amhain is one of the most anticipated sabbats of the witch’s year. The leaves are burnished with red and gold, pumpkins, corn and squash are at the end of their ripening and the smell of fall fires are in the cold crisp air. On the winds we hear the call of our ancestors voices that are beginning to reach us and in our peripheral vision spirit activity is more visible.
Samhain (pronounced Sow-een), also known as Samhuin, Oíche Shamhna, All Hollows Eve or the more modern Halloween is a sabbat with Celtic roots marking the darker/lighter, end of summer/beginning of winter halves of the year. At this time, much like at Beltane, the veil between the worlds is thinning and it is at this time that spirits journey across the hedge and seek out their kin. As with many things in life, the demarcation line in spiritual matters is not so simple as black/white, opened/closed and this parallels the reality of the thinning veil.
During Samhain we can hear the echo of the Goddess’ words from the Charge of the Goddess, that ‘no mortal shall ever see that which lies beyond my veil, for I am indeed mistress of the mysteries and keeper of the keys’. The Veil that we speak of is the wall or membrane that separates the land of humankind from the land of ‘other’; be it Fey, Summerland, the Underworld, the God and Goddess, Spirits and Ancestors, etc. The withdrawal of the Goddess across the veil is felt in lessening light of the Sun God shining upon her and as she withdraws her energy, so goes life until all lies still, quiet and fallow.
The Season of Samhain kicks off on or around October 31st, however does not reach its peak until around the 6th or 7th of November, when Sun is 15 degrees to Scorpio. Scorpio is ruled by Pluto (Hades) the God of the Underworld, who is now coming into his full power. Similar to Beltane, the veil is the thinnest and spirits activity is most prevalent. While Beltane energies are drawn upward and outward in the tree of life, toward the land of the Fey and Summerland; creation, fertility, light and life; Samhain energies are beginning to spiral inward and downward towards the underworld and spirits, death and decay, introspection and reflection.
Each one of these places all vibrate to a specific frequency, so to speak, which determine the placement of each of the ‘others’. Our rites focus on aligning with these frequencies to make it possible to more easily commune with our ancestors. Does this mean that we are unable to contact these other frequencies at different times of the year? The short and long of it is, No. The reality of it is, it is much more challenging to do so. Many of us venerate, libate, pay homage and speak with/to our ancestors all year long. The constant connection is often able to keep our most recently departed connected longer as well as aid in the petitioning of help or wisdom from our ancestors. There is, however, a lot of static at other times of the year. Imagine sending your call or your will through the eye of a needle in the dark when the wind is constantly blowing your thread around. At Samhain those winds cease to blow for a time and the energies become still.
The withdraw of the goddess energy is reflected in the highly spiritual practices that aid us in turning inward, more aptly allowing us to connect with the inner planes and attune ourselves to what is taking place. Energy goes where life flows and I believe that when one is aligned with and linked to deity/nature, our essential connected selves will follow where we can. Thusly, as the Goddess crosses that veil, we follow to the liminal outer reaches but are unable to cross. We know she’s there, we can feel her, but she’s not as easily accessed. Simultaneously, those on the other-side have awaited her presence and as the Goddess crosses over the veil is much more permeable to those with no corporeal body. Those who still yearn for their kin or have been petitioned regularly are eager to connect with those in the land of the living and make the precarious journey at this time.
Alternatively as the Goddess of life crosses the veil she transforms into the Crone of Darkness who had journeys forth from the Underworld. It is she who presides over the Cauldron that contains the essence of all mysteries, knowledge, life and the birthing of possibilities found in the matrix of unorganized and unformed chaos. It is the Cauldron of the Crone in which we seek visions of knowledge as we process our year and move toward spiritual understanding and enlightenment.
Samahin’s third and final harvest of field crops and butchering provide the required sustenance for the sabbat season. Those who walk the path of the old ones understand that where there is birth and death, there is blood and energy that will open portals and draw spirits. Our Samhain rites give the much needed energy and spiritual food necessary to make the journey here and back across the hedge safely. The rites also aid in protection against those convoluted soul energies that have breached the veil with more nefarious tasks in mind.
Lastly, Samhain is a Holy Day where open the portal or the guesting door, we light bonfires and hearth fires in the darkness to guide our beloved home for a spell as we call out the names of our ancestors and give thanks for their life blood that gives us life and runs strongly in our veins.
So……take a moment to rise up proudly, call your ancestors names loudly and drink heartily!