A special post today.. I’d wanted to share this two weeks ago. Fate had other plans for me.
Hallowe’en, All Souls Day, Day of the Dead, Hallowtide, Lá Samhna, Old Hallowmas…
In Celtic tradition, each day begins at sundown just as each year begins with the onset of winter. The eve of October 30th through the eve of November 1st marks the end of one year, and the beginning of another. The Celts celebrate this ending and beginning with one of their most important ancient festivals, or Sabbats ~ Samhain [SOW-en].
Samhain is Irish, meaning “summer’s end.” It represents the third and final harvest of the year. It is a time of celebrating hard work, of deep reflection, and of releasing that which no longer holds value.
In the season of Samhain, roughly October 31st through December 20th, the Horned God passes from one world to the next and awaits his rebirth through The Mother Goddess. In Crone form, The Goddess prepares for her birthing of the Horned God during the Winter Solstice. In some traditions, the god Dagda and goddess Morrígan come together, and through their intercourse, provide well-being for that particular tribe and fertility for the surrounding lands.
The night of Samhain is also the time of the wild hunt, when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and the faeries, the dead, and otherworldly spirits roam the land. This is the time when the faeries plot to steal away humans, and the dead visit their loved ones still living. Those who were murdered, wronged or awaiting justice that had not been given them in life can exact their revenge on Samhain night.
It is said that one of the reasons for such a sense of mysticism and fear on Samhain was the difficulty in predicting the weather during this time of year. Regardless how well they planned, the Celts could never be sure they had enough food and other provisions to see them through the winter. In the years that had early snows, it was believed the spirits had expressed their anger toward the mortals by ruining the surrounding flora.
Many of you know that it is from this ancient Sabbat that our Halloween came from. Other cultures had similar festivals, such as Calan Gaeaf in Wales, Ancestor Night or Feast of the Dead in Britain, Oidhche Shamna in Scotland, and Hollantide Day in Isle of Man.
Samhain night, or even during the season, was not only a time of reflection and reverence, it was also a time to ask the gods and goddesses for guidance and protection. Some of the fun rituals practiced were:
- Bobbling for Apples ~ This symbolizes the apples of eternal life found on Manannán mac Lir‘s sacred isle
- Burning Nuts in the Hearth ~ Your future husband or occupation could be determined based upon which nuts explode and which do not
- Interpretations ~ Pour molten lead into cool water – the different shapes swirling around will tell you different things about your future
- Soddag Valloo, or dumb cakes ~ Baking and eating these on Samhain night will bring prophetic dreams
Some other superstitions prevalent on Samhain night include turning your clothes inside out to prevent faerie mischief, and wearing a stone found near water with a natural hole in it to ward off evil spirits. For those that experienced various mishaps, remember this for next year.
Fun fact ~ Babies born on Samhain night are thought to possess prophetic powers
So talk to me. Were you born on Samhain night? Do you have stories of Samhain traditions, folklore or rituals? What did you do on Halloween? Did anything interesting happen that night?