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Samhain History
~*~ Samhain ~ October 31st ~*~

Samhain, pronounced sow-en and called Halloween today, is the ending of the Celtic year. The Celtic new year actually begins at sunset on October 31. This ritual is known as Ancestor Night or Feast of the Dead. Because the veil between the worlds is thinnest on this night, it was and is considered an excellent time for divinations. Feasts are made in remembrance of dead ancestors and as an affirmation of continuing life. A time for settling problems, throwing out old ideas and influences. This is either celebrated October 31, or the first Full Moon in Scorpio.

Also known as: Halloween, Ancestor Night, Feast of the Dead, All Hallows Eve, Hallowmass, Samana, Samhuinn, Samonios, The Feast of Sam-fuim, Geimhreadh, Shadowfest (Strega), Martinmas or Old Hallowmas (Scottish/Celtic)

Date: Generally October 31, but some traditions hold it on November 7, or on the first Full Moon in Scorpio

Symbols: Cauldron, Jack-o'-Lantern, Mask, Cauldron, Balefire, Besom

Deities: Crone Goddesses, Dying/Aging Gods, Sacrificial Gods, Death and Otherworld Deities

Colors: Orange and Black.

Herbs: heather, mullein, patchouli, and sage my be burned; acorns, apples, pumpkins, oak leaves, straw, broom, dittany, ferns, and flax may be decorations.

Samhain (SOW-in or SAV-ayn) marked the beginning of the old Celtic new year, and many Celtic Pagans still observe Samhain as the renewal of the Wheel of the Year.

This was the night that the old God died, returning to the Land of the Dead to await rebirth at Yule, and a time when the Crone Goddess would go into mourning for her lost son/consort, leaving her people in temporary darkness.

As in days long past, Celtic Pagans believe that the veil between the world of the living and that of the dead is at its thinnest on this night, and that the spirits of our departed loved ones walk the earth, visit family and friends, and join in the ritual celebrations. This makes Samhain a prime night for any type of spirit contact rituals.

The feeding of the dead is a widespread practice, even in modern Celtic lands. In Brittany and Ireland food is always left out for these spirit travelers, and candles are placed in windows to guide them along their way, and these were the origins of the modern Halloween customs of the jack-o'-lantern and trick-or-treat.

The following are a few suggestions for activities that can be incorporated into the Sabbat ritual or done during the course of the day (and night).

Drink apple cider warmed and spiced with cinnamon to honor the dead.

Do divinations for the next year.

Make a spirit candle. This is a white candle anointed with patchouli oil. Say:.

With this candle and by its light, I welcome you spirits this Samhain night.

Place it inside the jack-o'-lantern. This may be included in the Ritual, or done separately.