A Witchy Birthday 2017

I can’t deny I love having my birthday a couple of days after Samhain. Being able to have pumpkins on my birthday is like the best thing ever for me.

Not forgetting to mention the cosy dark nights by the outdoor fire and the irresistible charm of the smoky air. I don’t think there’s anything about Autumn that I don’t like, especially since my birthday is stuck between Samhain and Bonfire night.

Being such an empath and sensitive person I easily pick up on emotions and vibes around me. I definitely feel like being born right at the cusp on the Witches New Year and the thin veil of Samhain has influenced me on some really deep and spiritual level to be the person I am today.

After a really relaxing and cleansing Samhain, which you can read about here, the rest of the week kept getting better and better. Of course it helped that my partner was back in England with me for that week.

The day after Samhain we decided to take a trip out in the afternoon up to Beacon Fell which is not too far away from where I live.

The view from the top is pretty breathtaking as it is but with the late afternoon Autumn sun slowly setting it made the view from the top even more incredible.

The weather has been terrible lately, lots of cloud, dark skies and rain. I feel like we were very lucky to see a break in the sky where the sun was shining through. It was definitely another peaceful, thoughtful moment that made me think this is a day I won’t forget in a hurry.

On the 2nd for my birthday I wanted to take a trip up to one of my favourite places ever. I always go here every year usually around Samhain time.

The small village of Newchurch in Pendle, which is at the foot of Pendle Hill and is home to the witches.

There’s a lot of energy that comes from around this place and a great many people come to visit Pendle Hill at Samhain time to celebrate the witches.

You can usually find carved pumpkins scattered about this local area in abundance. A lot of tradition and superstition still holds for both the residents and visitors. I love trying to spot all the pumpkins whilst commuting to the village.

The funny thing was this time we actually joked about randomly finding a pumpkin out in the fields or near the hill but I was like there’s no way a pumpkin would find its way out into the middle of nowhere.

Yeah… apparently I was wrong because we found this one sat on a wall, just on its lonesome, in the middle of nowhere. Maybe one of the local residents placed it here or someone brought it with them who was travelling up Pendle Hill on Samhain.

We also came across this pumpkin scarecrow in the village of Chatburn just before Pendle Hill. I love how small villages always keep up traditions and have a sense of community spirit when it comes to celebrations. The old ways are most often found in the untouched places.

When we got home we had another lovely evening sat outside by the warm fire and the glow of the pumpkins.

I can say this has been the best week I’ve had in a long time. We made the most of the dry Autumn days and sat around the outdoor firepit at least four times this week.

We were fortunate enough to witness the late afternoon sunsets and beautifuls red skies that embraced Autumn and then we ended the week with the most magical full moon that was very clear and bright in the sky.

There was a lot of  high energy in the crisp Autumn breeze leaving me feeling very cleansed and recharged this week and now I’m looking forward to using that energy to start some new projects.

Blessed Be )O(

My Samhain 2017

Once Autumn arrives, I know my favourite festival won’t be too far behind. I love to go all out at Samhain, but this year felt different.

I usually decorate and go all spooky on Halloween, which you can find last year’s display here.

So, the week before Halloween I started to get all the boxes of decorations out and was preparing the gazebo for the mini-haunt, as we always have at least eighty people come trick or treating here and we like to put on some fun for them.

Then somehow getting caught up in life, horrible winds and rain meant that not much had been decorated yet and I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach that I didn’t want to go to all the trouble this year. I just didn’t have the time to get all the decorations up and I don’t even know why most of the pumpkins hadn’t been carved yet, as that’s something we do at least a week before. Something was feeling rather off for me on a personal level, as I am usually well-organised and don’t leave things to last minute. I always trust my gut instinct, it has never let me down so I decided to take a different path to celebrate Samhain this year.

I transformed the back garden into a cosy place with candles and pumpkins because pumpkins are the best bit about Samhain. Of course our Mabon tradition of making a scarecrow was there in the background with his pumpkin head, watching over us.

We still decorated up the front porch for the trick or treaters.

I think we had more people than ever come visit us and to do something different we offered them up some wickedly popcorn this year straight from my cauldron.

My partner not wanting to miss out on the fun, still dressed up and was ready to scare the kids who came to the door. He looked pretty awesome this year and there were plenty of people who asked to take a photo with him.

I think this year was all about a spiritual journey for me, something I needed to do. To take a step back, stop and relax and to embrace what Samhain truly represents.

For me I had found my way back to Samhain rather than celebrating Halloween and I had definitely made the right choice to listen to my instincts.

With a spooky feeling in the air, there are plenty of unseen forces having an influence when the veil is at the thinnest and it’s wise to listen to those spiritual elements that help guide us on the right path in life.

Sitting by the fire with all the pumpkins around gave me the chance to reflect on life and decide on some changes.

I really think the spirit of Samhain had a big influence on me this year, there was something out there that was guiding me towards looking at the bigger picture in life and it worked.

Samhain is called the Witches New Year for a reason, it’s time to start a fresh. A new beginning and a new chance to change things.

I know this year was definitely the best Samhain I’ve celebrated and it couldn’t be passed by without roasting some chestnuts on the fire.

Life goes by too fast. Stop once in a while to reflect on whether you are truly happy in life and if not then change something. Always be true to yourself, no matter if people don’t understand your spirituality or path in life. They don’t have to understand, they have their journey and you have yours.

I find Samhain to be the most important teaching Sabbat of the year. You can learn about life, death and all the mysteries in between here.

Blessed Be )O(

Howick House of Terror 2017

Last year we went to visit this haunted house walk-through for the first time and was amazed at how someone had completely transformed their home for Halloween.

This year we really enjoyed going back and was surprised to see that this year had a completely new theme.

This year’s theme was “Freddie’s Freak Show”. Unlike last year’s zombie theme, this Halloween was to scare you with clowns.

This family open up their transformed home and go all out with the scare factor – which starts in the queue. You guessed IT. Who is the scariest clown of them all?

The front garden starts off with a pallet construction walkway, lots of scarecrows, clowns, pumpkins and straw. Some of these props are truly awesome.

I almost can’t believe how they use these props once and then change around the next year. Their dedications and true love for this shows in the way they want to make sure people have fun and to be scared by something new every year.

Luckily enough I remembered to take a couple of videos this year and here they are.

This place is only open for three days over Halloween, so definitely take the chance to visit if you can.

We went on the first night this year and there were a camera crew here for a feature on “This Morning” on Halloween. If you saw that then you would have seen a peek of me in the queue. It seems this place is getting lots of well-deserved attention this year from the media. I for one, am looking forward to next year already.

You can find last year’s blog post on Howick here.

Blessed Be )O(

My Mabon 2017

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(

The Mysteries of Dacre

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(

Howick Park Haunted House 2016

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(

My Samhain 2016

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(

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