In Praise of the Invincible Light


“The light shines in the darkness,
And the darkness did not overcome it.”
(John 1:5, NRSV)

While writing a sermon on the first chapter of John, I came across this interesting observation from Karoline Lewis in her Fortress Preaching Commentary on John: “A quick review of the science of light in terms of our ability to see underscores the theological claim that is being made. It only takes the slightest bit of light for our optical system to adjust and see in the dark. When there is no light present at all, our eyes will never become accustomed to the darkness.”

In a season where every spiritual path celebrates some festival of light, I find Lewis’ observation tremendously encouraging. It’s easy for us to focus on the darkness that exists in our world, especially in 2020. Facebook and the 24-hour news cycle do an excellent job of promoting every tragedy and sadness that is happening all around us. But if we’re paying attention, nature is telling us there is an alternative: we can shine whatever light we possess, armed with the hopeful knowledge that even the tiniest bit of light makes a huge difference to those we shine it on. It can go a long way in helping them navigate the darkness in their lives.

So, keep those Hanukkah lights burning. Rejoice in the return of the sun on the Winter Solstice. Sing Silent Night with candles blazing on Christmas Eve. Follow the seven luminous principles of Kwanzaa. Find some reason, any reason, to light a candle! May the candles we light remind us of our connectedness to each other, and our sacred duty to be light for one another. We spend far too much time talking about what makes us different. Maybe this December we can focus on what binds us together as one! Shine on, friends! Shine on!

Copyright ©20120by  David Taliesin,

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November Full Moon: Frost Moon

November’s full moon, which will occur on Nov 30th, goes by several different names. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, it was called the Beaver Moon by the Algonquin tribes and colonial Americans. The reason for this is that hunters used to “set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs.” Other Native American tribes called it the Full Frost Moon which appeals to me more on a spiritual level rather than celebrating the killing of beavers!

If we see the November full moon as the Frost Moon, it is calling us to gather what we need for the coming winter season, be it physically, emotionally or spiritually. Due to a warm winter in North Carolina, I was still harvesting things from my medicinal herb garden through most of November!

Physically, all the energy we put into our yards and outdoor activities has either slowed dramatically or ceased altogether. The shortening of our days as we move toward the Winter Equinox forces us to spend more time indoors. Perhaps we can use the energy of this full moon to ponder the things we need to do to our living space in order to make it feel warm and nurturing. We’ve all spent A LOT of time in our homes since the beginning of this pandemic. I find that clean rooms, nicely decorated and free of clutter help to nurture my creative and magical spirit.

On an emotional and spiritual level, there are a number of us who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or a milder form of it known as the Winter Blues. Light is important to those of us who have a hard time adjusting to the increasing darkness. Lots of candles, warm scents, and fireplaces are welcome allies during the winter months. Perhaps this full moon is calling us to change our living space around a bit so that there is more natural light coming in our windows during the day and extra lights [be they strings of electric ones or natural sources] during the dark hours.

The final thing we need to consider this full moon is that the darkness serves a purpose both in nature and in our lives. We all need opportunities to rest, to relax, to recharge. Some of us do our own from of hibernation this time of year and that’s completely natural. The darkness also calls us to journey inward and work on whatever spiritual and emotional issues are important in our lives. We don’t have as many outside distractions so, it’s time to deal with us which is not always an easy thing to do!

I wish you all a blessed holiday season, no matter what holidays you celebrate. May the power of the Full Frost Moon inspire you to tend to some of the things I’ve mentioned above. Blessed be!

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin

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Gratitude Ritual

Here is a simple ritual that can be used by a small group or solo practitioner for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Even in the midst of a pandemic, we all have things to be thankful for. Blessed be!


ANOINTING (David Taliesin)

Gratitude Oil
1/4 cup olive oil
3 drops frankincense essential oil
3 drops of lavender essential oil

May your heart overflow with gratitude
For every blessing you’ve received this autumn.


