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Not Just Halloween
As increasingly people are dressing up in plastic horror costumes from the supermarkets on 31st October each year, there is also another, lesser known, festival that falls on this date, celebrated by the Celts and other Shamanic communities. It is this date, moving into the 1st November, that sees the traditional festival of Samhain (a Gaelic word pronounced sah-win). Here’s a bit more about the meaning of the holiday, and how it’s celebrated.
Endings and Beginnings
As the harvest comes to an end, the beginning of the dark half of the year is welcomed in with the celebration of Sahwain. There is little evidence to show whether it is a festival found within all the Celtic Nations, or its strong Irish traditions means that this was the only Country it was originally celebrated in. However, it now marks arguably the most important day in the Celtic Calendar. The Celtic New Year.
During Samhain it is thought that the walls between the worlds become particularly thin, making it easier to lean in and push through to connect with the Fae folk, and other mythical beings and guides from the Other Worlds. But also easier for them to push through to our World, with the belief that any post-harvest vegetation was killed off by them, so that nothing remained to grow through the winter months.
Many ancient Irish texts give mention to Samhain. Celebrations included divination rituals, marking the end of the harvest, consumption of alcohol, prayers, and fire festivals.
During the time of harvest, fires in the home were left to burn out as everyone was busy working the land. After this, The Druids, and Druidesses, would bring the communities together to light big community fires using fire weels that represented the Sun. After the fire festival, where prayers and sacrifices were offered, participants would take a flame from the fire home to light their hearth fire.
How We Can Celebrate Today
If you get the chance to either organise or attend a community fire for Samhain I would highly recommend it! But of course, this is not possible for everyone. Here are some other ideas of how you can celebrate Samhain, which avoids the plastic-fantastic consumerism of Halloween…
- Light a candle (or several candles) for you to focus on, and to help guide the Fae folk back to the spirit world
- Dress in Autumnal colours of browns and oranges
- Practice gratitude for the ‘crops’ in your life that will see you through the winter
- Celebrate the coming of the dark half of the year by writing a list of your favourite winter things
- Take part in a shamanic drum journey (either in a group, or on your own) inviting your ancestors, the magical beings and Fae folk to visit you with guidance for the coming months
- Feast – celebrate with food and drink, particularly seasonal foods
- Divination, for the season and the year. Lean in to your intuition, or your preferred divination tools
- Share songs, poems, and blessings (like the one above) either quietly to yourself or with friends… even on Social Media.
What’s Been your Favourite?
I hope you’ve had the opportunity to mark Samhain in some way this year, on either 31st October, or 1st November. If you’ve tried anything from my list, or have something completely different you’ve done to celebrate, I’d love to hear about it, so please do leave me a comment below telling me what your favourite Samhain celebration is.