All Samhain Night
The alarm goes off, and you wake up. Stretching your muscles before rising out of your comfy bed. You slide your feet into your warm slippers and stand up. You walk to your bedroom window and touch it with your hand; it’s cold. You look out and see most of the leaves are on the ground, and squirrels spurring about collecting nuts. You turn around and shuffle your way to the kitchen where your morning coffee is ready for you to pour in your favorite mug with the saying, “Witches Brew.” You wrap your hands around the outside of the mug, warming your palms and fingers. You hear whispering in your ear, you take down another mug with the saying, “Honor Thy Ancestors.” You pour another cup of your warm coffee and set it on a table where pictures of your ancestors are in their frames. You offered them the cup of coffee and placed it in the middle. You walk over to your sliding glass door and look out; you see your fire-pit, all ready for the special bonfire on this Samhain night.
Many of your adult friends celebrate this night watching horror movies, dressing up and going to parties and to haunted houses. Others take this night to investigate the thinning of the veil between the living and the dead. Children dress up as their favorite superhero, princess or other characters. They go out into the neighborhood going door to door getting candy from the people they know. For other’s this night is Hallowe’en.
Samhain (pronounced SAH-win or sow-in or saah-win or saa-ween) is a Celtic festival that pre-dates Christianity. Per Erin Mullally, The Hill of Ward (also known as Tlachtga, a Sun Goddess) in County Meath, Ireland was (is revived) a site where hundreds of people gathered to celebrate Samhain. Samhain is a night for spiritual transition, people who have died since the last Samhain festival can move on to their next life. The evening of October 31st is a night to thank the gods for the success of the year’s harvest. With Mother Earth going into hibernation, the days being shorter and the nights longer, the Celts felt that the spirit realm and the living realm were at their closest, henceforth the veil thinning during this time of year. The day is also a celebration of a new year. Per Emily Spivack, Hallowe’en is a day for fairy and demon spirits to appear and for people to dress up in costumes to, “…stave off the evil spirits and tap into the souls of their ancestry.” The holiday is a day to remember and honor our ancestors.
In Wales, October 31st is Nos Galan Gaeaf (Spirit Night), and November 1st is Calan Gaeaf and is the first day of winter and is a harvest festival with bonfires, celebrating the good harvest.
Per Cornish Culture, across Cornwall, October 31st is Allantide (Allan Day, AKA Calan Gwaf or Nos Calan Gwaf), a celebration of apples and connects to a Cornish (or Breton) saint named St. Allen (Arlan or Elwin). Walfelton Field, Saltash is bringing back the celebration of Calan Gwav for the second year on Saturday, November 4th. Games such has catching apples in your mouth that are suspended over your head (see above picture), the catch is they must not have wax from the candles on them. There is also divination games.
Samhain is now and has been observed in the United States for some time. Many people celebrate the new year. The Circle Sanctuary is celebrating Samhain on October 27th through the 29th. Per Selena Fox, some Pagans observe Samhain on the weekend nearest October 31st, while others celebrate the holiday on or near November 6 (mid-point between the Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice).
In Springfield, Illinois, The Edge of Perception is celebrating Samhain on October 28th from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm CST at The Jubilee Farm, with the theme being “The Oracle Speaks.”
You don’t have to be part of a celebration with other people. You can celebrate Samhain in your way.
· You can take a nature walk. Where I live, there are many State Parks, such as Starved Rock and Buffalo Rock which would be ideal for a nature walk. Breathe in the breath of Mother Nature and watch her get ready for her winter nap.
· Decorations are excellent; it can last through to Thanksgiving. You can decorate your home with cornstalks, acorns, pumpkins and other gourds.
· You can make a memorial to your ancestors. You need to take a table, mantle or some other surface and place pictures of your ancestors.
· Samhain dinner. You set a place at the dinner table with a bit of each food item on the plate and ask an ancestor to dine with you.
· Cemetery walk & stories. Visit the graves of your ancestors and share their stories, this is a fantastic way to learn and teach children about the family’s history.
· Bonfire. Have a bonfire of your own, or with family. Set aside a place for your ancestors to join you. A great time to connect with family, past and present.
How will you be celebrating Samhain?