Have a Blessed Samhain (Happy Halloween)

The modern Halloween we are all familiar with is a combination of celebrations for the Gaelic Festival Samhain and the Catholic celebrations of All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day. Samhain marked the end of the harvest and end of Summer and the beginning of the “darker half” of the year. It was believed that the boundaries between this world and the Otherworld were more easily crossed on this day. This meant the spirits or faeries could travel to our world. It was also believed that spirits of lost relatives would visit, and feasts were had in their remembrance.

Part of the festival involved people going door to door in costumes or disguises reciting versus in exchange for food. The disguises were intended to either appear as spirits or hide from spirits who crossed over to this world. Bonfires, rituals, and games were a big part of the festival as well. Neopagans and Wiccans now celebrate Samhain as a religious holiday. Samhain is part of the annual cycle of seasonal festivals called The Wheel of the Year. It is seen as a festival of darkness which is balanced at the opposite point of the wheel by the festival of Beltane, which is celebrated as a festival of light and fertility on May 1.

Here in Tucson, AZ we have the annual All Soul’s Procession celebrating the family members people have lost. However you celebrate; whether it’s remembering you lost family members, posing as a spirit and collecting offering from others, or enjoying a bonfire with friends, stay safe and have a blessed Samhain.

Coffee and Contemplation: Mabon the Autumnal Equinox

This year, the first day of Autumn is September 22, this Tuesday. Throughout human history, this was the time of the harvest. Many festivals were held to celebrate the harvest and give thanks. Mabon is a pagan holiday and one of the eight Wiccan sabbats. This is the second of three harvest festivals celebrated. Oktokerfest originally began during the last week of September when it began in the 1700s. During the mid-harvest, farmers would know how well their Summer crops did. This would also tell them if they had enough food for the Winter.

The original American Thanksgiving was celebrated on October 3. Thanksgiving was never given an official day on the calendar until 1942. This is the time to have feasts with friends. Drink and be merry and all that. Feasting and giving things at this time of year makes more sense to me than at the end of November. I think I’ll call this Proto-Thanksgiving. Though I don’t have any feasting plans coming up. What I enjoy about living in the desert is any time of year is good for barbequing. Most common folk don’t go out harvesting food like farmers, but this is the appropriate time of year to be thankful for having food. Although one should appreciate this every day. 

Poetry Monday: The Magic Circle

The crystal to the North
In front of me
A glass of Moscato to the West
On my left side
A vanilla scented candle to the South
Behind me
A paring knife to the East
On my right side
My familiar, Milo
A Russian Blue
Sits disinterested
Supervising my ritual
He stares at me
Like cats do
Making me question
All my life choices
With the paring knife
I cut an imaginary door
To leave my circle
And refill my wine glass

From the poetry collection Men Are Garbage.