Samhain (pronounced sa-ween)
the night when the Old King dies, and the Crone Goddess mourns him greatly
during the next six weeks. The sun is at its lowest point on the horizon
as measured by the ancient standing stones of Britain and Ireland, the
reason the Celts chose this sabbat rather than Yule as their new year.
To the ancient Celts, this holiday divided the year into two seasons, Winter
and Summer. Samhain is the day on which the Celtic New Year and winter
begin together, so it is a time for both beginnings and endings. It is
the last of the three harvest festivals, the harvest of meat.
It is also the day we honor our dead. Now, while
the veil between the worlds is thinnest, those who have died in the past
year and those who are to be reincarnated pass through. The doors of the
sidhe-mounds are open, and neither human nor faery need any magickal passwords
to come and go. Our ancestors, the blessed dead, are more accessible, more
approachable during the time of the dying of the land. Samhain is a day
to commune with the dead and a celebration of the eternal cycle of reincarnation.
Shamhain would also be the time when the herds were "culled", which
means that the farmer would have to decide which of his animals would most
likely not survive the winter. These animals would be slaughtered, and
the meat smoked and also used for the Feast. Reason being that if the animal
would probably be too weak to live anyway, might as well eat it now, rather
than waste fodder feeding it, and then have to kill it later, when it was
tough and thin, or not be able to eat it at all if it suffered a long illness.
Practicality was the most important survival trait. Thus it is that for
us, this time of year is when we "cull" our habits, our possessions, and
also our feelings. Getting rid of anything that we don't want to bring
with us into the new year is what this is all about. Feelings of anger
and resentment, bad habits that keep us from our desired goals, or even
possessions can sometimes be holding us back from our spiritual goals.
These are best evaluated and eliminated at this time of the year.
Rosemary (for remembrance of our ancestors),
Mullein seeds (a projection for abundance), mugwort (to aid in divination),
rue, calendula, sunflower petals and seeds, pumpkin seeds, turnip seeds,
apple leaf, sage, mushrooms, wild ginseng, wormwood, tarragon, bay leaf,
almond, hazelnut, passionflower, pine needles, nettle, garlic, hemlock
cones, mandrake root
At Samhain, witches once gave one another acorns
as gifts. During the Burning Times, giving someone an acorn was a secret
means of telling that person you were a witch. Acorns are fruits of the
oak, one of the most sacred trees to the ancient Celts. They are symbols
of protection, fertility, growth, values, and friendship.
Meat dishes (especially pork), rosemary (for
meat seasoning), pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds, mulled
cider with spices, candy apples or other apple dishes, potatoes, roasted
pumpkin seeds, nuts (representing resurrection and rebirth), especially
hazel nuts and acorns.
(Old German Style)
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