Guardians and Ancestors of the East, Powers of Air, we are grateful for the intuition and creativity you breathe into our weary souls, reviving us once again. We are honored by your presence. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South, Powers of Fire,
we are grateful for the passion and determination
you ignite in our minds,
setting us ablaze with decisive action.
We are honored by your presence. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West, Powers of Water,
we are grateful for the love and peace
that flows into our stressed out lives,
giving us a feeling of shalom and well-being.
We are honored by your presence. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the North, Powers of Earth
we are grateful for the stability and security
you provide in our lives,
giving us a firm foundation to stand on.
We re honored by your presence. Hail and welcome!

Great Spirit, Nurturing Gaia,
who is known to us by many names,
we are grateful for the many blessings
you manifest in our lives.

We are not aware of all of them
but, tonight, help us to remember
and appreciate all that you do for us.
May we let go of negativity and embrace
a perspective of blessing and abundance.
We are honored by your presence. Hail and welcome!

Gratitude Ritual [Gratitude-Wheel, Gratitude Handout]

Light a green or gold candle before you begin this exercise. I used colored markers for bolder expression on the page.

Tonight, each of us is going to construct a gratitude wheel or mandala. In the center of the page are the words “I am grateful for…” What I would like you to do is creatively list whatever gives you joy and makes you feel empowered and blessed. The words you choose can radiate out form the center of the page like spokes on a wheel or whatever arrangement is pleasing to you. Don’t do this exercise quickly. Spend some times in silence and really think about it. We’ll have some open space for conversation for those who would like to share their experience of this activity. Blessed be!

CLOSING (David Taliesin)

Guardians and Ancestors of the North, Powers of Earth,
we thank you for your abundant and steadfast presence
in our circle and in our lives.
Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West, Powers of Water,
we thank you for your peaceful and calming presence
in our circle and in our lives.
Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South, Powers of Fire,
we thank you for your passionate and wise presence
in our circle and in our lives.
Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the East, Spirits of Air,
we thank you for your creative and intuitive presence
in our circle and in our lives.
Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Great Spirit, Nurturing Gaia,
Who guides us on the journey of life
And bless us abundantly in ways seen and unseen,
We thank you for your presence
in our circle and in our lives.
Stay if you will. Go if you must, We bid you farewell!

And now the circle is open but never unbroken
Because it is a circle woven in love.
Whatever energy is left in this space
We return to the earth with a spirit of gratitude.
Merry meet and merry part, and merry meet again.

Written by David Taliesin, ©2020,

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Post-Election: The Real Work Begins

After a week that feels like it has lasted an eternity, it is finally clear that Joe Biden will be our next president. For many of us, this is a cause for celebration. For others, it feels like the end of the world. I have no doubt that this time of transition will be tumultuous and dramatic. So what do we, as practitioners of magic, have to bring to the table to help us navigate the next three months?

First of all, self-care is of vital importance. I know you’re probably as exhausted as I am so take some time for rest. Eat nutritious food and lighten up on the alcohol, if you partake. I also use a light box this time of year which is something you might want to consider trying. They’re really affordable and can help some people with seasonal depression, low energy levels, and interrupted sleep patterns.

I also suggest you spend some time out in nature. As the leaves finish falling off the trees, there is a stillness in the air that I love to tap into. The energy of November feels clear and open. It’s perfect for helping us to let go of all the negative energy we’ve been carrying since the beginning of the pandemic.

In terms of magical practice, I suggest that you send out as much peaceful energy as you can. There is so much healing that needs to be done in our nation on so many levels. Start small by directing this energy toward those who are closest to you. Then expand the circle wider and wider. There are many ways to accomplish this. One of my favorites is the Buddhist lovingkindness meditation that is described elsewhere on my blog. Choose whatever rituals and practices feel right to you and your spiritual path.

