I thought that as Samhain fell on a Thursday this year, I would share this article again. Enjoy!
Back in February of 2016 I wrote an article about Imboloc, since that time I’ve been giving some though to doing a series on the Pagan year. (Sometimes I think too much, lol) I finally decided that since the New Year is approaching, this would be a good time to begin.
I used the term Pagan as a descriptive only. I was born into a family of Witches. I don’t consider myself Pagan nor do I consider myself Wiccan. I gave up conventional religion decades ago. I am who I am traveling my spiritual path, no title required.
For me, a spiritual path has nothing to do with a religion that dictates what you can and cannot believe. It is a connection to something, someone larger than ourselves. It’s understanding that we are all one family, that Mother Earth is a living being and we are meant to live in harmony with her. This path is not the same for everyone because we learn and grow differently. What is important is that we are all traveling our path. In time we will make it to the end of the journey and find ourselves at home where we started.
The Pagan year is divided into eight festivals (Sabbats) each marking a turning point in the year. These eight days are divided into two groups of four. The first four are the main “holidays” these are the fire festivals of Imboloc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain. The other four mark the seasonal changes. They are Spring Equinox, Autumnal Equinox, Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice.
For those on a more earth based path the festival of the new year begins at sunset on October 31, Samhain, and ends at sunset November 1. It is considered the new year because Samhain is half way between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. So, it is a celebration of the end of the harvest, the year’s work is done, and the arrival of winter, the time of rest.
Back in the day, as the morning began the fires in homes were allowed to go out. Everyone was busy bringing in the last of the harvest and preparing meat for the winter. Large bonfires were lit, and when the Druid Priests arrived and celebrating got underway. At the end of the celebration everyone would take a piece of the fire home with them to rekindle the home fires.
Some stories say a goodly amount of alcohol was consumed, and that may be, but this is a day that has a dual purpose. As the last of the harvest festivals there are prayers and rituals of thanks taking place as well as honoring the ancestors. This is the time of year when the veil between the worlds is ist thinnest, and the best time to commune with loved ones who have crossed. At the feasting tables a place was set for the loved ones so they could join in the celebration.
Along with honoring the ancestors there was the opportunity for Faeries and other Spirits to cross into the world to have a little fun. This is where costumes and jack-o-lantern’s came into the picture. People would dress up to hide themselves from the tricksters. Plates of fruit and other treats were often left beside the doors of homes to appease the Faeries and spirits so they wouldn’t cause any havoc in the home or to the winters food stores.
Unfortunately, with time Christianity moved across Europe and the Pagan festivals were absorbed into the faith and Samhain became Halloween and All Saints Day. The celebration and meaning of the day forgotten, except by those who observe the old ways.
If you are looking for ways to celebrate the traditional festival, try some of the following activities:
- Take a walk and enjoy the beautiful colors of the season. Contemplate what the cycle of the year has taught you and what you might want to change going forward. As you walk, gather colorful leaves, pinecones and items you can decorate your home with. Don’t forget to thank nature for providing them. Leave an exchange like a piece of candy.
- Create an Ancestor Alter to honor loved ones who have gone home. Use pictures and little mementos that remind you of them, flowers and candles.
- Set a place at the table and invite your loved ones to join you in your meal.
- Have a bonfire if you have the space, or a fire if you have a fireplace. On a piece of paper, write changes you would like to make that will improve your life. When done put the paper in the fire and watch your old thought patterns and habits disappear!
- Samhain is the best day of the year for Divination. Use the Tarot, Runes or Skrying to gain direction and guidance for the coming year.
I hope you enjoyed this look at Samhain. There are more festivals to come so, stay tuned!
Blessed Be ❤ Sharon