For some, Halloween is nothing more than a stupid holiday, a twilight of entertainment in which there is no particular meaning. But still and for some, the night of Samhain from October 31 to November 1 is truly the most important night of the year from the point of view of esotericism.
Before our era, there was no October or November among the Celts. Samhain was celebrated according to the lunar calendar. And, as you know, it is constantly changing. Historians suggest that the celebration of Samhain fell on the beginning of the third autumn moon. There are other theories that tie the celebration to the autumn equinox.
In those ancient times, Samhain was something like the New Year – the end and at the same time the beginning of the cycle. It was celebrated three nights in a row: while the old moon was replaced by a young one. According to another narrative, they celebrated for seven nights – they started three days before the end of the lunar month.
Like many archaic societies, two things were important to the Celts – crops and livestock. Therefore, Samhain, as historians believe, was associated with the end of agricultural work and preparation for the new season.
Harvest, winter and death
Once upon a time, people largely relied on mystical forces – gods and spirits. Therefore, as befits pagan cultures, supernatural meanings were mixed into the everyday celebration of the harvest.
The gods of fertility must be thanked for the year. And at the same time ask for their blessing so that the next season will be fruitful. The time for grazing has just ended – part of the herd is sent for slaughter and meat procurement. This is both a sacrifice and a harbinger of a hearty feast.
Since the turn of the year in paganism is always a border time, when a rift occurs between the world of people and spirits, Samhain did not avoid the appearance of myths. The Celts believed that on the night of the celebration, the Sids – local celestials – came into the world. They were Insanely beautiful with a powerful perfume. Partly for their sake, all the celebrations were started.
There is another Celtic myth associated with Samhain. The goddess of summer and fertility Aine temporarily leaves, and after Samhain the world will be ruled by Kaleh, the icy old woman. Another god, Cernunnos, becomes a destructive element, probably the personification of winter and death.
Over time, the pagan celebration of Samhain did not escape the influence of religion and since for a true Christian all pagan cults are derivatives from the evil one, the triumph of fertility with its ideas of transition between worlds turned into a demonic rite.
This night, not only the border between our world and the world of magic, where magical creatures live, becomes thinner to the limit, but also between the world of the living and the world of the dead. And on this night, Freya’s Summer Court transfers its power to the Winter Court – warmth to cold, light to darkness.
The benevolent, laughing Freyas of the Summer Court were beautiful and amorous, they often chose mortals as their mates and took them into their world. But their jokes and fun could be considered cute pranks in comparison with what the inhabitants of the Winter Court were capable of – cold-hearted, frightening, vindictive, bringing icy winter cold and sadness into the world. And the Wild Hunt of Odin and his Valkyries rushed across the sky, a terrible storm, the flight of the most terrible fairies and the dead, who found no peace after death.
Until October 31, the entire harvest must be collected, because after that you even cannot pick frozen berries in the forest, because it will already belong to the cunning and cruel winter freys, and they will not demand a huge payment. Before Samhain, all debts were paid off out of fear that the one who lent the money could sell your debt to the evil freys, and what they, in turn, would demand from you is even scary to imagine.
The Celts attached great importance to this holiday, considering this day to be the symbolic death of the Sun God, who dies along with nature in order to be born again and illuminate the world with his light and give the world new life. This day is good for memories and contacts with the souls of departed ancestors. This is a magical time of the reign of Darkness, which will last until Yule, the night of December 21/22. On this day the end of the year came.
Forces of chaos
The other world and the magical hills (seeds) were discovered that night, and the evil forces of chaos dominated the world. Peculiar analogues of Samhain can be found in Ancient Rome, where on special days (August 24, October 5 and November 8) a ban was imposed on certain types of activities (military affairs, navigation, weddings), since it was believed that on these days the entrance to another world was open (mundus patet).
The night of Samhain was a short period of time that did not belong to either the past or the next year. This night was a time of direct contact between the Seeds, the other world with its non-linear time, and our world. One might call the night of Samhain itself a period of chaotic time. Exit beyond human time was also an exit from cosmic order into the realm of chaos, into a state of “not yet divided.” Thus, the time on the night of Samhain was a time of conflict between the unmeasured time of the Sid and human “profane” time.
In the legend “The Night Vigil of Fingen,” miracles and supernatural phenomena appear on this night, the great king Conn of the Hundred Battles himself is born. All these miracles manifest themselves from that same otherworldly source that is revealed to our world on the night of Samhain. It is dangerous for ordinary people to wander outside the walls of their homes on this night.
Red is the color
The ubiquitous Halloween pumpkins are an echo of the celebration of the last harvest, the end of summer. The slightly mad tradition emphasizes that on this night, in essence, there is no past or future – the masks on the faces of those celebrating seem to say that there are no differences between people today, there are neither poor nor rich, neither men nor women, – today everything is one, everything is mixed up in order to fall into place tomorrow.
Samhain is directly related to fire; on this day you can and should light fires, candles, and fireplaces. The color of Samhain is fiery – red and orange. Dishes – late summer and autumn fruits (nuts, pumpkins, apples, edible chestnuts, beets, turnips). On this day you can drink red wine or tinctures from red plants (for example, rose, hawthorn). The Samhain altar is decorated with gold, silver and red candles, gold autumn leaves, nuts and apples. Flowers that work well include marigolds, asters and chrysanthemums.
Samhain is a magical period of predictions, divination and miracles. And since this night is free from all temporal restrictions, it gives freedom to all supernatural forces. The ghosts of the dead walk freely among the living, sit down at the table with the living, their descendants; such contact on Samhain is better than at any other time in the year.