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Date: Night of October 31st
Also Called: Halloween, Michaelmas, Eve of All Saints, All Hallow’s Eve
Related Holidays: Festivals of Pamona and Fortuna (Rome), El Dia de Muerte – Day of the Dead (Mexico,
This Sabbat, considered by some to be the most important of the four greater sabbats, is not evil, but a time when the Great God dies or goes back under the earth and the Crone Goddess mourns him. The Crone Goddess should not be feared or reviled, for she is the Great Mother of us all; we all return to her cauldron of life, death, and Rebirth.
The church has tried for centuries to demonize this tradition, but has failed greatly in squelching this day all together. The fearful emotions associated by many to this holiday are due greatly to the fear that the early church tried to instill in the masses.
The idea that evil spirits roam the earth in greater numbers on this night is not necessarily true. This idea is derived from the folk knowledge that the veil that separates this world from the next is thinnest on this night, and, depending on tradition, can either be traversed easily on your own, by the God or Goddess, or the dead can come back easier on this night.
While it is true that Good Spirits come back, there are still evil spirits in the world, and they can use the fear that’s been built up in this evening to cause harm. Thus, the practice of carving Jack-O-Lanterns and leaving candles in the windows of your home have become commonplace. These powerful talismans keep evil at bay. It is also a time for harmless pranks, feasting, merrymaking, and celebrating the Lord of Misrule – the personification of fun and hedonism at this time. He keeps the mood from becoming melancholic at this time of summer’s end.
When gathering with family and friends, remember to set an extra plate out with a candle to welcome any friendly spirits who might happen by. The meal can be simple, like bread and wine, or it can be a full serving of everything the family is feasting on that evening. Apples are considered the food of the dead in many countries, while chocolate is traditionally served on El Dia De Muerte. Of course, find what suits your tradition. Bonfires are traditionally lit to contain the energies of the God, light the dark night, ward off evil spirits, welcome in the New Year, purify the self and home, and be the subject of ritual. Divination is also a staple of the Samhain celebration; so, gather around tarot cards, tealeaves, or the fire itself and divine the happenings of the year to come!