Above are a few snapshots of my visit to Solvang decked out for the holiday in October 2016. Solvang is located in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, the heart of Santa Barbara wine country. Solvang is abundantly rich in culture of the Danish settlers who have been in the valley for more than 100 years. www.solvangusa.com/
You have spent months with this book The Enchanted Snare. Thank you for tagging along. For those new to my blog The Enchanted Snare is magickal story with an instructional method that can help you become acquainted with the Major Tarot cards and be more witchlike. Hang out with the witches this Samhain. Be the first to read what's next at the Mysticism School for Witches.
OCTOBER 31 - SAMHAIN FESTIVAL – THE WITCHES’ BALL
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Avril looked forward to attending the annual Sabbat of magic and mysticism. A fire festival where the natural order reversed itself, the dead walk, and ordinary becomes extraordinary. It was a social event in which one could visit with their neighbors, friends and family as well as past generations in spirit form, to participate in merry-making. Tonight, family members who have passed on from their earthly lives, communicate with those who have been left behind in the earthly world. Avril accepted the spirits had to return to the Other world before the break of dawn.
The sound of Avril’s breathing was drawn out by the merriment around the Mysticism School for Witches. Avril prowled about in the darkness away from the celebration in progress. She watched the small groups of children both druids and witchlings paraded around showing off their costumes. Pre-teens bobbed for apples and played games for love divination while the grandmothers monitored the activity. Avril found the entertainment both fun and noisy.
She stopped to observed a Spirit of an older man try to bring comfort to his grieving son of no more than seven years of old. The sight was heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time.
“Since my death all is well with me. I dwell within the Divine Light as an energy form,” the Spirit said, trying to reassure his son. “It will be a long time yet before we can be together in solid physical form. I hope you can understand. But know you are never alone. You will always have support from the other side to serve, protect and guide.”
Avril felt for the boy. Such pain to have to endure to lose his father in the physical world at such a young age. She wiped the tears from her cheeks while she watched the Spirit continued to consoled his son, and answer questions asked about the afterlife.
Avril took a deep breath and tried to clear her mind. In the darkness, there were vibrant, ghostly figures that moved about with family, friends and neighbors. Everyone seemed to relish listening to apparitions discuss their past existence and share messages for the future. Their rich spiritual heritage was embraced for all knew the importance of their support in their daily lives. Avril’s feet sank into the crisp; dried leaves as she roamed the perimeter and passively observed the events. Men, women and children with laughter and chatter held hands and feverishly danced around the three bonfires. The enormous fiery red flames frantically shifted with their every movement.
Up ahead on Avril’s path a faint image slowly walked toward her. For a split second she thought it might be Cole, but, as it approached, it moved in a feminine manner. Avril said nothing as she stared straight ahead to see who was to come. Avril heard High Priestess Ceserea’s voice say, “Merry meet Avril, are you taking the time to reflect on the past year and need to be alone?”
“The past year, has been mostly review,” Avril quickly answered her.
“It is good to review information and practice our magical skills,” the High Priestess replied. “This way the knowledge stays fresh in the mind and will be easier to tap into when needed.” Ceserea sighed contentedly as she looked away toward the festival. “I am so pleased so many have gathered to celebrate the eternal cycle of reincarnation - birth, death, and re-birth. From this turning of the season another fruitful year ends; the time of transition from fall to winter. Since the arrival of fall the Sun has lost strength. The days have become shorter, the nights longer, as nature enters the dark of winter. For those seeking to understand the turning cycles of life and death, on this sacred evening the veils between the worlds are at their thinnest,” she continued. “The bounds of the normal are blurred. At Samhain we are drawn together again to the wandering spirits to help free us from illusions and regrets or learn what we can about our future. Tonight, our spiritual family is invited, not summoned. They return as ghostly figures only if they wish to share in the love to honor their presence in our lives.”
The cool wind changed direction. A slight quiver made Ceserea pull the collar of her robe to her neck. “Let’s walk and talk,” she said.
Avril fell in step beside her. Slowly, they made their way across the frozen lawn. The High Priestess’s power hand, curled upon her cane seemed parchment by age. She talked while they walked. “October is the month of Shadows,” she said. “Now is the time for communion with our dead friends and relatives, to embrace survival after death, the immortality of the life force.”
