softly around... I can feel the crisp coldness, the moisture of frozen water, the silence, all voices muffled by snow, I can see the dark branches against the whiteness of snow and the grey, colorless sky... and I feel the winter and Yule.

So - the last day of Autumn, the first day of Winter... what is it like outside? What do you hear when you picture yourself walking in the forest on the first day of November.

Rustle of the leaves? You could always bring in some autumn leaves and sprinkle them on the floor. That way they would not only create the "walking in the autumn leaves" sound, but also the smell and touch, and even the visual effect.

You could also make your leaves of tinted vellum so that you can use them every year. Here's some free printable templates and instructions on how to make autumn leaf wreath and garland.

Here in Stockholm there might be snow already at that time of the year, but most likely it's very wet. It's also cold. It's frosty during the night, so the puddles have been frozen over during the night, so you might here that ice cracking.

How could you repeat that experience in a home?

You could put the punch bowl in the freezer for a while, to make it froze over.

You could make slush punch. If you make cola flavored jello, your punch will looks exactly like the snow slushy puddles of this season. :-D Here's a recipe to ghoul-ade

You could make candy ice. The "sugar glass" looks like clear ice, I think.

Broken Glass cupcakes
stained glass cookies - use clear or light blue candy for ice. If you make the cookie of meringue, you get a little block of ice in snow. If you make it of chocolate cookies, it looks a bit like frozen puddle. The thing is that you are after getting the auditory experience of ice crackling... so make the sugar glass very thin.
Sea glass candy

What about the wind and rain? Autumn storms? I think most songs about wind and rain are very suitable for Samhain. This is Kansas and Dust In The Wind - and I think the melody is so lovely melancholic and the message is very appropriate for this season. :-)

You could also, in stead of the moaning and howling of ghosts and other such sound effects, try to wind the wind whispering in the forest and other such sound effects.

Again, I want to repeat, that this just as everything else I say, is 100% on your terms. Don't do anything that doesn't get YOU to Holiday Mood.

Monday, October 21, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 21: Sight

In my mind a good Holiday celebration appeals to and stimulates all senses. The sensory experience of a feast is a huge part of creating memories.

It is also the only way you can separate reality from movies and internet... those appeal only to eyes and ears. You can't feel the softness of a pretty afghan in a movie, you can't taste the delicious looking pie or smell the glorious flowers of a nice decorating photo on the Pinterest. You have to experience that in "real life".

This is very important and a big reason to why you should bother at least a bit and actually do SOMETHING to hallow the Sabbaths.

So, how to appeal and stimulate your sense of sight?

That's really easy. By providing pleasant sights. :-D

How to do that?

Colors, shapes, symbols, structure, light and shadows, composition, balance, the Golden Ratio... all these things that concern good interior decoration and art.

Top 10 Painting Tips for Strong Composition

It might be unusual to think that when you decorate your home for Holidays, YOU ARE AN ARTIST. You are providing the visual impact to manipulate the emotions of the people visiting and living in your home, yourself included. I think this is important to understand. A room is a 3D-painting, in a way. You are inside the artwork and part of it. This is also the reason to why it matters to think about what you and your family are wearing.

Now, Holidays are passing moments, and the decoration needs to be easily changed by the change of seasons. It's always easier to do this with a "blank canvas" - if you have a home with neutral colors and unified style. The base, the furniture and the overall layout, all the permanent decor is to support this style and not fight it. I don't expect you to change your home all together for Samhain - or for any other of the Big Ones - but I want you to think about this and whenever it comes time to change something; a piece of furniture, or the layout of the home, you think about this and go for a solution that makes your home more yours AND easier to decorate for Holidays. :-D
[Yes, I know, I'm Sabbath Crazy :-D As if you didn't know that too, by now :-D]

If you are feeling in any way uncertain of what is your style, what is the "neutral" canvas for you, I suggest you go to Pinterest and start pinning two kinds of pictures. 1) The neutral, non-Holiday, non-seasonal interior design pictures and 2) Seasonal, holiday decorating pictures, that please you. You can review your boards as many times as necessary, and if you only find a couple of pleasing photos, that's fine. (Now, I'm Pinterest Mad, too, so I have more than 2 boards - more than 1 board for the general interior design and 8 boards for Holiday decorating... :-Z) The thing with that is that when you collect pictures that please you, you'll see your taste and style. This is the general interior design board of mine and this is my Samhain specific board. (Not only decorating, but other ideas and some photos that make me think of Samhain and late Autumn).
One can see with one glance that my style is colorful, bohemian, eccentric arts&crafts style. It's not very modern and clean, and I like having clutter around me. It's a bit baroque.
It's not as easy to see what I like in the Samhain board, as there are not only decorating ideas there, but I should have black, white and oranges, a lot of candles and lanterns, and bats in my home for the "perfect" visual impact to set me to mood for Samhain :-)