I also suggest working with protective magic toward those who may be targets of reactive violence in the coming months. This includes not only our newly elected officials but also people of color, those in the LGBT+ community, and other oppressed minorities. I’m also worried about those who would try to disrupt the peaceful transition of power. There are a LOT of crazies out there right now, and they might do impulsive things they would not do otherwise.

Finally, don’t forget to work with the ancestors who are still close-by even after Samhain and Day of the Dead are over. I feel like the veil between the worlds is still wide open this year and will not close any time soon. I think it’s because of the pandemic as well as the election. Our ancestors are standing by. They are ready and willing to help. So don’t hesitate to call on them.

My friends, I feel a glimmer of hope this week. Today my spirit is lighter and I am ready to do the work that needs to be done in order to help heal our divided nation. I hope that you will be inspired to do the same. Blessed be!

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin

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Samhain Ritual 2020



Begin the ritual by saying the following:

Tonight is Samhain which, for some, signifies the end of one year and the beginning of another. The Ancestors are very close and they have been journeying with us faithfully through this pandemic. Tonight, we quiet ourselves in order to listen to the wisdom they have to share with us. They, too, faced trials and tribulations. Some of them faced pandemics even more deadly than COVID-19.

And so we pause, under the power of a full moon, to gather whatever spiritual and material provisions we need to navigate the dark times we are facing. May the Ancestors and Sister Moon illumine our path so that we may walk into this new year stronger and braver than we’ve ever been before.


If you have a besom, ceremoniously sweep the area where you’re going to cast your circle in a clockwise direction. While sweeping, say the following words:

Dark Spirits fly away. Let only peace and love remain.

Then walk around the perimeter of your circle with your wand or athame in a clockwise direction. Say the following words.

We cast this circle as a sacred space where nothing may enter that seeks to do us harm. It is protected by the Guardians, Ancestors and Elemental Spirits whom we now invite to join us in the circle.


All in the circle face each direction as it is called. Say the following words.

Guardians and Ancestors of the East, Spirits of Air, keepers of wisdom and mystery, whisper into our ears all that we need to know. May the cool fall breezes that rustle the leaves beneath our feet point us in the direction we need to go. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South, Spirits of Fire, purifiers of heart and mind, burn away all clutter and confusion from our minds so that we may see the way forward with absolute clarity. May the bonfires of fall that give us light and warmth, bring comfort to our weary souls tonight. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West, Spirits of Water, vessels of peace and compassion, may our thirst for justice and equality be quenched. May the fall rains which nourish the roots of the trees, give strength to grow the dreams you have planted in our hearts. Hail and welcome!

Guardians and Ancestors of the North, Spirits of Earth, stewards of hearth and home, gather around us the community we need to make us feel safe and loved. As the fall harvest continues, we ask you to bring about a harvest of good things into our lives, Hail and welcome!

Everyone face toward the center of the circle.

As the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer,
We learn to see in the dark.
We search for the deep, hidden mysteries of the Divine Presence,
And dine at Lady Wisdom’s table of intuition and creativity.
Great Spirit, who is known to us by many names,
Be with us tonight. We are blessed by your presence.
Hail and welcome!

This is the time to do whatever rituals you have planned for the evening. Here are a few suggestions:

Cord Magic—Take three strands of yarn, one of each color (black, white, and red). Very slowly, twine them together. You can braid them or simply knot them together. Tie at least three knots. If you want to use more knots, do so in multiples of three. Work your love into the yarn. Think about the people and resources you need to weave into your life in order to remain strong during this pandemic. When you have finished, hold the yarn between your palms and send energy to your loved ones. They will feel your warmth.

Shamanic Drumming— Drumming is a time-honored tradition in many spiritual paths. For me, it can keep the body busy and focus the mind so that the wisdom of the blessed dead can come through more clearly. There is lots of literature regarding how to do this. Have paper and pen ready in case any wisdom comes through you need to write down.

Inner Wisdom Dialogue— This is a difficult exercise for some people. For others it is life changing.

