What is Samhain and how can we Celebrate it?
The barrier between the physical world and the spirit world is waiting to fall away, darkness is taking over our mornings and interactions between the living and the dead will be on the rise. All these things add up to one thing - SAMHAIN.
Originating from an ancient Celtic Tradition, Samhain is a Pagan religious Festival and is usually celebrated from October 31st to November 1st.
Samhain was marked one of the most significant of the quarterly fire festivals by the Celts, as it takes place between the Fall Equinox and the Winter Solstice. Traditionally during this time hearth fires would be left to burn out while the harvest was gathered. Then celebrants would join the Druid Priests and light a community fire wheel that would spark flames, it was considered a representation of the sun.
The Monsters of Samhain
As its believed that during Samhain the veil between worlds is broken down, Celtics believed that Fairies, Dullahan and Sluagh would venture through. Due to this they would dress up as animals and monsters so that the Fairies were not tempted to kidnap them. It was thought that the Dullahan were headless men riding flame-eyed horses and if you layed your eyes upon them it meant death was coming. Similar are the Sluagh, who were believed to come from the west to enter houses and steal souls.
October 31st became known as Halloween, it adopted many of the Pagan Practices before being taken over by America. Although Trick or Treating is said to have been derived from the Ancient Irish and Scottish, Mumming was the practice of putting on costumes and going door to door and singing songs to the dead.
The pranks of Halloween have also been a long tradition of Samhain, they are seen throughout ancient Celebration, however they were often blamed on the Faire folk.
How to Celebrate Samhain
Samhain Nature Walk - Take a meditative walk in a natural area near your home. Submerge yourself as part of the Circle of Life and reflect on death and rebirth as being an important part of Nature. Gather some natural objects and upon your return, use them to adorn your home.
Seasonal Imagery - Decorate your home with seasonal symbols and include elements of orange and black. Place an Autumnal wreath on your front door. Create displays with pumpkins, acorns and apples.
Ancestors Altar - Gather photographs, heirlooms, and other mementos of deceased family, friends, and pets. Arrange them on a table, along with several candles. Light the candles in their memory as you call out their names and express well wishes. Thank them for being part of your life. This Ancestors Altar can be created just for Samhain or kept year round.
Feast of the Dead - Include a place setting at your table for the spirits of the deceased. Add an offering of each beverage being consumed to the cup at that place setting, and to the plate, add a bit of each food served. Invite your ancestors and other deceased loved ones to come and dine with you.
Ancestor Stories - Learn about family history. Give thanks to family that is no longer with you. Share what you learned and have written with another family member or friend. Honour those you have learned about and send well wishes.
Bonfire Magic - Start a bonfire outdoors or kindle flames in a fireplace. Write down a negative habit that you wish to end and cast it into the Samhain flames as you imagine release. Imagine yourself adopting a new, healthier way of being as you watch the fire.
We hope your Samhain Celebrations allow you to feel renewed and ready for the colder Winter months, why not treat yourself to some of the items below and prepare to bask in the glow of the Samhain Embers.