This, the visual impact, is one reason to why I talk so much about cleaning. I have a lot of stuff, and it looks easily cluttered and untidy, and that doesn't put anyone in the mood for party, on the contrary. That is depressing and stressful, and that is very much the opposite of what we are trying to achieve here. It's easier to be joyful and serene in a clean, uncluttered environment. Also, maybe we all can't buy all the materials and items needed to create the "perfect" holiday, but we all can clean and tidy up our environment. It's also totally OK to bring in some decoration from outside. If you can't afford any extra decoration, bring in the autumn leaves.

One of the most effective and somewhat affordable ways to decorate for Samhain - or any Holiday - is the textiles. It doesn't cost a lot to get a couple of decorative pillows, a blanket in right color, perhaps even change the curtains and table cloth. Have a Samhain "still life", decorate your altar, have a centerpiece on your dinnertable... something, just one little detail, a focal point, that makes you think about the Sabbath and its significance, is quite adequate. You don't need to go all crazy and decorate to max.

Another way to create the Holiday mood is lighting. The more lamps, candles and lanterns you have, the better. You could move a couple of lamps from other places in your apartment to your living room/entertaining area for the mood, if you can't buy more lamps. There is also easy and cheap ways to create new lampshades to create more seasonal decoration details. Also, don't forget color. A simple piece of tissue paper around a lamp or a silk scarf or piece of organdy over a lamp to change the color of the light is a very effective way of creating mood.

Read also this: 101 decorating secrets from top designers

Just remember what is the Sabbath's significance TO YOU. Don't go by what others want, think or feel. Use the Sabbath correspondence lists as advisory, not as musts or shoulds. If you disagree with something, it's OK. No-one can tell you what things and Holidays mean TO YOU. You need to find it out yourself. I would wish you had a Samhain spirit, a clear vision of what Samhain is all about, and that it was good things.

(Also, some people don't celebrate anything at this time of the year, and that's OK too. I know you don't need my approval, but sometimes it's nice to hear that other people think it's OK too :-D)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 20: The Reason of the Season

I am organizing my Sabbath planners, and I came by some papers I had written some time ago.

We need our Holidays, and we need them evenly divided over the year.
As we work during the days and rest at night,
as we work during the week days and rest at weekends,
so should we also work for 6 1/2 weeks and rest for one week...
People, in every generation, in all cultures and continents, have noticed that this diviton; 86% work and 14% rest, works best. That way we won't get too tired to work nor to not work.

We need the Holidays to be able to rest and notice the passing of the seasons.
We need the Holidays to be able to work the rest of the time without getting burned out.
We need the Holidays to vent our emotions, aggressions and spirit of independence, to remember we are free and lords of ourselves, our feelings and thoughts.
We need the Holidays to get traditions and structure to our lives, an anchoring to the time, culture and society. To history and humankind.
We need the Holidays to get beauty, pleasure, joy and comfort to our lives and something to look forward to.
We need the Holidays to forget for a while all our troubles, worries and strife, our burdens and our misery, and to remember the joys, blessings and pleasures.
We need the Holidays to celebrate these felicities of our lives, to honor and glorify them, to enjoy of and to thank for.

We need the "props" and the settings; food, decorations and activities, to get us to the right mood, so that the Holiday fulfills its purpose.
Some people need a lot of persuasion, outright manipulation, brainwash, to let go of the everyday life, and the USonian holiday movies are very effective at creating the "need". They appeal to our emotions, engage us, and remind us of the good things in life. Watch some of these movies to see what it is they do and how they manipulate our minds.
Unfortunately, if the manipulation is so rough and blunt it can't be ignored, it has the exact opposite effect. We don't want to be manipulated, we don't want to be emotionally blackmailed and forced to feel. We don't want the "holiday message" pushed to our faced and expected to enjoy things just because "it's Christmas!". It gets very uncomfortable and unpleasant, and both those feelings are not what one should feel at Holiday time. One should WANT to celebrate the Sabbaths, not feel FORCED to celebrate them.
Also, these holiday movies and heavy manipulation of our emotions and minds creates a perfect, flawless holiday fantasy, which in turn creates expectations and stress, and that too is counteracting the true purpose of holidays.
So what we need is inspiration, not manipulation.

