Hello my lovelies,
Samhain is one of the major festivals of the Wheel of the Year, for many Pagans the most important festival of all. It is the third and final harvest festival of nuts and berries and a fire festival. All the harvest is in, all is complete, it is the end of the cycle of birth and growth, it is the point of death. The seeds of the harvest have fallen deep into the dark earth, they are unseen, dormant, and thus apparently lifeless.
The God, as Sun King is sacrificed back to the land with the seed until the Winter Solstice, and the Goddess, now as Crone, mourns Him until His rebirth at Yule. He travels the Underworld learning its wisdom. This is the time of the descent into darkness, of pre-conception, out of which new life, new ideas, will eventually emerge.
Traditionally the veils between the worlds are at their thinnest now. Boundaries dissolve and all is laid bare. It is time to honour and offer hospitality to, our ancestors.
At Samhain the dark half of the year commences. It is a truly magical time. Death is always followed by rebirth and while this is the end of the old year, it is the beginning of the new year. For the Celts the day did not begin at dawn, it began at sunset, it began with darkness. Light is always born out of darkness, they are inseparable, interdependent, and necessary. Darkness is fertile with ‘all potential’. With the beginning of this dark phase comes the opportunity to rest and reflect on the past and to dream of new beginnings. The seed now hidden in the earth will germinate in its season. Look for the seeds in yourself!
Honouring The Ancestors
Honouring your ancestors is a very special thing to do at this time and can be done in many simple ways. Think about all those departed souls from your life, both family and friends, children may wish to remember pets even – place photographs of them on your altar. Offer them your hospitality, welcome their presence into your home. At your Samhain feast, consider laying an extra place for them to join you at the table – cook and eat their favourite dishes, talk about them – remember them, bring them closer. You can make an offering for departed pets by leaving some dog food outside on Halloween night, many night creatures appreciate this offering. Be careful what you put outside – we used to put out bread and milk but are dismayed to find that this is fatal to hedgehogs – and we love hedgehogs!
Symbols of Samhain
Pumpkins are very much an American tradition which has been successfully marketed in the UK and Europe. Everyone loves them, especially of course, children. If you consider that the Celts regarded the human head as the Seat of the Soul, the concept of the carved pumpkin with a candle inside it as the Light shining from the Soul, it becomes just about acceptable……..
The Cauldron or Holy Grail is closely associated with Samhain. It is feminine, and is the cosmic container for all life and death, of transformation and rebirth.
The Besom Broom
The besom is used as this time both practically and symbolically. It sweeps away the last of the Autumn leaves, but is also used ritually to sweep out the old, to clean and clear away old energy, creating space for the new. Traditionally besoms are made from birch twigs – the birch is associated with purification and renewal.
You can make a besom at this time of year by gathering a large bundle of birch twigs tied together. Drive a broom handle into the middle of the bundle – ideally hazel or ash.
The Acorn is the seed of the great Oak, representing wisdom, longevity, rebirth – a promise of strength to come. An acorn in your pocket is an amulet of good fortune to come. All nuts from our indigenous trees – walnuts, hazelnuts, conkers and so on – are pure potential and carry the attributes of the mother tree.
The Samhain Altar
A cauldron. Apples, nuts and berries. Black candles to honour the passage to the Summerland and the Ancestors. Photographs of deceased family and friends.
Black for death and endings, orange for the vitality of life within death, purple for wisdom, insight and inspiration.
Honour the ancestors, have fun and enjoy………..