SAMHAIN - WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?
The eight (8) holidays and celebrations of the year, also known as "Sabbaths", are an important part of our magical practices. On the last day of October, we celebrate one of the most important of these Sabbaths, our New Year: Samhain (pronounced "saa · wn").
This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.
(In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort during the long, dark winter).
The first day of November begins the “Celtic New Year”, with the “dark season” of the year. It was both a New Year’s party and an opening to the other world. It is called “Samhain”, Gaelic for the end of summer.
The Celts celebrated this feast as the “Festival of the Dead”, leaving food at the altars and candles in their windows to help the spirits in their path, ancestors, and loved ones alike. They put apples on the streets for lost spirits or those who had no descendants. This feast celebrates the dead and the passing of the year, marking the end of a complete cycle of the Celtic wheel of life.
THE LIFE OF THE HARVEST
Samhain will be even more powerful than usual this time because in 2020 we are having a full moon on October 31, which is a blue moon. This means it’ll be the second of two full moons in a single month, considered stronger than our conventional full moon energy.
So, let us start the new year fully empowered. It is the perfect time to be grateful for where we are in our lives. It is also a moment to commune with nature, appreciating, and adapting to its cycles. And to create the change we want. The falling leaves mark this moment as an end but also a beginning.
This is an important day. It is the day we can celebrate our ancestors. On this day the veils to the other side become thinner and we can invite those loved ones who passed, and those we never met to be present, to honor them as guests in our celebration.
The celebration is usually centered on sharing, having a big dinner to eat as a big family next to a bonfire. We offer food to the spirits and spend time with them.
This is a way to connect to the spirits. Because we are inviting the dead, and all the spiritual forces around us, to partake of the celebration. Think of the good spirits who were there to help us, and we didn’t even perceive their presence. But also keep in mind the spirits that may be tricksters, or whom we may have wronged unknowingly by disturbing nature. To all of them, we are making this offering of joy and peace.
A TRUE MOMENT OF POWER
Any ritual you have been postponing, anything you have been afraid to ask because it seemed too big, well this is the time. The power of the blue moon will be in the air, so give it your best shot, send your request to the universe, as this might be the time for those difficult wishes to get their chance.
A SAMHAIN RITUAL
For this ritual, we need to set up an improvised altar. The best place to do this is in your backyard. If this is not possible, any place of nature where you can bring food and beverage. I have been to a park with friends for this feast but also done it alone in the countryside, when it seemed safe, as I love to be circled by trees.
For this ritual, you will need:
- Black candle.
- Cauldron (or a small pot).
- Mineral or spring water.
- Fruits and vegetables of the season include at least an apple.
- Autumn leaves and flowers.
- A glass and plate for each participant, and one of each also for our honored guests. Just two of each if you do it by yourself.
- Start the ritual by tracing a circle of protection over the ground with the athame (or finger) and setting up the altar.
- Light the black candle, asking the Goddess in your own words to bless this ritual with her power and presence, and place it inside the cauldron, fill it with a bit of water until it covers the bottom of the cauldron.
- Place the fruits and vegetables around the cauldron and the plates and glasses amongst them
- Call the spirits. You can start with “Ancestor spirits and spirits of the dead, I invite you to this feat, come in peace, and take your seats next to me…”
- Serve the food and the drinks for all and eat! Use this time to talk to the spirits about the year that passed, what was good and not so good about it, and your future plans. Be honest and do not hold back.
- Before finishing this ritual think of your request, the one that seems vital for this year, say it while holding your glass to the moon, and ask the goddess again for her blessing and drink, for she infused it with her power.
- Thank the spirits for their presence and let them go back to their place in peace. Thank the Goddess for this ritual, for the past year and for the coming one. Then put out the candle, or if possible, let it burn until it disappears in the water. Bury the food you offered.
Keeping our relationship to the past and our ancestors, helps us remain grounded. There is great strength in that connection, which is essential in the most ancient traditions of Africa and America. They are the earthly link to our divine origin and their power is always available to us.
May you all have a blessed Samhain filled with lots of love, light & magic!