Samhain is both an ending and a beginning.
It is truly Summers End, as Samhain was known by the Celts, as the shorter days and colder temperatures will attest.
The end of the sun, which has now retreated North of the equator, the end of the long light-filled days of summer, the end of heat and warmth.
It is the end of the fertile growing and harvest season of the Great Mother.
Samhain is Winter, the Dark Goddess drawing her black cloak down over the land.
Dark Cloak Of The Goddess
Samhain is also a beginning, as well as an end.
Samhain is the ‘Witches New year’.
The year ends, and begins, in the womb of the Dark Goddess.
Her womb which is the tomb, death, slumber and solitude.
The great cauldron where all life begins and ends.
We begin in darkness and we return to darkness.
Samhain is great beauty.
Before the arrival of winter, we experience the earth cloaked in the splendor of her Autumn robes, gold, red, orange and brown.
Leaves, resplendent in colour, fall from the trees that have nurtured them throughout the year, carpeting the ground in a rich tapestry of autumnal colour.
The magic of Samhain floats on the chilly breeze, the smoke of many burn-off and home woodfires, the horizon a hazy fugue.
There is also the homey smell of winter stews and comfort foods, greeting us as we return home.
The welcoming warmth of home contrasting with the chilled Samhain winds.
Samhain is relief and reprieve, as the Autumn rains begin to fall, replenishing the parched and dessiccated land.
Land that has not seen rain in many moons, is once again, finally, flushed with green.
In Australia, even in the midst of death, there is new life.
The green shoots of fresh sprung blades of grass, a testament to the resilience of nature.
Samhain is the last of the three harvest Sabbats.
This is the season of apples, pumpkins and potatoes.
Growers rush to bring in these final harvests before the ground freezes, under a layer of the seasons first frost.
Lord Hades and Cerberus ~ Artist Unknown
The Horned God has made his descent, he is Hades, Lord of The Underworld.
His Queen, the dreadful and dark Persephone, at his side.
They rule over the shades of the dead and their subterranean kingdom.
The bright Sun God is now the Dark Shadow Lord, returned to the womb of The Goddess to await his renewal.
The Goddess is also in her shadow aspect.
She is Hekate.
She is Dark Persephone.
She stirs her bubbling cauldron, brewing atop her Samhain fire.
She is old and soon to be barren, but yet, she holds that seed of life within her belly.
The seed she was given at Beltane, as she lay with her lover.
Life within death, light within shadow.
She prepares to rest before she begins the eternal cycle once again.
As Samhain is a Sabbat of shadow, we can also use this time to remember those that have gone before us.
Samhain is a time to honor our departed loved ones and our ancestors, whose blood flows through our veins.
It is traditional to place a candle on the windowsill for those we have lost, a light to guide them home.
If I have lost a loved one throughout the year, I will set them a place at our feast and extend the invitiation for them to join us.
As the veil between the worlds is thin at Samhain, all forms of divination have a great power on this night.
Tarot readings are especially insightful, scrying is more effective than usual.
It becomes easier to contact the other side, to tap into our intuition.
This can work both ways though, so take care when interacting with the spirit world on Samhain night, as it is not only benevolent spirits that have easier access to our world.
This is where the traditional jack-o-lantern comes in, as it’s frightful face is said to scare away those mischievious spirits.
Samhain altar, guarded by turnip Jack~O~Lantern
In Australia, we don’t have access to easy to carve pumpkins, not at this time of year anyway.
Unless you fancy trying to carve into a tough old Queensland Blue (which is possible, but very difficult), a good alternative is to use turnips.
Turnips are much easier to hollow out and carve a face into.
They are also where the jack-o-lantern tradition began, before it reached America.
Samhain is a time of winding down, the earth preparing for her barren slumber.
This extends to people too, as nights in front of the tv and fire take the place of social activity.
We exercise less, we eat more, we sleep later in the mornings (or wish we could).
Samhain is year’s end, time to take stock of what we have achieved throughout the growing season.
What goals and plans have come to fruition?
What do we need to put aside to work on again in the coming year?
This is a time for self-evaluation, celebration of the year that has been and exploring the darker parts of ourselves.
A time for meditation, trance work and scrying by the fire.
It is a time for pause and rest, to take stock and be still before the year begins anew.
- 3pt Frankincense
- 2pt Myrrh
- 1pt Rosemary
- 1pt Sandalwood
- 1pt Juniper
- Deep Red
- The Morrigan
- Autumn Leaves
- Waning Moon
- Black Cats
- Divination Tools
- Oak Leaves
Stones & Gems-
- All black and dark stones
- Deadly nightshade
- Oak Leaves
- Bay Leaves
- Pine Cones and Needles