Monday, 1 November 2010


Sometimes, after a celebrating a festival, I have these niggles. Things might not have gone right, or the way I wanted them to. Things might feel just a, somehow; like I haven't really connected, or connected as much as I'd like to, and I'm missing something, somewhere. Sometimes, maybe I'm just being too caught up in the details, and my biggest problem is not being able to let go and really give it up. Sometimes, maybe deep down, I know there's a hint I should be taking - a warning I've received that I just don't want to take on board, or else I've done something wrong and have a bit of making up to do. More offerings, more readings, lots of thinking usually helps sort that out.

This morning, sititng here after a night of celebrating, I don't have those niggles or worries. Or maybe a little, deep down, because I'm not having those it's niggling. But that's just me. I'm used to me and my brain after all these years. Things went well, I think.

We started the general Hallowe'en theme on Friday, really, with the Hallowe'en parade at school for the primary school kids. I invited my mother-in-law because she was keen to see the kids in their costumes and just wanted to be Nana, I think, so the more the merrier for that (and yes, inevitably she brought half of the 'seasonal aisle' from the supermarket with her for the kids). Tom went to school as a Power Ranger (although I've no idea which one, aside from the fact that he was 'the red one') - he was adamant that he wanted to go as a Power Ranger because Nana had given him a fancy helmet at her birthday dinner, she'd found it in a cupboard, destined to be a birthday present for a child she never saw again, so decided Tom should have it. It has lights on it and all that, so it's officially the best thing ever in Tom's eyes. See?

And yes, Rosie went as a witch. Whether she was supposed to be a good witch or a bad witch, only Rosie knows, because she forebore to comment on that...

Tom was supposed to go to a school disco in the evening, but just as I picked them up from school my cold was starting to really settle in, and after dinner and some cold medicine it completely slipped my mind. Whoops. But he got to go to a party the next day at a friend's house, while Rosie and I decorated some shortbread 'people' and set the garden in order for the winter - it turned out it was too waterlogged for much more than a light lawnmow, but at least it's a bit tidier than it was now.

And then after the party, hyped up on sugar and who knows what else, we did our seasonal picture and started on the carving. The kids decided that snow is what winter's all about, so we did snowmen. Or snow beings. For once, I stood back and let them do it, aside for helping with a bit of gluing here and there:

Tom's is on the left, wearing a decidedly pimp hat. Rosie's is a snow bird; she insisted it should have wings.

We had an embarrassment of turnips and pumpkins this year, which took a while to carve, although none of the tumshies were my own that I grew this year. I decided to pick those just before the full moon, which seemed to be an auspicious time for it, and it turns out they'd been pretty badly munched on the outside (by slugs, I presume, but I'm not quite sure, really). They weren't any good for carving but I figured they'd keep long enough for me to at least use them in the stew I was intending to make for our Samhainn dinner, but no. They were a little too soft and weren't looking too good, so oh well. They weren't in good shape and I had reservations about using them at all, anyway, the squidgyness just sealed it for me.

So in the end, I bought some tumshies, and a couple of pumpkins, and Nana arrived on Friday with two more pumpkins. For most of them, the kids designed the faces and then I drew them on and carved them out:

Mr Seren and I did the two largest pumpkins in the middle - his is the cheerful one on the right, and mine's on the left. Tom was quite enthusiastic about doing some scary faces, so most of the rest are his designs (including the tumshie in the middle, with what looks like a handlebar moustache. Stylish). It was good to have the whole family involved, and it added to the festive atmosphere.

I carved two on Saturday and the rest of them yesterday. After I'd done some devotions and offerings, we set the lanterns out on the sideboard by the dining table while we had our Samhainn feast. I used some of the turnip for a mash with some carrots, and we had a beef stew (with some of my homegrown leeks) and potatoes too. Then we moved the lanterns to the window in the front room, along with some tasteful battery operated lanterns that flashed on and off in all different colours (we had a green skull, a white ghost, and a green spider) to let guisers know we were ready, and the kids got changed into their costumes. Tom was a Power Ranger again, and Rosie settled on dressing as Satan's Little Helper after I persuaded her out of the fairy outfit she really wanted to put on...

And so, as we waited for the guisers to come, we did some dookin' for apples:

And then Blind Man's Bluff, Musical Bumps and Musical Statues, and I sat down with the kids and showed them some photos of my grandparents - the only photos I have of any ancestors, really. I told them about my Grandads and my Granny (all the dead ones, that is), and had a good time reminiscing before our first guiser knocked on the door (who turned out to be Tom's best friend, dressed as a vampire). The rest of the guisers came in fits and spurts until we ran out of sweeties and nuts at around 8pm (and then closed the curtains and removed the lanterns from the window), just in time for the kids to have a bath and then bed. They were extremely hyper and overtired, but didn't struggle with sleep too much. Most of the guisers put on a good show for their treats, and had jokes and songs at the ready. Why did the skeleton not cross the road? Because he didn't have the guts...Arf.

With the kids in bed, that left me to do my own devotions, more offerings, a saining, and putting up protective charms. At the front door we have our Samhainn guardian, Will the Skellington (as Rosie has dubbed it), keeping lookout for us (he's been up for a week or so now), but I usually make a rowan charm to hang at each festival so wanted to do that. I couldn't find any rowan but coincidentally one of the cow beads I used as a charm for my hobhouse at Lùnastal was lying on the floor by the back door. I've no idea why it was there, but I took that as a hint and used that instead. All good. I took a little time to raise a glass to my ancestors, including Badb, who I consider to be my ancestor deity, and those I know (or know of) who've died recently, and then just took some time to sit and listen and reflect. All was still and peaceful. Before bed, I put out some food and drink, as I usually do.

I woke this morning to a magpie sitting on the fence by the offerings I left out the back, staring right in before flying off when I saw it, so to me that seems to be a good sign (I have a thing for magpies). I've had corvids of all kinds coming and going all morning, too, in a good orderly fashion. I'll be finishing things off this evening with some bannocks (or something along those lines), and some closing offerings, so I'm not quite finished yet, but it's been a good festival so far, not least because the kids really got into the spirit of it all and we all joined in. It's good that they're getting to the age where they want to get involved in things, even if it's just like having a party to them.

Next year we'll probably take the kids out guising and I might try some charms in a bowl of crowdie or mash; I'll have to think about what sort of charms I can use, seeing as marriage isn't exactly something the kids are particularly worried about...Rosie would like a party, too. I'm not sure about that, though. That would involve being sociable. And having the house overrun by screaming children...