Samhain Traditions Special


samhain traditions

I am a big fan of celebrating the original holy days of the Celtic Wheel of the Year. And perhaps the most well known of all such festivals, is that of Halloween. Pretty sure that even if you don't get naked and jump over the Beltane fires with your friends, likelihood is that you do get dressed up in costume and eat lots of sugary snacks and roam your local neighbourhood on 31st October every year. Have you ever heard of Samhain though? Read on..


Well, Halloween is fun, that's for sure. I have had some of the best parties on Samhain night. Probably the best of all being the time I trick or treated around Boulder, Colorado and drank so much tequila I was unable to feel the cold. However, not so well known by many (and certainly not revered by my tequila drunk crew) is that the ancient origins of our famous modern day western celebration of Halloween actually finds it roots in the Celtic festival Samhain. 


Where best to go into Celtic roots than back to Ireland's green shores?

It is said that the ancient Mound of Hostages on the hill of Tara in the Boyne Valley in Ireland, saw celebrations on the Samhain night. Fascinating, as with so many of these old sites, it is possible to see the sun rise through the doorway of the entrance to the monument around the date of Samhain. So in other words, the ancient indigenous people of this part of the world actually built a communal structure that corresponded to the position of the rising sun at this festival. And as this monument precedes the Celts by about 2000 years, it is certainly a sound hypothesis to propose that celebrating this ancient fesitival of the earth went back millennia.

No wonder we still love to touch in with it then. 

We can feel the belonging to our ancestors every time we do. 

And no wonder the Irish would have brought this festival, so cherished, over the the US as they emigrated too.

want more? Listen to this week's podcast about CELEBRATING SAMHAIN here


samhain + halloween festivities

Samhain is known as one of the great fire festivals in the celtic wheel of the year. It occurs at "cross quarters", or between the Solstices and Equinoxes that mark the turning of the seasonal energies of the earth. These cross quarter festivals were known for their bringing the community together around fire. To tune into the ways things felt. And to go within and recognise the pull these forces have upon us as individuals and as villages.

Still now in cities, this energy can be felt. 

Still now under the influence of too much tequila - testimony to the ancient pull of these practices indeed.

Most typically, and perhaps you have heard this mentioned yourself, Samhain is known as the time in the calendar year where the veil between material and spirit world is at it's thinnest.

samhain + the day of the dead

Look across many cultures of the world and you will see this recognition. Whether from Mexico's famous "Day of the Dead" celebrations, and all it's colour and exaltation of remembrance os those passed, through to the Christian calendar which celebrates "All Souls".

Whatever our cultural or spiritual perspective, we all seem to be able to collectively feel the presence of the other side.

Perhaps this is rooted in ancient man's understanding and experience of the dimishing power of the sun at this time of year? It must've been anxiety provoking? Or at the very least, and because we are meaning making machines, these early people created myths and stories around this time of year. We must have understood some psychic sense of descent into the underworld. Of the ominous winter season approaching. The time when it was harder to survive. When bounty was seen to have potentially deserted us, along with the warmth and the reliability of the sun's rays.

No wonder our thoughts and prayers would have turned to death then. And to the dead.

how to tune into samhain festivities today

As a modern magician, I like to tune into energies at any given time of year for my own personal empowerment practice. And I encourage clients to do the same.

As such, Halloween can be a fantastic time to go within. To tune into the death force inside ourselves. What in us wants to die off as we reach the end point of the year? What would we prefer to let go of in the stillness and stark winter to come? What is done? How are we saturated and over-full? 

Moreover, who would we like to remember? Who would we like to thank? Which ancestors might we pray to, in order to have them at our backs, which they surely must be?

Either way - whether celebrating those past or celebrating the year just lived.

I wish you a wonderful, descent fuelled Samhain festival. May we enter the still point in trust and surrender.

you are invited


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This post was written by Julia