We also need to follow the seasons and adjust the holidays to the nature, our environments, culture and lifestyle, to our ideology, lifestance and world view. The holidays should strengthen our values. That is the only way we can avoid that the celebration becomes too much, unnatural, unrealistic, complicated, expensive, incomprehensible burden, mere expectation, uncomfortable, stressful and difficult to organize. If we build the holiday on our values and thoughts, the reasons to celebrate are clear, the traditions are practical and sensible and every part of the holiday; food, decoration, entertainment, activities, enhance the good in life.

This is why we need to remember the "reason for the season", focus on the message, the meaning and purpose of the holiday, the symbolism, the cause, and build the holiday structure, traditions and routines on that core.

This is very important to me. 

This is Samhain altar by "katt343"
It looks like a really nice table setting for a "dumb supper", 
except that I would have ironed that tablecloth... >:->

I don't much care if (or why) Christians celebrate Christmas or not, it's 100% their business and none of mine, but I care very much when Christians try to force their values to the Pagan Yule ("Jesus is the reason for the season" and "war on Christmas"), or when they kidnap Jewish holidays and infuse them with their own symbolism, which is very foreign to the Jewish mindset. ("Jesus is the Hanukkah Light of the World", "Jesus is the sacrificial lamb of Pesach"). What ever you believe about Jesus, Christianity is very much younger religion than both Paganism and Judaism, and if you celebrate Pagan or Jewish holidays, you don't start claiming Jesus has anything to do with those celebrations n their original shape and religion, the time of those celebrations, the symbols of those feasts or the reasons of those celebrations. Midwinter Feast IS 100% Pagan holiday. Celebrate Christmas, if you wish, celebrate the birth of your God at Midwinter, like the Pagans do, if you wish, it's as good a date as any, but DON'T EVEN THINK OF CLAIMING JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON. He's not, and you should know better. Don't mix your religious myths with history of religion and anthropology. Know where your TRADITIONS come. 

It's OK to "steal, adopt and borrow" any tradition from any culture and adjust it to your own lifestyle. I have taken much from the Finnish Christian culture, because that is the culture I grew up in, and the symbolism is there. I do share a lot of the values of Finnish Christians, even when I don't share their religious views. Values and ethics have no religion.

Now I have ranted enough. :-D

Saturday, October 19, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 19: Desserts

I like eating soups in Autumn. In my home soups are not quick meals, but they take care of themselves. If there's not enough fluids, the soup becomes a stew, and that's good too, though I like it less than soups. With soup I like to have buttered bread, usually black Scandinavian rye. (I'm Finnish, my husband is Danish, we are both people raised with black rye. Unsweetened. The Swedes like a bit sweeter bread than the Finns and Danes, and back in the 90's it wasn't easy to find unsweetened black rye in Sweden. The situation is much better now.)

What I think suits well as dessert for a bowl of hot soup, is something baked. Like pies and cakes. My husband loves sauce (like most Libras do, have you noticed?) and he wants sauce with cake, too. Frosting is adequate, some glaze, or just whipped cream, but some sort of sauce he must have :-)
Chocolate and coffee (mocca) is also great as Autumn dessert, with the rich brown color that goes so nicely with the Autumn leaves and bare tree branches and bare soil of Autumn.

I think crumble pie is a very nice Autumn dessert, with the rustic feel to it. It's really good eaten with a good vanilla custard or ice cream, perhaps a light dusting of cinnamon, to finish the dessert plate.

Also try this sticky toffee pudding without dates - or with dates, as it's usually made - it's delicious both ways.

Another thing that to me belongs to Autumn are nuts and almonds. Try this walnut crust for your pies. You can use any nuts to make that paleo pie crust.

And of course "pumpkin pie spices" - gingerbread spices... cinnamon, allspice, gloves, nutmeg, ginger, cardamon... this chocolate pumpkin cheesecake combines about everything about Autumn into one delicious treat. This roasted pumpkin spice cake doesn't sound bad either :-)

 Country Living's dessert table. 
I love that aqua pedstal in the middle of all the brown and orange shades... 
such a nice contrasting color click!

