Sunday, October 31, 2010
Samhain, Harvest Festival of the Dead
Samhain is without a doubt my favorite sabbat/holiday. It is a time when the veil between worlds is thin, and communication with the dead is much easier. It was also celebrated as the Celtic new year and marked the last of the harvest festivals before the cold of winter. In honor of Samhain, great bonfires were held, and people would leave food on their doorsteps or altars for the "wandering dead". They would also light a candle and put it in their window to guide the lost souls on Samhain night. It is said to be a good idea to leave a spot at your dinner table for your dead ancestors on this night as well.
At Samhain we pray to Goddesses such as Hekate, Goddess of letting go and crossroads, and Cerridwen, keeper of the cauldron. Both of these dark Goddesses represent the crone aspect, which is also celebrated at Samhain. As Autumn represents the setting of the season, the crone represents the final setting of our lives. Death is something that as a society, we tend to shy away from today, but that wasn't the case in the days of the ancient pagans. Just as the plants wither and die every winter, so do our own bodies one day. Death was seen as just part of the natural cycles of life. In honoring Hekate and Cerridwen, we honor the darker aspect of ourselves and our life, and come to terms with the fact that one day just like the plants and animals, we too will be returned back to our Great Mother.
Both of these dark Goddesses, represent different aspects of birth, death, rebirth, transformation, and letting go. Hekate is the keeper of the key to wisdom, and guardian of the crossroads. Therefore, she gives us the knowledge to choose our decisions wisely, while shedding our negativity on the way, all the while being reborn. Cerridwen, is the keeper of the cauldron. And in her magic cauldron a potion of transformation is brewing. Call on her to transform your own life, into something you've always wanted. On Samhain, the festival of death, we pray to these Goddesses to let go of that part of us which is dieing. We shed our old skin and get rid of that which no longer serves us.
In honor of my favorite sabbat, I found a great little ritual for letting go on Samhain, and thought I would share it here:
Remember all the things in your life that don't work for you. Now walk around outside somewhere and collect fallen twigs or branches. Each one of these will represent something that you would like to release from your life. In a special place build a sacred Samhain fire, and throw onto it one by one the sticks which represent so much of your hearts desire for change. Really feel these things being let go as you throw them into the fire. Watch the sticks being consumed by Her flames. Open your heart to Her transforming power, trusting Her to show you how to truly let go. When your done, bury the ashes into the earth.
On your altar, have representations of fall, death, and the crone. Have black and orange candles, and pumpkins. You might even want to have a carved pumpkin, with a candle in it , on your altar as well. A cauldron, and a statue of Hekate or Cerridwen, a picture of a witch, an apple or dieing vegetation.
Have a wonderfully blessed Samhain!
Ritual taken from Priestess of Avalon, Priestess of the Goddess by Kathy Jones.
Photo courtesy of Wayofjoy.co.uk
Posted by Tara at 12:35 AM