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25 Dec

8 ways to have a good time Samhain, AKA

The Halloween we have a good time today has change into a busy race of binge consumption, Instagrammable costumes and blow-out parties. Within the US, it’s a $10 billion dollar industry, a season of lucrative corporate profit. As we return to the passion of pre-pandemic life, most households will engage in a ritual of some sort, whether that’s anointing their home with frightful lawn statues, dressing up or handing out treats. Nevertheless, this cross-continental holiday and its roots long precede capitalism – and even Christianity. 


For some, October 31 is well known because the Witches’ Recent Yr, still acknowledged as a strong spiritual milestone. It is claimed to be when the veils between the earth plane and the spirit realm are sheet thin. In Irish and Celtic Paganism, Halloween finds its roots in Samhain. Samhain translates to “Summer’s End”, because the Ancient Celts divided the 12 months into two major portions, although there have been many holidays of their wheel of the 12 months. Because the Sun dimmed and the times shortened, so did a period of “light” and doing. Samhain, pronounced “Sow-inn”, was a time to reap the advantages of the top of Harvest Season. As we approached the more lunar, feminine season of hibernation, bonfires can be lit to mimic the ability of the weakened Sun. It was a Sabbat of contrast between the sunshine and dark, the masculine and the female cycles. The three days, starting Hallows eve, were recognised as a serious threshold, a liminal space of supernatural intensity. 

The Ancient Celts were particularly keen on threshold moments and transitioning cycles were revered as vital gateways. It was said that on the night of Samhain, time appeared to stand still, while two worlds merged. Ghosts of spirits, gods and fairies were in a position to collide with the living. With a purpose to honour and ensure a secure passageway for the dearly departed, the traditional celts would gather on fairy mounds (or portals, often called ‘sidhe’) to have interaction in bonfires and dances. It was said that these mounds functioned as powerful gateways for occupants of the “Otherworld”.

The Otherworld was revered as a parallel reality that ran alongside us, containing supernatural beings and ancestors alike. The recently departed were said to have the ability to go to from the otherworld over the duration of nowadays. The fae, or fair folk, were amongst a few of the other inhabitants of this realm. Somewhat than the meek and minuscule fairies depicted in cartoons, these were said to be taller than humans, possessing the flexibility to do magic and speak things into existence. Not all good, and never all bad, the supernatural beings of the otherworld were a mixed bag. 


The implications of missing such milestones were immense. Failure to recognise them was said to end in illness, death or terrible luck. Early texts suggest that participation in Samhain was mandatory for the traditional Celts. Because the realm of the living merged with the magical, protective measures were a must. With a purpose to secure protection for livestock and forestall spiritual mischief, offerings to the fae folk were omitted. Feasts and silent suppers can be observed on Samhain Eve, and a spot was set at the pinnacle of the table for the ancestors. This was thought to not only make sure the fertility of the land, but secure good luck for ancestral lineages. The Otherworld was a difficult place, populated not only by the newly departed, but in addition with powerful gods, whose intentions were as various as that of the human realm. Although there is concept about whether darker, more sacrificial rituals were observed, overall Samhain was a time to have a good time the ancestors and embrace the passage right into a more introspective season. 


Congruent traditions were outstanding in the traditional traditions of the Aztecs and the Mayans across continents halfway across the globe. Little is thought about how such separate cultures could have similar rituals. The Day of the Dead, a more modern celebration still observed in Mexico today, is a full of life festival honouring those that have passed on. Graveyard gatherings and lavish altars are curated with offerings of tobacco, food, drink and flowers. Pathways of marigolds pave the streets, to be sure that the spirits can find their way home. That is a more in-depth rendering of what Samhain would have been like, as death is honoured and celebrated.

Across these three nights and days, death was embraced as a natural a part of life, and folks let the spirits wash over them with respect, receptivity and celebration. Today, it’s an industry where we have a good time the darker elements of the human psyche, perhaps blissfully unaware of its importance to certain lineages. Nevertheless, the more science, psychology and epigenetics progress, we realise we’re all the time entangled with our ancestors – for higher or worse. 

For contemporary-day witches, a latest approach to Samhain will be revisited, because of the age of data. Listed below are some modern twists on old rituals.

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