SAMHAIN – 31st October
SAMHAIN is one of the eight annual holidays, referred to as ‘Sabbats’, which are observed as part of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year.
SAMHAIN is celebrated by Witches and Pagans worldwide; it is the last harvest festival of the year and a time to remember the dead. At this time the barrier between the world of men and the realm of spirits is at its thinnest, thus enabling passage between the two. The dead are honoured and invited to join the living in celebration whether they be spirits of friends, relatives, ancestors, or the spirits of the Old Ones – all are invited to enter the circle on this night and share food, fire and ritual.
October’s Full Moon (the Blood Moon) illuminating the gateway between the physical and spiritual worlds. SAMHAIN is a time for clairvoyance, scrying and experiencing previous lives through meditation and hypnosis. We do not fear the dead, we honour them.
SAMHAIN heralds the beginning of winter, when the world starts to darken and the days are getting shorter.
The Catholic Church attempted to replace the Pagan festival of SAMHAIN with All Hallows’ day (or All Saints ‘Day, followed by All Souls’ Day) – this became known as All Hallows Eve or Halloween. The early Christian tradition professing All Hallows Eve to be when souls walked the Earth – released from purgatory for 48 hours – thus incorporating the long held, ancient beliefs of Pagans. In order to protect themselves, the ancients would appease any roaming evil spirits by offering them treats. The custom of wearing costumes on Halloween is thought to derive from Celts disguising themselves at SAMHAIN, so the spirits would think they belonged to their own kind. Once accepted into this company, they could then communicate with the spirit world, known as ‘souling’. Today, our ‘trick or treating’ children dressed as ghoulies and ghosties collecting sweets or treats, have little or no understanding of the ancient ritual they are enacting. However, regardless of the commercialism of this event, it is testament to our forefathers’ beliefs that SAMHAIN continues to hold sway over the centuries.
Gods and Goddesses of Samhain:
The Crone, Hag Woman, The Grandmother, The Black Sow, The Cailleach (the Old Veiled Woman). Hecate, the old Moon Goddess, The Morrigan, Macha, Badb (the Scald Crow or Battle Crow).
Samhain Incense: Orchid or Lily.
Candle Colours: Black, White.
Ritual Colours: Black, Orange.
Organic Materials: Apples, Nuts, Seasonal Vegetation, Pumpkin/Swede/Turnip.
Decorating your Altar:
Decorate Altar with black cloth and decorate with apples, nuts, seasonal vegetation, the carved, hollowed out Swede, turnip or pumpkin (with lit tea light inside), black candle and white candle (unlit), chalice filled with cider or apple wine, bread or cakes. Place scrying mirror, ball or tarot nearby for later divination.