Samhain History and Herbs

Samhain (pronounced SOW-in) time is upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere!

Traditionally Samhain is one of the higher Sabbats, which traces its roots back to the ancient Celtic Pagan culture. On the Pagan wheel of the year, Samhain is New Year’s, a time to reflect upon that which has passed and prepare for the new changes to come in the following year. It is also viewed as a time to honor loved ones who have deceased, and when those left in this past year will move on to the next spiritual plane. The veil that separates the world of the living and the world of the dead is believed to be lifted, allowing us the opportunity to communicate with our ancestors. You may wish to set an extra place at the dinner table and light a candle as an invitation to wandering spirits, or simply meditate and reflect upon those that have come before us to celebrate their lives and mourn their passing.

In centuries past, Samhain was also the time of the year’s final harvests, when the last of the crops were taken in and livestock not reserved for next year’s breeding was slaughtered to prepare an ample supply of food for the coming months. (Remember, these were times when there was no refrigeration and fresh food wasn’t being shipped in from warmer climates.) The Celts believed that any crops left after Samhain were tainted and not to be eaten, but instead became an offering for the nature spirits, or faeries. This was a time when faeries were most active, on their last night to run around and play their best pranks before seeking shelter from the cold of winter. This may be where the origins of trick or treating come from as well, since to leave an offering of milk or food for the fae folk would insure their blessings, but those who were stingy and left no offerings were victims or their pranks and tricks!

Some of the traditional herbs for Samhain include calendula, mandrake, mugwort, oak leaves, rue, sage and wormwood.

Magickal Properties

Calendula (or Pot Marigold) comfort, health, psychic dreams and protection

Mandrake money, love, sexual potency and fertility, protection and exorcism

Mugwort healing, protection, psychic powers, and strength

Oak Leaves prosperity, protection, health and fertility

Rue health and comfort

Sage aiding memory, wisdom, protection and purification

Wormwood(or absinthe) divination, love and protection

Some of the foods associated with Samhain are pumpkin, apples, corn, turnips, pomegranates, and beef and pork dishes. Here are a couple quick recipes for healthy fall snacks!

Peanut Butter Apples

You can use any kind of apple for this recipe, my favorites are Red Delicious and Macintosh. For each apple you will need

2 Tablespoons peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
1/2 – 1 Tablespoon golden raisins
Cinnamon to taste
Honey(optional)

Wash and core apples. In a medium sized bowl combine peanut butter, raisins and cinnamon and stir with a spoon until blended. Fill the middle of apples with peanut butter mixture and cut into 3/4 inch thick slices. If there is any remaining peanut butter mixture, you can spread some on top of each slice. Drizzle honey over each slice. These taste so good that they are quite addicting, but thankfully, they are also healthy!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

When carving out those pumpkins, don’t throw away those seeds. When roasted, they make a delicious, healthy snack! You will need:

Seeds from one pumpkin
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Salt to taste

Pre-heat over to 350-375ºF degrees. Clean all pulp from pumpkin seeds and pat dry. Lay the seeds out in a single layer on a shallow baking dish or cookie sheet. Spray with a light coating of any vegetable oil cooking spray, olive oil has the best flavor, but any variety will work just fine. You can also use butter if desired, but this will add extra fat and cholesterol to your pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle salt over oiled seeds and bake in oven until golden and crispy, turning at least once. They should only take about 15 minutes to roast, but just keep an eye on them. Remove from oven and let cool completely before munching! They can be stored in an airtight container and make a great snack by themselves, and are also tasty on salads or in soups!

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