A Thought for Today

What is the Reason for Rain on Samhain?

[Revisions made September 25,2021 so a couple of dates might be wrong. The dates for my father’s and mother’s births and deaths are correct]

I have often wonder why it almost always rains and is cold on Samhain. Where I live, in the central United States, it usually nice the day before and the day after but rarely the day of.

This morning my Guides gave me an answer to this question that seems so right I have no idea why I never thought of it. It rains on Samhain because the veil between our world and the Summerlands is very thin allowing what the Spirits of our family and friends are feeling about residing in the Summerlands to come into our world and our feelings to go easier into their world. It also makes it easier to converse with them in many different ways (coming soon a post explaining this more)

Just as we weep for loved ones lost because we miss the person they were in this lifetime they weep because they miss us also so. The rain we experience is in reality their tears. The cold is because they do not need heat to keep a incarnated body warm like we do in this world.

When honoring your ancestors this Samhain remember to take into account their feelings and try to explain yours to them. Communication is not just important when we some someone face to face it is important when dealing with those who have crossed over too.  Do not think the dialogue has to stop when Samhain is over, it may not be as easy to hear them but if they have something you really need to hear you will. Talk to them, ask them questions, tell them things. Just because they no longer have a physical body does not mean they are not interested in things going on in your life.

When helping those who passed away this past year cross into the Summerlands remind them of the happiness, rest, joy and love they will feel there instead of the cold uncertainty of roaming this world with no physical body. If you feel they are hanging on to something in this world or have unfinished business they want to take care before moving across the veil ask how you can help them let go or finish the unfinished business. It is important for us all to cross into the Summerlands after our physical bodies will no longer support life in this world, so we can rejuvenate and be reborn into our next life time.

Talking with my mom today and helping her to finish something she left undone (this I will not share as it was very personal between the two of us) after dreaming about her the other night (October 2015) for the first time since she passed (Born December 12, 1934 Died August 24, 2015) brought a calm to me I have not felt since the day before she passed. I knew the moment my mom passed as I felt a pull on both my heart and root charkas the two most connected thigs in our human body that connect us our to our parents and our children. She is happy and excited to be fully reunited with my dad, he refused rebirth until she and he could have some time together alone and with my eight siblings, who all passed away shortly before or after birth, in the Summerlands They both told me today that they will wait for me to join them in the future when it is my time to return to the Summerlands before they consider another lifetime in this world. Which made me feel very loved and special. It also makes me cry happy/sad tears every time I think about the sacrifice they choose to make for me. You see my dad (Born March 25, 1934) crossed over the veil exactly one month before my twelfth birthday on April 1, 1970. (Please NO April Fool’s jokes. Thank you)

I am sorry if this post seems to ramble some but I was typing as it came to me and had a couple of interruptions for trick-or-treater, all the kids in the neighborhood love to come to the Witch’s house because she gives out good treat if they do not trick her.

[Some of this paragraph maybe early while some of it could be what  you needed to read today] May your Samhain be blessed,. May your time with your ancestors be joyful. My your New Year be filled with everything you need, a warm home, loving family and friends, enough food to keep hunger at bay, clothing to keep you comfortable and even bring you a way to get a couple of things you just want.

2015 Lady Beltane

The Origins of Halloween by Silver Raven Wolf – Part 2

The Celts

Many historians feel that the greatest strength in the Celtic people lies in their collective mythos. Wading through the romanticism to find unmodified information can prove a tricky endeavor. The earliest archaeological evidence we have of the Celts rest in France and Western Germany.  The Celtic people moved into Spain, Britain, and Switzerland between the fifth and first century BCE. They even ransacked Rome in 390 BCE.

The Celtic peoples celebrated four festivals called fire festivals–commonly know today as Samhain, Oimelc (Imbolc), Beltane, and Lughnasadh. Samhain (pronounced sow-in, sow rhymes with now) was the first and foremost a harvest festival relating to animal husbandry and preparations for the winter months. Fire is an element of cleaning, a vehicle of eradication, so it is not unlikely that fire would work itself into any type of religious celebration. Fire among the ancient peoples often represented an aspect of the divine.

What does the word Samhain mean? Well, we know what it doesn’t mean. There is no archeological or literary evidence of a Celtic god by the name of Samhain. This little slip of fact appears to have begum in the 1700s and continues in some misinformed publications today. The word Samhain actually means “summers end”.

So, where did this Lord of the Dead thing come in? Over time, Samhain took on a religious significance through ministrations of the Druids (the clergy of the Celt’s). Legends indicate that on Samhain all the hearth fires in Ireland were doused and then lit again from a central fire maintained by the Druids at Tlachtga. To the Celts, Samhain was a turning point from light into darkness, and it was thought that this break or fissure created easier access to their land of the dead, Tir nan Og.