  1. Begin by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. Try to rid the body of any tension you may be feeling and attempt to clear your mind.
  2. When you are ready, open your eyes, grab a pencil and start writing. The easiest way to start is with a question you are struggling with at this point in your life. Write down the answers you receive and continue the conversation.
  3. When doing this exercise, the key to success is you cannot stop writing and you cannot pause to think. You should let the conversation flow without censoring any of it.
  4. Some people ask me if this exercise is only talking to yourself. My experience with this discipline is that is the wisdom gained from this kind of meditation comes from a deep wisdom source that is part us and part spirit. Some people gain incredible insights from this discipline that surprise and astonish them.


All in the circle face each direction as it is called. Say the following words.

Guardians and Ancestors of the North, Spirits of Earth, we thank you for your presence in our circle tonight. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the West, Spirits of Water, we thank you for your presence in our circle tonight. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the South, Spirits of Fire, we thank you for your presence in our circle tonight. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Guardians and Ancestors of the East, Spirits of Air, we thank you for your presence in our circle tonight. Stay if you will, go if you must. We bid you farewell!

Everyone face toward the center of the circle.

Blessed Ancestors who watch over us
In ways both hidden and revealed;
Whose love surrounds us,
And whose encouragement warms our hearts;
Thank you for your presence in our circle tonight!
Stay if you will, Go if you must!
We bid you farewell!

Great Spirit whose hidden wisdom
Has been revealed to us tonight,
We give you thanks.
Give us strength to act upon what we have learned,
And illumine the dark days of autumn
With your insight and creativity.
Stay if you will. Go if you must,
We bid you farewell!


The Wheel of the Year is making yet another transit
As we celebrate Samhain.
We are poised at a time which is an ending,
And yet it is also a new beginning.
As it was and ever shall be,
We look back at times remembered,
And we look forward to times yet to come.

And now the circle is open but never unbroken
Because it is a circle woven in love.
Whatever energy is left in this space
We return to the earth with a spirit of gratitude.
Merry meet and merry part, and merry meet again.

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin, Please feel free to adapt this ritual for your own personal ritual use but don’t repost an altered version of it online. Thank you!

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Samhaim Divination: The Pentacle Tarot Spread

Since the veil between the worlds is thin this time of year, Samhain is known as a good time to do divination work. My favorite spread as of late is the Pentacle Spread which includes the four elements, a spirit card, and a significator card. There are several variations of this spread so you have to use the one that “works” for you and your particular spiritual path. I’ve been told I read the cards like a witch because I connect Air with the suit of Wands and Fire with the suit of Swords. Many flip these correspondences around but this approach has always made the most sense to me.

As with all things Wicca, there is no “right” way to read the cards. It’s an intuitive process so you have trust your judgement. Experiment and see what happens. I did two amazing readings last night with this spread and think you’ll enjoy working with it as well. Samhain blessings!


Center: Querent’s Significator – What are they asking about? Have the Querent look at all the cards in the deck and choose the one that most resonates with them.Explain the meaning of the card to them and see if it fits the question they want to ask.Place this card face up in the center and shuffle the deck.When it feels ready ask the Querent to cut the cards and deal them clockwise in the order of air, fire, water, earth and spirit.

Top Right: Air – Intuition/creativity. Represents the SPIRITUAL. What is your gut/intuition telling you? Is it positive or negative? Qualities associate with this suit are enthusiasm, adventure, risk-taking and confidence. Wands involve the intellect, learning, teaching, knowledge, enlightenment, divination. The mind working to discern from a spiritual perspective.

Bottom Right – Fire – Will/energy. Represents the MENTAL. Fire can create or destroy. How are you feeling about making decisions at this point? Qualities associated with this suit are will, action, passion and energy. It’s capable of separating good from evil, truth from falsehood. Swords involve acting with power and decisive action.

