Samhain or what is now more commonly called Halloween is one of the most significant points on the Wheel of the Year. All the harvests have been gathered in, the leaves are shedding their leaves, animals are getting ready to hibernate and we find ourselves preparing for the coming winter months. It is the point when the dark half of the year really does take over from the light and we enter the time of darker mornings and early evening sunsets till we reach the Winter Solstice.
Samhain or ‘summers end’ is pronounced sow-in or sow-en with the sow as in cow and local dialects vary. Traditionally, it was celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. During the busy harvest time many families let their hearth’s go out, so once all work was completed a communal fire would be lit and everyone would take a flame from the fire back to their homes to relight their own hearths.
Seen as a passing point from old to new and the dying of the summer, Samhain is a time when the veils between the worlds is very fine meaning the barriers between the physical world and the spirit world are more transparent. Samhain is therefore the time to remember our loved ones who are no longer with us and welcome their spirits into our home. We remember them not with sadness but with joy for all they were when they were alive.
Samhain is also a time for feasting, foods that would not keep long would be consumed and an extra place at the table would always be set for the ancestors who would be welcomed to join in the celebrations. Being a time where travel between the worlds was more fluid, it was good practice to leave offerings for the fae and mischievous spirits so that they did not step into our world and take back an unsuspecting person. Offerings were left at the boundaries of villages and folk were discouraged from being caught at a crossroads at witching hour lest they find themselves carried away.
You can see how many of these traditions have been incorporated into today’s Halloween, dressing up as ghosts and witches is a nod to making spirits and the fae welcome and accepted, trick or treating is like leaving offerings to keep the mischievous spirits happy, bobbing for apples could have been a way of eating up the apple harvest that wouldn’t keep and November 2nd is now called All Souls Day, a time when we remember our loved ones who have passed.
If you would like to connect with energy of Samhain but don’t want to be in the woods around a fire at midnight, then you can simply take a photo of a loved one who has passed, light a candle or tealight and place a small offering of their favourite food. Talk to them like they are in the room with you. Raise a glass to them, give them your love and ask them to watch over you and keep you company during the coming season. Many Blessings to you may you be warm, well fed and forever loved 🧡