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Samhain and the Cycle of Life, Death and Rebirth

bonfire

Samhain (pronounced “SAH-win”) is an ancient Celtic festival and spiritual tradition that is celebrated by modern pagans around the world, marking the midpoint between the Autumn Equinox (Mabon) and Winter Solstice (Yule). One of the four major fire festivals in the Wheel of the Year, many practitioners consider it the most important.

It can take place over several days and nights, varying by spiritual tradition and geography. In the Northern Hemisphere, it is typically observed from sundown October 31st through sundown November 1st, although some prefer to celebrate it on the closest weekend, or new or full moon.

A Gaelic word meaning "summer's end," Samhain marks the third and final harvest, ushering in the dark half of the year. All has been gathered in, and all that remains is to release and surrender to the end of the cycle, that is death, before rebirth can take place and the cycle begins again. The sun descends, seeds go dormant, and it is out of this darkness, this mysterious void, that eventually new life will emerge.

This is a sacred time, when the veil between the physical and spirit world is said to thin. It is a moment of reverence, when death and the dead are honored for their place in the cycle of life. We take care to protect ourselves from any restless spirits, and we seek the wisdom of our ancestors. It is thought they walk with us, along with our future descendants, all linked together in this endless chain of endings—and beginnings.

So while we think of our dearly departed most days, on this day we can turn to them and listen for their advice. We may hear their words in our mind. Was there something they always said to us? Does a specific memory come up? What would they tell us if they could? They are in our DNA. We know the answers.

veil thinning

Colors of Samhain

  • Black, for death/endings
  • Orange, for life within death
  • Purple, for wisdom and insight

Herbs for Samhain

  • Rosemary, for remembrance and protection
  • Mugwort, for dreaming and protection
  • Marigolds/Mums, for our ancestors
  • Apples, for rebirth and life

Samhain Rituals

  • Take a nature walk and reflect on the cycle of life, death and rebirth
  • Create a Samhain altar with colors and herbs of the season
  • Honor your ancestors by adding photos of loved ones who have died to your altar
  • Release by writing down what you want to let go and burning safely or burying it

 

 

Do take care to protect yourselves: draw those circles deosil (clockwise) before your more involved rituals and when you are finished, say, "May any negative energy that has been released be sent back to the earth for transmutation," while opening them widdershins (counter-clockwise).

I have been moved to release and surrender this Samhain, so please enjoy 20% off site wide from midnight tonight through midnight October 31st with the code SAMHAINSALE.

Blessed be!

Resources

Samhainhistory.com

Samhain/Halloween, goddessandgreenman.com

Samhain: Traditions, Rituals and Herbs for the Pagan Holiday, herbstalk.org  

Celebrating Samhain, circlesanctuary.org