Bottom Left – Water – Emotion. Represents the EMOTIONAL. Qualities associated with the suit are intuition, desire, feelings and relationship patterns. Cups involve intuition and are “heart centered.”

Top Left – Earth – Stability/security. Represents the PHYSICAL. What is grounding/rooting you? Is it nurturing or keeping you from moving forward? Qualities associated with this suit are money, prosperity of all kinds, and physical health. Pentacles involve practicality, security, prosperity of all kinds, and physical health.

Top – Spirit – The Whole Self. This is what everything is leading up to. This is the goal the elemental spirits are pointing toward.

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin,

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Samhain/All Hallow’s Eve Soul Cakes


The Soul Cake is part of traditional Samhain/All Hallows Eve festivities in the British Isles. The cakes are flat and round, scented with saffron, mixed spices and currants.During the 19th and early 20th centuries children would go ‘souling’ on Samhain (All Hallow’s Eve), All Saints’ Day (Nov 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov 2) where they would request alms or soul cakes with the following song:

“A soul, a soul, a soul cake.
Please god missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us merry.
Up with your kettles and down with your pans
Give us an answer and we’ll be gone
Little Jack, Jack sat on his gate
Crying for butter to butter his cake
One for St Peter, two for St Paul,
Three for the man who made us all.”

In earlier times the poor would go to prosperous houses, offering to say prayers for departed loved ones. In return, they were given these round cakes and sometimes food and money as well. Soul Cakes are a wonderful example of a Pagan tradition that made it’s way into Christianity virtually unscathed. If you’ve never made them before, they are absolutely delicious. Here is my favorite recipe for Soul Cakes. They freeze well so you can make them ahead!

Soul Cakes
For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground fresh if possible
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground fresh if possible
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp of saffron
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup raisins (or currants if you are able to get them)

For the Glaze:
1 egg yolk, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, the nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Mix well with a fork.

Crumble the saffron threads into a small saucepan and heat over low heat just until they become aromatic, taking care not to burn them. Add the milk and heat just until hot to the touch. The milk will have turned a bright yellow. Remove from heat.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon (or use an electric mixer with the paddle attachment). Add the egg yolks and blend in thoroughly with the back of the spoon. Add the spiced flour and combine as thoroughly as possible; the mixture will be dry and crumbly.

One tablespoon at a time, begin adding in the warm saffron milk, blending vigorously with the spoon. When you have a soft dough, stop adding milk; you probably won’t need the entire half-cup.

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead gently, with floured hands, until the dough is uniform. Roll out gently to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Using a floured 2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as you can and set on an ungreased baking sheet. You can gather and re-roll the scraps, gently.

Brush the souls cakes liberally with the beaten egg yolk.  Add currants in the shape of a cross and press them firmly into the dough.  Bake for 15 minutes, until just golden and shiny.

Makes 12 to 15 cakes

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin,

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Samhain/All Saints: The Great Cloud of Witnesses

greatcloudTherefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.  [Heb 12:1. NRSV]

As we approach the celebration of Samhain as well as All Saint’s Day, I love the term the writer of Hebrews uses to describe those who have made the transition from our world to the next. The “great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews are those who sit in the eternal stadium seats, cheering us on, as we “run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” I have always found this image to be rather comforting. It reminds us that the blessed dead still have a role to play in our lives as a source of wisdom and strength.

So who makes up this great cloud? One of my teachers, Byron Ballard, gave three distinctive classifications of the blessed dead in a class I attended. In looking at each, I hope it expands our understanding of who makes up those we label as our ancestors.

ANCESTORS: People in your direct bloodline who are dead.

BELOVED DEAD: People you honor who are not your ancestors who are also dead.

MIGHTY DEAD: Those you claim and honor as your ancestors. Heroes, writers, warriors, people who inspire you who, again are dead.

