Merry we meet - Merry we meet - Merry we meet
Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Written and compiled by George Knowles
Samhain is one of the greater Sabbats of the
Witches’ calendar and in the Northern Hemisphere is celebrated on the night of
31st October (in the Southern Hemisphere the equivalent Sabbat is Beltane 30th
Samhain is the third and last of three autumnal harvests, the first was at
Lammas (1st August), when in tribute to the waning Sun, the “Corn King” was
sacrificed and his spirit returned to the ground for its period of rest. The
second harvest was at Mabon (22nd September), when as the Sun grew weaker; the “Lord of the Harvest” was sacrificed and waits
to be reborn in the New Year of the Goddess.
we complete the third and final harvest, Samhain marks the change from summer
into winter. Traditionally it is time to bring in the animals from their summer
grazing and to stock up their winter feed supplies. A cull would be made and
animals slaughtered, and the meat preserved to provide food for winter. As the
animals died so the people could survive, so too does the “King of the Hunt”
die in a final act of sacrifice. As the summer sunlight fades and the darkness
of winter approaches, we celebrate the “Feast of the Dead”, a farewell
tribute to the Sun God. While the Goddess mourns his death, she also begins her
own descent into the underworld, there to search for him again.
means “Summer’s end”, and is known by many different names: November Eve,
All Hallows Eve, Hallowmas, Feast of Apples, Night of Spirits, Halloween and the
Feast of the Dead. In the Gaelic languages of Ireland, Samhain is also known as
“Oíche Shamhna”, in Scotland “Oidhche Shamhna” and in
Wales “Nos Calan Gaeaf”. Depending on where you come from, Samhain
also has many pronunciations, like in Ireland it is pronounced “sow-in”,
in Scotland “sav-en” and in Wales “sow-een”.
is one of the most popular and wide spread pagan festivals in the Celtic
calendar and is traditionally regarded as the “Celtic New Year”. In modern
times it is a night of fun and celebration, of glowing Jack O’Lanterns, trick
or treating and dressing up in costumes as Wicked Witches. It is also a night
for divination, for attending séances, tarot card readings and scrying with
mirrors. For the occult minded, it is a night of power, when the veil between
the unseen world and ours is at its thinnest, a night when the spirits of the
departed are free to roam.
Christianity arrived in the British Isles they tried to eradicate popular pagan
practices by replacing them with their own customs, and so Samhain as celebrated
on the night of 31st October was renamed “All Hallows Eve”, which later became shortened
to “Halloween”. The following day 1st November was named “All Saint’s Day”, on which day they would
celebrate the spirits of Heaven and pray for those they sent to Hell. On the eve
of All Saint’s Day (All Hallows Eve) they developed the custom of banging pots
and pans together so the lost souls in Hell would know they were not forgotten.
through the ages Samhain has always been considered an auspicious time for
divination, for contacting ancestors and other departed souls. It was customary
therefore to place lights along roadways to help guide spirits out for the dark,
and to leave open a door or window with a candle or other light burning to lead
them back from whence they had left. This was the beginning of the ever popular
Jack O’Lantern custom of today, in which lights or candles are placed in
pumpkins so the wind will not extinguished them. These are now used to decorate
homes and to frighten off mischievous souls who may have lost their way.
old custom was to leave out food offerings on their doorsteps, a welcome
invitation to the spirits of family members, ancestors, friends, pets and other
loved ones to cross the threshold of their home and revisit. After all the hard
work of collecting in the harvest, it was also a time for family reunions, when
in the warmth and dimly lit smoky rooms of the home, wood and peat for the fire
was stacked up high by the hearth, and members of the family all came together
to celebrate a winter feast. During the feast bards re-told stories about those
long gone, traditional songs would be sung, poetry recited and dances performed
in honour of the ancestors.
play a large part in the festival of Samhain. On the night of Samhain each
household would extinguish their hearth-fires and then wait for the druids to
light the village bonfire, symbolising a new light for the New Year. Most often
two fires would be lit side by side, and during the evening’s celebrations,
villagers would light torches from the common flame and re-light their own
hearth fires. Later, they would parade and dance around the village and lead
their animals between the fires in a ritual act of purification.
