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samhain lore

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Forums -> Wicca -> samhain lore

samhain lore
By:
Post # 1
Samhain History and Lore

Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year, for the
Celts divided the year into two seasons: the light and the dark, at Beltane
on May 1st and Samhain on November 1st. Some believe that Samhain was the
more important festival, marking the beginning of a whole new cycle, just as
the Celtic day began at night. For it was understood that in dark silence
comes whisperings of new beginnings, the stirring of the seed below the
ground. Whereas Beltane welcomes in the summer with joyous
celebrations at dawn, the most magically potent time of this festival is
November Eve, the night of October 31st, known today of course, as
Halloween.

Samhain (Scots Gaelic: Samhuinn) literally means ?summer's end.? In Scotland
and Ireland, Halloween is known as O???che Shamhna, while in Wales it is Nos
Calan Gaeaf, the eve of the winter's calend, or first. With the rise of
Christianity, Samhain was
changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints' Day, to commemorate the souls of the
blessed dead who had been canonized that year, so the night before became
popularly known as Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Hollantide. November 2nd
became All Souls Day, when
prayers were to be offered to the souls of all who the departed and those
who were waiting in Purgatory for entry into Heaven. Throughout the
centuries, pagan and Christian beliefs intertwine in a gallimaufry of
celebrations from Oct 31st through November 5th, all of which appear both to
challenge the ascendancy of the dark and to revel in its mystery.

In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the
herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer hillside pastures to
the shelter of stable and byre. The hay that would feed them during the
winter must be stored in sturdy thatched ricks, tied down securely against
storms. Those destined for the table were slaughtered, after being ritually
devoted to the gods in pagan times. All the harvest must be gathered in --
barley, oats, wheat, turnips, and apples -- for come November, the faeries
would blast every growing plant with their breath, blighting any nuts and
berries remaining on the hedgerows. Peat and wood for winter fires were
stacked high by the hearth. It was a joyous time of family reunion, when all
members of the household worked together baking, salting meat, and making
preserves for the winter feasts to come. The endless horizons of summer gave
way to a warm, dim and often smoky room; the symphony of summer sounds was
replaced by a counterpoint of voices, young and old, human and animal.

In early Ireland, people gathered at the ritual centers of the tribes, for
Samhain was the principal calendar feast of the year. The greatest assembly
was the 'Feast of Tara,' focusing on the royal seat of the High King as the
heart of the sacred land, the
point of conception for the new year. In every household throughout the
country, hearth-fires were extinguished. All waited for the Druids to light
the new fire of the year -- not at Tara, but at Tlachtga, a hill twelve
miles to the north-west. It marked
the burial-place of Tlachtga, daughter of the great druid Mogh Ruith, who
may once have been a goddess in her own right in a former age.

At all the turning points of the Celtic year, the gods drew near to Earth at
Samhain, so many sacrifices and gifts were offered up in thanksgiving for
the harvest. Personal prayers in the form of objects symbolizing the wishes
of supplicants or
ailments to be healed were cast into the fire, and at the end of the
ceremonies, brands were lit from the great fire of Tara to re-kindle all the
home fires of the tribe, as at Beltane. As they received the flame that
marked this time of beginnings,
people surely felt a sense of the kindling of new dreams, projects and hopes
for the year to come.

The Samhain fires continued to blaze down the centuries. In the 1860s the
Halloween bonfires were still so popular in Scotland that one traveler
reported seeing thirty fires lighting up the hillsides all on one night,
each surrounded by rings of dancing
figures, a practice which continued up to the first World War. Young people
and servants lit brands from the fire and ran around the fields and hedges
of house and farm, while community leaders surrounded parish boundaries with
a magic circle of light. Afterward, ashes from the fires were sprinkled over
the fields to protect them during the winter months -- and of course, they
also improved the soil. The bonfire provided an island of light within the
oncoming tide of winter darkness, keeping away
cold, discomfort, and evil spirits long before electricity illumined our
nights. When the last flame sank down, it was time to run as fast as you
could for home, raising the
cry, ?The black sow without a tail take the hindmost!?

Even today, bonfires light up the skies in many parts of the British Isles
and Ireland at this season, although in many areas of Britain their
significance has been co-opted by Guy Fawkes Day, which falls on November
5th, and commemorates an unsuccessful
attempt to blow up the English Houses of Parliament in the 17th century. In
one Devonshire village, the extraordinary sight of both men and women
running through the streets with blazing tar barrels on their backs can
still be seen! Whatever the reason,
there will probably always be a human need to make fires against the
winter?s dark.

----------

With the veil between the worlds being at its thinnest, this is a great time
for divination.Blessed Be )0(
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Re: samhain lore
By: / Knowledgeable
Post # 2
Thank you for this informative post, this is a great time of year to remember.
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Re: samhain lore
By:
Post # 3
"In one Devonshire village, the extraordinary sight of both men and women running through the streets with blazing tar barrels on their backs can still be seen!"

I believe you're refering to the Ottery St Mary tar barrels, the official website being www.otterytarbarrels.co.uk

A spectacular event, always packed out, parking is a nightmare, but worth seeing before 'elf and safety interfere with it.
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Re: samhain lore
By:
Post # 4
Merry Samhain everyone
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Re: samhain lore
By:
Post # 5
Hi,
Does anyone here make soul-cakes for Samhain to provide a feast for the spirits? :D:D
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Re: samhain lore
By: / Knowledgeable
Post # 6
I am very sure alot of us make or give some sort of gift for the spirits, but personally I have not made soul cake. I have made honey caked though.
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Re: samhain lore
By:
Post # 7
I'm not one who cooks a lot, so soul cakes are one of those things that I've never had an opportunity to make. I do leave fresh fruit for the spirits, or I will light a candle for them. As a treat for others who are close to me, I also make a Witches Brew and Spiced oranges for luck,, prosperity, and love in the coming year during the dead time.
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Re: samhain lore
By:
Post # 8
Here's the Recipe from CharmingPixieFlora off of youtube.

1 gallon apple cider
1 whole apple sliced (no seeds)
1 whole Orange sliced
3 small cinnamon sticks
3 slices fresh ginger
1 cup dried rose petals
1TBS nutmeg or other spice

Pour cider into a large pot big enough to hold the gallon of apple cider with enough room for the other ingredients. Turn on high and add the slices of apples, oranges, the cinnamon sticks, the ginger and roses. Turn heat down once the cider is hot to allow it to simmer. Let simmer for 5 minutes, then add the spices of your liking. Stir every 15 to 20 minutes to keep the roses from settling at the bottom. Leave to simmer for 2 hours.



You can also see this and a picture of the brew on my facebook here- http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=157489657622171
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