October 31, 2014 Newsletter
Samhain: Wiccan New Year.
By Zoe Mintz, International Business Times:
Candles lit for the celebration of Samhain. Flickr
Many Wiccans, Druids and other pagans across the globe will be marking the beginning of their spiritual new year with the two-day festival of Samhain. The most widely observed pagan festival begins for most pagans on Oct. 31 — known to others as Halloween.
“At its core, Samhain is the start of winter and of the new year in the old Celtic calendar,” Jason Pitzl, a Wiccan from Eugene, Oregon, told International Business Times. “This is a time when the ancestors are honored, divinations for the new year are performed, and festivals are held in honor of the gods. It is a time of final harvest before the long winter ahead.”
Depending on geographical location, pagans celebrate Samhain at different times and in different ways. Some will choose to wait until the nearest weekend to the full moon to hold ceremonies. Others observe it a bit later, around Nov. 6, to mark the midpoint between fall equinox and winter solstice. In the southern hemisphere, Samhain takes place towards the end of April and beginning of May.
Rituals can include bonfires, dancing, feasting and ceremonies honoring ancestors and those who have died in the past year. For those unfamiliar with Samhain, below are three answers to common questions surrounding the pagan festival.
What is Samhain?
Samhain, pronounced saah-win or saa-ween, comes from the Gaelic word “Samhuin,” which means summer’s end. It is one of the eight annual Celtic festivals and one of eight “sabbats” that modern pagans celebrate in the course of the year. Paganism is an umbrella term for a movement of different nature-based religions. It is not related to Satanism or any form of devil worship.
“Samhain is the turning of the wheel. It feels almost like shutting off the lights for the evening or closing down the store for the night,” Heather Greene, the managing editor of a pagan news site, the Wild Hunt, told IBTimes. “It is time to go inward and focus on family and self.”
For many, the festival is a time to honor ancestors and those who have died in the past year. Seances are popular rituals since this is the time when the veil between this world and the spiritual one is at its thinnest, pagans believe.
“It’s a kind of memorial day for pagan people. The strongest theme is that of remembering, honoring and paying respects to the beloved dead,” Selena Fox, a pagan priestess and co-executive director of Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church based in southwestern Wisconsin, told IBTimes.
There are several rituals that can be practiced during Samhain. Some decide to celebrate in group settings, while others choose to perform rituals in private.
“For me, Samhain has always been a very personal festival. My own celebrations have been either as a solitary practitioner or in a group of very close friends,” Green, who has celebrated Samhain as a Wiccan for 20 years, told IBTimes.
Many rituals involve creating an altar table with objects that relate to a particular ceremony. For instance, to honor one’s ancestors, an altar can include family photos and heirlooms. A family tree, postcards and flags from that person’s country or hometown can also be used. Family members can say blessings, light candles to honor the deceased and, later, eat a meal.
Other rituals include bonfires, divinations like tarot card readings, reflecting on the past year, meditative nature walks and commemorating the dead with a cemetery visit, telling ancestors’ stories and preparing a Feast of the Dead. The latter involves placing an empty setting at the dinner table for the deceased. Each person is meant to give an offering from their plate to the one that belongs to the deceased. A variation of this is called a “Samhain Dumb Supper” where the meal is conducted in silence.
“Typically, my family and I celebrate Samhain by having an Ancestor’s Feast. I make foods that highlight both mine and my husband’s ethnic backgrounds to honor our ancestors,” Danie Newcomb, a practicing pagan from Arkansas, told IBTimes. Her family also goes to a local cemetery to pick up trash and lay flowers. “This is a great way to show our respect for those who have passed, while also respecting the earth through cleaning the grounds,” she said.
Jasmeine Moonsong, a Wiccan high priestess in Massachusetts, says Samhain is also a time to set plans in motion for the coming year.
“An example of this would be to write down what it is we desire in the New Year and light some candles and incense that correspond to our desires in the hopes of raising the energy to attract those things,” she told IBTimes. “A simple example would be money. If you are wishing to attract more prosperity you could light green candles, use bay leaves and burn a honeysuckle candle in the hopes of attracting more wealth in the coming year.”
What’s the difference between Samhain and Halloween?
In the eighth century, the Catholic Church decided to mark Nov. 1 as All Saints Day to honor saints and martyrs. This was in part influenced by the pagan festivals already taking place during this time of the year. The mass on All Saint’s Day was called Allhallowmas in English. As a result, the night before became known as All Hallows Eve. This eventually became the popular holiday, Halloween.
