Tag Archives: Samhain

The Fire Festivals

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The Greater Sabbats

www.covenofthegoddessmoon.org

image by coven of the godess moon

The pagan’s seasonal wheel holds eight sections.  four of those are dedicated to Solstice and Equinox, which are also known as the four lesser sabbats.  Interwoven with the lesser sabbats are the greater sabbats or fire festivals.  The lesser sabbats are connected with the Sun in its association with the Earth, meaning the Winter Solstice, the Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox.  The greater sabbats are tied to the transition of the seasons of the Eath.  The Fire Festivals are Samhain (aka Halloween), Feast of Bride (Imbolc) Beltane (also spelled Beltaen) and Llughnassad or Candlemas.

Samhain signals the onset of winter and the reign of the Queen of the Underworld.

The Feast of Bride initiates spring, time of reawakening of nature and life and the rise of the virgin queen, the child goddess.

Beltane initiates summer and the Great Rite of the Goddess.  It clebrates the sacred marriage to the Sun King.  We summons the power of the Great Stag and wish for futility and abundance.

Llughnassad initiates autumn and we celebrate the harvest.  It is the festival of the Goddess of Magic.  We celebrate the passage of the sacrifice of God and the rite of the High Priestess.

October Moon/Samhain

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Samhain

witch flying over pumpkin during full moon by ron byrum

witch flying over pumpkin during full moon by ron byrum

The October moon is also called the  Hunter’s Moon or the Blood Moon.  It is also the month when our planet withdraws energy and prepares nature for  annual slumber.  The nights are getting longer and our desire to nestle down for the dark period has increased.

I enjoy October for the magic it holds along with the traditions and rituals surrounding the month.  Samhain is usually celebrated on the New Moon, for 2011 this would be on October 26th, but somewhere along the way, it settled in for October 31st hence becoming for what it is known for today – Halloween.

Samhain is of Celtic origin and has little to do with ghouls, demons and terror.  However, it does signal death.  The leaves are falling from the trees, plants are fading, fields lie bare, livestock have been brought in from the pastures and nature all around us exhales. Samhain is celebrated for three days; to me the entire month is mystical.   It is also the Celtic New Year since it lies directly across from the Beltane celebrations and therefore completes the circle.  You may think of it as Yin & Yang, white and dark.  During this period we think about anything we may have left unsolved or unsettled for the past 12 months and make attempts to put them to rest.  Once that is done, we can move on to making resolutions for the New Year.  I write my wishes on paper, fold it thrice and throw them into the bonfire after a brief meditation.  Samhain is also the time when the realms of the living and the dead is very thin and communication is at its easiest.  Many of us celebrate this time in the memory of our departed and honor our ancestors. Since the veil is so thin you can expect to hear within your heart the advice and guidance of family members being passed on to you.  Personally, I bring out my grandmother’s set of wooden cook spoons, my grandfather’s photograph and some other personal items of various members who have crossed over.  I display these items on an altar decorated with acorns, chrysanthemums and candles.

I practice several rituals throughout the month, I honor the God and Goddess by putting out some water and bread on my house stoop, I honor my ancestors as stated above and I perform a protection ritual for my pets.  I celebrate the cycle of Life and Death as well.  Needless to say I do also enjoy the fun aspects of Samhain too, the dress up for Halloween, the candy corn and the Jack-o-Lanterns, although these traditions evolved much later in the timeline of Samhain.

It wasn’t until the 8th century or so, when the Catholic Church declared November 1st as All Saints Day.  Since the pagans were already celebrating anyway, the Church decided to use the Celtic celebration as a church holiday, reasoning that this way they could eradicate the pagan holiday all together.  All Saints Day became the day to honor any saint who did not have a day dedicated to him/her already.  The mass which was said on November 1st was the Allhollowmass (= the mass of all who are hallowed).  The eve of Allhollowmass was – you’ve guessed it – All Hallows Eve (= Halloween).