Samhain: The beginning of the ‘Dark Time’
“She changes everything she touches, and everything she touches changes…”
By Kate Braun / The Rag Blog / October 23, 2009
Saturday, October 31, is Samhain, aka Halloween, Third Harvest, All Hallows Eve. “Samhain” means “End of Summer”; the beginning of the “Dark Time” when the world lies fallow awaiting the rebirth of Lord Sun at Yule.
This is the time to review the past and make plans for the future; a time to study patterns, acknowledge mistakes, make a plan to not repeat old mistakes. It is serendipitous that this year Lady Moon is waxing, gibbous in her second quarter. Second-quarter moons are an excellent time to start implementing plans and I suggest you would enjoy making that action a part of your celebration.
Samhain is a fire festival. If weather permits, celebrate outside. A roaring bonfire is delightful, but an outdoor grill or chiminea will generate the same sort of energy. To honor The Crone (remember that “Crone” means a woman who has passed her second Saturn return* and is filled with wisdom; there is nothing negative or derogatory in the term) you could designate the oldest woman present as The Crone of your gathering and have her preside over the activities, starting with ceremonially sweeping the area around your fire with a broom or besom. This symbolizes sweeping away the past and preparing a clean slate on which to write the coming year.
Decorate your altar, table, and yourself using the colors black (for the coming Dark Time) and orange (for ripe pumpkins and other end-of-season crops). Red, brown, and golden yellow are also acceptable and do not forget to include a white candle on your altar and/or table. Gourds, apples, pomegranates, black cat cutouts, jack-o-lanterns and symbols of the Crone (cauldrons, brooms, besoms) are also common decorations.
Your menu should include apples, nuts, root crops such as beets and turnips, gourds such as pumpkin and squash, corn, cider, mulled wines, and the red or white meat of your choice (beef, pork, poultry).
There are many activities appropriate to this season: bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins, stone divination, and scrying are but a few. If you choose to scry, fill a cauldron with water and add a few drops of oil to the water before settling into quietness and concentrating on the dark water. The oil will make it easier to see whatever images appear. Use one candle for illumination and make sure the flame of the candle is not reflected in the water. To use stones as divination tools, mark them with persons’ names, then throw them into the fire. In the morning, retrieve the stones from the ashes and study them: the condition of the stone will be an indication of what the coming year will bring for the person named.
If you build a fire for your festivities, be sure to spread the ashes over your garden on November 1. This is not only a spiritual blessing, it is also a practical way to enrich the soil.
*Second Saturn return: Saturn takes 27 – 28 years to complete his orbit. A second Saturn return is when Saturn is back in the same position as when you were born for the second time. An astrologer can easily determine the date of an individual’s Second Saturn Return, which is not necessarily one’s birthday.