Samhain – Celtic New Year’s Eve on October 31st

NamesSamhain, All Saints’ Day, All hallows eve, Halloween, Samuin, Samain
Importance in the Wheel of the yearBeginning of the wheel of the year, beginning of the winter half-year.
SymbolsApples, Nuts
ColoursOrange, Black, White
StonesOnyx, rock crystal
KeywordsDeath, dying, ancestors, hope for a new beginning.

Why do we celebrate Samhain?

On Samhain, the old year ends and the new begins. The winter half-year begins at the same time. It is the festival of the dead and unborn life. Now the border to the Otherworld is open, and we can communicate with our ancestors. The focus is on death and dying, so it is also the ideal time to let go of old things and sow the seeds for new things. In the cold season, we can draw new strength and reflect on our roots. The Celts believed that in this night, the souls of the people who died that year would finally pass over. To aid them in this transformation, there was literally dancing on the graves. Lights were put up to guide them on their way. Even today, many people put up lanterns or carved pumpkins.

How did Samhain turn into Halloween?

During the proselytizing in the 6-8th century, not all of the Celtic and Germanic traditions could be erased as the peoples unwaveringly clung to them. Therefore the church began to Christianize pagan festivals and to include them in the church calendar. For example, Easter came from Ostara, Valentine’s Day from Vali and All Saints’ Day from Samhain. Pope Gregory IV postponed All Saints’ Day in the year 837 from the first Sunday after Pentecost to November 1st. The previous evening was celebrated as All-Hallows-Eve, today Halloween, as a replacement for Samhain.

How can we celebrate Samhain today?

We can use this day and night to say goodbye to the old and review the past year. We can also celebrate the new beginning. Now the dark season begins, which allows us to reflect and develop spiritually.

Samhain Fire ceremony

You need:
  • Candle / bonfire
  • Three sheets of paper
  • A glass of water or fresh juice
 

Preparation

Find a suitable ritual place either in nature or in the house. If you choose an outdoor spot, make sure you can light a small fire. A river or lake nearby would be ideal. It is not recommended to light an open fire in a dry forest. If you want to hold your ritual indoors, prepare a candle and a fireproof bowl. If you want, you can build a small altar. Black and white gemstones are perfect for the occasion. In general, you can decorate your altar with anything that feels right for you. Make sure that nobody interrupts your ritual.

Dying

Light your bonfire or your candle. Take the first sheet of paper and mark it with a symbol of dying (you can also use a black piece of paper). Now write down everything you are grateful for. Review your year and feel the gratitude. Every little thing counts. Then you burn the paper in the fire. Watch it burn down and let yourself sink into the feeling of gratitude. Thank nature, the higher force, or yourself for the wonderful events of the past year.

Death

Now take the next sheet of paper and mark it with a symbol of death (or use a white sheet). Write down everything you want to leave behind: habits; Feelings that no longer serve you; People you can’t grow with. Get rid of excess luggage to start the new year fresh and easy. Now burn this sheet as well and feel that the fire burns all this out of your body and transforms it. Fire is the most powerful force of transformation, be aware of that.

Rebirth

Now take the third sheet. Mark it with a symbol of rebirth (or take a piece of red paper). Write down everything you want to achieve and experience in the new year. The effect is greatest when you write in the present tense. So: I’m healthy. I’m happy, I live in a beautiful house by the sea. While you are writing down your wishes, feel how it will feel when they are fulfilled. Now burn the last sheet and give your wishes to the universe. As you watch the sheet burn, feel that you have already achieved your goal. Feelings are more powerful than words. When you radiate the quality of your desire by getting into the feeling, you are magically attracting reality.

Manifestation

Take the glass of water or juice and hold it in your hands. Now imagine that the qualities of things (health, happiness) that you wish for, pass into the liquid. Load the glass full of your wishes and drink it. This is how your longings are materialized on a physical level.

Let it end

Now you can watch your fire burn out. Never extinguish a ceremonial fire with water – that would be most disrespectful to the fire spirit. In an emergency, you can erase it with the earth. Ideally, however, you let it burn down under observation. To thank the spirit of the fire, you can also add some incense to the fire. I wish you a magical Samhain. Please share your experience with me and leave a comment.
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