Here's a very nice article about "holiday open house" - and the dessert table.  That would not be a bad idea for Samhain. Perhaps a combined "open house" and "mute dinner"?

For cookies, you could try this pecan shortbread with chocolate drizzle.

Very nice fall dessert recipes

Now... to me lemons and oranges have absolutely nothing to do with this time of the year. Cranberries and lingonberries are there to provide the tartness, if that's what you desire. You could try a cranberry meringue pie. [Replace cranberries with lingonberries, if you life in Scandinavia ;-)]

Friday, October 18, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 18: Family Devotion

My husband and I have a devotion every morning and evening. We discuss about our plans for the day in the morning, and about how our day was in the evening. We talk about other things, too, and do some other things, and end it with a prayer and a kiss.

Yes, I know, sounds like Christianity, and neither of us is Christian, but God, prayer, devotion and spirituality is not Christian. (Or Christian only, I suppose I should say.)

Now, I'm going to talk about family devotion time and kids' activities, even though we don't have children. [If we did, they would be included to this. My husband would also bless our children at every Shabat, just like he reads the "A woman of valor" to me every Shabat :-) (And even though I am not Jewish, it's me who lights the Shabat candles and bless his G-d, and I bake the Challah.)]

I started this blog to increase the spiritual aspect of Paganity, and the connection with God. (Or Gods, if you have more than one. I am such a rarity as monotheist Pagan, so my husband's and my spiritual views fit well together, even though there are some elementary differences, which make us a Jew and a Pagan :-))

The Church of  LDS have this "family home evening", and I think it's a great idea.
Songs and Stories for Samhain

recipe for a soul cake :-)

Family Halloween activities - sounds great :-) Though I miss the spiritual part of Samhain.
Halloween shouldn't be about scary things only. Vampires, mummies and zombies don't even really belong to this time of the year... because the scary "monsters" and ghosts of Samhain are part of the borders being open at this time of the year, so the spirits of ancestors (= ghosts) and lifeforms from other dimensions and worlds (= monsters) were being perceived, experienced, sensed... it's not about the monsters of this world, like fully human serial killers or corps.
On the other hand... part of our modern culture is to put all the monsters to live in "their world", like in "Addams Family", "Halloween Town" or "Hotel Transylvania".
Who am I to say that a mummy isn't someone's forefather coming to visit their descendants?
Also, I believe all the alien stories are today's version of all the fairy stories of olden age. (That's also something to discuss...)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 17: a bit about astrology and more about decoration

Now it's just two weeks to Samhain eve. At least, for me. My Samhain date is always 1/11, so the last day of October is Samhain eve. If you have a different date, plan accordingly ;-)

Astrologically the date of Samhain is when the Sun is 15 degrees Scorpio, and that's on 7th of November, which also happens to be the midpoint of Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice. (Or 6th, actually. Not that big a difference.)

I have been focused on cleaning and organizing and lists for so long, that now, when all that is done, and everything more I do on that is just petty details... I don't know what to do :-D
I was lying in my bed and thinking about what to do, when I realized that I haven't decorated yet :-D
And then I realized that the groundwork is done. I don't NEED to think about sorting and cleaning and all that. I don't need to think about decluttering. I don't need to... oh, how wonderful!

So - I have already a holiday decoration plan, which I just adjust to the specific holidays. I have a plan for each room, and then some details, like the door and windows. I don't have a fireplace and mantelpiece, but I have a low bookshelf, which works like a mantelpiece. I do love decorated mantelpieces :-)

This mantelpiece is from Emerald Interior Design.
It's not fully my style or to my liking, but the composition is nice.
I like those painted boughs, and the Boo! pillow :-)
But there's some nice ideas there in that blog. :-)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 16: holiday binder

So, it's mid-month. Two more weeks to the Big Day. :-)

Now, this is a bit "late", as I might have needed to talk about it already in the beginning of the month, but better later than never, isn't it? :-)

Living Intentionally Free Printable

She does have a point. Not only as a SAHM, but my time tends to slip away on social media, just like hers. It's so easy, so lovely, to spend time on Pinterest, and I get a feeling of doing something... perhaps not the most important something I could be doing, but neither the most unimportant. I do get ideas, tips, inspiration, advice and so on. It was on Pinterest I found the idea of a household binder, too.

