The Sabbat of Samhain (October 31)

© Copyright 2005-2023 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.

Samhain (Hallowe'en, Hallomas, Sauin, Samhuinn, Nos Galan Gaoef, Nos Kentan'r Bloaz) is the traditional Celtic New Year's Eve. It is the beginning of the dark period of the year which will gradually give birth to a new sun and new life. It is the beginning of the gestation period for the coming year and of the future. As such, the Horned God must leave the seed of life with the Great Mother for the New Year. This is the last opportunity He will have to perform this greatest of all magicks before He must depart the physical world and so sojourn in the land of spirits and waiting souls. His departure at Samhain is very dramatic and powerful as it opens the gates of the entire netherworld for a brief period thus rendering the Sabbat of Samhain a period of awe for all who have the senses to feel it.

Samhain begins the rule of the Lord of Death – the God of change, transformation and the growth of the soul. The Lord of Death is also the God of rest and sleep. This is a time to let old habits die and to meditate on who we wish to become. The Winter months are months to muse inward, seeking one's Self. Spend this time in your studies, calm meditations and gentle reverie so that, come spring, you may rise renewed, rejuvenated, fresh and whole.

It is said that on this date, the souls of those who have left their bodies decide if they wish to return to their loved ones for this last evening before making their journey to the Otherworld. Bonfires and solar symbols of all kinds are appropriate for this Sabbat. The carved Jack'o'Lantern pumpkin with its lit candle inside is strongly associated with this season as a solar symbol. The cauldron used as a scrying tool and as a symbol of the regeneration of souls as well as the broom which sweeps away the past are also both appropriate symbols. Pomegranates, nuts, apples and root vegetables are all symbolic of this Sabbat.

Samhain is a time to remember, honor and commune with our ancestors. Their wisdom and lore enriches our lives giving us clear pathways to follow and emulate. The Dumb Supper is one such tradition which honors our ancestors and allows us a brief time to part the veil between worlds to receive information and comfort from those who have made the transition and gone before us. You can perform your own Dumb Supper by setting a festive table with the favorite foods of those relatives and friends who are no longer in-body. Along with the place settings for the living who will participate in this Dumb Supper, also place plates, silverware and cups for those deceased family members and friends that you are inviting. Name each individual and fill their plates with food, their cups with drink. Enjoy a lively conversation full of memories and stories about those people. End by drinking a toast to them and then have a few minutes of silence to receive any information or messages from the other side. At midnight, take their dishes outside under the light of the moon to receive her blessing and scatter the remains of the food the next morning to share with our animal friends.

Divinations are traditional at Samhain to foretell the coming year's energy tides, challenges and gifts. At this time omens and oracles are believed to be the most accurate, as the veil between worlds is so thin. Divining by fire is popular and you can use either a candle flame or a fireplace. If you use a candle, the color purple is a good choice. Light the candle and begin gazing at the flame, quieting your breath and centering your energies and body. Begin playing with the flame mentally, establishing your connection. Make the flame grow taller then flattening it; cause it to wave wildly then quiet it. Once you have your connection, unfocus your eyes slightly, and ask a yes or no question. If the flame grows taller, your answer is yes, if it flattens the answer is no. Using your fireplace allows you to see pictures in the dancing flames that answer you questions. Again quiet your breathing and center yourself. Gaze into the flames as you slightly unfocus your eyes. Ask your question and watch the response of the flames as they play with each other forming pictures and images. As the embers glow and wink out, forms, symbols and numbers may appear to give you your answer.

Traditional PUMPKIN BREAD: Mix 1 cup of corn oil, 3 beaten eggs; 3/4 cup of water and 2 cups pumpkin (either fresh or canned) until smooth. Add to this liquid 3 3/4 cups sifted flour; 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking soda; 2 1/2 cups sugar and 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and powdered cloves. Fold in 1 cup of chopped walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees in 2 greased and floured loaf pans for 45 minutes to an hour depending on your oven. This keeps very well, but is most delicious fresh out of the oven!

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