The High Priestess braced herself with a tight grip on Avril’s elbow and continued, “The gathering for the Sabbat is a blend of seasonal pagan rites and the cycle of death and loved ones in particular. The world of the supernatural has something of value to teach us if we are open to the many levels of existence. The death of someone close can leave a void in our lives. Letting go is not easy, but time keeps ticking and seasons keep changing and people find that with faith, happiness will return. The spirits who have come allow us to know when experiencing great sadness and when we are overwhelmed with grief, that there is a ray of light to guide us through the emotional turmoil.”
Avril briefly looked over at the High Priestess. “The immortal soul experiences a series of stages of development both in the physical and spiritual world before the soul is perfected in harmonious balance,” she said.
Ceserea smiled. “Exactly,” she reassured her. “There is a period of necessary rest and recuperation for the soul that moves toward reincarnation. Each is again and again in a series of incarnations on earth, to learn lessons while facing the consequences of personal actions. Some souls stay in spirit form to help and support the incarnated to follow the laws of nature.”
Ceserea paused, and then talked on. “The nature of the lesson to be learned or the Karma conditions that need to be worked out, decide a soul’s evolution,” she said. “This derives from the idea that life is cyclical and moves from the beginning through growth to a peak, then begins to decay, disintegrate and returns back to the beginning to endlessly repeat the cycle. The theory is grounded in the patterns of nature. All the seasons are not separate, they merge. In spring life is viewed with freshness of youthful innocence. Summer life is experiences. In the autumn, there is maturity and an appreciation for all that was, is and will be. Winter signifies old age, death and a period of rest and recuperation. Human beings are connected to earth which all life is part of in all of its manifestations.”
Two spirits that illuminated passed between Ceserea and Avril and said their hellos. A blast of cold air followed.
Avril looked again at the High Priestess. “I understand nature is a continuous phenomenon; a circular flow of endings, re-birth, cause, effect, transformation, giving, receiving, becoming, ceasing and re-becoming,” she explained.
The High Priestess smiled at her. “It is clear that you have grasped the meaning of reincarnation.” As they walked Ceserea asked, “How is the study of the Tarot helping as a tool in your psychic development?”
“I’ve become familiar with the cards and the symbols, but I must confess that it is difficult to expand my awareness practicing alone.”
“That is quite usual,” she said. “Working with the Tarot needs patience and perseverance. It’s part of the learning process to tap into the hidden knowledge. It takes a great period of time to develop a relationship with the pictorial images that open up a gateway into higher consciousness. Continue with the basics and move gradually into advanced concepts. I suggest that you learn to use the Tarot as a tool for inner guidance first and foremost before you involve other people.”
The High Priestess smiled. “It will be my honor,” she answered.
Ceserea entered the tent through a slit in the tarp. Avril followed. The handmade broom leaning close to the tent’s entrance with the bristles up meant “I’ve gone visiting,” Ceserea positioned the broom to lay down on the ground to communicate to the conveners “I’m busy, please call another time.”
Avril stood and looked around. She saw the shelter was a simple place. Several lighted lanterns brought pleasant warmth. The only furnishings to be seen were two wooden benches on either side of a handcrafted pine table. Heather, mullein, patchouli and sage burned for their particular significance and properties meaningful to Samhain. Acorns, apples and oak leaves hung about the wooden poles that supported the structure.
Ceserea did not speak during the process as she placed herself in a receptive, relaxed mental state with natural harmony so as not to project personal influence while she shuffled the cards.
Avril shifted her gaze from the melting wax coiled around the candle shaft, to a shimmering white ball of light rushing downward through the vent in the tent overhead. The illuminating light moved into place preparing to give answers and information. The ball of bright light glowed around Ceserea’s head then streamed down around her neck and shoulders. The bright light swept over her arms, hands and torso. Avril felt a quickening of her spirit – a sort of fluttery feeling as the cosmic energy move and became strong and bright.
Ceserea, her eyes closed continued to shuffled the cards. “I conjure thee, O Spirit, that you will be a guide for me between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead. A meeting place for love, harmony, joy and peace. Provided protection as we live the ways of the wise. I ask that you allow me to connect soul to soul with Avril,” she prayed.
