I play this every year at Samhain. Wendy Rule is an Australian artist who was most popular in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I’m not sure if she’s still performing much these days, but this is a classic.
As I sit here and reflect on Samhain, the sky is a brilliant azure blue, the sun shines high and clear, and the evenings have just started to cool enough to put a heavier blanket on the bed. The weather on The Pagan Fringe of Western Sydney at the end of April doesn’t exactly scream WINTER to me just yet.
With that in mind, how will you celebrate or mark Samhain? Remember, the veil is thinnest at Samhain and Beltane, so take advantage of that if you’re looking to do some magick.
Here are some other suggestions:
Feast of the Dead: Prepare a Samhain feast with fresh local seasonal produce – look out for kumera/sweet potato, it was a good price last week (18/04) Perhaps make a pot of roasted sweet potato soup? Set at an extra place at your table and provide a portion of your food aside (that you don’t eat) to honour your ancestors. Invite them to dine with you. After the meal, leave the food outdoors and if necessary, thoughtfully dispose of in the morning.
Visit a cemetery: Visit the graves or places of remembrance of your loved ones. Leave flowers or an offering. If you don’t have any relatives close by, visiting a cemetery close to Samhain is still a beautiful and peaceful thing to do. This is probably most relevant for me now. I’m at a stage in my life, where sadly, I have lost more of my family than I have left. But as I was reminded during a memorial service for a friend last week, they’re not gone. They’ve just moved on and are still mostly able to be contacted. That’s what we mean when we refer to the veils being ‘thin’. Reach out now if you need to.
Moon watch: Observe the new moon setting in the west. The dark moon was yesterday, quite fitting on ANZAC Day, so look to the Western sky over the next few days approaching sunset and look for the sliver of the moon as it sets. Watch it from now until Sunday and each day reflect on what Samhain means to you.
This looks like an excellent recipe for roasted sweet potato soup. Enjoy!
We had our second Pub Pagan Social meet up last night at Seven Hills. The topic for discussion was ‘Samhain’ however we quickly dealt with that and moved on to discuss next fortnight’s topic of ‘Community’ and what that might mean to those attending. Don’t worry, we’ll continue the conversation next fortnight too!
In short, what we discovered is that for many of us, our idea of what the pagan community’s need (and yes, there are multiple because it’s not just one community anymore), is dated. Many of us have been in private practice or well out of public circulation for many years so we figured what we need to do now is listen. We need to listen to what *you* want.
So, what *do* you want in a pagan event in Western Sydney? What will inspire you to attend something in the flesh? What’s important to you? And why?
A few factors which might inspire your response:
- Location – close to home or easy to get to? Need public transport?
- Cost – free or low cost?
- Child or family friendly – do you want to bring your kids? Or ensure that there won’t be any children attending?
- Specific approach or path? Witchcraft, Egyptian, Heathen, Occultist, Ceremonial Magick, Wiccan, Eclectic Pagan?
- Accessibility – for many reasons, is the venue accessible?
- Public or Private location – maybe you’d feel more comfortable in a public location? Or private?
- Lack of familiarity – new to the scene, don’t know anyone…
- Opportunity to learn something unusual or something that just cannot be taught from a book
- Celebratory – I want to celebrate the Sabbats with someone!
- Etc etc etc – what will inspire your response?
How do I make my voice heard?
- Contribute to the Facebook discussion over here
- Email us! firstname.lastname@example.org
- Leave a comment here on the blog
- Phone us! Yes, we mean it. Maybe pop us through and email and we can arrange to give you a call and we can chat.
- Come and see us face to face at one of our events. The Coffee Collective or the Pub Pagan Social would be best for these kinds of discussions, but really, anytime, anywhere is good. Just reach out and make contact. We want to hear from you!
Come along and join us at the next Pub Pagan Social 4th May 6:30pm-8:30pm Hotel Seven Hills.
It’s funny, the ‘dark half’ of the year in Australia isn’t that dark. Sure, the weather cools (a little), however in Sydney at least, it’s not the harshness of a Northern hemisphere Winter. For me, it’s a time of renewal and rest. Sleep is easier to come by, and cooking doesn’t feel like it’s a chore on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Here are a few things I’m looking forward to:
- marking Samhain this year – last year was raw with another recent death and upheaval in our household. This year will be easier and more fitting to honour my family who have passed.
- celebrating Yule with my family and friends with a feast.
- meeting new people at a few of the events we’ve got coming up around the Western Sydney region. There’s a lot happening, and we’re really feeling a renewed sense of energy and interest in what we’re doing. It’s a good feeling and is helping to build a solid little community.
