October 31
pronounced sow-in
The Hag of Night

On October 31, the world as we know it changes for a brief span.  Time, the fourth dimension, ceases to exist, and a doorway opens into a fifth dimension normally inaccessible to man.  The space that is the Otherworld.

At Samhain, On October 31, mortals may see the fairy sidhe, those beings that dwell in the parallel universe of the supernatural.  This is the time to reflect on the journey of death and to remember those that have made the journey.

The Dark Winter
Besides, being a passageway for the dead, Samhain also begins Geimredh, the dark Winter.  The Goddess in the last of her three personae, that of the Hag or Crone who destroys what she has created, taking it back into the black depths of her earthly womb, thus the saying "earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust..."

  At dusk on Halloween, the Sluah, the Host of the Dead, are said to go drifting by on the wind.


Welcoming the Dead
This is a special festival of remembrance, the dead make their way back from the grave to revisit their old homes.  The journey is a long one and the travelers may need help along the way.

In Ireland, it was the custom at Samhain to leave the entrances to the burial mounds open, and to light the interiors until cockcrow the following morning so the dead might more easily find their way along the dark path from the tomb.

Once the travelers have arrived at their destination, it is only common courtesy to welcome and refresh them with food and drink, as one would any visitor.


The Crossroads
At Samhain the earth gives up its dead, who come back willingly to visit the living, but there are those who are not dead, they are prisoners of the Otherworld and need to be snatched back if they are not to be lost forever to the world of man.

The prisoners needing rescue are humans who have been stolen by the fairies.  The ideal time to rescue them is at the mirk and midnight hour.  On the night of Halloween when the years meet and the fairies troop out on their jingling fairy ride, a prisoner may be snatched back to the world of man at the  crossroads.


   The fairy with the closest association with real human death, is the bansidhe, the banshee, the "woman of the hill".  This priestess of the dead was like a guardian spirit, attached to a particular family or clan.  The wailing and weeping of the banshee signaled a forthcoming death.


The Disguises
At the old druidic Samhain festival, those leading the rites wore masks to disguise themselves as spirits.  This allowed them to  mingle with the real spirits of the dead who might otherwise recognize them and do them some mischief.

This ancient custom passed into folk memory and the druidic initiators become the Halloween guisers.  These disguisers now parade from house to house, asking  for tricks or treats.


To light the roadway so the dead may travel, candles were placed inside hollowed out turnips. Halloween lanterns in Scotland were make from a thick cabbage stem.  Today pumpkins are the light for which the dead can find there way.


  To know whether the Winter shall be cold or warm, on Halloween go to a Beech tree, and cut a chip in it.  If it be found dry, then shall the Winter be warm.

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