Samhain approaches and there is an air of excitement. The children are counting down the days, eagerly dragging their parents down to their local stores, adding to there ever increasing collection of Halloween decorations and costumes. Halloween is more accepted these days, although some Church of England Schools do not allow any practice of Halloween whatsoever. They hold that same fear as they did back in the times of the Witch hunts, but they can never take away the Magic and the Spirit of Samhain.
The Wheel Of The Year has now turned to the Autumn Equinox, but is now fast approaching the Sabbat of Samhain. This is one of the greater sabbats in the Wiccan calender, its a Fire Festival which marks the end of Summer and the start of Winter, it's the Celts new year! I do ponder to myself and come to realise that maybe we are going full circle and going back to the these times as our weather pattern seems to be the same now. We seem to have six months of warmth and six months of cold, our Spring seems to come early and our Autumn seems to be late, therefore regressing back to the Winter/Summer. It was a very important time for the Celts as they had to judge just how many Cows to slaughter for the coming Winter months ahead. They could not possibly feed the full herd so only the good breeding stock where kept, the rest were slaughtered and salted. The only way to preserve the meat, hence the use of Salt in Ritual as a disinfectant against Physic or spiritual evil.
As we walk the dogs through the Fields with our two little boys, we talk of all things nature, listen to the robin as he sings so beautiful. I say to the boys, "listen" a Robin they tell me. They enjoy all that nature has to offer including the blackberries, its then that i turn the conversation to the Pooka! The Pooka? they tell me. Yes i tell them, he is a little Hobgoblin who comes out each Halloween to claim what is rightfully his. There little faces light up with anticipation. I tell them that at Halloween/Samhain its the last day to finish off any harvesting of fruit that still remains, fore after then it all belongs to the Pooka. It is said in Celtic times that the Nocturnal shape-changing Pooka would delight in tormenting humans on the Samhain night, contaminating any of the remaining fruit crops that were not reaped. His favourite disguise was that of an ugly black horse.
In Ireland to this day they celebrate their Bonfire night on Halloween. Samhain fires were also built on high grounds in Scotland and Wales and the Isle of Man. In Wales once the last spark of the Halloween fire was extinguished, everyone would take to there heels and shout at the top of there voices "The cropped black sow seize the hindmost"! In Welsh mythology the Sow represents the Goddess Cerridwen in her dark aspect. She is the Keeper of the Cauldron, said to have the powers of Prophecy.
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Samhain is the perfect night for Divination and Contacting the Dead. Weather that be Tarot reading, Scrying or the use of Spirit/Ouija Boards. The veil between the living and the dead is very thin. Halloween nuts and apples still have there divinatory meaning and are a popular tradition. Samhain still has a fertility theme as that of Beltane, its a time of deliberate, sexual freedom. Its reflected in the legends of gods and hero's, that God Angus Mac Og and the hero Cu Chulainn, both had Samhain affairs with women who could shape change into birds, and at Samhain the Dagda (the good god) mated with Morrigan (the dark aspect of the Goddess).
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All in all, Halloween is a time of great excitement to be enjoyed by children and adults alike, whatever your purpose for celebrating The Magic Of Samhain, let it be filled with lots of fun and games, laughter, good food and drink. Celebrate our loved ones that have gone before us, let our hearts be free and may the spirit of Samhain live on in all of us.