Samhain Song

5 10 2009

samhain1Bet you didn’t know that if you celebrate Halloween, you are part of a history that goes back at least 6000 years. Archeologists have made many discoveries of different celebrations around the Halloween time of year.

Around 4000 B.C.E., prehistoric tribes divided their year into two parts. In what we call spring, somewhere near around the beginning of May, the sun was warm and bright and the earth came alive with greenery. During this light half of the year, domestic animals were turned out to graze and food was plentiful. In the fall, around the time of our Halloween, days were short and the earth died. In the dark half of the year, the animals and food were gathered up and protected against the dangers of darkness with special fire ceremonies to appease the earth spirit so she would return and to ward off troubsome spirits who loved the dark.

samhain2Moving forward, the Early Celts populated the European continent. Around 350 B.C.E. they brought their skill at animal husbandry and their culture and religion to Ireland and Britain. They celebrated four fire festivals, Candlemas, Beltainne, Lughnasad, and Samhain(pronounced sav-en in Scot Gaelic orsow-een in Welsh Gaelic). The Samhain festival marks the passing of the light, but more importantly it is the end of the Celtic year. The cycle of time in the Celtic belief system allowed for two times during the year when the veil between the living and the dead was lifted. Beltainne was one and Samhain was the other. The Celts did not fear their dead and so welcomed the time when those who had passed to Tir na n’Og (the Celtic afterlife), might return.  They left food for their ghostly visitors as a welcoming gesture. This is believed to have lead to the practice of giving out treats on Halloween night. The hope was that those who returned would provide information about the past or the future. By doing this deed for the living, the dead could earn “brownie points” towards moving up the reincarnation cycle. So Samhain was a time of thanks and blessings.

Green-Fairy-absinthe-430052_400_487But what about all the scary stuff associated with Samhain? While the Celtic mythos did not include demons and devils as such, they did believe in the Faery Folk.  Elves weren’t evil, but were best left alone. Fairies, who lived in underground mounds called sidhe (pronounced shee) were thought to feel resentment toward the humans that forced them to inhabit the underground. On the days when these afterlife inhabitants could overcome the veil separating the worlds, faeries were thought to roam the countryside making mischief and even kidnapping a human or two, just for fun. Yet there are a few records of humans that never returned.

The festival lasted for three days. One night and day to honor and thank the Earth for her bounty, one night and day to rekindle the flame and night and day to honor the dead.

So whether you celebrate, Samhain, Halloween, All Saints Day, or Day of the Dead, you are part of a long rich history of late autumn celebrations.

In honor of this Samhain, I’m giving away a copy of my debut GotWolf_w4352_300novel, Widow’s Peak and a copy of the new anthology from the Wild Rose Press Got Wolf, featuring novellas by Helen Hardt and Ria Ellis. To enter just leave a comment on any of the weekly posts throughout the month of October. We’ll draw a winner at 11:59pm on Samhain Eve.



One response

27 10 2009
Beth C.

I love Halloween….no matter what we’re celebrating. 😉

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