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What is Samhain? Discover the origins of Halloween at !

The night when the veil between the worlds of men and the dead is thin.” If you like witchcraft and are looking for information about what is samhain and what the origins, you have certainly come across this phrase.

But, what is Samhain?

Before explaining what Samhain is it is important that you understand what the wheel of the year is. Many ancient peoples, such as the Celts, the Norse and even before them, followed a circle of celebrations that marked each phase of the year. The objective was to keep them from getting lost so they could gather good provisions for the winter, celebrate the land – which would guarantee abundance -, thank the Gods and ritualize.

The Wheel of the Year is made up of 8 Sabbats, 4 of which are known as Minor Sabbats and 4 Major Sabbats. The minor Sabbats are the summer and winter solstices, respectively called Litha and Yule, and the spring and autumn equinoxes, Ostara and Mabon. The major Sabbats correspond to the intermediates of the sostices and equinoxes, namely: Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas.

Samhain is the new year for these ancient peoples and practitioners of the Wiccan religion. In addition, it is from this moment that a new count of the wheel of the year begins, which takes into account the Earth’s own changes in its rotations and translations.

What does Samhain mean for the wheel of the year?

The wheel of the year tells a story. This story has a beginning, a middle and a fresh start, that is, it is cyclical. I’ll tell you from a southern hemisphere perspective, okay?

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The Myth of the Wheel of the Year

On the first of May, God gives his flesh as a sacrifice so that the people can survive. This marks the dark days of the year to come, and the need for all provisions that must be made for the winter that is soon to approach. So, June 21st is Yule, meaning the birth of the Sun God. That God who died and gave his flesh to the earth, was reborn, became the fruitful grain that would give the opportunity for all things to live.

On Imbolc, August 2nd, there is the celebration of the promise of spring. Between the 21st and 23rd of September, the spring equinox is marked by egg paintings and garlands. On October 31, Beltane celebrates the marriage between the Goddess and the God. This is the time when animals procreate in nature and when all living beings are virile and agile. Then Litha on December 21st marks the height of summer.

The height of summer means that the next day it will go into decline. Summer is the Sun. The Sun is the God. This God begins to weaken and then we have two harvests: Lammas (August 2nd) and Mabon. Mabon (between September 21 and 23), in addition to the harvest, marks the autumnal equinox.

After Mabon, the second grain harvest, the cycle starts again and we have the meat harvest, represented by the death of the God on Samhain.

Samhain – Southern Hemisphere

We know that the planet Earth is divided by an imaginary line called the Equator Line. This limit, related to the Earth’s cycles, makes the northern hemisphere above the equator and the southern hemisphere below it.

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In practice, this means that when it is summer in the northern hemisphere, it is winter in the southern hemisphere, and vice versa. The same is true of the equinoxes.

So, Samhain or halloween, which takes place in the Northern Hemisphere on October 31st, takes place in the Southern Hemisphere on May 1st. Given the equivalences about the wheel of the year and the cycles of nature in each of the hemispheres.

How Samhain Became Halloween

Halloween is a cultural festival whose name derives from “All Hallows Eve” which means “All Saints’ Day”. We know that the Catholic Church appropriated this date by making November 1st celebrated as All Saints’ Day.

Halloween uses elements of Samhain, which honors the God, the King of the Dead, and many halloween practices have their origins in paganism.

How to celebrate Samhain?

You can do some things in your home to celebrate this important date for paganism.

Candle in the window: many people left a candle in the window to light the paths of spirits.

Jack o’lantern: the famous scary pumpkins that have a candle inside have always been used to ward off evil spirits at night when the veil is thin.

Pomegranate Seeds: Pomegranate seeds represent the new life that will come and therefore it is important to eat at least 3 seeds making a wish for you, one for someone special and one for the universe.

Oracles: On the night of Samhain it is common to use oracles to predict the coming year.

New Year’s Supper: Celebrants also celebrate by having a big supper and celebrating ancestors.

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Tree of the ancestors: it is common to make a tree with photos of all those who have left for the other world, sing songs and remember their deeds on Earth.

Witch rope: it is also common on Samhain to make a witch rope braided with 3 colored ribbons or ropes and that will represent the wishes you want to fulfill.

And why do people dress up on Halloween?

At least reason they light the Jack o’lantern. People dress up to be able to deceive evil spirits and protect themselves from those who may walk through that night with some bad intention.

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