The Druids

We need to know a little bit about the Druids to continue with our history of Halloween. The Druids were versed in all learning and were considered to have the gift of prophecy. They functioned as judge, ambassadors, healers, and religious leaders. The Druids first named the holiday Samhain.

Copyright 1999 Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook Pages 24 to 29

The Origins of Halloween by Silver Raven Wolf – Part 4

The Advent of Christianity

By the fourth and fifth centuries , Celtic Christianity had oozed into Ireland. St. Patrick has his hands full, and here is where the kettle starts to boil. At, first, the Pagans openly welcomed Christianity, but as Christianity filtered into the Celtic system, church officials had a few problems—mainly the Celtics didn’t want up their holidays or folk practices. The people were not willing to throw out traditions that were ingrained into their social structure. If you can’t get someone to completely change, what do you do? Compromise. And that’s exactly what happened. Samhain was changed to All Hollow’s Eve. To make the Pagan peoples adhere more closely to this new religion of Christianity, the clergy of the day taught the peasants that fairies were really demons and devils (remember, a concept totally unknown to Celtic belief or history) and their beloved dead were horrid ghosts and ghouls. The early Christian erroneously associated the Celtic land of the dead with the Christian concept of Hell.

To help the belief in Christianity along, Druids priestess were systematically murdered. Early Christians also taught the area peasants that their Lord of the Underworld was in fact Satan, which is ridiculous, as the two mythos don’t have anything in common. It appears that Christians misunderstood what the word Samhain meant: because the peasants use this celebration to honor the dead, Christians assumed that Samhain was the incorrect pronunciation of a Pagan deity in the Bible, recorded as Samuel, from the Semitic Sammael, meaning God of the under world.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 1999 Pages 24 to 29

The Origin of Halloween by Sliver Raven Wolf – Part 6

All Saints’ Day / All Hallows Eve / Hallowmas

All Saints’ Day and All Hallows Eve (Halloween) were first introduced in the seventh century CE. This date was changed to November 1 to supplant Pagan beliefs because those pesky Pagans just refused to cough up their original Samhain. The day was to honor God and all his saints, known and unknown All Saints’ Day later became Hallowmas, a mass to honor the dead. The Eve of All Hollow’s Eve, October 31, became All Hollow’s Eve, which evolved in to the word Hallowe’en. Although the church wished this time to be one of somber prayer and quiet custom, the Celts continued their customary bonfires and fortune telling.

All Saints’ Day is a bit different. The festival falls on November 2, a day to offer prayer and alms to assist the souls of those departed that managed to get stuck in purgatory, an in-between place that is neither heaven or hell. Over the succeeding centuries, Halloween like Christmas, picked up various customs and discarded others, depending on the complex socialization of the times and religious dictates.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 1999 Pages 24 to 29

Category Samhain/Deep Autumn

WE ARE THE ANCESTORS: MAY WE BE INTERESTING FOOD

May 9, 2020 · by Glenys D. Livingstone · in Samhain/Deep Autumn · Leave a comment Our present lives are formed by all who came before us. We are in-formed by them, whether conscious or not. In PaGaian Samhain ceremony as it has been done traditionally, participants are invited to remember the ancestors in this way: Let us remember our ancestors, those who have gone before, whose lives have been harvested, […]

THREADS OF GOLD IN THE COMPOST

April 20, 2020 · by Glenys D. Livingstone · in Samhain/Deep Autumn · 2 Comments There are threads of gold in the compost, if one has the vision for it. And we may take the golden thread, exclaim the strongest natural fibre known – our creative selves, our imaginations – for the building of a new world made sacred, of our conceiving: yet beyond our knowings, across the vast Darkness between […] For more interesting article about Southern Hemisphere Samhain click here  

A Samhain Blessing

“Blessed be the ancestors the ones whom life has fled.

Tonight we merry meet again, our own beloved dead.

The wheel of the year turns on, a new year in our sights.

The maiden has become the crone, we celebrate this night.

Author Unknown”

Halloween in Ireland

Terrifying tales and frightening facts from the home of Halloween

Halloween – a time for thrills, chills and scaring ourselves silly. But did you know that everyone’s favourite fright-filled holiday began in Ireland? Trace Halloween right back to its origins and you’ll find yourself in the mists of pagan Ireland over 3,000 years ago – a time when the ancient festival of Samhain was celebrated in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East to mark the beginning of winter.

