“I saw old Autumn in the misty morn / Stand, shadowless like Silence, listening / To Silence.”
Samhain is quickly approaching, and the earth is readying for the year’s most important Sabbat. The weather has turned cold, and the sun wanes. The trees have begun their path to dormancy, their leaves turning colors and littering the ground. The earth itself is quiet, the wind carrying the promise of a cold rest.
Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the colors, the slightly chilly weather, the scents and sights. There’s just something beautiful about Mother Nature wrapping up a good year and preparing for the winter. The trees know sleep is coming, and they share that peace with us.
Samhain, pronounced not SAM-haen but SOW-when, marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the Celtic New Year. It is the day that divides the “light” and “dark” halves of the year. According to Celtic lore, Samhain night is when the walls between the living and the dead are the thinnest. Medieval Ireland celebrated the day with a Festival of the Dead, a time to honor those who have gone on to the Summerlands. It is a night of great mischief and fun, but also of great power.
Modern day Wiccans and NeoPagans celebrate the day in a number of ways. Séances are a popular part of rituals, as are bonfires, corn husk dolls, and apple cider. Samhain is oriented around honoring the dead and preparing for winter, the exact opposite of Beltane, which celebrates new life. They are two sides of the same coin, and we cannot celebrate one without the other.
I am a person who is easily frightened, and I do not like to focus on anything dark. I struggle with how to celebrate Samhain and do the honor my passed love ones deserve without scaring myself to death. It’s not necessarily that I’m afraid of death, so much as I’m afraid of doing something wrong, and attracting energy and attention that I don’t want. Last year, I did a simple ceremony to honor my grandmother, who had just passed away, and so I felt I couldn’t go wrong. The ceremony was very personalized and didn’t really invite in other spirits who might have been nearby. I believe I will do something similar this year, but it will be more involved. I’m further along my path than I was then, so I have more to give.
How will you be celebrating Samhain? Will you have a private rite, or participate in a coven circle? Will you enjoy passing candy out to children, or go to haunted houses? What does this holiest of days mean to you?
ALSO: I’ve added a new book to the Reading list! I’m reading through Maiden, Mother, Crone by D.J. Conway right now. It’s an awesome book and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about the Mother Goddess and many of her myths. You will also notice that Ayslyn’s Corner has a new tab up to, Resources from the Broom Closet. Here, I intend to put anything and everything that a new practitioner might need. If you have suggestions, please let me know.