October is named after the Greek word “Octo” meaning “eight”. The number eight is also the infinity symbol. This symbol is created by twisting a circle in half revealing an infinite path between two worlds.
Samhain – Oct 31st – Summers end. The evening/dusk of Oct 31st is marked by the thinning of the veils between day and night allowing for souls to reconnect and wishes to be heard before the great darkness of winter sets in. The Celts like the ancient Chinese Taoists honored the harmonious yet opposing forces of dark and light, night and day, cold and heat, death and life. The year was divided into two seasons: the light and the dark. They celebrated the light on May 1st (Beltane) and the dark beginning at dusk on October 31st (Samhain).
Many cultures begin their day when the sun sets and the moon rises. They honor time as proceeding from dark to light, understanding that in the silent darkness life prepares itself for new beginnings.
To the Celts of ancient Europe the evening was the most important part of the celebration. This was a time to gather the best of the autumn harvest, feast and create a village bonfire. A member of each family would light a torch from the bonfire and bring it to their home to light the hearth that night. This act created a bond within the village that neighbors would help each other get through the winter. Food and drink was set out in front of each home to welcome deceased ancestors with great ceremony as windows, doors, and gates were left unlocked to give them free passage. Apples were eaten in honor of the “Paradise of Apples,” where spirits of the nether world ate the sacred fruit and enjoyed blissful immortality. Celts carved the images of spirit-guardians onto turnips, pumpkins and gourds, which later became known as “jack o’lanterns”, setting them outside their doors to keep away any unwelcome spirits.
With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints’ Day, to commemorate the souls of the blessed dead who had been canonized that year. The eve of Samhain is popularly known as Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, when children dress up in costume and go to neighborhood homes for “trick or treating”.
Samhain also celebrates the marriages of Dagda, the Celtic God of Earth with Morrigan, the triple Goddess of Creation, Preservation, and Destruction. They give birth to Brighid the Goddess of Purification who brings the prophecy of light for the coming of Beltane the Goddess of Life and Fertility. Together Samhain and Beltane represent the two great doorways of the year and the cycle of Death, Rebirth, Birth and Life. Samhain marks the beginning of the year as people enter the darkness to listen within and set intentions for the upcoming planting season.
Chant for Samhain – A year of beauty. A year of plenty. A year of planting. A year of harvest. A year of forests. A year of healing. A year of vision. A year of passion. A year of rebirth. This year may we renew the earth. Let it begin with each step we take. Let it begin with each change we make. Let it begin with each chain we break. And let it begin every time we awake.