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