Samhain (sow’-en or sometimes sow-een’) is not Halloween. It’s the old Celtic cross-quarter date on which Halloween is loosely based.
The ancient Celts divided their year according to astronomical cycles. They recognized, (we think): The Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, and Autumn Equinox as the 4 quarters of the year, and the dates halfway in between each of those dates as the “Cross-Quarters.” The Cross-Quarters, (Imbolc, around February 2, Beltane around May 1, Lughnasadh around August 2, and Samhain, around November 7) were and are the major turning points of the year, and the Quarters are more minor holidays.
The exact halfway point between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice is Samhain and it falls on November 7th this year, a full week after the non-religious holiday of Halloween.
A Sacred Time
Samhain is a sacred and solemn time of year. Here are some of the things it represents.
- The Final Harvest. There are three harvest festivals each year and this is the final one. Anything left in the fields or gardens after Samhain is said to be touched by goblins and should not be used. This is a time to think back on all that has grown in our lives over the past three seasons and to give thanks.
- The Thinning of The Veil. The “Veil between the worlds” is said be at its very thinnest at Samhain. We can communicate more easily with our loved ones who’ve crossed over.
- Powerful Divinations. Any divination is stronger at this time. It’s the perfect time to do a tarot reading to see what the coming seasons have in store.
- A Turning Inward. Our entire lives (at least where I live and for the Celts, too) turns inward. Outdoor activities end. Indoor ones begin. We turn our thoughts inward as well. It’s a time for contemplation of the year gone by, for processing what we’ve learned.
- An In-Between Time. Some Celts didn’t consider the space between Samhain and Yule (Winter Solstice) to be a “time” at all, but a time between times, or a time outside of time. It’s a time for pondering, meditation, thoughtfulness, mulling, processing what the seasons before have brought, and for focusing on both gratitude, learning, and spiritual work.
The week between Halloween and Samhain is a beautiful time to begin our year-end review process. Take time to go back and revisit all our projects and efforts of the past year, how they worked how they didn’t and take notes of what we have learned.
It’s a perfect time to wrap up unfinished projects as we head into the bustling busy holiday season.
But take some time, too, for spiritual pursuits. Your efforts will be rewarding during the coming week. Meditate. Mull. Ponder. Channel. Write. Appreciate.
Plenty of Samhain Wisdom Here
I have lots of Samhain posts here from years gone by.