Samhain: First Thoughts

First thoughts on Samhain (sow-in). Samhain means ‘summer’s end’ and one tradition says it takes place at the full moon nearest the midpoint between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, however the ‘fixed’ date is usually acknowledged to be October 31st – 2nd November. The Sun sign is Scorpio; fixed water. It is both the third Harvest and the Greatest of the Spirit Nights, after Beltane and Litha, more of the later in the next post.
The third Harvest after the grains, then the fruits, is the meat harvest; the time to hunt or slaughter animals to be preserved for the winter. A poor harvest now would mean a difficult time for all, and the vulnerable tribe members, the very young, old or infirm, would not see the winter out.
Samhain is often seen as the end of the pagan year; ‘A year is finished, a year begins’. It brings death (of animals), decay (of plants) and potential difficult days (lack of food or fuel over the winter); not the best of times then, but it is also the time to be together, to look after each other and tell stories around the fire of people and events long past and so family/tribal traditions and myths are perpetuated.
It is a time to celebrate and rest after the hard work of bringing in the harvest. For now there is enough to eat, the harvest is in, all are warm and safe, and the rigours of winter are still a way off. Later weeks provide time for thinking of plans for the spring.
What stories would you pass on to your family/tribe? What ‘harvest’ can you celebrate? What will you sacrifice to help those around you? Who or what, will you help this winter? What thoughts are waiting in the depths to emerge into plans for the spring?

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