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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Samhain

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Season of Samhain Reflections

So I saw a meme recently with a close-up of the infamous Wicked Witch of the West from the original “Wizard of Oz” classic film. It read, “You call it September, I call it October Eve.” Of course I shared it immediately—what Halloween fiend wouldn’t? I have found that I spend the better part of September in anticipation and excitement of what’s to come right on the next page of the calendar corner. I mentally prepare, I scout out fun local events happening and mark the ones that I’d like to attend as “interested.” In many cases, I pencil in all the things I want to do, books I want to read, movies I want to watch (and in many cases rewatch as an annual ritual) all over my Llewellyn Witches’ Datebook. I’m truly a kid at heart when it comes to this time of year—as I’m sure many of you are—and I hope to be until my dying day. In fact, when I was earning my journalism degree and one of our early semester assignments was to write our own obituary, I imagined that I would be found watching scary movies on the 31st.

October Eve Ritual

Next September 2023, why not start your own, “October Eve” ritual? Haul out all of your favorite decorations (I always like to add a few new ones each year, too) and take your time putting them up and hanging them just so. Play some spooky music as your soundtrack as you do so. Sip some nice fall wine and enjoy the experience as a sensual/sensuous one. You may want to do this the night before October 1st, two nights before October 1st, or heck, as early as you want in September, whatever floats your ghost ship! You might want to mix it up and put different decorations in different rooms or create different arrangements each year. I tend to be a traditionalist like my dear grandmother was and put the same pieces in the same spots annually. I even have themed rooms for the types of decorations: Kitchen witches, black cat back bedroom, vampire bat bathroom, you get the idea. If you’re lucky enough to have a home with a nice front yard and love to go all out with your transformation theme, by all means, go for it. Nothing makes the majority of your Halloween fan neighbors more delighted than driving or walking by a wickedly clever front yard and house display all season long.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



Let's face it: modern Yule has undergone a thorough Christmasization.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, just a fact. Still, when we scrape away the encrusted barnacles from the ship of Yule—when we look, for instance, at the extended Winter Solstice celebrations of the Kalasha of what is now northwestern Pakistan, the last Indo-European-speaking people to have practiced their traditional religion continuously since ancient times—what emerges is revealed as something both strange and familiar beyond telling.

The same may be said for Samhain, now thoroughly reshaped by its proximity to Halloween, and by the Christian festivals of All Saints' and All Souls' Days.

When, however, we look at Samhain as it used to be—Samhain as recorded in the old lore—a new-old landscape emerges before us, a land both familiar and strange.

That is what makes the following little poem so remarkable. On the face of it—until you get to the last stanza, anyway—there's little that seems to be about Samhain at all. (Oh, but look deeper, my friend!)

Even more remarkable is the fact that this enumeration of the essentials of Samhain-ness is not, in fact, ancient, but a modern poem: an excerpt from a longer poem, “Fionn's Migrations,” in Martin Shaw and Tony Hoagland's 2020 Cinderbiter: Celtic Poems.

Listen, now.


Samhain Is the Name of the Season

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 History of Jack-O'-Lanterns | Merriam-Webster

 Nine Schools of Thought


When is Samhain?

As one would expect, authorities disagree.


Stuffy (also: Traditionalist) School

Samhain begins at sundown on October 31, the First of the Three Nights of Samhain.

Hey: if the Gregorian calendar was good enough for the ancestors, it's good enough for me.


Old School

Old Samhain comes on 11-12 November.

Hey, if the Julian calendar was good enough for the ancestors, it's good enough for me.

I suppose you're one of those neo-pagans?


Old Craft

Do you maybe mean All Hallows? Or, better, All Saints?

Protective coloration, dude. It's all about protective coloration.


Slapdash School

It's Samhain whenever the coven has time to get together.

Usually this means the Saturday closest to Halloween, but if it's December 3 instead, tough.

What the f*ck is the “Three Nights of Samhain”?


Purist (also: Astronomical) School

Samhain falls at the precise midpoint between astronomical Autumn Equinox and astronomical Winter Solstice.

Hey: if astronomical precision was good enough for the ancestors, it's good enough for me.

