Samhain (pronounced sah-win)
From the Farmer’s Almanac:
Samhain (“summer’s end”) is celebrated as today’s Halloween. Many historians believe that it served as the start of the new year in the Celtic calendar—their “New Year’s Day.”
It was the day when the cattle were brought in from pasture; those needed for the winter’s supply of meat would be slaughtered. Since Samhain was the death-night of the old year, it came to be associated with ghosts and graveyards.
Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or the ‘darker half’ of the year. It was seen as a liminal time when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld thinned.
This meant the Aos Sí, the ‘spirits’ or ‘fairies’, could more easily come into this world and were particularly active. At Samhain, the Aos Sí were appeased to ensure the people and livestock survived the winter. Offerings of food and drink, or portions of the crops, were left outside for them. The souls of the dead were also said to revisit their homes seeking hospitality. Places were set at the dinner table and by the fire to welcome them.
The belief that the souls of the dead return home on one night of the year and must be appeased seems to have ancient origins and is found in many cultures. In 19th century Ireland, “candles would be lit and prayers formally offered for the souls of the dead. After this the eating, drinking, and games would begin”.
This week, let us journey to learn how we might best honor the endings and new beginnings of the year.
Perhaps you would like to journey to craft a ritual observance for October 31? Or connect with a healed ancestor? Grieve a lost loved one? Give gratitude for the harvest of the past year?
Whatever the case, let us gather together on this threshold to deepen our relationship with the Unseen world.
The more we use liminal moments like these to tie the Seen and Unseen worlds together with the humble threads of heartfelt intention and tangible action, the more we find that we are stiched together–re-membered–into larger coherence by forces greater than ourselves.
If you are interested in attending Gaia Shamanism’s free online journey circle this Wednesday, October 27, from 4-6 pm PDT, email anna “at” gaiashamanism “dot” com.
All skill levels are welcome. I do hope you can join us this week.