Samhain is known by most folks as Halloween, but for many modern Pagans
it's considered a Sabbat to honor the ancestors who came before us,
marking the dark time of the year. It's a good time to contact the spirit world with a seance, because it's the time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.
Myths and Misconceptions:
Contrary to a popular Internet-based rumor, Samhain was not the name of some ancient Celtic god of death, or of anything else, for that matter. Religious scholars agree that the word Samhain (pronounced "sow-en")
comes from the Gaelic “Samhuin,” but they’re divided on whether it means
the end or beginning of summer. After all, when summer is ending here
on earth, it’s just beginning in the Underworld. Samhain actually refers
to the daylight portion of the holiday, on November 1st.
All Hallow Mass:
Around the eighth century or
so, the Catholic Church decided to use November 1st as All Saints Day.
This was actually a pretty smart move on their part – the local pagans
were already celebrating that day anyway, so it made sense to use it as a
church holiday. All Saints’ became the festival to honor any saint who
didn’t already have a day of his or her own. The mass which was said on
All Saints’ was called Allhallowmas – the mass of all those who are
hallowed. The night before naturally became known as All Hallows Eve,
and eventually morphed into what we call Halloween
The Witches' New Year:
Sunset on Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic New Year.
The old year has passed, the harvest has been
gathered, cattle and sheep have been brought in from the fields, and the
leaves have fallen from the trees. The earth slowly begins to die
This is a good time for us to look at wrapping up the
old and preparing for the new in our lives. Think about the things you
did in the last twelve months. Have you left anything unresolved? If so,
now is the time to wrap things up. Once you’ve gotten all that
unfinished stuff cleared away, and out of your life, then you can begin
looking towards the next year.
Honoring the Ancestors:
For some of us, Samhain is when we honour our ancestors
who came before us. If you’ve lost a loved one, this is the perfect night
to celebrate their memory. If we’re fortunate, they will return to
communicate with us from beyond the veil, and offer advice, protection
and guidance for the upcoming year.
If you want to celebrate
Samhain in the Celtic tradition, spread the festivities out over three
consecutive days. You can hold a ritual and feast each night.