Tuesday, June 17

Samhain (and the Woolton pie recipe)

As some of you may know, and others may have picked up, I am Pagan. For me, this means observing the movement of our amazing planet as it travels through space, the seasons which result from this, and the feelings we inherently associate with these seasons. I've always celebrated the Pagan festivals by having a special dinner that reflects the moment in time we are celebrating.

Shortly before we split up, Jeff and I observed Samhain, which is the festival from which Halloween was created. Samhain marks the halfway point between the Autumn Equinox (Mabon) and the Winter Solstice (Yule. Ah, I see you making the historical connections to another popular festival celebrated around the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere...). Samhain is the final festival of the Pagan calendar and represents death and dying in the circle of life, before the spark of life is reignited at Yule when the days begin to lengthen once more and the sun begins to return. It seems fitting then that this would be the last festival that Jeff and I would spend together. This is also a very fitting time for me to be grieving for this loss and spending my time healing, consolidating, and refocusing for a new beginning in the coming months, because that's what this time of year symbolizes.

However, Samhain, with its background of death, is not a time of sorrow. It is a time of acceptance, of love, and of appreciation for what you have, and what you will have. I like to make something for dinner on that night that reflects that feeling you get around this time of year, that you just want to curl up in the warmth with a hearty meal and those you love, and hibernate through the Winter. This year I made something I've been wanting to make for years, Woolton Pie.

Woolton Pie has its roots in WWII England when rations meant that there wasn't a whole lot to eat besides a few vegetables and a bit of flour. I found my recipe many years ago and cut it out of a magazine, the name of which I have long since forgotten, and have been saving it for a festival such as Samhain. It was a bit more effort than I like to take when making dinner, so I think it'll stay as a 'special occassions' meal only, though I must say the pasty was very yummy!

Woolton Pie

Serves 4

For the filling

450g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

900g carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 leek, thinly sliced
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Pinch of nutmeg
Chopped parsley
Vegetable stock or water
Salt and pepper to taste

For the pastry

50g Nuttelex
22g plain wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

2. Fry the potatoes and carrot separately in Nuttelex until soft. Set aside.

3. Fry the spring onions, celery, and leek in Nuttelex until soft.

4. Mix all the cooked vegetables together with the dried thyme, and salt, pepper, nutmeg, and chopped parsley to taste. Fill a pie dish with this mixture, bury the bay leaf in the middle, and moisten with a little vegetable stock or water. Set aside to cool.

5. To make the pastry crust, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Rub in the Nuttelex, then add enough water to make a rolling consistency, although one that is slightly softer than when making pastry with white flour. Roll out and use to cover the pie.

6. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Happy eating! :)


  1. This looks so good! Interesting reading about Samhain, didn't know anything about it...

    1. Yes I find it quite interesting too, all the ways that ancient Pagan festivals have been adapted over the years to suit the religious and cultural festivities of changing times and invading countries, it's history in action. Other examples are Yule (Winter Solstice) which as mentioned is the foundation of our Christmas celebrations (i.e. yuletide) and also new year. The Pagan new year takes place overnight on the evening of Yule, because the next day is slightly longer and so marks the beginning of the half of the year where the world gradually gets lighter again. New year in the Northern Hemisphere is celebrated only a few days after Yule, and our calendar also starts and ends there as well. Another one is Ostara (Spring Equinox) which comes from the name of a goddess of fertility, Eostre, which is where we get the words estrogen, estrus, and... Easter! Because Ostara celebrates fertility and new life, the symbols are rabbits, eggs, chicks, and lambs... sound familiar? Ha ha! Again, in the Northern Hemisphere, Ostara and Easter fall at around about the same time. There's also Beltaine which marks the halfway point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, and this is where May Day celebrations come from. Harvest festivals also have their roots in Pagan festivals. It's a small world, everything is very interlinked and more similar than it is different!


What do you think? I'd love to hear from you!