Ceserea opened her eyes and placed the cards on the table. Avril picked up the deck. She closed her eyes to ground and enter, and prepare for divination as she shuffled the Tarot cards. She could smell the frankincense that had been sprinkled on the protective cloth, drift from the deck. Avril formed a question clearly in her mind then she opened her eyes and divided the deck face down into three piles, right to left. Ceserea re-stacked the cards right to left and turned over each of the cards and laid them out to map an overall view of the issue. She looked at the spread as a collective whole before she spoke. Avril did not interrupt. Ceserea finally said, “I chose the Page as the Court card to represent you because of your state of mind, personality, age and zodiac sign. The suit of Wands fits your physical structure, skin and hair color and facial features. Since your astrological sign is Sagittarius, the basic elemental tool would be Wands - fire.”
Avril tried not to be distracted by the shadows created by the flames that quickly moved across the tarp walls.
PAGE OF WANDS 7 OF CUPS STAR
ACE OF PENTACLE 4 SWORDS CHARIOT KING OF PENTACLE
WORLD 7 WANDS
Avril swallowed uneasily.
Ceserea saw that she was a bit disturbed by the Death card and said, “The card has a deeper interpretation than actual physical death.” She pointed to the Seven of Cups and said, “This is the central issue, your primary focus. The Seven of Cups covers you. At the present moment you may feel like you are being pulled in many emotional directions. You are amazed by all the options in your life and find yourself caught in some emotional gratification. You need to remember Spirit is the only thing real.”
Ceserea kept her eyes on the spread and continued to speak. “The Four of Swords covers you. This card represents the main influence now. You must rest and center yourself. Meditation is needed. You must quiet your thoughts and listen to your heart to decide your next action. The World is your foundation. This position represents the basis of the situation. Here, a cycle has come to a conclusion and opportunity awaits.” Ceserea smiled then said, “Your life feels whole and blessed. With the Ace of Pentacle card positioned in the past it indicates a powerful improvement in security. I see that there had been a chance for a new seed to grow. The Fool crowns you. This card represents the influence entering. The Fool symbolizes a major change and optimism. You will review the past, not quite aware of what is to come. Your past security will give you a sense of self to expand your abilities.” She paused before she said, “The Chariot in your future stands for the choices that show certain leadership qualities and brings self-satisfaction to rise above emotional temptations, to be a positive influence to others. You come to rest in the house of strife. With the Seven of Wands position as your thoughts, you think others point their finger at you because of your beliefs, but you are able to defend your convictions.” Ceserea looked up from the cards and their eyes met. In an understanding tone, she said, “In life you’ll find there will always be someone with a different point of view.”
The High Priestess looked back down at the cards. She glanced up. “The next position is how your environment views you,” she explained. “In the House of richness and security. Others are jealous of you but they also know you’re strong, reliable and can be counted on when needed. You hope the Star. The union of true love and pure magick. The overall outcome is you will accept yourself as a unique individual with great spiritual gifts to share with humanity and, there would be news coming regarding a new beginning in the near future.”
Avril was a bit puzzled at first while her mind analyzed all that Ceserea had told her. When Avril believed, she understood, she asked, “Does the new beginning have something to do with my separation from the elders and my sister friends during winter break between Yule, December 22 and February 1?”
The High Priestess appeared pleased that Avril could put the information together. “Parting always brings great sorrow and one can feel alone during this stage of growth,” she said. “I believe one cannot appreciate what they have until it’s gone. Do not fret, you will leave with many wonderful memories and then, when classes resumed at the Dawning Time, February 2, we will meet again. That would be the transformation from old to new, the re-birth.”
Avril sighed. “I’m going to miss this place.”
Ceserea reached down with her bony fingers and gathered up the cards. “This year has been an opportunity for you to apply the lessons of love so you could advance to the next stage of maturity. The pre-teen and teen years are supposed to be a time of growth and learning, both intellectually and socially.” Ceserea looked at her. “Coming of Age is a powerful time for a wise woman. It symbolizes change, new cycle, re-birth and hope. This year you were one of eight maidens at the same development of growth to be grouped together. Next year the situation will not be the same. You and a few of your sister-friends will have the opportunity to move forward in your spiritual awareness while the other maidens will continue the basic learning skills with those who will transfer to the third-floor next February,” she said.
