Horrorfest Post…Witches and Halloween

witchcraftbookFor our opening feature in Horrorfest 2013, we’re welcoming author Mari Wells to the blog, to share with us some of the history of Halloween and how it all began with witches. Mari has some great posts on her blog on everything from witches to vampires and so if this post gets you in the mood for something else, we definitely recommend you head over there to take a look. 

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Witches and Samhain

The witch’s “High Holiday” or “Great Sabbat” Samhain is what non-witches call All Hallows Eve or Halloween. Samhain is pronounced Sow-n (like Cow-in) in the U.S. the pronunciation is Sam-hane and means summer’s end. This holiday is the witches’ New Year. 

According to the Old Celtic calendar, Samhain was the beginning of the year. Some witches still celebrate it as the New Year – it’s been called “The Witch’s New Year”.

It’s an important celebration among witches as it marks the change of summer (the end of summer and the growing season) to winter; also, it’s time to shift from the Goddess to the God.

The Celts remembered the creations of the world, when chaos became order on Samhain. On this night, the spirits of the dead were allowed to roam the earth and visit with loved ones. They also believed that the veil between the dead and living was thinner than any other time during the year.

Other ancient cultures who also held this belief and celebrated their dead on October 31 eve and November 1st were the Egyptians and Pre-Colombian Mexico. It was easier to communicate with the spirits of loved ones who died during the year. This is part of the story behind ghosts at Halloween.

It’s commonly believed that dead could predict the future. Tarot, crystal ball, and tealeaf readings are preformed more on Samhain than any other night, because it’s easier to reach the dead to assist in the readings.

Samhain was also the time livestock was reduced to numbers needed to survive the winter. Freshly slaughtered sheep and cattle where roasted on Samhain bonfires called Balefires for the holiday feast. A part of the meat was salted and stored for the winter. These fires burned atop mountains along the length and breadth of Britain and much of Western Europe –a visual line of Pagan associates. 

Witches spend this day and evening with their passed ancestors. These ancient cultures believed in leaving plates of food outside for friendly spirits (the candy part of Trick-or-Treating), taking their ancestors’ favorite foods to their burial grounds, or setting extra places at the dinner table.

The Celts believed any clothing that stayed outside on Samhain would take on bewitching abilities for anyone who wears them.

A well-known Halloween game of bobbing for apples has roots in the Roman festival of Pomona, which was celebrated on November 1st. Apples were peeled in one long strip. The peel was tossed over the left shoulder. The peel would land on the ground outlining your future spouse’s face.

We also shouldn’t forget the Jack o’ Lantern.  Ancient pagans would carry a candle with them on their travels on Samhain to symbolize the spirits leaving this world into the next. They often placed their candles in carved hallowed turnips. Years later Americans began using pumpkins; maybe because they were easier to carve.

The Church allowed the pagans to keep their holiday, but saw it as a way of converting them to Christianity. They began celebrating the dead, but only those who believed in God. The Samhain holiday became All Saints and All Souls day in order to remember the blessed dead.    

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Our guest post today comes from author Mari Wells, here you can find out more about her. 

Mari’s love of the paranormal goes back to her tween years with origins in vampirology. In recent years, she has increased her vampire knowledge, and expanded it to other paranormal beings.

Mari lives in the Northwest Pacific with her husband, and four children. Her writing is balanced around homeschooling all four children and keeping house. She burns the candle at both ends in order to write, adding to the ambience of her paranormal stories.

 Her paranormal pieces have been included in supernatural magazines, websites and blogs. Other stories appear online and in print.

Want to know more? Check out the links!

Blog – www.mariwells.wordpress.com

Author Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mari-Wells-Author/281939828573987?ref=hl

Twitter – @Mari_Wells4

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/15866377-mari-wells

Horrorfest…It’s Here!

Trick or Treat

Sc-r-ee-c-h *huge wooden door swings open*

 “Welcome, welcome! The day has finally arrived and our first ever Horrorfest is here!” 

 To get myself in the mood, I’m typing this post as I watch the end of The Walking Dead series 2…I don’t fancy the sheriff’s chances right now 😦   Anyway – I’m sure he’ll find some way to elude the multitude of zombies beating down the barn door and so let’s get on with our own show… our opening feature on Halloween comes up next.

Horrorfest…Not long now

Spooky  House The nights are getting darker, shadows grow longer and what is that on the horizon? Pumpkins, witches hats and fake blood…? Oh yes! It’s Horrorfest time!

If you’ve not already secured your spooky space on the event, with a short story, interview, guest post or review of a horror book, then time is running out. Drop us a line at bonniesyorkie at gmail dot com and find out how you can take part!

And if you’re too much of a chicken to take part – just tune in from 21st October when our first features will appear.

Horrorfest – October 2013…Come Join Us!

After the success of our Indie Month at Aside from Writing in May, we really wanted to do another ‘feature month’ on the blog – and here it is!

We’ll be hosting our first ‘horror fest’ in October on the run up to Halloween. As this is the first time we’ve done it we’re looking for horror authors, or just creative types with spooky short stories up their sleeves, to take part. We’d also love to feature some reviews by bloggers of any ghost / horror books they’ve read and would like to share with us.

Our own group of authors who run the blog will be testing their skills writing in the genre and posting them for you to scream (or laugh) at. We’d really love to feature more short stories from the creepy side of life, so if you’ve got one you’d like to showcase – get in touch! We also have a range of other features to offer authors – if you would like to take part, with an interview, guest post or ‘book of the day’ feature, please contact us at bonniesyorkie at gmail dot com

(You know what to do with the email address, put the right symbols in to keep the spammers from our door!)