Friday, October 31, 2008 is Samhain, Halloween, 3rd Harvest, All Hallows Eve. Lady Moon is in her first quarter, in Sagittarius, presenting a waxing presence on Freya’s day. This celebration is a fire festival, calling for bonfires, backyard bar-be-cues, fragrant wood burning cozily in a fireplace or chiminea. If possible, I urge you to celebrate outdoors.
In addition to black and orange, colors associated with this festival are red, brown, and golden yellow. You (and your guests) may choose to wear these colors and they may also be used in your decorating scheme. Altar candles should be black, orange, white, silver, and gold. Any or all of these colors of candles will enhance your evening. Other decorations may include: pumpkins, gourds, cornstalks, cauldrons, apples, pomegranates, black cats, and brooms.
Plan your menu to include pumpkin, apples, mulled wines, and beef, pork, or poultry. Nuts, turnips, squash, beets, corn, gourds, and cider are also favorites to consider. Carving pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns is a popular activity, but originally it was turnips that were carved; the hollowed-out turnip with openings on the sides was used as a lantern while out after dark. The carrying of this turnip-lantern symbolized Lord Sun in the womb waiting to be born; the pumpkins we carve and illuminate from within also serve this purpose.
Samhain marks the beginning of a spiritual year, marking the onset of a time of transformation and growth of the soul while in a type of hibernation during the “time of no time” that exists between Samhain and Yule. Just as gestation of the body occurs in the womb’s dark warmth, so does the soul require a time to rest, reflect, and grow. This is a time when the veil between the worlds is thin, and many of the activities enjoyed at this time relate to divination. If you live near to or have access to a boundary stream (one that separates property owned by different people), you may perform this ritual: go to the boundary stream and, with closed eyes, take from the water 3 stones using your middle finger and thumb, saying as each is chosen: “I will lift the stone as Mary lifted it for her Son, For substance, virtue, and strength; May this stone be in my hand till I reach my journey‘s end.” Carry the stones home carefully and place them under your pillow. That night, ask for a dream that will give you guidance or a solution to a problem, and the stones will bring it to you.
Include time in your celebration to sit around the fire and tell stories from your past. Share family lore, recount the tales told to you by your grandmother. This is a time of honoring the past with such remembrances; they become more meaningful with each year’s repetition.
There are many, many activities that can be enjoyed at Samhain. A few are: bobbing for apples, scrying, making a Dumb Supper, candle divination, stone divination. One easy ritual for prosperity for the coming year is to throw the bones from your dinner into the bonfire (originally “bone-fire) to ensure healthy and plentiful lovestock in the year to come. In the morning, when the ashes are cool, spread them over your garden to bless the land.
Through food and activities we set the stage for this gestative growth; while many are fun to do and will engender laughter, the purpose is serious. Enjoy your party, but do not lose sight of the lessons.