Samhain (the day of Shadows, or Ognissanti, according to the Stregheria tradition) is the festival of the third and final harvest. Wheat, fruits, and vegetables are already harvested, and it is time to decide which farm animals will live through the winter and which are to be slaughtered. The third harvest is a time of reaping meat and blood. It sounds a bit grimly, of course, but it was the only way to survive in the old days.
Besides, Samhain is an important day to remember ancestors and relatives, who have passed away.
It is a good day to look back at who you great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers were; a day of remembering all, who are gone; to trace your family tree; to cook your traditional family meal; to restore the connection between generations and to think what you have learned from your ancestors.
Samhain is the end of the year, the last turn of the Wheel, the coming of the absolute darkness. The time of Samhain is called timelessness. God is old and is dying, and Goddess is like Persephone, preparing to go down to the underworld and to fall asleep. The nights of Samhain are the time of the Wild Hunt. According to Celtic legends, the dark side of the dying God comes to earth from the underworld to reap the harvest of the dead souls.
The darkness is needed for the new Sun to be born on the Yule. It is time for nature to rest. Samhain is not just an end of the harvest season, it is the most important celebration for the witches and pagans. The old year is gone, and the new one has not started yet. The line between the worlds is getting thin. That’s why the dead can walk among the living; fairies and other magical creatures can visit our world to have some fun.
The symbols of Samhain are pumpkins, apples, and pomegranates. Traditional lanterns are an important part of the celebration too. They were originally cut from a turnip and later from pumpkins (after Celtic traditions came to the American continent). These lanterns are to help the lost souls to find their way. Another tradition is to light a candle on the window on the Samhain night, to let the dead ancestors know that their children are still remembering of them. This candle should burn till the dawn.
Treat for the dead, fairies, and other magical creatures, who walk on the earth this night, is also a part of the tradition. That can be apples or any other fruits, small pumpkins, or cookies. One should leave them on the crossroads or simply behind the doors or windows.
The time, when the borders between the worlds vanish are perfect to reveal the mysteries of the past, present, or future. It is a great opportunity to use the black mirror, Ouija board, or a favorite Tarot deck.
Blessed Samhain! And remember, there is no light without darkness.
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Dorothy mazzeo February 24, 2021