All of life begins in the dark, watery Cauldron of the Womb. It is here that we find our beginnings. At this time of the year, Autumn enfolds the Holy Day of Samhain (celebrated on October 31) /Calan Gaeaf (the lunar celebration of Samhain on October 27 this year).
The Holy Day Samhain is the veil that is both the end and the beginning. At Samhain you will stand both in and out of the worlds. Simultaneously, ending and beginning the yearly cycle. Samhain marks the beginning of the year in many traditional cultures.
The associated solar holiday is Halloween/Samhain/ All Hallow’s Eve (Oct. 31) and the Solar Observation is November 1st – All Saint’s Day in the Christian tradition.
In Celtic (Welsh) tradition, this day marked the beginning of winter. The last of the harvest had been collected and stored away. The livestock would have been sheltered in winter barracks after meat for winter had been slaughtered and smoked for winter. All food, fodder, and fuel for winter had to be stored away by this day. All accounts were settled – rents and debts paid and wages distributed – at the feast during the festival.
Samhain was/is considered a fire festival drawing you to take account, reflect upon the deeds and ways of the past, and prepare for the newness coming to you.
The actual day of Samhain was/is considered to be a day out of time. It is not considered to be part of the old year nor part of the new year – thus making it a day of great religious and spiritual significance. Special divinations for the coming year were performed.
“It was believed that on this day that was not a day, and at this time that was not a time, the Otherworld and its inhabitants could be easily accessed.” Rites and ceremonies were performed that contacted the dead and retold stories of the Gods, Goddesses, and the Great Heroes/Heroines.
Altars were adorned in memory of the Dead – ancestors, family, friends, and companion animals. Candles were lit to light the way for the Dead to travel to the Summerland. Songs were sung and stories were told honoring those who had passed into the Otherworlds. Toasts were raised to praise their time on earth and ask for the support and assistance of the Ancestors.
These traditions and celebrations helped to keep the energy and memory of these dear departed ones alive within us. When we honor the part of our ancestors that still live on within us we honor that passage of experiences, wisdom, love and support that move throughout the generations.
How will you celebrate your Ancestors?
“On this night of Samhain I mark your passing,
O Sun King, through the sunset into the Land of the Young.
I mark also the passing of all who have gone before,
and all who will go after. O Gracious Goddess,
Eternal Mother, You who gives birth to the fallen,
teach me to know that in the time of the greatest
darkness there is the greatest light.” Scott Cunningham
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