Avril’s thought drifted to Lilith. She giggled lightly. “Weren’t we all supposed to move forward?”
Ceserea glanced over Avril’s shoulder. Avril slowly turned her head to look. Shanna and Hanna stood at the tent’s entrance. In unison, they bowed to the High Priestess with respect. Shanna asked, “Would you consult the cards for me and my sister?”
The High Priestess agreed without hesitation.
Avril stood up. She paused before saying,” I will not forget the guidance given.”
The twins walked over to where the High Priestess sat at the pine table. Avril greeted them then entered the outside world. The bare branches of the trees stretched wide against the stars. The autumn leaves, tattered and torn from the elements, blew about. The bonfire flames towered against the starlit night. The power of the flames took her breath away. In the backyard, women, men and mature adolescents sat in the glow and received Divine guidance. Spirits hovered overhead while most of the people were in deep conversation with wise women dressed in garb. The psychic information was obtained with the aid of physical accessories such as Tarot cards, a crystal ball or dice.
She saw late autumn fruits, apples, squash and pumpkins rested at the base of the altar. Scattered on the surface around the lit altar candles and basic elemental tools, were acorns, oak sprigs, pine cones, dried colorful leaves and milkweed pods. Deep orange, yellow and red full bloom marigolds and chrysanthemums added to its traditional effect. Avril heard men, women, young and old, trip the light fantastic to lively music. As she followed the sound of the strings from the violins, guitars and banjos, Avril noticed apple cores had been placed on the ground for the birds and animals to eat. Avril spotted Hailey and Cortney, in a mass of people, jump from foot to foot and clap their hands to the tune. Their movements were completely natural. Avril heard a square dance caller bellow, “Boys check your box…look’em in the eye…look at the center wave…Boy by left now bring ‘er on around…Girl by the right now bring him on back.” The crowd laughed when they heard, “She’s not yours…what a shame…chain that girl back home again.”
The caller’s voice flowed with the sound of the stringed musical instruments. When Avril broke through the crowd she saw females with the men of Merlin’s teaching, young and old, dance to the caller’s rhythmical dictated steps. Avril looked to the side. Hailey and Cortney turned to face Avril with joy and laughter. They were both glad she had come as they hugged. Their attention was drawn back to the dancers who quickly moved to the caller’s instructions. Mothers, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, colleagues, friends, casual acquaintances, as well as brothers and sisters put their bodies in synch with the lyrics. “Bow to your partner and the opposite two…around with the sweetest one in town, one inch, go high and wide…kick it up with the old cow hide, red light, green, you are spectators this time folks, trade him/her in for someone better.”
Cortney looked around the crowd to see who she wanted as a partner to dance with. Hailey and Avril practiced the steps from the sidelines. Avril felt the energy that was being raised rush through her. The music compelled her to join in the square dance. Avril pulled Hailey by the hand into the sea of dancers. They stepped in time to the upbeat music, intertwined with lyrics. Hailey and Avril continually giggled as they made their mistakes. Avril saw Corena and Ethan paired. An aura of pure delight surrounded their entire beings.
While Hailey and Avril promenaded around the square, Avril observed Hal. He tried to act natural but his arms across his chest revealed that he was uptight. His eyes were glued to Corena. She had his full attention. Avril felt Corena’s powerful bond between her and Ethan was being examined as the two were openly friendly and truly interested in one another. Avril’s attention was brought back to the caller’s instructions when she stepped on Hailey’s foot. He shouted in rhythm, “You -should-know-better type mistake: baaad dancer. Go home…Back to the middle and bump your buns…to finish the job.” Hailey hysterically laughed as Avril did as she had been told. The singing caller continued, “four best kissers promenade do whatever you can get away with…where is the split line? Zip up to the middle…when the music runs out…feed another nickel. She’s not yours, you chain her back…if your regular partner, do it anyway.”
