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Samhuinn or Samhain

Druidry and Paganism

October 31st to 2nd November

This time of the year is not about death but the dead, honouring our ancestors with respect and love.  This is their festival devoted entirely to them with honour, the Feast of the dead.  As it’s the end of the agricultural year it reminds us that death is not an end, as once again we know spring is half a year away. As the earth renews itself, so does the spirits of our ancestors and our own souls, a constant cycle of rebirth. We say goodbye to the old things we no longer need and goodbye to the spirits of our ancestors that have passed in the last year. As we celebrate their life we ask that they have renewal of spirit and rebirth for the asking. We invite our dead to draw near and often food and drink is left out for them. As we have invited them to this party they are the guest of honour. The Crone or Hag Goddess starts her rule now from Samhuinn to Imbolc.  She is an aspect of the triple Goddess, the wise ancient one.

Traditionally this was a three day festival and a time to commune with the departed.  The veil has lifted and opened the doorway to the otherworld, the spirit world.  This is the supernatural time of the year, when the boundaries were down. Many ancient people would dress up and cross dress, blacken their faces and pull mischievous tricks on others.  Dressing up as spirits of the dead many young men would rally round the countryside blowing their horns.  Housewives would run out with food and drink to appease these “spirits”, to refuse them refreshments would bring vengeance on their household hence the trick or treat of modern times. They often carried turnips or pumpkins with a candle inside, representing eerily glowing death heads.Samhuinn or Samhain October 31st to 2nd November ~ Druidry and Paganism

In Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland it was the time of the faery or sithe, also a time when demons and dark spirits may come forth. Huge bonfires where lit to draw the good and helpful spirit near and to advert the eyes of the not so good. Thanksgiving offerings were cast into the fire in honour of the year’s harvest.  The ashes from these fires were sprinkled on the fields to protect them in the winter months. But this festival is the most solemn one and the elders would draw away to commune and honour all that has passed away.  

In parts of Britain the Lord of the Wild Hunt was abroad, leading the horde of dead.  He is known also as the King of the Faery’s, Herne the Hunter or even king Arthur himself.  In Scotland they carried hawks and were known as Gabriel’s Ratchets, riding westward to collect the newly dead souls to their place in the spirit otherworld. 
Samhuinn was also a time for the stock to be culled for winter to stock the larder with enough meat for the coming winter.  The fields have yielded their harvest and all grain has been stored, this is the time of change, from summer to winter from fertile fields to barren earth. 
Associated also with this time of the year are letting go, divination, yew, garlic and angelica.

Samhuinn ~ Old New Year ~ Druidry and Paganism


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