Samhain or Halloween, What Is Your Choice?

October 30, 2015 9:00 am

It’s almost that time of year again when everyone will be embracing ‘spooky season’, well that is what I call it anyway. Children, and Adults too, all get geared up and wear scary clothes and do their best to give others the fright of their life, just so they can stuff their faces with glorious edible delights. It is also common for those who celebrate Halloween to carve scary faces into pumpkins and insert candles to ward of evil, or so some people believe.

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However, there is  many who don’t celebrate the Halloween that we all seem to be accustomed to these days. Some still practice the traditional celebrations of the festival. It is the one holiday that people normally associate with witches, however, believe it or not, it is actually probably a witches’ greatest holiday.

For witches, this holiday has a rather different tone than it does for the population at large; Samhain, rather than being the a festival of sugar overconsumption, is a profound spiritual event. And like most people, witches celebrate this holiday at night.

It just seems fitting to celebrate a holiday of the dead when it is dark outside, and maybe just in candle light so you can enjoy the wonders of the time of year.

Although the witches’ New Year is a sedate holiday, witches also attend Halloween parties, but not on the night of October 31 as this night is preserved for more solemn pursuits.

Now I will explain where this practice has come from: For Pagans (yes, you read this correctly, not all witches are Pagans that so many don’t realise, but some are but the definition of Pagan and Witch mean two different things, however, I am going to explain what Pagans believe,) this is the time of year known as Samhain (pronounced sow-en) and it is the first festival that they celebrate. At this time, the Goddess becomes the Crone and the God lies in her womb waiting for the time of his rebirth at Yule.

(I know that this seems a little bit of gibberish, but let me continue,)

Samhain used to mark the third and last harvest if the year and the f0cus was on preparing for winter. The survival of farm animals would depend on the amount that had been cropped during the year and accumulated. Now unfortunately, some animals would have been slaughtered for their meat which might then have been hung and dried for the coming months food supply. Farmers would then gather the vegetables that could be stored and they would have kept these safely to last throughout the winter.

Samhain, literally means ‘summer’s end’, which I found very interesting.

Samhain is also known as the Celtic New Year and at this time some believe that the connection between the living and the dead is very strong. During this time they remember, show respect to, or ask for guidance from, those who have passed over. People also honour their ancestors and many leave altar offerings in the form of food and wine in tribute to dead relatives.

Some pagans will set an extra place at the dinner table in memory of a family member who has passed over, and perform a ritual called A Dumb Supper. It is believed that through this loved ones can communicate with us in many ways and we need to follow our instincts in order to receive their communication.

People believe that you may suddenly remember the way someone would say something to you, this is a form of communication. You may come across something that you may have believed had gone missing. Also, another form of this communication could come to you in the form of the sight or smell of a loved one’s favourite flower or scent.  All of this could cause you to react instinctively and remember someone who has died, almost as though they were their with you.

Pagans celebrate death as a part of life. Their celebration would involve gathering together various items that they would use in their circle. While you might buy sweets for children who come to your door on this night, they would be gathering candles and various things for their circle.

Now something that may confuse you, a major Celtic festival on November 1, is also known as some as Samhain as well, this is connected with rounding up livestock and choosing which of the animals would be killed and which kept for breeding. It marked the pastoral year’s end and the new year’s beginning; basically, it was the Old New Year. This was the day, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld was down and the spirits of the dead were free to roam into our everyday lives.

The world was believed to be overrun by forces of magic. A dim shadow of this feast, which has now been adopted into the Christian calendar as All Saint’s Day, survives as Halloween: All Hallows Eve.

Many cultures have a special celebration of the dead: a day when they are deemed to live again, even if it is for a few hours, Many people still believe this tradition and by have no objection in performing certain rituals. Some also believe that reawakening of the dead may be conjured, one way is to go to an ancient burial mound, or some other place that has an association with fairies, and run around it nine times.

In the far past there may haven been human sacrifice too, to honour the gods of the Otherworld. But this could just be one of those stories that you don’t know if it is true or not.

What I personally believe is that this is a time for releasing negative energy, to gain protection, and remembering our loved ones who have passed over, I do celebrate Samhain and I also celebrate Halloween as I personally believe that the two are the same, however everyone has the right to believe in whatever makes the most sense to them. In my opinion there is no right or wrong way to celebrate this time of year, whatever you personally feel comfortable believing and practising is your prerogative .

For your own delight, I recently found that there is colours, crystals, incense and food and drink that is associated with Samhain. Maybe, it will help you with your celebrations now and years to come, if not then it is a super cool fact to know!

This is originally a Source from The Witches Kitchen by Soraya.

”The colours associated with Samhain are black, orange, red, brown, gold and yellow.

Crystals associated with Samhain are Apache teardrop, jet, obsidian and onyx.

Incense crackling away may be of dried apple, nutmeg, sage, mint and bay leaves.

Apples, oranges, nuts, grapes. beets, corn, pumpkins. squashes, turnips, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, mint, sage, ginger, pepper, rosemary, meats, rice, fowl, game dishes, rice dishes, mulled cider and wines, herbal teas, gingerbread, apple juice and spicy punches are all Samhain foods and drinks.”

Now I hope you all have a lovely spooky celebration this year, whatever you are celebrating! I hope you all scare yourselves silly and/or have a marvellously fun and spiritual time of the year.

 

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  • Brian Meade

    Thanks, good article. I particularly like the discussion about the inter-connectedness of the living and the dead. Happy Halloween!

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