Oh, and my Sabbath binders are going to cost only some 40 cronas a piece, 320 cronas, and that's less than I expected. (Yes, I know, it's about twice as expensive as similar would be in USA. I don't live in USA.) But the extra wide register pages are going to ruin me :-D So I need to make them myself.

I am going to talk a bit more about that. That is, my Sabbath binders. I started collecting all my notes on the different Sabbaths in the 20th century. (Yes, I know, that wasn't even 15 years ago... Fifteen years ago... feels like just yesterday we celebrated 2K... And now it's 2013. Soon to be 2014...). In 1990's I had so much information about each Sabbath, that I could move it all to their own folders. Right now I'm getting so much paper and information that I will need binders for each Sabbath. And after I started keeping the household binder, I added a Sabbath part to that, and it didn't take long (like 2-3 days) before my household binder was too small for Sabbath information...

So I decided to have 8 binders, one for each Sabbath, and have all the general information copied for each of them, so that I only need to take down one binder when I need it. Right now I have one general Sabbath binder, the 8 folders and one Holiday Planner, to which I move the current Sabbath information from its folder... but that's really bothersome, so I want to get eight binders, and... yeah. I already said that, didn't I :-D

This is the main "villain" of the story:
Make Christmas planner notebook

Create your own Holiday Organizer
create a removable binder cover
How to create a holiday planner
make a holiday planner
Christmas planner printables
create your own holiday organizational manual

Some suggestions on the dividers and here's some, too

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 15: Meaning of Samhain

So - what is it with Yule that makes it so special to us Europeans? (I'm talking about Europeans only, because I know nothing about the others on this planet and how they relate to Yule; and with Europeans I mean us white people, also those in Americas and Australia and South Africa. We are all Europeans, what ever those not born in Europe think. (And with "white" people I don't only mean the shade of your skin. All humans are more or less brown, from beige, nude and blush to darkest chocolate. Skin-colored. So being "white" according to me, is having the European mindset due to having been born and raised in an European culture.)

One explanation is that Winter Solstice is the time when "Sun is reborn". The days start getting longer and the weather warmer... but it takes a couple of weeks, even months, before anything of that is noticeable.

It is also in the middle of the winter... perhaps people get tired of snow, cold and darkness after having stood out the whole November and most of December. November in Finnish is "marraskuu", the month of death and dying. Marras comes from the same root as Latin Mors.

There wasn't much one could do during winter, sit inside and try to entertain oneself the best one could. Not much light to read or craft - so most women learned quickly to knit, spin and weave without seeing what they did. Most textiles prepared during the wintertime are quite simple and pale; ordinary, everyday household things, like sheets and stockings. The fine embroidery, stranded knitting and special weaving techniques were done during the summer when there was plenty of light. (If you don't believe me, ask any crafting woman. People don't do petit points without seeing what they are doing.)

So storytellers were very popular back in the "dark" ages. One didn't need to see to listen or tell stories. Storytellers were the books of that time, and most people knew how to tell a story.

Another explanation is that midwinter was the time of "meat harvest" - slaughtering the animals - because it was so cold. Perhaps Yule is the fourth harvest feast, to celebrate the bounty of meat and God's goodness and generosity, when She brings us animals to kill...  Yule, especially in Scandinavia, is a meat-eater's dream. There's all parts of the pig prepared in different manners, ham, sausages, head cheese and trotters, pies and dishes of every kind, served with different side dishes designed to accompany the meat in the best possible way; like cranberries/lingonberries, apple, cabbage and root vegetables.

So - why wouldn't we love the time when there was plenty of food to eat, and nothing to do except listen to stories. My idea of a heaven is a huge library with plenty of big, comfy chairs, tea that is always warm and fragrant, candy, cats and a soft blankie.

To me Yule is being together with your loved ones and doing lovely things. Like eating delicious food, getting presents, playing games, reading books, watching nice movies... together.

From the earlier Samhain celebrations in my life I remember best the masquerade parties with good friends, and how lovely our home looks decorated with black and orange, with candles everywhere, and my familiar, Midde (Medea), a black cat who was very, very good at her job. :-) I remember sitting on the couch enjoying my home and she was lying in my lap and purring...

And every time I think of Samhain, I remember the feeling of having my ancestors near. I feel belonging. I am the next link on the chain from the very first beings that could be called human to this day, the eternal silver chain of life... I carry in me their blessings and their wisdom... and I feel safe. I feel loved. I feel right.

