My favourite time of the year is upon us once again. I love Autumn and it seems to have snuck up on me pretty quick this year. It might be because this Summer has been filled with sparse hot days and mostly rain showers, making it hard to differentiate between when Summer really ended and Autumn began.
But the pumpkins have arrived, the leaves have started to fall and suddenly the cold and dark days have engulfed us, so that makes it time for Mabon.
Mabon wouldn’t be a celebration without an outdoor fire. This year we sat out in the garden all afternoon by the fire and in the evening we were joined with the spirit of the harvest by having a cider.
My partner who is Dutch, spent the week before Mabon in England and so we celebrated together a little earlier than the Equinox.
I love the fact, even though he’s not Pagan, he always joins in and celebrates with me. Can you believe until he met me, my partner had never carved a pumpkin before and now he always loves to do it.
Our yearly Mabon ritual also consists of making a scarecrow with a pumpkin head. For anyone wanting to make one, these are pretty easy to do. All you need is some old clothes, straw, string and a wooden frame to hang it from.
If you haven’t checked out last year’s Mabon, it’s here.
How ever you celebrated Mabon, I hope you had fun!
Blessed Be )O(
Dacre is a small village located in Cumbria, just a few miles outside of Ullswater and not far from the stately home of Dalemain.
This quaint and untouched village still has remnants of forgotten times, like the old school house which is now a private home. This village consists of houses, a pub, a church and the remains of an old castle. This village is surrounded by countryside and hills, as it sits behind the beck of the same name.
Dacre castle was built in the 14th century and was used as protection from the Scottish raiders. The castle fell into disrepair and in the 17th century the castle underwent a full restoration where it was transformed into firstly a farm house and later on a private home. After the death of Lord Dacre in 1715 the castle and its lands were purchased by Sir Christopher Musgrave and through the marriage of his daughter to Edward Hasell, the castle and all its lands now belong to the Dalemain estate.
The castle is said to be haunted by a former owner’s wife and lover, whom the owner murdered.
Like any village it is centered around a churchyard – the parish of St Andrew.
The church was built on the site of a 7th century Saxon monastery.
The churchyard is relatively small, with an obvious division between the old and the new.
The old side is swamped by high trees, woodland and long grass that is almost covering the gravestones.
I often visit churchyards and burial sites, this by far is one of my favourites. I love the way the old gravestones have been left, almost frozen in time and engulfed back into nature.
There is definitely an air of mystery about this churchyard and there’s just something special about walking through the narrow pathways trying to spot the hidden stones.
There’s a huge variety of different shaped headstones here.
My personal favourites have to be the ones tucked away hidden underneath the trees, overgrown by grass and flowers.
But what makes this place really special is four stone bear carvings that can be found in the old side, one on each corner.
No one really knows the purpose of these or why they were placed here, so it’s a bit of a mystery. There’s speculations that perhaps they had something to do with a Pagan shrine, as we know all churches were Pagan burial grounds before Paganism was Christianised and it was the Druids that planted the Yew trees (where one of these trees can be found in every churchyard). Or it is suggested that these stones had something to do with the monastery, of which some of the remains were found here. However, it’s more than likely these stones are pre-Saxon and that would make them nothing to do with the monastery and the likelihood is that they were the markers of some Pagan ritual site.
There are some other noteworthy things about this churchyard. There is a lock on the south door from 1671, that was given by Lady Anne Clifford, who is well-known in the area. She presented keys to people she had become friends with.
This is definitely a beautiful churchyard with lots of history and hidden meanings, as well as lots to look at. There’s an air of magic about this place and I highly recommend a stroll around to look at all the gravestones.
Blessed Be )O(
If you’re a massive horror fan like me and like a good scare around Halloween time, then you’re going to love this haunted house. I became aware of this particular house haunt this year by stumbling upon it on the local news, it’s located in Preston and if you live anywhere in the North-west then perhaps you have come across it too.
This father and daughter team who love Halloween so much that they spend most of the year planning for it, by doing so they take a trip to America every year in order to source out the scariest horror props, spending thousands of pounds to transform their everyday regular suburban house into something that would invoke nightmares.
After hearing what a great transformation this house goes through, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see the house of my dreams. I decided to take a trip out to it during the day in order to have a browse around at the props.
To my amazement I discovered a life-sized coffin and hearse, which were complete with its very own skeleton drivers.
The front garden was completely transformed into a graveyard and all the gravestones were made by hand by a family member.
Whilst I was browsing at the cemetery, this black cat came hurtling down the street at me. (I love cats and I am a cat magnet but that’s a whole other story). I don’t know where this little kitty lives but they very much looked right at home in this house.
Anyway, whilst there I discovered they open up their house two nights each year for a walk-through. Oh no, the decorations don’t stop at the front of the house. In fact a building has been constructed all the way down the driveway, which connects to the garage. All the construction, carpentry and electrics are done by family members and friends who donate their time and skills to the cause.
I returned on the second evening of the walk-through, even arriving before opening time I couldn’t believe how the queue was all the way down the street. The house looked even better in the dark, all lit up it was spooky.
The entrance started at the gates and you entered into the extension building, only small enough to let a handful of people in at a time. It was filled with amazing mechanical sound and light props. The prop in the first room jumped out at you, which is the creepy looking person in the picture below.
