Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Samhain! or Halloween for the rest of you

So "Halloween" has always been one of my favorite times a year. I relished as I got older that we had kids in the home, and from the neighborhood, that I could take out trick or treating ( Yes as I was a senior in high school some people would not give me candy! )

As I started down my path of discovery into the Wiccan/Pagan spirituality, I found there was more meaning to Halloween than just childhood trick or treating, though I DO still love the candy LOL.

Samhain is almost upon us and in the spirit of my love for the holiday I have decided to transform my blog to celebrate the upcoming events!

Next to Christmas, Halloween is the most commercialized celebration in the United States and Canada. This ancient festival originated far from North America however, and centuries before the first European set foot on the continent. The ancient Druids who inhabited what we now call Great Britain placed great importance on the passing of one season to the next, holding "Fire Festivals" which were celebrated for three days (two days on either side of the day itself).

One of these festivals was called Samhain is pronounced "sow-en" and is the Wiccan New Year, both a beginning and an ending point of the ever turning wheel. At this time the third and final harvest of the year is celebrated, a yeild that ensures that life witll continue throughout the harsh winter ahead. But as life is celebrated, so is death. Witches traditionally believe Samhain to be a time when the viel seperating the world of the living from that of the dead ( the otherworld ) is parted, and ancestors may join in the festivities. Popular activities include communication with the dead. divinations to see what the New Year holds and the hosting of the "dumb supper", a feast for both the living and the spirits of the dead that is held in complete silence. The modern festival of Halloween has its roots in Samhain. The popular childrens custom of Trick -or-Treating stems from an Old English practice in which children went door to door begging "soul cakes " to feed the wandering spirits. Many Wiccans also mark the symbolic death of the Horned God on this day.

In order to make themselves and their homes less inviting to these wayward spirits, the ancient Celts would douse all their fires. There was also a secondary purpose to this, after extinguishing all their fires, they would re-light them from a common source, the Druidic fire that was kept burning at Usinach, in the Middle of Ireland Samhain was considered to be a gateway not only from the land of the dead to the land of the living, but also between Summer and Fall/Winter. For the Druids, this was the last gasp of summer (it was also the Celtic New Year), so therefore they made sure it went out with a bang before they had to button down for the winter ahead.

They would dress up in bizarre costumes and parade through their villages causing destruction in order to scare off any recently departed souls who might be prowling for bodies to inhabit, in addition to burning animals and other offerings to the Druidic deities. It is also a popular belief that they would burn people who they believed to be possessed, but this has largely been debunked as myth. This yearly festival was adopted by the Roman invaders, who helped to propagate it throughout the rest of the world (and at that time, the Roman Empire was the world). The word "Halloween" itself actually comes from a contraction of All Hallows Eve, or All Saint's Day (November 1), which is a Catholic day of observance in honour of saints

This tradition was later brought to the North American continent by Irish immigrants who were escaping the Potato Famine in their homeland. In addition to the festival itself, the immigrants brought several customs with them, including one of the symbols most commonly associated with Halloween -- the Jack 'O Lantern.


  1. Very nicely done! Did you know that the tradition of wearing masks comes from the Ritual of creating a Mask representing what you wish to bring into your life in the New Year and "dancing your Mask" around the fire? That is why each Samhain, I have a Mask-Making Ritual & Healing Circle! Blessed Be!

  2. and the first Jacks were damn turnips! Haha! Awesome post and this place look divinely festive! Blessed be my darling <3

  3. Nice post, Gurly! Bright Blessings!!