Monday, October 14, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 14: Activities involving the community

What about organizing a Samhain Market? Have people sell food, drink and seasonal items from open-air stalls accompanied by singing and dancing and other entertainment, a bit like a Renaissance Fair.
Have a "May Queen" or "Christkind" or "Lucia" chosen among the members of the community and create an event around her crowning. It's always a pretty girl chosen, and this was the origin of beauty pageants... but what about giving it a little twist? Choose a crone instead of a maiden... I think I'd like it. An elderly woman who isn't afraid of being elderly and having wrinkles and grey hair. Perhaps some sort of Baba Zimoy.

And what about a Samhain Parade? It would be lovely with people in costume... a bit like Carneval. (I just read that Carneval is probably a tradition based on Roman Isis festivities. Nice.) I really don't like the Key West version "Fantasy Fest", even though they collect a lot of money for AIDS. Apparently the world is full of people who haven't seen naked women, but to me it's more like "have seen one, have seen them all". Some have nicer boobs than others, but boobs are boobs. And some have really bad boob job. But there's boobs everywhere (except for some reason it's not ok to breastfeed... :-D), and I'm fed up. There are other things in life than sex.

There are other ways to celebrate and have fun that drink too much and have sex. (Though that's ok, too, every now and then. Would be more ok, if it wasn't the only idea of "having fun" people seem to have. Beltane used to be especially bawdy holiday... Now that's "normal". ):-( ) I suppose I'm just disappointed. I was imagining something more joyous, free and enthusiastic, about people loosening up, opening up, blossoming by pretending to be someone else. Well... I suppose that's exactly what people do at Fantasy Fest. It's like a combination of Spring Break, Gay Parade and Girls Gone Wild, except for straight middle-aged people. *sigh*

Well... in Germany they are arranging a lantern walk at St.Martin's day, which is 11/11. Close enough.

Why would you have family photos only for Yule? You can even start a new tradition... be the witch of the neighborhood and let the parents have a photo of a witch with the kids. This time the babe crying their heads off because they dislike the situation is at least appropriate. :-D (Or not really. Because witches are not evil. Or not all of us. Or not more than other human beings. And we don't melt in water, either. Or have green blood. Vulcans might, but witches are not Vulcans. :-D)

"Nightly carriages and pony rides, fresh hot chocolate and festive holiday music..."

Autumn picnic

I think it might be interesting to create autumn leaf statues, with chicken wire dressed with autumn leaves. I can imagine people could get really creative. This could happen for Mabon and stand to Samhain... and then they can be burned. :-D (says the pyromaniac in me...)
Or Arcimboldo harvest sculptures?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 13: Game night

* game night - special games adjusted for Samhain - you can make your own board game just for Samhain.

Gather different games especially suitable for this time of the year in a special Samhain game box.

10 best games for a Halloween family game night

Make your own "I spy" pictures with Samhain related objects.

I like this lady's ideas about a game night (weekend) :-D

I like these ideas for Halloween games. They have all kinds of groups, like games for teens, games for children etc.

"This is a game my theater class played. It can be played any time of the year, but it can also go with Halloween.

You're going to need at least 10 people in a group (assuming you have that many).

Have everyone in a circle and declare one person 'God'. Now, everyone except 'God' "goes to sleep".
God chooses one person to be the doctor, and another to be the judge.
Then God chooses three people to be 'the Mafia' and wakes them up, so that they can see each other. They are to choose one of the others to be "killed" without talking. Then they go back to sleep.
Now God wakes up the Doctor who is to choose one of the others to be "saved", and goes back to sleep.
Then God wakes up the Judge, who is to choose one of the others he/she suspects of being a mafia member, and goes back to sleep.

Then God wakes up everyone, and tells the story about how the Mafia tried to kill a person.
If the Doctor chose this person to save, the Mafia failed to kill this person. If not, the person dies, and leaves the circle.
Then God tells that the Judge condemned of them for the murder / attempted murder, and he/she was executed, and leaves the circle. God tells the people in the circle if he/she was guilty or innocent.
If the judge gets killed, the townspeople get to discuss and choose the one they accuse.
If the doctor gets killed, there is no-one to "save" the murder victims.
The game goes on until there are only Mafia members left in the circle, or no Mafia members."

Apple games

Samhain Soothsaying

Halloween games from the past

How to host a murder mystery party?