“Three Nights of Samhain”? Did you perhaps by any chance mean the Trinox Samoni?


American Trendy School

Samhain = Halloween (or, as true Trendies would insist, Hallowe'en). Samhain begins at midnight on October 30, and ends at midnight on October 31.

That means that the Eve of Samhain is actually October 30.

Well, that's what they say.


American Commercial School

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



On the morning of Samhain Eve, I go down into the basement to set up for the evening's ritual. Such is the work of a temple's resident priest.

To my astonishment, light is shining—as it seems—from the doorway of the limestone cave over which the Temple of the Moon is built, to which after Sunset we will descend to sing for the dead, and to speak their remembered names.

Did I forget to turn off the light? It seems unlikely. It's been Moons since last I entered the cave. Besides, I'd come down earlier that morning for a Sunrise sweat in the temple sauna; I saw no light-stream then.

Nearing, I find that it is, in fact, Sunlight that I'm seeing.

Low in the sky, the late October Sun sends one long, slanting beam in through the corner of the southeasternmost basement window. It shines in: thick, ancestral, golden.

Shines in, and illumines the Doorstep of the Dead.

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Sabbat of Samhain – October 31st All Hallow’s Eve

Halloween stems from the grand tradition of the Celtic New Year. What started as a folk festival celebrated by small groups in rural areas has come to be the second largest holiday of today. There are multitudinous reasonsincluding modern marketingbut I think it satisfies a basic human need, to let your “wild side” out, to be free and more connected with the ancient ways. This is the time when the veil between worlds is thinnest and you can commune with the other side, with elders and the spirit world. It is important to honor the ancestors during this major sabbat and acknowledge what transpired in the passing year as well as set intentions for the coming year.


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Samhain, the Gaelic name for Halloween, is on the 31st of October, also known as Nos Calan Gaeaf in Wales- literally meaning ‘the night before the beginning of winter’.  Astrologically Samhain is a cross quarter festival- falling in between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice and for this reason dates to celebrate can vary- from the 31st to the 7th of November- which is its astrological date this year. This is a special time, where spirits abound to wreak havoc or visit their loved ones, for solace or revenge, where the spirits of nature remind us of their wild and untamed ways and for a while the ordinary way of things in the mortal world is upended. 

Now is a perfect time to honour our ancestors and do some ancestral healing- this frees us up from the patterns of the past, ways of being handed down from parents to children often going back generations that are often unconscious and overlooked, to say what we didn’t say or to resolve and forgive any misdeeds.

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I'd Like to Live in Halloweentown

So I'm pulling out all the stops this blog and referencing every entry I've written here to date about the truly most wonderful time of year: Samhain/Halloween! I had a close group of fellow pumpkin holiday enthusiasts over last weekend and the powerful positive female energy that flowed throughout the night was incredible. We played great music, crafted tiny spell jars, decorated skull sugar cookies, and even laughed ourselves silly over a witch hat ring toss game. Whether you choose to have a small, masked gathering with your favorite zombies or perhaps honor your ancestors ala Día de los Muertos , there are a multitude of ways to celebrate this weekend. Hosting a traditional Dumb Supper for lost loved ones is a favored activity of local Milwaukee legend Stonie Rivera. Truth be told, I know in my heart I will never be able to top my October 31st spent in Dracula country on the Tours of Terror folks' Transylvania trip. That's a cherished memory that will stay with me forever, and ever, and ever...

Dreams and Tarot Tossing

Be sure to pay special attention to dreams of departed loved ones right now. Chances are good that they may be trying to communicate an important message to you via your dreams. Record the messages and feelings you're left with in your journal for further consideration and meditation. This is the ideal time of year for channeling your witchy side with some divination and imagination. I always find shuffling the tarot cards and seeing what insights they have to share enlightening. They often bring a sharp clarity to complex situations and questions on your mind. I'm still enjoying using "The Witches' Wisdom Tarot," a deck created by my first "Women Who Howl at the Moon" podcast guest, Phyllis Currott. These cards are so rich and multi-layered in their meanings, guidance, and magickal intentions.

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