Want to explore the roots of where Halloween comes from? Or maybe your ancestry goes back to Celtic tribes of Europe and you want to reclaim this heritage. Here are some starting points.
A simple explanation is that Samhain (pronounced SOW-in or SAAH-wen) means Summer’s End. It is the Celtic New Year and a time for commemorating and remembering our ancestors and Beloved Dead.
Samhain Rituals – How to Celebrate Samhain
For us, Samhain has three major traditions and lessons.
~Beth Burch https://cauldronandbrew.com/
- Honoring the Ancestors.
- We will celebrate them. We will tell their history and stories. We will also cook family recipes or their favorite foods. Anything that keeps their memory alive.
- In the Celtic tradition, Samhain is known as the Last Harvest.
- At the end of summer, when the cold winds would start to blow in, farmer’s and herdsman would evaluate their herds and livestock and determine which were fit to last the winter and which weren’t. They would do a final gather of any crops and slaughter any of the herd that would not last.
- We celebrate this by creating and preserving our own jerky and we celebrate this by ritually culling any negative habits or thoughts that no longer serve us or our higher purpose.
- The Witch’s New Year.
- Also in most traditions, but specifically the Celtic one, Samhain is also known as the new year. The cycle of seasons comes to close and winter is the time for things to go dormant.
- We celebrate this by not only culling what doesn’t serve us but to reflect on the last “planting” and “growing” season.
- Did we accomplish our goals? What thoughts and habits grew that we’d like to cultivate and keep in the coming year? What is something new we can plant next year?
Make fairy or gnome houses!
They say the veil between the two worlds--that of the living and that of the spirit world, the world of the dead--is thinnest on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. People would make offerings to the spirits or to fairies (sometimes called "fallen angels") to keep them from coming too close to do any harm. Make these spirits happy with a beautiful home to stay in out in the woods or field or your yard during their visit!
Songs for Samhain--sing along with these, or use shakers or drums for percussion to accompany them:
- We all come from the Goddess (great for talking about the cyclical nature of life and death)
- Samhain Song (calling the ancestors in)
Samhain Night by Jenna Greene
Jenna Greene is a singer, songwriter, and harpist based in the United States. Her "Samhain Night" song describes an all-night celebration of the harvest and the new year. Unlike the case in the first video in this article, the atmosphere during the night isn't ominous. The celebrants dance around the fire within a circle, honouring their love ones who have passed on. The narrator tells listeners to "study close the shadows, study close the flame" because "a voice from long ago may whisper your name". The use of a protective circle illustrates the idea that contacting an unseen world could attract dangerous beings as well as loved ones.
Light the sacred fires, hold your lover tight
Welcome now the spirits of Old Samhain Night
— Jenna Greene in "Samhain Night"