Night of Mystery - a very nice site about Murder Mystery Parties
"Doughnut on a String
Hang doughnuts on a string, blindfold the players, and see who can eat an entire doughnut first, without the use of their hands.

Guess that Ghoul
Write bunches of move character names or halloween games/ghouls on small cards.
Fold them up and put them in a box or tin.
Have a person reach in and take a card.
They must act out what is on the card (i.e, cat, Jason X, ghost, vampire, Elvis, Edward Cullen, Apple bobbing) and have the others guess what or who it is.
Everyone loved this XD
You don't have to have much room to do it, just enough to have seats for everyone else and light on the actor.

Scary Stories
Tell scary stories in complete darkness and try to scare other players. (have someone who has not been part of the group from the beginning to play tricks on them. i.e, drip 'blood' on them, make scary noises, touch them)

Play hide and seek in your yard, hiding behind trees.
The first one to be caught by the ghost (someone in a white sheet/white clothing) has to do something scary.

Have somone dress in a scary costume with a mask.
The goal is to find five pieces of candy (or other things) hidden in the house without being touched. "

Samhain themed Mad Libs


Haunted House

20 fun family game night ideas

Invent your own Pagan themed games. Once upon the time none of these games existed... someone invented them. You can, too :-)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 12: Cleaning the kitchen

Today is the time to deep-clean the kitchen, all ready and tidy for the New Year.

Here's how it's done at Organized Home: Kitchen

Here's Living Well, Spending Less Spring Cleaning kitchen with printable checklist

Complete kitchen cleaning check-list

Spring cleaning kitchen checklist printable

Spring cleaning your kitchen with printable checklist

And when you are done, you can look at these "clever ideas for kitchen"

And here's something totally different :-D

Button weave:

If you sew buttons together like this, you get button weave, that you can use to make different things, like baskets or mats.

Friday, October 11, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 11: Ancestors

This is my 300th blog post in this blog! Wow! :-)

What is Samhain all about?

Death. Old age. Heritage. Ancestors. Tribe. Belonging. Silver lines. My place in life and universe – in the circle of life. Destiny. Fate. Divination. Otherkin. Other dimensions and lifeforms. We Are One. Gaia. Winter. Night. Eternal night. Funerals. Burial grounds. Cemeteries. Day of Dead. Rest. Eternal sleep. Sleep.

To me Death has always been Sleep's brother. 
“And there the children of dark Night have their dwellings, Sleep and Death”

I also associate to the Tarot card, Death 

Samhain is the last day of Autumn and the first day of Winter. 

Sun God is dead and Goddess is old and mourning her son. 

Isn't it interesting how the Pagan imagery can be found everywhere...
And to those Christians who are snickering because this is a Catholic statue...
try to remember WHAT is being depicted here...
Some imagery is clothed in words...

Antoine Caron; the triumph of winter - the Winter is represented by an old woman, sitting in a carriage drawn by white herons.

Winter, the nighttime of the year, is also symbol of death and old age. Samhain, being the gate of Winter, is a good time to think about people who are old and the blessings of old age. Our modern, Western culture is so horribly focused on youth, that we are ignoring the elderly and believe they have nothing of value to offer. Everywhere I look I see people trying to stay and look younger than they are, especially women. I would love for people to go to the Elders to learn, to sit down and admire what is worth admiring... Well... beauty is worth admiring as well, but... some people celebrated (as in celebrity, you know) are not quite worth it.

I saw Carrie Fisher's "Wishful Drinking" and she is just marvelous :-) Now, she is not old, she's one year younger than my oldest sister, but she is not young either. Another not-young woman who is amazing is Betty White. These ladies have the same kind of humor as my mother and her sister... and I assume my sisters and I have it too.

How about you and the female Elders of your family? Samhain is perfect time to connect backwards, to your roots, your heritage, your tribe, clan and family, and ancestors.

I always feel my family especially close at Samhain. I can see the silver lines connecting me to my parents to their parents and on and on to the first human... This is a very good time to do different family and ancestry related things. Find out more about your genealogy and express some heritage pride. It's not just minorities that should be proud of their ancestry.
To find inspiration, go to Pinterest and search "genealogy" at boards.

* Write a letter to distant relatives, especially the old ones.
* Visit a family grave.

* Think about your ancestors, tell their stories to the next generations

* If you don't have any, adopt an ancestor.

