Also Called: Halloween, Hallowmas, All Hallows' Eve, All Saints Eve, Festival of the Dead, the Third Festival of Harvest, Shadowfest, and Martinmas.
Samhain is the Celtic feast of the dead, honoring the Aryan Lord of Death, Samana. But it has developed into a festival celebrating the spirit world in general rather than any one god, as well as the ongoing cooperation between that world and our own . It is the mysterious moment which belonged to neither past nor present, to neither this world nor the Other. This night is the ideal time to make contact with the spirit world. Divination is heightened on this night. At the turn of the year, the veil between the worlds is lifted. The doors of the sidh-mounds were open, and on this night neither human nor fairy needed any magickal password to come and go. The spirits of dead friends sought the warmth of the Samhain fire and communion with their living kin.
In the Wheel of the Year, Samhain marks the beginning of the season of death: winter. This holiday is considered the Witches' New Year. This is the last of the three harvest Sabbats.
To celebrate this magickal eve fires were lit on the sidh, or fairy mounds, in which the spirit dwelled. Here resided the spirits of ancestors and vanquished gods from earlier periods in history and mythology. Samhain was a night of divination, communion with the dead, and an uninhibited feast of eating, drinking, and the defiant affirmation of life and fertility in the very face of the closing dark.
Samhain was both a night of death and rebirth. Celtic tradition says that all those who die each year must wait till Samhain before crossing into the spirit world, or Summerland, where they will begin their new lives.
It is said that lighting a new orange candle at midnight on Samhain and allowing it to burn until sunrise will bring one good luck. Black candles are used to ward off negativity.
Samhain is my personal favorite holiday. Our family put a lot of effort into decorations. Since we were a family of witches, why not give the neighbors what they want? Unfortunately, we lost our decorations with everything else in the fire, so we must start over this year. It's all just an attitude, anyway. It will be fun.
Traditional Foods: Apples, pumpkin pie, hazelnuts, Cakes for the Dead, corn, cranberry muffins and breads, ale, cider, and herbal teas.
Incense: Apple, heliotrope, mint, nutmeg, and sage.
Candle Colors: Orange and black.
Sacred Gemstones: All black gemstones, especially jet, obsidian, and onyx.
A Samhain Ritual
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Beltane / Summer Solstice / Lugnassadh / Autumn Equinox
counter added 17 Jan 2000