For 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.
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.
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