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 The Veil at its Thinnest

HolidaysWritten by: RhiannonBrighid

Samhain (pronounced SOW-een or SOW-in) is the Celtic feast of the dead. On this night, it is believed that the dead can walk the earth once again and that the veil between our world and the “other side” is the thinnest.

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The Samhain sabbat (or holiday) begins the New Year for the witch, as it marked the end of the harvest and the first day of winter in ancient times.

In ancient times, the Celts believed that the spirits of their ancestors could cross over to our world on Samhain night. The Celts feared that if they did not make the proper offerings, the ancestors would cause chaos and destruction. Thus, they left “soul cakes” out for the deceased to feast upon. Many carved evil faces into pumpkin and lit a candle inside, in hopes to scare off any wandering spirits, or angry ancestors! Today, we know these carved pumpkins as Jack-O-Lanterns. Other festivities of the evening included huge bonfires, dressing in costume, storytelling, game playing, and divination.

The veil between our worlds is the thinnest on this evening. Contact with the dead was very possible and very real to the ancient Celts as well as to modern day Pagans. Divination is “the art or act of foretelling future events or revealing occult knowledge by means of augury or an alleged supernatural agency” Due to the meeting of the worlds, diviners are able to communicate with spirit guides much more easily and receive a stronger message.

Today, most people call Samhain by a different name, Halloween, and it is celebrated on October 31st. A few traditions are still preserved in one way or another. Children dress up and they go door-to-door begging for candy. In the 19th Century, it was still very popular to have large bonfires. Others set out extra food and even place extra settings at the dinner table for their deceased loved ones. Jack-O-Laterns are a huge part of Halloween as well. The dead are still honored, but usually on the following day, November 1, which is recognized as “All Saints/Souls Day” in the Christian religions.

This Samhain, do not forget those who passed before you. Remember to say your thanks and leave a little something for your deceased loved ones. Have a safe and wonderful Samhain, everyone! Blessed Be.

Bibliography & Work Cited:

Cabot, Laurie, and Tom Cowan. Power of the Witch. New York: Delta, 1989. 120- 122.

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Dictionary.com. 2000. Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. 27 Oct. 2004 http://www.dictionary.com.

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