What are you looking forward to this year? What inspires you at this time?
Even if you’re not looking to cook a massive pot of something delicious in the oven, this stove top chai recipe is incredibly satisfying, very tasty and will fill your kitchen with the most delicious scent. Enjoy 🙂
- 2 Teaspoons English breakfast loose tea or x1 teabag
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 3 Cardamom pods
- 2cm knob of fresh ginger – sliced
- 2 Cloves
- 2 Black peppercorns (whole)
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon of sugar (or more to taste)
- 400mls whole fat milk (dairy milk works best as the sugar will help the recipe to reduce down) You can use almond, soy or other non dairy milk, however the recipe will not reduce to a thick consistency. If using non dairy milk, steep the tea and spices separately for 30-45mins and then add the non dairy milk of choice.
Put English tea into a small saucepan.
Break up the cinnamon stick, bruise the 3 cardamom pods and add to the saucepan along with the 2 cloves, ginger, sugar, pepper and bay leaf. Add the milk.
Boil and reduce down to thick syrup, reducing the liquid by half (being careful not to let the milk catch on the bottom of the saucepan). Strain. If using non dairy milk, you should end up with thick aromatic syrup a similar consistency to condensed milk.
Adapted from this recipe
There’s a lot out there on the internet about how to find a coven. Most of it seems to be quite US centric with the occasional UK resource thrown in. Here’s an Australian version and perhaps one that might be more suited to seekers on The Pagan Fringe of Sydney. I’ve also used the word coven here, although it’s typically used to refer to a group of witches practising together. The group you’re looking for might not involve witches or witchcraft at all, however it might be anything from ceremonially focussed group doing magick, a general earth centred pagan group marking the seasons, or maybe a discussion group or a study group focussing on a particular topic or genre of research/writing. Not everyone needs a coven, however these are some good tips to start with if you’re considering group work of some kind.
- Do some research
- Have a rough idea of what you’re looking for, and your reasons why. At the very least have an idea of the style of paganism that you’d like to explore further. Then you can start to ask the right questions of who you’d like to meet. Asking everyone you meet that you want to meet ‘some witches’ is far too vague.
- Get out to face to face events
- You may find a contact point for a coven or group online, however it’ll be in person where you’ll find valuable connections that you can deepen further if it feels right. Attend whatever local groups and meet ups that you can, even if they’re social meet ups. Especially if they are social meetings, you might score yourself an invite to something else if you get to know a few people.
- Have a look here for more info on what to do if you’ve never attended a pagan event before. Here are some suggested events and ways to find them:
- The Pagan Fringe – we tend to attract people who don’t attend larger or more public events. We’ve met coven leaders, members, occultists, and seekers in the short time we’ve been hosting events since 2015.
- Regular public full moon rituals in Seven Hills. There are regular announcements at these circles about other events coming up.
- Join a Facebook page like Sydney Pagans – it’s a well networked group, particularly in Western Sydney and you might find something relevant to you.
- Use your manners and think about your motives
- Think of it like you’re applying for a job and there is a screening process before you even get to the interview stage. Be polite, demonstrate that you’ve thought about what kind of group you’d like to meet, and have a think about what value you can add. Be upfront and honest.
- Understand the time commitment
- Have a think about how much time you can realistically commit to group or coven work and how that best fits in with the rest of your life. Being a member of a coven is starting a new relationship, with not one, but an entire group of people all at once. It will typically last years and will require regular attendance and contribution. Are you ready for it? Is there space in your life for this? Conversely, taking on a new student is no small task for a coven or a teacher. It’s a massive time and energy investment, so it needs to appear worthwhile for everyone.
- I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard people say ‘when I’m ready, my teacher will appear’ No, no they won’t. Teachers do not go out of their way looking for new students. See my comment above about time and energy commitment. There may be a study group that will advertise their courses and you can join them, however that’s not a coven environment. A teacher (worth learning with) will not *ask* a student to become their student.
As always, keep an open mind and learn to recognise what’s a good and healthy environment or people to get involved with. The following resource is a helpful one when considering working with a new bunch of people.
Best of luck on your journey!
Here are some ideas of what you can do to celebrate the season:
- Go fruit picking with your family or coven
- Check out this list here of places to go within a short drive from Richmond NSW. Most places are free entry and they then charge you per kg for the fruit that you’ve picked. Try apples and chestnuts and bake them up when you get home into delicious Autumn dishes.
