Lore and Correspondences of Samhain
By Gweneth O'Brien
Hello and Happy Samhain to everybody! Most of us grew up celebrating Halloween, however, traditions like Trick-or-Treating and carving pumpkins aren't so new. Today, I've got some origin stories and correspondences for the most magical night of the year!
What is Samhain?
Samhain (pronounced Sow-en) is one the eight traditional Pagan holidays. Samhain is considered to be one of the most important Sabbats celebrated. This represents the final harvest, when the nights are long. Preparation for harsh, cold, dark winters was common during this time. On Samhain, the veil is said to be thinnest, meaning that separation of the spiritual and physical worlds is almost non-existent. Spiritual activity will be high during this time, so be cautious, but not afraid. This day is excellent for divination, as our psychic abilities are heightened, making it easier to connect. Additionally, honoring the dead or your ancestors is wonderful during this time.
History of Traditions: Trick-or-Treating: While Trick-or-Treating has evolved over the years, it has always been prevalent in many cultures. Across Europe, (in places like Scotland and Ireland), souling was when the poor would go from door to door, asking for food. In turn, they would offer to honor and pray for the dead. People would leave food out for not only the poor, but for spirits who may have stumbled across their doorstep. This can be seen as a way to honor ancestors, or to please and protect against malevolent ghosts.
Costumes: The main reasons for costumes in pagan traditions were simple: to perform and protect. In South Wales, boys and men would dress as women and sing stories/folklore of the Lady in White. Others would dress as animals, beasts, and fearsome creatures to ward off evil spirits and the mischievous fae. Jack-o-Lanterns: The pumpkins (originally turnips) that you set outside your door on Halloween aren't just for decor. Spirits and ancestors were a common theme during Samhain, and the glowing light inside the Jack-o-Lantern was used to ward off evil spirits, and guide deceased loved ones back home.
Pumpkins: Pumpkins are known to represent and connect to the moon, as well as bring money and prosperity. (info from @wiccancuisine)
Mugwort: Mugwort is a powerful herb for divination and psychic abilities, as well as protection, making it perfect for Samhain.
Apples: Apples, ever-so appropriate for fall, are known as the "food of the dead" (Cunningham), with strong Samhain connections.
Pomegranates: The lore behind pomegranate is rich, being a focus of one of the most common Greek myths. Persephone, Queen of the Underworld and wife of Hades, famously took a bite from a pomegranate, forcing her to remain in the Underworld as Hades' Queen during the Fall and Winter months. Thus, pomegranates are associated with the cold months ahead of us.
As we all know, this Samhain is on a full moon, making the energies extra powerful, and extra intense. Make sure to cleanse and ground yourself, because this Full Moon Sabbat, combined with Mercury Retrograde can leave us feeling a little crazy. Nevertheless, allow this energy to fuel you during your Samhain plans!
If you're still short on supplies for tonight, head to Karma Connection!
LLewllyn's Sabbat Essentials: Samhain
Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
@wiccancuisine on Instagram (on pumpkin information).