The dancers and Avril performed three hand swings, then promenaded. The caller quickly sang out, “…and get to walk home.” Hailey and Avril dosadoed then the caller said, “…stay look’s at ‘em…your corner guy…your sweetie pie.” Avril began to run with the other girls as the caller had said, “don’t let that boy turn on you…swing your lady go once or twice…swing her well she’s mighty nice…swing your own - leave mine alone.” Avril was swung past two male strangers, the third was her Cole. He and another male clasped on to her free hands. Cole and Avril zippered up to the middle, then back. The couple bowed to one another upon the command, then alemanded left and alemade, “double…swing your troubles away, do it now.” Cole picked Avril up. Her feet left the ground as he tightly hugged and swung her round and round. Avril submitted to his embrace. Lost in the madness of it all, it took a moment to compose herself. When he released Avril, she looked at Cole’s dark eyes. There was a sweetness created by his dark brows and thick, long lashes. Cole leaned down and Avril felt his nose and mouth on her cheek. His lips were soft and moist.
“I missed you,” he said with a wide boyish smile. Avril blushed. She heard the caller sing out, “Okay, let’s square up.” The dancers made their way to create their squares by the basic cue.
“We should find some food and drink,” Cole said in a low voice. Avril wanted to be with him, she quickly agreed. He laughed lightly at her enthusiasm.
Corena passed Cole and Avril their plates and they moved through the food line. It took a while to decide what to eat. The buffet tables were arranged with hot dishes followed by cold dishes, then cutlery and napkins. Avril was starved. She loaded her plate with beef, mashed potatoes, yams and beans.
Corena, Ethan, Cole and Avril headed to the tables that were seasonally decorated. The candle’s flame flickered low with colorful fall leaves, acorns, pine cones, chestnuts and small yellow and green squash in the centers. The small Jack-o-lanterns’ toothless smiles shone in the night. They found a free picnic table then comfortably sat. A few children close by balanced their meals on their laps. As Avril ate, she watched a small band of goblins on a spree. Some witches made small talk recognizing who was who beneath the masks. Black cats roamed while wtchlings dressed as wee young fairies gave chase. It was a happy and blessed time. Avril felt at peace in the firelight. She knew within her heart that a memory of this wonderful night would linger. “Blessed are my eyes that see and my ears that hear and my heart that feels,” she said silently.
Corena smoothed a linen napkin across her lap, then picked up her glass of cider and took a sip. Her eyes twinkled. She was truly smitten with her escort, Ethan, whose fingertips brushed against the rosemary braided in her hair for protection. When Hal and Corena first set eyes on each other, Hal stood at their table and stared at Ethan by her side. He observed the couple with disapproval. Avril wondered if a violent quarrel would break out between Ethan and Hal, as the two young men gave each other the once over. Cole moved his knee ever so slightly to touch Avril’s. “Don’t worry,” he said quietly. Curious, Cole and Avril watched.
Corena anxious to avoid a confrontation turned away. Hal leaned down and whispered something close to her ear. Avril saw Corena pass a lump in her throat. “That was then, this is now,” she said, controlling her anger and hurt over the past, with reason.
The answer was not as Hal had hoped. He yearned to re-kindle the fire between them. He reached down and touched Corena’s hand. She quickly jerked it back toward her body. Her actions burned his heart. His eyes darkened. “What have I done to cause you to reject my advances,” he demanded. “I’ve always wanted to be your suitor.”
Corena bit her lip then stammered, “I, I don’t know what to say.”
“How about the truth.” Hal replied.
Corena put aside her plate. She placed her hands on the table. Silent at first, she collected herself enough to convey her thoughts. “We have been a victim of an enchantment. A jealous Lilith, cast a spell upon our union.”
Hal appeared to be in disbelief. His brow wrinkled. He didn’t know what to make of what she claimed had happened.
She sat straight and glared at him. “We were utterly powerless to resist the magical spell. By bell, book and candlelight Lilith calculated the planetary hours, and in a magical pouch stuffed with our personal possessions most favorable for her enchanted snare, claimed your heart and broke mine.”
“Are you certain?” Hal asked.
Corena’s expression confirmed it.
