Are you ready for some spooktacular sensations?
With only 10 days left until Samhain, we know you're busy preparing, so we won't hold you up.
Let's jump right into today's celebration!
The Winner of Sharon Grimshaw's Great Pumpkin Giveaway is....
The Sanctity of Death by C.L. Luciole
But you know what I’ve noticed? The act of dying is typically forgotten when it comes time to start the whole honoring thing. They will honor the Spirit that brings Death and the Dead themselves, but not the physical act of dying. For all our talk about not fearing death, that it is as natural as anything else, that we don’t truly die we just change form, we still tend to shy away from embracing the act of dying itself.
I get it. We aren’t a culture that embraces death any longer. Hell, getting old is one of the worst things you can do in some modern cultures (America I’m lookin’ at you). I also get that for many reasons death is scary. It can often involve a lot of pain and trauma not to mention the fact that most people don’t want to leave behind children or other loved ones and, frankly, the unknown of what comes after definitely plays into it. But you know what? It’s gonna happen regardless of how much you fear it, no matter how much you fight against it with proper diet or exercise. Whether peaceful or pain-filled Death is going to claim you and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it.
Know what’s even crazier? For some people death is WELCOME! I know, right? For some death IS the light at the end of the tunnel. After a long illness or a life filled with trauma and strife death can be a welcome release from the pain of living. Or, a person who has lived a long, happy life, who has seen all the people they love go before them, may find that they are more than ready to welcome death at the end. Honestly, have you ever really considered what living forever would mean? It’s rather terrifying, if you ask me.
It seems to me that viewing the act of dying as something sacred might go a long way towards helping us cope with some of the fear that is inherent in most people when the subject of death comes up. Birth is considered sacred; it is celebrated and honored in many different ways throughout the world. What is death but a birth into what comes after this life?
Viewing the act of dying as sacred isn’t a new concept. Take the Samurai or the Vikings for example. Dying was perfectly acceptable. If death occurred in such a way as to be considered a “good death” (such as dying in battle or for a noble cause) it was actively hoped for! For the Samurai sometimes the act of dying, of taking one’s own life, was the only way to redeem oneself for a perceived failure.
Many cultures celebrate the life of the deceased at a wake or some other event following their death. It’s a good start, definitely headed in the right direction, but again we go back to the celebration of the life of the person rather than making their death a sacred moment. Not to mention most post-death observances are for the living left behind, not the dead. They’re dead and, hopefully, gone (no need for any more disembodied spirits hanging around). I dare say expensive and/or elaborate funerals mean very little, if anything, to them.
I’m not saying you should do a jig around the death bed of your loved one. Of course you are going to be sad, grieved, and possibly even scared for yourself and for them. This is all perfectly natural. I’ve held vigil at the side of a loved one until they passed from this incarnation to the next; it isn’t an easy thing to watch. As I watched her slip away I wanted to take hold of her hand and ask her not to go, not yet. But that wasn’t for me to decide and I realized it would have been the height of selfishness to put my wants above the needs of my friend. Her family wasn’t pagan but they knew she was and, as she slipped away, I held her hand, called in her Patron Goddess, and asked that She ease her transition from this world to the next. I did not want to see her go but when she died there was a true sense of peace about her that I will never forget.
We can’t always prepare for death and dying. It has a nasty way of jumping out of nowhere and ending a life before we ever see it coming. But often we do know it is coming and in those instances we have the choice to greet it at the side of our loved ones, or for ourselves for that matter, as the sacred act it is, without fear. Or we can greet it with dread as if it is the enemy rather than the natural end of life.
I am reminded of a quote from the 80’s movie, Steel Magnolias (Yeah, I know, I’m dating myself here!) after the character of Shelby (played by Julia Roberts) dies. Her mother M’Lynn (Sally Field) is at her graveside speaking with her friends about deciding to turn off life support for her daughter and the moment when she passed away.
“I realize as a woman how lucky I am. I was there when that wonderful creature drifted into my life and I was there when she drifted out. It was the most precious moment of my life.”
I realize this is a specific instance of a mother losing a child but there is no reason that sentiment can’t be carried into other instances of death and dying. Birth is a blessing..and so is death. Life has such meaning simply because it IS finite; there is an end to it all. Whether you believe in Heaven, Elysium, the Summerlands, reincarnation, or that your essence returns to the stars and the Universe you will pass on. You will meet the end of this life as will all the people you love.
There is no reason we should not meet the end with honor for the sacred act that dying truly is.
This one goes out to our beloved Siren, Renee Sosanna Olson.
The Witches’ Kitchen by Autumn Earthsong
Warm drinks by a crackling fire…whether outside or inside….are a MUST! Here are a couple I think you’ll like…… Pull up a chair and join me!