Scotland, a child born on the night of Samhain was considered to be gifted with
“an dà shealladh” (the Two Sights), which is more commonly known
today as “second sight” or the ability of clairvoyance. At Samhain however,
it was common for many people to practice the art of divination, females in
particular would seek to identify future husbands, and determine if marriage
would succeed or fail. Methods differed widely, but seasonal foods such as
apples and nuts from the harvest were frequently used. An apple could be peeled
in one long strip and tossed over the shoulder to determine the initial letter
of a future spouse’s name. Nuts would be placed on a heated hearth and their
movements closely watched; if the nuts stayed together so would the couple, but
if they rolled apart the marriage would fail.
also play an important part in Samhain celebrations, and are often used to
decorate the home creating the right mood for the occasion with their
hypnotic glow. Ever since fire was discovered, the naked flame has been regarded
as sacred, and in ancient times lighted touches were used to invoke the Goddess
and Gods. Similarly today the naked flame of lighted candles are used to aid
divination, to commune with deities and more particularly at this time, to
connect with ancestors and other departed souls.
To our ancestors winter was a time of famine and hardship, more so for
the old and feeble when many failed to survive the following winter months.
Samhain at the start of the winter season and the beginning of the Celtic New
Year was therefore a poignant time to honour those who had died before them. To
pagans and witches alike Samhain is a celebration in honour of our ancestors,
much as they honoured us in the days before we were born. As the wheel of life
continues to turn so will they honour us again, for time will come when we too
cross the divide and take up our own place beside them.
In more recent times the association of death with Samhain has been maligned to include the assumption of evil, and today is often portrayed as a night when malignant forces combine to create all manner of baneful harm. Such could not be further from the truth, for while it may be possible for negative forces to cross the divide, it is not in any way a night of evil or hostile intent. Even though the holiday has changed over the years, its intent is still clear – it is a celebration of respect for the dead and of a new beginning to come. It is a holiday that commemorates both life and death, and recognizes the need to exist in harmony with the past, present and future.
A Witches Bible - by Stewart and Janet Farrar
Halloween (A Pagan Festival to Trick or Treat) - by Mark Oxbrow
Microsoft® Encarta® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Plus to many websites to mention
and compiled on the 20th October 2008 © George Knowles
Best wishes and Blessed Be
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
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Wicca & Witchcraft
The Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) / Esbats & Full Moons / Links to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft Resources / What's a spell? / Circle Casting and Sacred Space / Pentagram - Pentacle / Marks of a Witch / The Witches Power / The Witches Hat / An esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism / Pow-wow / The Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / A history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope Innocent VIII / The papal Bull / The Malleus Maleficarum / An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum / The letter of approbation / Johann Nider’s Formicarius / Jacob Sprenger / Heinrich Kramer / Stefano Infessura / Montague Summers / The Waldenses / The Albigenses / The Hussites / The Native American Sun Dance / Shielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Festivals:
The Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Rituals contributed by Crone:
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder
Rocks and Stones:
Stones - History, Myths and Lore
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:
Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Wisdom and Inspiration:
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murdered by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A Kelly / Albertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Doreen Valiente / Dorothy Morrison / Dr. John Dee & Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake / Fiona Horne / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater - Horrible Herman / Isaac Bonewits / Israel Regardie / James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches / Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred / John Michael Greer / John Score / Joseph John Campbell / Karl von Eckartshausen / Laurie Cabot - "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" / Monique Wilson / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellars / Mrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" / Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) / Rudolf Steiner / Sabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough" / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - (includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) / Thomas Ady / T. Thorn Coyle / Vera Chapman / Victor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest /
Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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