While they might take place on the same day and mark the end-of-harvest season, Samhain and Halloween have different focuses. Halloween is considered a secular folk holiday celebrated by people of all denominations. Samhain is a religious observance honoring the dead. Rituals are somber and done in private.
While part of Samhain festivities involve a certain level of grief and mourning, there are celebrations orcéilidh (a Gaelic term) that take place. At Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church in Wisconsin, there’s a witch’s ball where people dress up in every version of witch imaginable. The term signifies herbalists, healers, medicine persons and shamans who lived in old European villages — not necessarily the black hat, green-faced women flying on broomsticks seen today. Although some people do dress up as those kinds of witches, Selena Fox said.
“We have a joyful evening. Some dress up outfits, sometimes in classic witch garb seen in pop culture,” Fox says, describing battery-operated wands and broomsticks she sees at the annual celebration — especially since the release of the Harry Potter books and movies. “We have some fun with it,” she said.
On this day in 1926, Harry Houdini, the great escape artist, found a trap from which he couldn’t escape. Twelve days prior, speaking to a group of students in his dressing room, he commented on the strength of his stomach muscles. One of the students sought to test him, and punched him, hard. Houdini was taken off guard, and the blows actually ruptured his appendix (whether or not he was already suffering from appendicitis isn’t clear). He died on Halloween day of peritonitis.
PHOTOS OF THE DAY
A man in a scarecrow costume, part of a Hershey candies promotion for Halloween, walks on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Richard Drew/AP
A polar bear eats a pumpkin during a Halloween celebration in the Tiergarten Schoenbrunn zoo in Vienna. Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
Market Closes for October 31st, 2014
|Bonds||% Yield||Previous % Yield|
10 Year Bond
10 Year Bond
30 Year Bond
|WTI Crude Future||80.54||81.12
By Eric Lam
Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) — Canadian stocks rose, capping a third straight weekly advance, after the Bank of Japan’s surprise decision to expand its monetary stimulus program sparked a global rally in equity markets.
Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Nova Scotia advanced more than 1.1 percent to lead gains among bank shares. Kinross Gold Corp. and First Majestic Silver Corp. plunged at least 7.7 percent as gold and silver prices slumped to the lowest levels since 2010. A measure of raw-materials producers retreated to the lowest price since December 2008.
The Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index rose 154.63 points, or 1.1 percent, to 14,613.32 at 4 p.m. in Toronto, capping a 0.5 percent gain for the week. The index pared its second straight monthly loss to 2.3 percent. It had rallied three consecutive months before that.
“This is where we do have an opportunity and some very healthy upside potential,” said Philip Petursson, director of director of institutional equities at Manulife Asset Management Ltd. in Toronto. His firm manages about $281 billion. “It is contingent on where commodity prices go.”
Eight of the 10 industries in the benchmark Canadian equity gauge advanced today on trading volume 17 percent higher than the 30-day average.
Toronto-Dominion, the largest bank in Canada, climbed 1.3 percent to a one-month high, and Bank of Nova Scotia increased 1.1 percent to C$69.02. The S&P/TSX Financials Index rallied 1.1 percent for a second straight advance.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and four of eight board members voted to raise the central bank’s annual target for enlarging the monetary base to 80 trillion yen ($723 billion) from 60 to 70 trillion yen, an increase forecast by only three of 32 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Air Canada, the nation’s largest airline, rose for a seventh straight day, adding 1.5 percent to a three-month high of C$9.30. The union representing the company’s pilots ratified a 10-year labor agreement.
The Canadian economy unexpectedly shrank in August, led by a decline in oil and gas extractors. Gross domestic product decreased 0.1 percent, Statistics Canada said. The economy remains hobbled by weak exports and business investment, which Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz says are critical to building the recovery.
Lightstream Resources Ltd. tumbled 8.3 percent to a record low of C$2.98, after reporting declining profit yesterday. The stock has slumped 22 percent in the past six days.
Goldcorp Inc., the biggest producer of gold by market value, rose 1.7 percent to C$21.20 to erase an earlier loss and snap a two-day slide. The stock had dropped 17 percent in the prior two days after Goldcorp posted a surprise loss amid higher costs and lower-than-estimated production.
Kinross Gold sank 12 percent to C$2.41 and First Majestic Silver dropped 7.7 percent to C$5.78. Gold futures for December delivery fell 2.3 percent and silver futures for the same month dropped as much as 4.8 percent.
Raw-materials producers retreated 0.6 percent as a group for a third straight loss. The measure has declined 12 percent this month, the worst in more than a year.