Hal shook his head and looked at the ground. “Unaware of the enchanted snare Lilith lured me away from you,” he whispered sadly.
“My sister friends and I broke the spell with the aid of the powers who dwell in Divine Light. Your whirlwind courtship with Lilith is over,” she explained.
Hal stood for several minutes. His answer was unexpected to say the least. “What a powerful enchantment. I don’t remember anything. Whatever I did…was beyond my control. I want you by my side. There must be hope for us. There’s always hope,” he said, sounding very wound up.
Hal looked upset, and Corena didn’t want to hurt him, he was hurt enough, and justifiably so. “The trouble with love is that it can tell your heart a lie and tear you up inside. I cannot offer you the comfort of my love. You were everything I wanted and became everything I don’t want. I must admit that it just won’t work between us as a couple. I’m out of false hope. The slate is clean between us. The hurt caused is no more than a mere memory. Now, I’ll be your friend and no more.” Corena tipped her face to look at Ethan. “It is Ethan who will receive every ounce of my loyalty and devotion.”
Avril saw Ethan smile. Hal was stunned by Corena’s words and demeanor. His eyes appeared sad. “Okay,” he said with deep regret. “I still want to be your friend.”
“That I can do,” Corena said smiling.
Avril could see Hal had finally come to his senses; a little too late to repair the trust lost. She sighed in relief at the peaceful outcome.
Hal spotted Lilith and Marley enter the eating area. He excused himself and marched toward the pair with the knowledge he’d been given, not yielding to his anger against Lilith, who had robbed him from his happiness. Avril saw Hal say to Lilith when confronted. "You're really rotten. No good at all!"
Ethan laid his arm over Corena’s shoulders to offer support and comfort.
“I’m fine,” she reassured him. Time has healed the wound to my heart.”
Ethan offered Corena his hand and asked, ‘Will you company me to sit by the bonfire?”
Corena wrapped her fingers around his. “Sure will,” she said and did. Cole and Avril followed their lead.
Corena picked up Jezebel and stroked the cat soothingly on her lap. “The cat is a harbinger of good luck and, by simply touching the black creature, bestows good fortune. The supernatural power of the black that is most significant is a wish would be granted - though the wish will only come true if it is kept a secret,” she giggled.
Ethan waited to speak. He waited another moment. “Do you have any regrets?” Ethan finally asked her.
Corena glanced up at him. “I hate to see Hal hurt but I know I did not cause it. I also know Hal is not the one for me. He allowed a counterfeit courtship to turn his head.”
A spasm of nausea swept through Avril when she thought of the jealous, spoiled, vindictive, selfish, rude and manipulative Lilith. Cole laid his head on hers. His touch brought relief to her thoughts. She appreciated he noticed and cared.
There was a hush among the merry makers. Before the High Priestess Avril’s mother appeared alongside twelve witches, holding the broom, a magickal tool of every wise woman.
Cole ran his fingers through Avril’s hair on the top of her head and asked, “What’s going on?”
Avril tipped her face to look up at Cole. “On the witch festival night flying on the broom signifies the soul’s breaking free of the bonds of earth and soaring into the cosmos, accessing realms that others reach only through death. The act of flying is a transcend experience, a flight of the soul. On this magickal night to catch the sight a witch flying on her broom, you are blessed.”
Charmed by the evening, Corena sat there giggling.
“She sure does giggle a lot,” Cole whispered.
Avril giggled. “Witches always giggle when they’re happy. It’s part of being a witch.”
Bells knelled nine times for the thirteen witches to prepare to launch on their magickal ride. Avril watched her mother mount her broom, and then leap high into the air. Her mother and twelve other witches transported themselves through the night sky with the aid of a broomstick. The bound bundle of twigs pointed down, swept their tracks from the star speckled sky.
Astride her magickal ride, Avril’s mother soared through the air at tremendous speed. She looked down at Avril and Cole cuddled together around the sacred fire. Their union was approved upon with a wink and a smile by her mother.
Avril brought her power hand to her lips. She blew her mother a kiss and then said, “May your ride be long and enjoyable!”
In the witching hour, the thirteen witches with no apparent physical effort soared with incredible speed and grace over the bright full moon, then vanished from sight.