Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve. Eve of All Saints. Samhain.
All these names for one night, but it’s the last one which touches me most. Sow-wen. Its Celtic origins mark it as the original name for what we’ve come to call Halloween. For me, the name conjures images of Priestesses and their Woodsmen consorts, dancing with abandon between twin bonfires. Additional fires burn throughout the hillsides for protection and to light the darkness. The harvest is over and another cycle is complete. The Celtic New Year has begun and the Crone begins her transformational journey toward the Spring Maiden.
When I first started researching my historical/paranormal/romance novel, PAGAN FIRE, I dove headfirst into ancient Celtic ceremony and traditions. The lure of ritual touched me at a cellular level and I knew I had been there with those women of long ago. This knowledge drew me to apprentice – and later create – my own priestess circles where I invite women to reconnect to the time when our bodies were in tune with the turning of the seasons.
The Autumnal Equinox passes and Samhain looms. The Wise Woman turns inward.
The underworld beckons.
The Goddesses of Shadow extend their thin, bony hands and invite us to enter their realm . . . Inanna, Hecate, Persephone, Nephthys . . . it matters not what you name her, these are all faces of the same energy. Collectively, they call us to die to old ways of living that we might be reborn at the Vernal Equinox. Shiny. Pink. New. Ready to live again with knowledge accrued from the inner reflection of our own wintry death.
These Goddesses teach us that dying is not the end, it’s simply a turning of the page on this earthly journey. Samhain marks this time as a night where the veil is the thinnest between this world and the next. It’s the place of ‘in-between’ when we might touch those who have crossed the bridge before us.
Samhain ritual inspires us to pay our respects to the dead. Place apples or other fruit near the front door for them. Light a fire that they may better see their path (or place carved and lit pumpkins in your window, though turnips were the original option!). Visit a graveyard, sit amongst the headstones, and keep the spirits company. Hold a Dumb Dinner in remembrance of your ancestors. Dumb meaning you don’t speak during the meal as a way of honoring the dead (this works out wonderfully as a pitch-in to include friends and family).
Or, simply sit quietly and reflect on those who went before you. Send them love and light on their journey. You might also ask them for messages, but be sure to light candles and surround yourself with a circle of salt first. While the point of all this is to honor and appreciate the dead, a little protection never hurts when inviting spirits into your world.
Teri Barnett writes historical, paranormal, and time travel romance. You can purchase her books Through the Mists of Time, Shadow Dreams, and Pagan Fire at Lachesis Publishing. or you can purchase Teri’s books on amazon, and Barnes and Noble.