Episode 96 - Samhain and the Pagan Origins of Halloween

Episode 96 - Samhain and the Pagan Origins of Halloween


Episode 96 - Samhain and Pagan Origins of Halloween
History and Traditions
Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or "darker-half" of the year. In the northern hemisphere, it is held on 1 November, but with celebrations beginning on the evening of 31 October, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset.
Samhain is believed to have Celtic pagan origins, and some Neolithic passage tombs in Ireland are aligned with the sunrise at the time of Samhain. It is first mentioned in the earliest Irish literature, from the 9th century, and is associated with many important events in Irish mythology. The early literature says Samhain was marked by great gatherings and feasts, and was when the ancient burial mounds were open, which were seen as portals to the Otherworld. Some of the literature also associates Samhain with bonfires and sacrifices. During this time of year, hearth fires in family homes were left to burn out while the harvest was gathered. After the harvest work was complete, celebrants joined with Druid priests to light a community fire using a wheel that would cause friction and spark flames. The wheel was considered a representation of the sun and used along with prayers. Cattle were sacrificed, and participants took a flame from the communal bonfire back to their home to relight the hearth.
Wiccan Traditions
Samhain is when the necessary role of death is formally honored. The nights grow noticeably longer with each day. The God retreats now into the shadows of the dark season, symbolically dying back to the Earth before being reborn again at Yule. It is a time to study the Dark Mysteries and honor the Dark Mother and the Dark Father, symbolized by the Crone and her aged Consort. Tradition also teaches that the aid of spirits and guides from the other world was easily enlisted at this time, so in the increasing moonlight of longer nights, many used this time to hone their psychic and divinatory skills, especially with regard to love and marriage.
Symbols: pumpkins, cauldrons, brooms, black candles, pomegranates
Herbs and Flowers: broom, mandrake, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, wormwood, calendula
Foods: apples, pumpkins, cider, dark wine, pear, root vegetables
Colors: black, orange, purple, silver, gold, white
Crystals: Anything black (jet, onyx, obsidian), bloodstone, carnelian, smoky quartz
Animals: bat, cat, owl, raven
Deities: horned god, ishtar, orsis, loki, persephone, dionysus
How to Celebrate
Dumb Supper and otherwise connect with and honor the dead
Make a bonfire
Dress in costume
Set intentions for the new year
Pagan Origins of Halloween
Why it’s different: Samhain is focused on the ancestors and spirits aspect. It’s more religious and spiritual in nature, whereas Halloween is a secular holiday, like Thanksgiving.
Jack o Lanterns
Trick or Treat and Costumes

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