Autumn Harvest Warmer
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
2 4” cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves
2 cups cranberry juice
1 cup orange juice
Garnish: orange slices
Combine water, sugar and spices in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil.
Add juices; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Discard spices.
Serve warm, garnished with orange slices
*Makes 4 servings
4 cups apple juice
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
6 allspice berries
6 whole cloves
4” cinnamon stick
3/4 cup apricot brandy or apricot nectar
Garnish: apple slices
Combine apple juice and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Tie spices in a cheesecloth, add to the pan and simmer 15 minutes. Remove cheesecloth sack from heat and discard. Stir in brandy or nectar.
Serve hot in mugs and garnish with apple slices
*You can also just float spices in the liquid..and strain.
Read my blog at www.autumnearthsong.com
Visit my herbal shop at www.etsy.com/shop/verbenalaneshoppe
Bibliophile's Dream Giveaway by Author Wendy Callahan
Pagan Heroines - the winner will receive an urban fantasy ebook duology with the titles "The Gossamer Gate" and "The Pain Maiden" by Wendy L. Callahan.
But the laws of the capricious fae are calculated to work against mortals and keep them trapped forever in their realm. There is temptation at every turn, and even if Khiara does not give in, there is still a chance that the devious prince will go back on his word.
For the fae may change the rules of the game on a whim, and the prince has already set a seemingly impossible condition on Khiara’s quest for freedom…
Second Set: Steampunk Snark - three ebooks in The Aetheric Artifacts trilogy: "The Chronos Clock", "The Daemon Device", and "The Enigma Engine".
Here are the titles' descriptions:
In addition to this dilemma, she must determine if she both trusts and loves the man to whom she was once betrothed. Lord Francis Winterton not only broke her heart, but also appears to have betrayed her to the ruthless people in search of this powerful artifact. With close friend and inventor Simon Warom at her side, Demetra begins her adventure: the hunt for the clock that will save the life of the valet, and thus prevent Francis from transgressing the limits of fashionable good taste.
Saving the world from power-obsessed madmen is all in a day’s work for half-daemon artifact hunter Demetra Ashdown. It’s her potential mother-in-law who proves most vexing.
Yet, Demetra is determined to charm her, even if that means a journey around the world for answers to the most perplexing questions, such as what is the difference between infernals, like herself, and celestials, like her fiancé, Francis? Can they marry, despite being from disparate bloodlines? And just how much lemon cake does it take to keep Demetra happy?
Whether by railway, steamer, or airship, Demetra and Francis will not rest until they can allay Lady Winterton’s concerns about their union. Nor will they realize the unimaginable discovery or danger to which their inquiries will lead until a chance meeting leads to a long overdue reunion…
Aetherals are disappearing, and Demetra's half-sister is among the missing. It's up to her and her friends to figure out who is kidnapping them and why, in this conclusion to the Aetheric Artifacts series.
There also remains the question of whether or not Francis's mother will permit their wedding, or continue to fight it. However, what Lady Winterton has to say on the matter will startle even the unflappable Demetra.
In the midst of astonishing family revelations, Demetra must once again form a difficult alliance with a certain government official to solve the riddle of the aetheral abductions, as well as dodge the advances of a handsome Scotland Yard detective, and answer the perennial question: is there ever a wrong time to eat cake?
There will be 1 winner for both sets :)
Rules: (READ CAREFULLY)
YOU MUST PROVIDE A VALID EMAIL ADDRESS. If you choose not to share it in the comments, please use the contact form at the top of the page to provide your email address. You must provide your email address once per giveaway.
Drawing is held by random number generation and winner will be notified in email (that's why you have to have an email address listed). Announcement will be made in tomorrow's post.
Note: These giveaways are open to the U.S., Canada and where allowable. Void where prohibited.
Canadian residents, please pay close attention as by law, you have to use a different set of rules. Not to worry, we have you covered :)
CANADIANS READ HERE: You will be given the same number of entries for answering the following (remember, we STILL NEED YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS):
What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?
U.S. Citizens, and others- READ HERE:
1. Go to Wendy Callahan's site . Peruse her works and tell us which one you'd like to read first.
EXTRA ENTRIES: (USE SEPARATE COMMENTS. If you throw them all into one comment, it counts as one entry only)
2. Be a follower of this blog. Comment that you are following us.
3. Like the Sirens FB page (come let us know you did in comments)
4. Blog about this giveaway (comment with the url for your blog entry)
5. Tweet about this giveaway (come back and give us the url for your tweet)
So, all in all, you get 5 entries for this giveaway! The deadline for entries is 9pm eastern time tonight. Announcement tomorrow, same time, same bat channel ;)
Questions? Email Serena.
See you tomorrow!