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The natural universe had a major impact on Ancient spirituality. Samhain, for example, is a Pagan festival that signifies the close of the harvest season as well as the beginning of the winter-the dark half of the year. Surprisingly, the Gaelic term for the 11th month of our year, November, is Samhain, which literally translates to "the close of summer." Samhain is a common rite that everyone may follow to commemorate the day. The rite is based on the mythical idea that God dies at Samhain and the Goddess mourns His passing. In this regard, the Goddess sadness is what brings about the winter experienced at this month. He4 sadness is temporary for the reasons that He is believed to be reborn at Yule. Samhain is not a true ‘spell’ as a majority of the people may think. Instead, it is just a fine ritual designed for the people who work solitary to celebrate the symbolic harvest and also welcome the darker half of the year.
According to Sabrina (2011), Samhain is largely a Gaelic festival celebrated to mark the beginning of winter and the end of the harvest season (43). Samhain is believed to have Celtic pagan origins since ancient times with some Neolithic passage tombs in Ireland being associated with the sunrise around the Samhain time (Butler 69). With its origin, as a Celtic Fire festival in ancient Europe, in a community that was largely made up of the pastoral community, the Celts feted the Samhain’s season as the period when the earth was literary dying (Butler 69). At this time, harvesting is already over and the harvest stored with the fields laying barren (Sabrina 44). The sheep and cattle had to be moved from one place to another particularly the remote areas safeguarded for the months of winter and to also get pastures. The livestock keepers were allowed to gauge the bounty of the two previous harvest, put in stores, of orchard and field so that they could evaluate the number of animals that could be fed adequately through the winter (Crowley 172). The animals that could not be catered for were butchered to feed the families for the duration of the dark days that were forthcoming (Crowley 172). Owing to this practice, the Samhain is at times denoted as the ‘blood harvest’ (Crowley 172). One unique thing is that the group does not fear death, they believe that death is just like any other passage of life and that it is a special time as they are able to see the earth literary dying.
A simple Samhain Wiccan involves a bowl of pure water, a cup of apple cider or juice, a slice of bread, a wooden bowl, a black candle, representation of Goddess with a silver candle, and God with a Gold candle. The silver and Gold candles are lit, and a specific prayer is said. The piece of bread is taken, and some words murmured in honor of the harvest, after taking a bite of the bread, cider is held up, and the same words as the preceding one are repeated. The black candle is lit last and set between the wooden bowl and the bowl of water. It is at this point that blessings for the coming year are asked or rather requested. The remaining bread is set into the wooden bowl and topped up with cider or juice. Some words are murmured to close off the ritual. The food is then left overnight, and the candles burn down on their own. Though Samhain can be celebrated in different ways, these acts must be performed.
The main purpose of the ritual is to is to first comfort the Goddess, give thanks for the harvest, show affection for the souls walking the earth at that night, and honor those who have gone past. The ritual has a deeper function. The first is the unveiling of the other world. They believe that the aspect of the Pagan Horned god wanes during this time and the veil between the dead and the living becomes thinner. The Celts believe that the spirits can either travel or peer through the thinning veils into the world of the living. Secondly, the pagans and witches take in Samhain as a time of psychic clarity because the veils between the worlds are so thin and therefore could see what is hidden. Thirdly, it serves a period of ancestor veneration where angels, spirit guides, and ancestors are summoned to aid them in their lives. The festive is celebrated with specific garb or consumes and involves the symbol of the ancient star of life.
The ritual is neither obvious nor boring. It brings out the significance of diversified beliefs in our society today.
Though it has been in existence since time immemorial dating back to the Neolithic period, Samhain is not known to many. However, its popularity is increasing across the globe especially due to its link with Halloween. Many culture and Dominions observe this day under different initials. For instance, the Catholics called it all souls day and celebrated in proximity to all saint’s day.
In summary, against the perception of most people, Samhain is not a true ‘spell.’ It is just but a commemoration of dead and harvests.
Instead, it is just a fine ritual designed for the people who work solitary to celebrate the symbolic harvest and also welcome the darker half of the year. Rather it is a beautiful show of cultural diversity and beliefs.
Butler, Jenny. "Neo-Pagan Celebrations of Samhain." Treat or Trick? Halloween in a Globalising World (2009): 67-82.
Crowley, Vivianne. "Wicca as Nature Religion'in Pearson, J.; Roberts, RH; and Samuel, G.(eds.), Nature Religion Today: Paganism in the Modern World." (2007): 170-179.
Sabrina, Lady. Exploring Wicca: The Beliefs, Rites, and Rituals of the Wiccan Religion. Career Press, 2011. Print.
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