The connecting corridor was filled with mechanical zombies. From there on there was an option to turn left to the really scary bit or to turn right to skip the scary bit.
I went left of course…
The extension down to the garage was three different scenes; one a zombie nurse with a surgeon and a bloody corpse, a skeleton biker and a Doctor Frankenstein style theme.
They were blood curdling, amazingly scary and all accompanied by family members and friends who had given their time to do some acting (And what great actors some of them were, particularly the doctor above, he was scarily into character)
Heading into the garage was a labyrinth, a pitch black maze with people in costume jumping out at you and banging on walls. It was very small and very dark, I have no idea how they fit so much into a small space. It was like the Tardis in there, bigger on the inside. From there on lead out into the back garden.
The only criticism I have, is that there was no prior warning or notices of strobe lighting or confined spaces (Although the second one might be assumed). Definitely not good for anyone who has claustrophobia or suffers from any medical conditions. Also, after seeing what a scary place it was, I think there should have been an age limit on entrance. If you have an aversion to children like me, the crying kids who turned back because they were scared shitless and had to squeeze past you was definitely of an annoyance. This place is definitely too scary for younger kids.
Out of the garage and into the back garden was full of zombies. I literally thought I had walked onto the set of the Walking Dead.
Travelling through the back door was a scary Alice in Wonderland themed area leading into the living room. This is the less scary bit you are diverted too, leading onto the exit which is the front door.
When walking through this house, it’s hard to believe someone has opened up their home to complete strangers. While it no longer looks like a home, the settings and decorations have been done to the highest standard. I definitely had a few screams walking through here and came out laughing my head off.
I would take coming here over any commercial event, the best kind of entertainment is one done through passion and enjoyment. This is one community spirited family that offers their time, money, skills, labour and passion for the enjoyment of others.
They do have a charity bucket at their home but donations are voluntary, not mandatory, so even if you don’t donate you can still enter the house. I do believe it’s the same charity every year – Cancer Research. However, if you’re like me and don’t wish to participate in funds going towards animal research, I would like to make another place known.
www.drhadwentrust.org It’s a medical research facility that uses non-animal testing methods.
Even if there was an entrance fee to this home, I would have been like here take my money. It was exceptionally well worth it and I shall be returning next year.
Blessed Be )O(
I couldn’t let my favourite holiday pass by without sharing a few snapshots of it.
My roots for celebrating Samhain are very much from Paganism. Samhain, the cusp of the Celtic New Year and my birthday on the 2nd means a part of the celebrations for me includes a lot of reflection and implementing changes into my life.
However, as much as I celebrate the meaningful and spiritual aspects of Samhain, I love to decorate and have fun. As with any holiday, I do believe the most important part is to celebrate only if you want to or if it means something to you and how you choose to celebrate it should be in a way you’re comfortable with.
Halloween has always been a part of my yearly routine since I can remember. When I was growing up it was always the porch that got decorated. In the last five years or so, we have been turning the garden into some kind of mini-haunt.
Every year we always try to change the layout about slightly, while we always leave the gazebo up from summer to turn it into a spooky hideout. As much as I love looking at all things creepy, there’s some kind of community spirit about putting on a display for the local kids. This is something that doesn’t exist anymore, the point of events should be to bring people together and I think we manage that.
These are just a few of the pumpkins we carved this year.
We even went to see a professional pumpkin carver.
How ever you chose to celebrate this year, I hope you stayed safe and had fun!
Blessed Be )O(
My favourite time of the year has arrived again!
Mabon or Autumn Equinox, the brief time where the hours of light and dark match up equally in balance with one another before the onset of the darker half of the year taking over. Darker days, longer nights, low-lying sunsets with a magical cool breeze, the harvest is gone and the trees are shedding beautiful crisp leaves as though they are crying for the death of the Sun God.
Oh the beauty that Autumn brings, who could have thought there would be so much beauty in nature dying? But that is the cycle of life and the cycle of the seasons. Being born at 1:10 am on 2nd November; so close to Samhain and the Celtic New Year, makes me a little biased. I am definitely an Autumn person, the leaves feel like a little bit of magic dropping around me.
Although my favourite Sabbat is Samhain, I particularly favourite the time between Lammas and Mabon. There is nothing more perfect than seeing the sun beam over a corn field on a late summer’s day. Of course, let’s not forget Corn Dollies! Oh yes. As the fields are being harvested, it’s the time of the year to indulge in some Corn Dolly making.
As the weeks pass by and Autumn Equinox arrives, so does the pumpkins. Let’s not get me started on how much I love pumpkins but needless to say I make the most of the good six weeks before Samhain with pumpkins. It also doesn’t get better than being able to have pumpkins on my birthday.
I celebrated the harvest moon this year by carving a pumpkin and making a life-sized scarecrow, which so happens to have a pumpkin head too. In the evening we sat outside under the moonlight, with the pumpkins glowing in the background, by a roaring fire, and it’s such peaceful moments like those that I truly enjoy.
Don’t forget to appreciate the little moments in life and who you spend them with. Make every minute count, laugh as much as possible and enjoy life.
Have a blessed Mabon )O(