Celebrated during the same time period as Halloween, Samhain is a pagan holiday that is celebrated each year by millions of witches and wizards around the world. But what is it and yet is it associated with Halloween?
Samhain belongs first of all to one of the four celebrations of the Celtic people that are traditionally celebrated between October 31 and November 1. It is thus considered to be the pagan New Year’s Eve for its transition from the world of light to the world of darkness, Samhain is indeed the transition where one dies to be reborn and in the Wicca culture, it is the death of the horned God who sacrifices himself to ensure the continuity of earthly life. (Image credit Audrey)
Samhain sees himself as a philosophy of life and death, but also as a philosophy of letting go of negative things that no longer have any reason to be for the coming New Year. Wicca also considers that tribute should be paid to the pagan brothers and sisters who were killed for freedom of worship during the period of the inquisition, in order to also receive post-life blessings. It is then common to hold a witch’s assembly where the bread is broken with a sharing meal containing turnips and then pumpkins or apples in memory of those who cannot be present at the ceremony, it is even common to add chairs for spirits as well as cutlery and a cup to the assembly.
Samhain promises for one night to the spirits to be reborn, the legend tells that to do this, it is necessary to disguise the children and thus, the children becoming impure to man then line up at the side of the spirit so that he can take possession of his soul during the night of Samhain, the candies collected by the possessed children thus become the offerings so that the souls are gratifying of the gift received and thus happy, the souls bless the man in return. In ancient times, candy was simply freshly picked apples to celebrate the nature and transition of the inter-worlds. It is said that the Samhain, taking place after the autumn equinox, is the darkest moment of the year, allowing spirits to light up from the darkness and communicate more easily with the world of the living, just as during the new moon or the black moon when the darkest spirits have more control.
Thus, pagan culture advocates a non-definitive death during this theurgic tradition by promoting rebirth and transmutation to a better person. Samhain is perceived as the first and last day of the year in the wheel of the year, which is a succession of dates of pagan celebration where each date corresponds to specific celebrations related to the life and death cycles of the earth since it is also the end of the harvest. Moreover, always the Wicca, if the horned God dies, the goddess prepares herself to promote the rebirth of the God in Yule (December).
The Celtic origin of this celebration was similar to the wicca in that it was a banquet gathering the Celts around a large assembly, directed according to a well-established order according to social class and under the yoke of the king of the assembly, the living representation of the Celtic God Taranis (he is similar to Altas in Greek culture, that is, the heavenly God and the father of the other gods). The assembly was banned and then disappeared during Christianization during the Middle Ages and it was only when Wicca and the other occult currents were created that it returned to the assemblies of witches and wizards (including magi, sages etc…) in private ceremonies in groupings called coven. This convent allows pagans to celebrate the festivities among themselves but also to do spiritual work but always with a concern for confidentiality and security.
The Celtic (Irish) culture from which the Samhain Festival originated over a week in homage to the spirit world, it makes it possible to celebrate the end of the harvest but also to make acts of transformation to obtain better conditions from the Gods, it is also common to tell ghost stories in homage to the brave people who were invited to the other world by a Banshee to discover the wisdom of the elders, could not return to continue living because they had found themselves trapped in the wheel of time, because in the other world time has no terrestrial hold. But the bodies of the trance-like men could not bear the long journey and these brave men eventually died because they refused to leave in time despite what the Banshee had told them. There is a time for knowledge and a time for life. (James Rooney image credit)
It is also considered to be the Hallowwen festival, which translates into the celebration of all saints. Halloween is actually the Christianization of the Samhain festival, which became the evening of the saints and no longer the ancestral gods from Pope Gregory III in the 8th century. It was a tribute to the martyrs who were then canonized as saints, and this celebration was celebrated on May 13 and November 1.
Halloween was celebrated in Irish and English-speaking countries until the relocation to the USA in the 1870s and became popular in the 1920s with children dressed as ghosts, wizards or monsters asking victims if they wanted candy or a spell in connection with a Christian legend. It indicated that witches should be fed food so that they would not take the children of their victims to eat them or destroy the crops in case they did not have children. So by offering candy, the witch was at peace.
Halloween is therefore a time to celebrate the dead, the saints, to play witches but also to celebrate the most popular legend, that of Jack O’Lantern telling the story of an old Irish man having fun chasing the devil for several years by playing dirty tricks until he was damned on earth because Jack’s unhealthy behaviour did not allow him to go to heaven and the jokes made to the devil did not allow him to go to hell either. It is then that Jack must wander in purgatory or on land, the devil offers him coal to light his lantern which was carved in a turnip, then it was replaced by the pumpkin which has since become the symbolism of Halloween.
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