To communicate with the force, Wiccans believe it to be manifest in the form of a Goddess and God. As they emanate from the same source, both retain equal power, hence equal status. By manifesting the power in two deities (Goddess and God), the natural balance of opposites, cause and effect are retained, e.g. Summer/winter, light/ dark, life and death etc. Each opposite is essential to maintaining the balance and rhythm of life on earth.
The Three Fold Law
The Three-Fold Law is the belief and principle on which magick is used. This law relates to the use of powerand energy, for when used, power is returned to the sender, three times the level it was sent out.
Used in relation with the ethos, “Do what thy wilt, though it harm none” (as stated in the Wiccan Rede), witches take great care when preparing and casting spells that no harm should come to others because of it.
The nature of this three-fold return can perhaps be better understood when considering the cause and effect principle of a spell. Let’s take an example – someone comes to you in distress with a problem, you help by sending out positive energy and the problem is successfully resolved. This automatically makes you feel good about yourself and influences your thoughts; thus your state of consciousness is altered. In turn your thoughts stir the emotions, which has a physical effect in the body by causing glandular secretions to enter into the blood stream. The resulting state of mind and body lifts your spirit, which is what makes you feel good. Thus with the act of a single good deed, you have been effected three times, in mind, body, and spirit. This then is your three-fold response to the return of positive energy. Now consider your response had you sent out negative energy or something went drastically wrong?
The Wiccan Rede
Bide ye Wiccan laws ye must, in perfect love and perfect trust.
Live and let live, fairly take and fairly give. Form the circle thrice about, to keep all evil spirits out.
To bind ye spell every time, let ye spell be spake in rhyme. Soft of eye, light of touch, speak ye little, listen much.
Deosil go by the waxing moon, singing out ye Witches’ Rune. Widdershins go by the waning moon, chanting out ye Baneful Rune.
When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss your hand to her times two. When the moon rides at her peak, then ye heart’s desire seek.
Heed the North wind’s mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail.When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss thee on the mouth.
When the wind blows from the West, departed souls may have no rest. When the wind blows from the East, except the new and set the feast.
Nine woods in ye cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow. Elder be ye Lady’s tree, burn it not or cursed ye’ll be.
When the wheel begins to turn, soon ye Beltaine fire’ll burn. When the wheel hath turned to Yule, light the log the Horned One rules.
Heed ye flower, bush and tree, by the Lady blessed be. Where the rippling waters flow, cast a stone and truth ye’ll know.
When ye have and hold a need, harken not to others greed. With a fool no season spend, nor be counted as his friend.
Merry meet and merry part, bright the cheeks and warm the heart. Mind ye threefold law ye should, three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is anow, wear the blue star upon thy brow. True in love ye must ever be, lest thy love be false to thee.
In these eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill,
‘An ye harm none, do what ye will.
Believe it or not Paganism and Wicca are two separate things...whereas Paganism is ancient, Wicca is a relatively new PART of Paganism (they are linked very closely, hip to hip you could say ) - it was created/established in 1954 by Gerald Gardner, he established the Gardnerian Tradition within Wicca...Wicca itself is meant to bring back and out into the open all that has been buried, hidden or passed between other Pagan families that had to hide their beliefs to escape prosecution from Christianity. The above explains much better what Wicca is, the link I've included below for you to read (out of all the links I have, is the most simple to understand that explains ALL facets of Wicca), if you would care to, to enlighten yourself and not be bogged down with what other Religions have taught you about it. Just a note? Wicca is a established religion & recognized as such within the United States just as any other belief out there is. After all, this Country was based on Freedom of Religion, wasn't it? (smile)
Okay now that I managed to stray far off of the path of what Samhain is and what it represents, let's move forward and back on track.
Samhain, what is it?
Samhain Lore (October 31st)
Samhain, (pronounced SOW-in, SAH-vin, or SAM-hayne) means "End of Summer", and is the third and final Harvest. The dark winter half of the year commences on this Sabbat.
It is generally celebrated on October 31st, but some traditions prefer November 1st. It is one of the two "spirit-nights" each year, the other being Beltane. It is a magical interval when the mundane laws of time and space are temporarily suspended, and the Thin Veil between the worlds is lifted. Communicating with ancestors and departed loved ones is easy at this time, for they journey through this world on their way to the Summerlands. It is a time to study the Dark Mysteries and honor the Dark Mother and the Dark Father, symbolized by the Crone and her aged Consort.
Originally the "Feast of the Dead" was celebrated in Celtic countries by leaving food offerings on altars and doorsteps for the "wandering dead". Today a lot of practitioners still carry out that tradition. Single candles were lit and left in a window to help guide the spirits of ancestors and loved ones home. Extra chairs were set to the table and around the hearth for the unseen guest. Apples were buried along roadsides and paths for spirits who were lost or had no descendants to provide for them. Turnips were hollowed out and carved to look like protective spirits, for this was a night of magic and chaos. The Wee Folke became very active, pulling pranks on unsuspecting humans. Traveling after dark was not advised. People dressed in white (like ghosts), wore disguises made of straw, or dressed as the opposite gender in order to fool the Nature spirits.
This was the time that the cattle and other livestock were slaughtered for eating in the ensuing winter months. Any crops still in the field on Samhain were considered taboo, and left as offerings to the Nature spirits. Bonfires were built, (originally called bone-fires, for after feasting, the bones were thrown in the fire as offerings for healthy and plentiful livestock in the New Year) and stones were marked with peoples names. Then they were thrown into the fire, to be retrieved in the morning. The condition of the retrieved stone foretold of that person's fortune in the coming year. Hearth fires were also lit from the village bonfire to ensure unity, and the ashes were spread over the harvested fields to protect and bless the land.
Various other names for this Greater Sabbat are Third Harvest, Samana, Day of the Dead, Old Hallowmas (Scottish/Celtic), Vigil of Saman, Shadowfest (Strega(Italian), and Samhuinn. Also known as All Hallow's Eve, (that day actually falls on November 7th), and Martinmas (that is celebrated November 11th), Samhain is now generally considered the Witch's New Year.
Symbolism of Samhain:
Third Harvest, the Dark Mysteries, Rebirth through Death.
Symbols of Samhain:
Gourds, Apples, Black Cats, Jack-O-Lanterns, Besoms.
Herbs of Samhain:
Mugwort, Allspice, Broom, Catnip, Deadly Nightshade, Mandrake, Oak leaves, Sage and Straw.
Foods of Samhain:
Turnips, Apples, Gourds, Nuts, Mulled Wines, Beef, Pork, Poultry.
Incense of Samhain:
Heliotrope, Mint, Nutmeg.
Colors of Samhain:
Black, Orange, White, Silver, Gold.
Stones of Samhain:
All Black Stones, preferably jet or obsidian.