Genealogy, ancestry is about belonging. It's about my place in the circle of life. As we all know, death is part of the circle of life, but it's not all there is... and all that is what Samhain is about. Time. Hours. Fate. Destiny... Circle of Life. Divination is easy at this time of the year, because the veil between worlds, dimensions and existences is very thin at this moment. For a moment we all belong to every world and every lifeform, every form of existence is part of our ecosystem. The time, future, past, is the same... Samhain is about the fact that We Are One.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

31 Days of Inspired Holidays: day 10: Cook together

* Cook together. Teach your children/spouse how to make your family tradition food. Come up with new family tradition delicacies together, making the things you most like of what is available and in season right now.

* Make seasonal conserves, spices, relishes, and other such things for Samhain and to give as presents to all your friends and relatives. The harvest is coming in as we speak, and there's plenty of things to do. Try something new and exciting.

* Make candy together.

* It's always fun to bake and decorate cookies together, so gather the family in the kitchen for baking.

* Gingerbread houses are not for Yule only. The spices are mostly the same, and you can make houses of most cookie doughs, it doesn't need to be gingerbread. Try your favorite cookie dough.
Decorate a real haunted cookie house for Samhain decoration. It's fun to do, and a really nice decoration, and then it's fun to eat after Samhain.

And here comes a rant. I know, I'm a ranting person. Sorry about this.
It's really not that a big deal to make a gingerbread house. I mean... there are these plastic thingies, "reusable" "gingerbread" houses... you just put them together and decorate with candy, and that's it. After the party you take the house apart, wash it and store, as just another piece of crap taking place. A REAL gingerbread house - or sugar cookie house, if you want to use candy that doesn't go with the special gingerbread taste - and most candy doesn't, I think - is broken into pieces, demolished, and devoured by delighted little vandals, and THAT's the most fun part of these edible pieces of decoration.

"Who has time today to bake, assemble and decorate a gingerbread house?" and "Nobody has time to bake and assemble a gingerbread house these days. There just isn't enough time to do it all."
And then I read this review
"I don’t know how many times we have bought a gingerbread house at Christmas time only to eat the candy off the top and maybe a shingle or two off the roof.  Quite frankly no one in our house (except me) eats ginger so the thought of a ginge-rless house that we can all enjoy without the leftover soggy house sounds perfect to me."
I'm sorry, but if your house is "soggy", you are doing something very, very wrong. Now, I don't know where in the world this lady lives, but if the weather is too hot to build a gingerbread house in February, then she probably lives quite down South. And perhaps she should review her holiday traditions AND STOP TRYING TO CELEBRATE A FEAST AS IT'S DONE IN NORTHERN EUROPE!!! Of all the stupid people... Plastic houses just to... Grr!

Also, IT DOESN'T NEED TO BE GINGERBREAD! It can be sugarcookies, or any other dough that is rolled out and cut and baked and that hardens when it cools down. Any dough that behaves like gingerbread dough. Is this somehow difficult to realize? Am I saying here something revolutionary? I suppose I am... considering that there are people out there, who wouldn't be able to create whipped cream without some frozen ready-made gunk. I can tell you, that when I read at Pinterest a woman's amazed revelation of how easy it is to make whipped cream - you just pour the cream in a bowl and WHIP IT!!! - "I'll never buy the ready made stuff again!" - I found it hard to accept that she wasn't just being sarcastic. So - how could I expect people like that would realize that a "gingerbread house" doesn't need to be made of gingerbread... 

For your information, in Germany they have made cardboard houses, each piece carefully lined with parchment paper or aluminium foil, if they want to have a candy house that's more durable than a house made of cookie dough. Now, THAT would be a better idea. It's not EASY to build constructions of cookie dough, so I can understand that many won't. But - to get a little plastic house, that's the same every year, just to be able to "glue" pieces of candy on the house...

And also, I reacted on that in the review she says that it's a good idea to get two bowls of candy, one for the house and another for kids to eat as they decorate... If your child isn't old enough to not eat something he/she may not eat - like candy that is meant for decorating a candy house, or cookies made for a wedding, or what ever it is - he/she isn't old enough to be alone around anything edible, especially sweets and treats. A 4-years-old should know the difference of "mine" and "yours", and should know that everything belongs to someone, and if it doesn't belong to me, it's not mine to do anything with. I may not eat candy I find lying around, even if it's lying in a candy bowl on the table by which my mommy is busy using the candy to decorate a plastic house with. Isn't that basic manners? Pish.