- Create an altar
- You can use your usual altar or create a makeshift altar space anywhere in your home. Choose somewhere that won’t be disturbed by animals or children, and set out images of Autumn and the Harvest. If you don’t want to do anything too complex, you could simply light candles and give thanks for blessings of abundance in your life.
- Listen to Mabon themed music
- There are some interesting suggestions here with over 93 songs on their playlist. Something is bound to catch your interest
- Look to the skies
- The sunrises and sunsets are spectacular this time of year. Check out the brilliant blog posts on the March night sky here. The following excerpt is from their post:
Highlights for March 2017
First quarter Moon is on Sunday the 5th at 10:32pm
The Moon will be full on Monday the13th at 1:54am
Last quarter is Tuesday 21st at 2:58am, and
The New Moon is on Tuesday the 28th at 1:57pm
The autumn equinox is Monday 20th at 9:29pm.
One of the nicest vistas will be on March the 1st looking west shortly after sunset. The constellation of Pisces will host Venus which is very bright but it sets at 8:28pm less than an hour after the Sun, Mars which is not bright and the young crescent Moon (~9%). By the 2nd the Moon will have moved from below and to the left of Mars to above and the right.
- Spend some time meditating amongst the trees and take in the cool Autumn air. Not quite Western Sydney, but a short drive to Leura in the Blue Mountains. Everglades is truly spectacular in Autumn and is easy to access with kids and prams. Focus on balance and internal contemplation as we move deeper into darker half of the year.
Later in the season you could check out a community festival. Towards the end of May there is the Autumn Harvest Festival at Rouse Hill – it always looks like fun!
And lastly, come and join us for a coffee on either 26th March or 23rd April at The Church Specialty Brew Bar in Glenbrook (Ross St, Glenbrook NSW) from 1-3pm.
Here are 5 awesome things about practicing witchcraft on The Pagan Fringe of Sydney.
- A small, but active group of other pagans, witches and occultists to connect with at various events like full moons, meet ups, sabbats and other regular catch ups. And a great diversity of people practicing all different kinds of magick in different ways; from Wiccans to kitchen witches and ceremonial magicians; those meeting in small covens or solitary folks and a real mix of experience too, from people new to their path to those with 25yrs+ experience. You’re bound to meet someone interesting along the way!
- Plenty of space to explore the natural world surrounding Sydney – waterfalls, swimming holes, natural bushland and plenty of bush walking tracks to enjoy. There are also heaps of open space parks that are well maintained to picnic in with friends and family. I’ve also found it easier to find great outdoor spaces for ritual, without disturbing other people whilst escaping artificial light and sound of a modern city. And if it’s still too urban for you, it’s quicker and easier to make your escape to the West, North or South of Sydney to explore further afield.
- Connections to the land via the food you can eat – it’s easier to visit your local farmers market, or head to the edges of Sydney to pick your own fruit in Autumn. I also enjoy local honey from my area too
- Some places are dark enough to see alot more stars at night, especially during the cooler months in the Nepean region. If you head further West over the Blue Mountains you can see even more of the Milky Way during the best viewing season (Feb-Oct to see the galactic core from the Southern Hemisphere). Hint: pick a dark moon night, which is typically one of the three nights leading up to the New Moon.
- Plenty of sympathetic events running in the Western Sydney area which attract other pagans or like minded people – medieval fairs, indigenous art festivals, sustainable living and gardening workshops – these kinds of events can also provide a great opportunity for you and your coven to meet up and do things together outside of your usual time together.
I hope you’ve found the following list useful and inspiring!
Are you a pagan family looking for things to do in Autumn, in and around Western Sydney? Here is a short list of things to consider:
- Go fruit picking with your family or coven
- Check out this list here of places to go within a short drive from Richmond NSW. Teach your kids that fruit doesn’t come from the shops! Most places are free entry and they then charge you per kg for the fruit that you’ve picked. Try apples and chestnuts and bake them up when you get home into delicious Autumn dishes.
- Pretend you’re in Scotland for a day
- Or the middle ages
- Attend an Autumn Harvest Festival
- Check out Leura Harvest Festival early in May or get your foodie hat on and explore some of the region’s finest at Rouse Hill farm at the end of May – maybe pack a picnic?
- Get cooking or baking at home
- Play in the Autumn leaves
- Not quite Western Sydney, but a short drive to Leura in the Blue Mountains. Everglades is truly spectacular in Autumn and is easy to access with kids and prams.
- Spend some time meditating amongst the trees and take in the cool Autumn air.
Hopefully there are some fun ideas here for you and your family. Happy Autumn!