By Callie Bost
Oct. 31 (Bloomberg) — U.S. stocks jumped, sending benchmark indexes to records, as an unexpected boost in stimulus from the Bank of Japan spurred optimism in the global economy.
Energy companies led gains, with Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. each rising 2.4 percent. LinkedIn Corp. soared 13 percent after third-quarter sales exceeded estimates. GoPro Inc. jumped 13 percent after its prediction for fourth-quarter profit surpassed analysts’ projections. Starbucks Corp. fell 2.3 percent after posting disappointing quarterly revenue.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 1.2 percent to 2,018.05 at 4 p.m. in New York, topping its previous all-time closing high of 2,011.36 on Sept. 18. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 195.1 points, or 1.1 percent, to 17,390.52, also an all-time high. The Nasdaq Composite Index surged 1.4 percent to the highest since March 2000.
“The BOJ move is the icing on the cake,” said Patrick Moonen, who helps oversee $241 billion as a senior strategist at ING Investment Management. “Fundamentals are still good. Corporate earnings are better than expected, U.S. macro data came in strong and even the data in the euro zone show signs of stabilization.”
U.S. equities joined a global rally as Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund said it will put half its holdings in local and foreign stocks, double previous levels, and invest in alternative assets. The Bank of Japan raised its annual target for monetary expansion to 80 trillion yen ($724 billion) from as much as 70 trillion yen. The Topix index soared the most in a year, leading a rally in equities around the world.
Better-than-forecast corporate earnings and optimism in the economy helped the S&P 500 rebound after a 7.4 percent dip from Sept. 18 to Oct. 15. The gauge advanced 2.3 percent in October, extending its gain this year to 9.2 percent.
The Russell 2000 Index rallied 6.5 percent in October for its best month since July 2013. The Dow gained 2 percent in the month and the Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 3.1 percent.
The S&P 500 climbed 2.7 percent this week after posting its best week since January 2013 through Oct. 24. Equities rose yesterday after data showed the U.S. economy expanded faster than forecast last quarter, signaling growth is strong enough to withstand the end of Federal Reserve bond buying.
Data today showed consumer spending in the U.S. unexpectedly dropped in September as incomes rose at the slowest pace of the year. The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago Inc.’s business barometer rose to 66.2 in October from 60.5 in the prior month, according to a report today. A reading less than 50 signals contraction.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final October index of consumer sentiment increased to 86.9 from 84.6 a month earlier.
“When we have some positive headlines out there, the market only focuses on that aspect,” Jonathan Corpina, senior managing partner at Meridian Equity Partners who works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, said by phone. “Since we’ve bounced off those lows 7, 8, 9 percentage points ago, the market seems to be determined to hit new highs.”
The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index fell 3.4 percent to 14.03, capping its second weekly drop since closing at the highest since June 2012 on Oct. 15. About 8.3 billion U.S. shares changed hands today, 27 percent higher than the three-month average. All 10 of the main industries in the S&P 500 advanced. Raw- materials shares climbed 1.9 percent and while technology stocks rose 1.8 percent for the biggest gains after energy companies.
Energy shares increased 2 percent even as oil continued a selloff. Exxon surged 2.4 percent to $96.71 after unexpectedly boosting profit last quarter as lower crude prices helped its refining business.
Chevron climbed 2.4 percent to $119.95 as third-quarter net income rose for the first time in three years. Chevron warned investors in August that full-year output will be 1 percent to 2 percent below the company’s previous estimate.
LinkedIn gained 13 percent to $228.96. New business lines including news content boosted third-quarter revenue by 45 percent to $568.3 million. That beat the $557.7 million average forecast of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Profit excluding some costs also beat estimates.
GoPro surged 13 percent to $77.10 after predicting fourth- quarter adjusted earnings of 65 cents to 69 cents a share. Analysts on average estimated 53 cents. The maker of cameras used in action sports also posted better-than-estimated third- quarter sales and profit, and said it will make a decision about returning cash to shareholders.
Starbucks dropped 2.3 percent to $75.56. The world’s biggest coffee-shop chain posted fiscal fourth-quarter revenue of $4.18 billion, missing the $4.24 billion average analyst estimate, as competition intensified.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone.
The world in its essence is the reconciliation of opposite forces.
These forces, like the right hand and left hand of the creator, act in perfect harmony,
and yet in opposite directions.
Eat, drink and be scary.
Carolann Steinhoff, B.Sc., CFP®, CIM, CIWM
Senior Vice-President &
Senior Investment Advisor
Queensbury Securities Inc.,
St. Andrew’s Square,
Suite 340A, 730 View St.,
Victoria, B.C. V8W 3Y7