Samhain marked the end of the Celtic year and the beginning of a new year and as such can be seen equivalent of our New Year's Eve. It was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter) and the division between this world and the otherworld which was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through. The remnants of these Celtic celebrations from about 2,000 years ago, have become the celebration of Halloween.
The practice of divination was considered potent at this time of the year but people risked at the very least a scare and at worst an encounter with 'himself' just to find out what the future held.
'go to a grave yard at midnight and walk three times clockwise around the graves to be offered a glimpse the future but run the risk of meeting the devil'.
'stand in the porch at midnight and you will see the spirits of those who will die in the coming year , but run the risk of meeting yourself'.
'girls watching in a mirror on this night will see the image of the man they will marry but also run the risk of seeing the devil'.
Boundaries between land were dangerous places to be on this night as ghosts were to be found along them and a style between adjacent land was a place of particular dread and best avoided. Bridges and crossroads were also likely places to encounter ghosts.
Luckily we have natural protectors from such encounters that Mother Nature has kindly given to us. The Rowan Tree is well known for its powers to stop lightning strikes and to keep us safe from the evil eye and to ensure our safety from evil spirits and malevolent creatures that roam in the darkness. People would make a cross of two twigs from Rowan, small enough to sew into a garment or keep in a pocket, and bind them with a red thread and carry rowan berries in their pockets. Hawthorn and Holly both had similar magical properties but the Rowan was preferred not only in the British Isles but in many northern countries.
I think particularly this year we can learn a little from our ancestors and follow their ways. Whilst it feels like our way of life is on hold and that our freedom curtailed we could consider this a time to renew or find a new path to walk/live, much as we do at our New Year on January 1st. We can honour and remember those we have lost and feel comforted by their presence. We can be on guard and careful in the face of an evil virus and avoid places where we know it is likely to roam, take precautions to remain safe and carry our own talismans.
We can find beauty in things as they come to an end, in depleted seed heads, teasels, grasses in their muted browns that will sparkle in sunlight when a frost catches them giving structure and texture. Whilst much of nature sleeps we too can rest a little and look forwards to a future- of winter coming ,so it may end and allow spring to follow and of darkness falling so that light may return.
So let us mark this day, this time of the year, by seeing the wonder around us, let us forage, collect & gather to make a seasonal wreath.
Make seasonal goodies such as 'Soul' Cakes, remembering to leave some for those that may be near to us now the veil is thin.
Have a garden tidy up and throw leaves rather than animal bones into the 'Bone'fire and feel safe as it wards off any ill doing and brings warmth & light and the perfect place for stories to be told and songs to be sung.
Or simply light a candle and gaze into its flame looking for a glimmer of your future perhaps, that love & light will be with you, accompanying you through winter in the knowledge that it is something that we are all collectively wishing for and that means we are making magick.
Happy Samhain/Halloween x
And a big thank you to everyone who has been so kind to support our endeavours to keep some of the old ways alive and celebrate the year by purchasing this years selection of Country Wisdom & Folklore goodies - you are most kind x