Samhain - Wiccan New Year
Samhain is coming up fast! While most of us know Samhain
as Halloween, what is this Wiccan Sabbat really about? What ways are
best to celebrate the Sabbat? What special things should one do for Samhain? Why
is Samhain so utterly cool? Read on, gentle reader :-)
Samhain is usually pronounced "Sow'an,"
and is from the Celtic "Samhuinn" which means "summer's
end." It is one of the doorways of the Celtic year - divided into light and
dark, Beltane being the "light." It is the final harvest of the year,
and thanks are given for the year's bounty.
Many believe that Samhain
and Beltane are the two
times during the year when the "veil" between the seen and the unseen
is at its thinnest. This is the magical time when laws of time and space are
suspended, and one can communicate with departed loved ones. On the night of
Samhain (October 31) people often light a single candle in their windows to
guide their loved ones home, and set an extra place at the supper table for
Samhain is also the time when the Crone and her
Aged Consort are honored, this being a time for Dark Magic (not
"evil," just dark), and to honor the Dark Mysteries. Remember, without
Dark there cannot be Light.
So, what should you do for your Samhain ritual?
First, gather things that you feel are symbolic of Samhain. Pumpkins or other
gourds, apples, besoms, or even pointy hats are useful articles to set the mood.
If you happen to have the friendship of a black cat, ask her to participate with
Next, gather the herbs that are special to the
Samhain Sabbat. Not all of the herbs that correspond with Samhain are easily
available, and at least one takes preparation beforehand (as in soaking mandrake
for two weeks or so before you can shred it properly for use). The herbs that I
personally use are mugwort, motherwort, broom flower, belladonna (also known as
deadly nightshade), mandrake (European mandrake, not American mandrake, which is
a completely different plant used for other things), and white sage. I use these
herbs to burn as an offering to my Matron Crone Goddess, and as incense.
Also on the altar, the stones of Samhain, which
are black (go figure), but especially jet and obsidian. I don't personally use
hematite here because it is so grounding. I like using the hematite afterwards
when I need to ground my energies.
Candle colors, while not absolutely essential,
can be quite important to setting the appropriate mood. As one could likely
guess, orange and black are the primary colors for Samhain candles. One can also
use silver for the Goddess and gold for the God for candles on their altar if
they so desire.
Once everything is together, cast your circle as
you choose, call your quarters if that is part of your practice, and perform
your ritual. What ritual, you ask? While Kestra is always one to suggest you
write your own rituals, I suppose I'll share one of mine with you, as a guide,
or as a "yuck, I don't want to do anything like THIS."
We welcome our beloved dead
With offerings that they be fed
Let them hear this sacred night
Our love for them brought through this rite
We ask their guidance through this year
And that their blessings settle here
May their knowledge reach our ears
May their message come through clear
Light the herbs, and meditate for a time, waiting
for any message that may be sent.
After you feel you've waited long enough, or
after you've received a message, thank the Dead, and anyone else you invoked,
take down your signal as you normally would, and end the ritual.
After your ritual is complete, you may wish to
ground using some of the foods associated with Samhain, such as pumpkin pie,
apples (definitely), nuts, mulled wines (yum yum), pork, beef, or chicken.
Kestra is a Wiccan Priestess, Master
Herbalist, and Reiki Master, offering the best in practical
information, unique and useful altar tools and ritual supplies.
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