Samhain is coming . . . !
Samhain is for me the most powerful point in the Wheel of the Year. It marks the beginning of a new turn of the Wheel, and the beginning of the Dark Half of the Year. It is a time when the veil between our physical world and the Otherworld is thinnest, when the Fae — the Sidhe — may visit us (and even play some tricks on us, the source of many a Hallowe’en tradition!), when we may feel our intuition increase and when we may more easily connect with Spirit and spirits.
It is a time to honour our ancestors, both those of our blood and those who have inspired us. It is a time to honour those who have passed since last Samhain. And most importantly, it is a time for release, forgiveness, and reconciliation . . . to release the “ghosts” of our past.
There is a tradition that what is not harvested by the end of October, must be left behind to compost and be given back to Mama Earth. This signals that our work is complete, and that we are starting anew in the Dark Half of the year, the beginning of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere Wheel of the Year.
The Goddess at Samhain
Samhain is the time of The Cailleach — also known as An Cailleach, Cailleach Bhéara(ch), Cailleach Bheur(ach), Caillagh, and other variations, and even more simply as The Hag of Winter.
An Cailleach has a special connection with the mountains, rocks and winter . . . and with the sea. In Scottish tales, it is said that Winter begins when the Cailleach washes her plaids in the Corryvreckan whirlpool, located between the islands of Jura and Scarpa in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Corryvreckan is from the Gaelic Coire Bhreacain meaning “Cauldron of the speckled seas” or “Cauldron of the plaid”. She was the oldest of creatures — indeed, had created the landscape of rocks and mountains — so her plaid was white . . . the colour of winter.
An Cailleach’s name comes from Gaelic: “Caille” means “veil”, and that in turn is rooted in the Latin “pallium” meaning “woollen cloak”.
So not only are the veils thinnest at Samhain, when An Cailleach comes into her power, but they remind us that we too have a veil, that we may want to raise our awareness to our own masks and filters to see the hidden or submerged truths.
Once we remove our masks and filters, we can face what is beneath. We can forgive and transform what we have hidden, forgive what has hurt us, forgive and release what no longer serves us. What might that be? Self-limiting beliefs, behaviours, toxic relationships, objects that hold onto the past, and more.
“She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.” —Kate Chopin, “The Awakening” (1899)
It is time to breathe in new energy and declutter our Self from this stagnant “stuff” that is taking up space, which could be better served with an infusion of fresh energy.
Before you begin your release, meditate or journey with the questions:
“What is dying a natural death within and can now be released?”
“What ghosts can I banish from my life?”
A release ritual for Samhain
Last year I shared my favourite release for Samhain, a Cailleach cairn release ritual. And although this release was created to be done on wild and lonely places — on open ground in the rocky hills and mountains where An Cailleach resides — I was drawn unconsciously to performing this ritual at the seashore, a liminal space between two worlds, that of Water and Earth. Just as Samhain is a liminal time, between the Water of Autumn and the Earth of Winter, and between the physical world and the Otherworld. Just as An Cailleach is reborn in the whirlpool of Corryvreckan, I choose to rebirth at the water’s edge.
I invite you to “clear the land” before Samhain, start anew, ready for a new Wheel of the Year… without the ghosts of your past, leaving behind what you no longer need and bringing with you the energy, wisdom and inspirations from this year’s journey.
Samhain dates 2018
Even though many folks honour Samhain on November 1st (starting at sunset the night before in Celtic traditions, on October 31st), this represents the “fixed” or traditional date. But you have a choice.
You can celebrate Samhain on the “true” Cross-Quarter date, i.e. the midpoint between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. This year, that falls on November 7th at 11:18 UTC, per Archeoastronomy.
Many celebrate lunar Samhain on the New Moon in Scorpio, which this year — coincidentally — also falls on November 7th! More precisely, it arrives at 8:01 am PT/ 16:01 UTC.
You can also celebrate whenever it feels right for you!
Related Samhain Posts
Over the years I have shared many thoughts on Samhain. If these topics are new to you, and especially if Samhain celebrations are new to you, I invite you to look back at some of these.
A yearning for reflection at Samhain The importance of remembering, of cauldron time.
An Ancestral Card Layout for Samhain For those who love working with tarot or oracle cards for inspiration, messages and awareness.
Honouring the Ancestors at Samhain: Connecting with our Ancestors; creating an Ancestral Altar, rituals and celebrations
The Thinning of the Veil at Samhain: Pondering the question ” how long is the veil thin at Samhain”?
Closing Samhain with an Ancestral Journey As with all rituals and observances, it is important not only to open up the celebration but close it.
How to make a fresh loose incense for Samhain Regular readers will know how much I love to make incense. This is a simple one than can be made as an essential oil blend, or using herbs such as cedar, juniper and rosemary, and resins such as frankincense and myrrh.
Samhain Traditions: Apple Bobbing, The Celts and The Romans Exploring the roots of some of our Samhain (and Hallowe’en) traditions
I leave you with this Samhain / Hallowe’en blessing 🎃
At all Hallow’s Tide, may God keep you safe
From goblin and pooka and black-hearted stranger,
From harm of the water and hurt of the fire,
From thorns of the bramble, from all other danger,
From Will O’ The Wisp haunting the mire;
From stumbles and tumbles and tricksters to vex you,
May God in His mercy, this week protect you.
– Irish Halloween blessing
The Hag of Winter by Ashley Bryden