Samhain (pronounced sow-win) is the Gaelic word meaning "end of summer." Today marks the third and final harvest of the season, ushering in the darker half of the year. It is the harvest of the seed, the last of the life given by each plant to ensure survival next year. All that is dying right now will give new life in the spring to come.
On Samhain, we celebrate the darkness. We embrace the coming winter and honor the Dark Mother. The time of the Crone has come as all of nature begins to retreat. This is the night of the Dark Mystery, a time when fairie folk and spirits are free to roam the earthly plane.
This sabbat sits at the midway point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice and is considered to be the most important celebration of the year. Samhain marks the end of the Celtic wheel of the year and the next day is often celebrated as the beginning of the new year.
The veil between the worlds is thin, spirits may come and go as they please for this one hallowed night. It is a time to honor those who have passed on with offerings and prayers, reminding us of the inescapable cycle of death and rebirth. It is a time to mourn, to grieve, and to celebrate the dead. In the natural world around us, death is in the air. The leaves fall from the trees and much of the summer garden has withered and dried.
As with all solar sabbats, Samhain is celebrated with fire. A feast honors the end of the harvest, each sharing in their bounty. In ancient Celtic times, the community gathered for the lighting of the bonfire at dusk. A flame was taken to the hearth of every home to light the way and warm the home through the dark and cold winter to come.
Homes were adorned autumnal decorations and sweet offerings were shared as gifts for the visiting spirits of loved ones. Hollowed turnips were carved as totems, jack-o-lanterns, to aid the spirits in their journey on this night. It was a night of mystery and enchantment, spirits and fairie folk were known to tease and play tricks on the living.
On this special Samhain, we are blessed with the Blue Moon in Taurus. This planetary influence heightens the wild and weird energy of the night. You are given the opportunity to fully release that which is not serving you. Use the potent death energy to let die the things that are already dead on the vine.
Much of the modern day halloween traditions stem from this ancient Celtic celebration. Other cultures also share in honoring the dead as in the Mexican celebration, Dia de Los Muertos, which is celebrated on November 2. However you choose to celebrate, I send Samhain Blessings to you! May your harvest be blessed with bounty for the next year!