Samhain (or Hallowe'en, as it is more commonly known), is by far my favourite holiday! We mark the occasion every year, usually by decorating the house, preparing a delicious feast, throwing a party now and then and carrying out a little blessing!
This particular celebration marks the beginning and the end of the Wheel of the Year, just the same as 31 December does in the conventional calender. Celebrations usually begin at sunset on 31 October and peak around midnight, sometimes the next day!
A LITTLE BIT OF BACKGROUND
The word Samhain (pronounced So'wen) means 'Summers End', and in days gone by, it was at this time of year when people, knowing that Winter was most certainly on its way, would harvest and store crops, put away healthy livestock and slaughter the weaker ones for meat! Great feasts would take place in these communities, as this was seen as an opportunity to 'feed yourself up' before food became scarce, and until new life returned in the spring time!
It is also thought that Hallowe'en is one of the 'inbetween' days of the old Celtic calender. A time when the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is very thin, and it is possible for the spirits of loved ones who have passed on, to join us again, if they so wish!
A LITTLE WORD OF WARNING!
As witches, we believe it is not wise to summon spirits, and disturb the peaceful sleep of the dead. It is traditional to place a lighted candle in the window to guide the spirits of your loved ones home for the evening (only if they are keen to join us), and to deter any unwanted spirits. This is the origin of the Hallowe'en pumpkin lantern!
WAYS IN WHICH YOU CAN MARK THE SAMHAIN SABBAT
- SET YOURSELF A NEW CHALLENGE
- LIGHT A CANDLE FOR YOUR LOVED ONES WHO HAVE PASSED ON TO THE SPIRIT REALM
- CELEBRATE THE LIFE OF SOMEONE YOU HAVE LOVED WHO IS NO LONGER WITH YOU. VISIT THEIR BURIAL SITE AND LEAVE A GIFT, LISTEN TO SOME MUSIC THEY ENJOYED, LOOK AT OLD PHOTOS OF THEM AND REMINISCE ON SOME GOOD TIMES YOU SHARED!
- REMEMBER ABSENT OR DISTANT FRIENDS ALSO! MAKE THE EFFORT TO LOOK UP THEIR ADDRESS OR PHONE NUMBER AND GET IN TOUCH!
- GO FOR A WALK AND OBSERVE HOW NATURE IS CHANGING
- HAVE A GOOD CLEAR OUT AT HOME. GIVE AWAY ANYTHING THAT MIGHT BE USEFUL TO SOMEONE ELSE, AND TRY AND RE-PURPOSE SOMETHING THAT IS A LITTLE PAST ITS SELL-BY DATE! I.E. A TIRED OLD T-SHIRT WOULD MAKE A GOOD CAR POLISHING RAG!
A MOMENT AT THE ALTAR
If you are a witch and wish to spend a little time at your altar, grab yourself a couple of candles, one white, one black, and set them in a safe holder. Settle yourself down and get ready to call upon the elements:-
- Call upon Air, Fire, Water and Earth, asking each element to be with you
- Visualize the Goddess and the God and ask them to be present
- Light the black candle (this represents the old year) and reflect on your life and the lives of those around you in the last 12 months. Give thanks to the Goddess and the God for your successes and the good things that have manifested for you in this time frame. Consider also what you have learned from the events of this year. Remember anyone who passed to the spirit realm in this last year (including pets).
- Spend a few quiet moments while you let yourself absorb all of this.
- When you are ready to let all of this last year go, light the white candle, which represents the New Year ahead
- Consider your hopes, dreams and plans and ask the Goddess and the God to bless and give good fortune to this
- Put out the black candle and say a final farewell to the old year
- Thank the elements individually in the same order that you requested their presence
- Give thanks to the Goddess and the God for their presence and guidance
Next, make yourself something to eat and drink. This is a way of 'grounding' yourself when you have performed a ritual. Don't forget to set a little of what you are eating aside on a separate plate, for the spirits of your loved ones who have chosen to attend the feast. When you next go outside, put this food on the bird table.
Clear away after yourself and whilst doing so, take some time to reflect on your ritual, and what you have wished for in the year to come. If it is possible to do so, let the white candle burn a little longer, ideally letting it burn out, but of course, never leave it unattended!
For a little added protection from the wandering spirits on Hallowe'en, wear a Tiger's Eye crystal around your neck, and place a cloth over each mirror in the house, to stop the spirits from using them as a portal.You can also fix a sprig of Rosemary onto each mirror, which is said to blind the spirits to the activity of your household during the thinning of the spiritual veil.
Most of all, remember to have a safe and happy Hallowe'en!