On my ancestor altar this year there are a few that fall into each category. I have pictures of my Ancestors such as my great-grandfather and his family. I also have pictures of the Beloved Dead such as dear friends who are no longer with me. Finally, this year’s Mighty Dead include Scott Cunningham whose magical work continues to resonate with me and inspire me.

Everyone’s great cloud of witnesses is different, yet each of us has people who continue to inspire, challenge and comfort us even thought they are no longer with us. Who are the Ancestors, Beloved Dead, and Mighty Dead you are honoring this Samhain/All Saint’s Day?

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin,

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Listening to the Gabble Ratchets

Flying_geeseI was out in the yard catching up with my next door neighbor. What we heard next brought our conversation to a screeching, or shall I say honking, halt. It was the sound of a flock of geese flying overhead in a V formation. The volume of their conversation was almost deafening, and the two of us just stood there awed by the sight and sound. A week later, I would learn a term to describe this cacophony of sound…gabble ratchets.

What in the world is a gabble ratchet, you might ask? The phrase sounds a bit ominous but it can also be seen in a positive light. In days of old, gabble ratchets were the spectral hounds who roamed the night sky, searching for the souls of the newly dead. Some also thought that if one heard their bark or whelp, it was an omen of impending death. Gabble ratchets are known by many other names and appear in a number of European folk traditions. The most common alternative names are the Gabriel Hounds, the Hounds of Hell (Welsh) or the Wild Hunt (Germanic).

In our day and age, we know that gabble ratchets are only geese doing what they do this time of year. However, because the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest I would like to think that their other-worldly song is leading all lost souls to the place where they belong. I see it as a sign of blessing and comfort, especially during the pandemic when so many people have died before their time. It’s a reminder that the Divine Presence surrounds us always, even in death, and hold us for all eternity.

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin,

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Remembering a Man I Never Met…Talking to My Ancestors


Dia de los Muertos 2014

Henry was my great grandfather who emigrated to this country with his wife many years ago. Together they learned English, lived through the Great Depression and found a way to raise 10 healthy, happy children. Although I never met him face to face, I have always felt connected to him ever since the day I saw his picture on my grandmother’s bedroom dresser. She told me he was a wonderful father who loved music and adored his kids. He had a zeal for life that never faded, even when he and his family were going through the toughest of times.

During the month of October I construct an ancestor altar in the style of Day of the Dead. It has pictures of departed loved ones, with Henry front and center. It also includes fresh flowers, candles and calaveras (skeleton figurines engaged in everyday activities). Every time my family sits down for supper, we light the candles and dine with our ancestors. At other times I meditate in front of the altar, burn a little mugwort (which attracts the spirits) and ask Henry to give me the wisdom and strength I need to face the challenges of the coming year. I know some people might think that’s strange, but I find it comforting and uplifting.

Ancestor veneration is practiced throughout the world in some form in every culture. Unfortunately, it has mostly fallen out of favor in the United States. Yet if there was ever a time for us to revive this spiritual practice, it is most certainly now. Our world is a mess with violence surrounding us one every side. Our environment is also in peril and we need all the advice and strength we can get from our ancestors to help us navigate these perilous times.

As we approach the celebration of Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, All Saint’s Day, or Dia de los Muertos (depending upon your spiritual path), many of us believe the veil between us and those on the other side is thinnest. It is the perfect time to commune with our beloved dead and draw strength from them. If you’ve never constructed an ancestor altar before, start small. Use the top of a dresser or a shelf in a book case. Include pictures of those you wish to remember, along with small mementos, a candle, and maybe some fresh flowers or incense. Use this altar as a place to meditate and pray in the coming weeks and see what wisdom the beloved dead have to offer you!
If you’re like me you will discover that you won’t want to dismantle this altar after the month of October comes to an end. Personally, I reluctantly take the big altar down but I also construct a smaller one in my office where it remains for the rest of the year. It is a visual reminder that our ancestors and Ancient Ones are always with us, building us up and cheering us on every step of the way!

Copyright ©2020 by David Taliesin,

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