It’s said that at Halloween the boundary between our world and the Otherworld is at its thinnest, allowing spirits and demons to easily pass between the two. So come with us on a strange and spooky journey as we experience Halloween in Ireland.

Halloween in Ireland

Samhain (Samain) – The Celtic roots of Halloween

As millions of children and adults participate in the fun of Halloween on the night of October 31st, few will be aware of its ancient Celtic roots in the Samhain (Samain) festival. In Celtic Ireland about 2,000 years ago, Samhain was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). At Samhain the division between this world and the otherworld was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through.

The family’s ancestors were honoured and invited home whilst harmful spirits were warded off. People wore costumes and masks to disguise themselves as harmful spirits and thus avoid harm. Bonfires and food played a large part in the festivities. The bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into a communal fire, household fires were extinguished and started again from the bonfire. Food was prepared for the living and the dead, food for the ancestors who were in no position it eat it, was ritually shared with the less well off.

Christianity incorporated the honouring of the dead into the Christian calendar with All Saints (All Hallows) on November 1st, followed by All Souls on November 2nd. The wearing of costumes and masks to ward off harmful spirits survived as Halloween customs. The Irish emigrated to America in great numbers during the 19th century especially around the time of famine in Ireland during the 1840’s. The Irish carried their Halloween traditions to America, where today it is one of the major holidays of the year. Through time other traditions have blended into Halloween, for example the American harvest time tradition of carving pumpkins.

Two hills in the Boyne Valley were associated with Samhain in Celtic Ireland, Tlachtga and Tara. Tlachtga was the location of the Great Fire Festival which begun on the eve of Samhain (Halloween). Tara was also associated with Samhain, however it was secondary to Tlachtga in this respect.

The entrance passage to the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara is aligned with the rising sun around Samhain. The Mound of the Hostages is…

To continue reading the article on Samhain click here

Blue Full Moon Esbat Samhain and Beltane Sabbats Gathering

WHEN:

N. H. Saturday, October 31, 2020

Open Chat starts at 6:00 PM EDT

Circle Cast at 7:00 PM EDT

S. H. Sunday, November 1, 2020

Open Chat starts at 9:00 AM AEST

Circle Cast at 10:00 AM AEST

WHERE:

Please contact Lady Beltane at covenlifescoven@gmail.com for the link to the new chatroom

A blue Moon is BLUE FULL MOON CELEBRATION 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

A 6 inch/15.24cm circle of blue paper or a white paper colored blue – shade of blue should be light to medium blue (Have circle of blue cut out a head of time

A blue colored pen or colored pencil or pen

A 6 inch/15.24 cm long piece of white thread or string

Decide on 3 different things you want to complete in either your regular or spiritual life by May 1st

SMALL GLASS OF APPLE JUICE

PIECE OF BREAD

 

CLOSING THE CIRCLE and  CALLING THE ELEMENTS TO THE WATCHTOWERS

LADY BELTANE: I call the element of Air into the Watchtower of the East to help bring us clarity of mind as we work in our sacred circle.

I call the element of Fire into the Watchtower of the South to bring us extra energy to work our magick we work in this sacred circle circle

I call upon the element of Water to help guide our emotions as we work in this sacred circle.

I call upon the element of Earth to help us stay grounded as we work our magick in this sacred circle

I walk this circle with Hecate and Dagon to keep those in the sacred circle from any harm that might try to enter and to clear out any negativity that is in it. I take us to a place that is outside of regular time and space.

FULL BLUE MOON CELEBRATION 

EVERYONE: P lease tell us your first or Pagan name and what country or state you live in. No last names or towns/villages/cities.

LADY BELTANE: A full Moon on Samhain is rare but a blue Moon is rare still. The power of the magick we work to night will be stronger than usual thanks to the Mother’s Moon Bluish tint. We will take 1 minute to thank the Mother Moon and to center ourselves before beginning our celebrations. Lady Beltane will say “So Mote It Be” when the minute is up.

EVERYONE: Place your blue circle which works as a reminder of the extra power at work when you wrote you three things. What you write on the paper should have your own positive intention behind them. You will have three minutes to WRITE DOWN YOUR 3 THINGS. Please say or type in done when finished.

Next you will fold first one side in and then the other side so you have the ends over lapping in the middle.

Next take you string slide it under the folded paper make sure you have an even amount of string on each side of the paper.

Now as you tie a bow over the center of the paper you will say’ “Hecate goddess and guardian of all witches everywhere please help me to accomplish the things I have written here So Mote It Be or however you end your spells.

 

END OF BLUE MOON CELEBRATION PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE THE CIRCLE

 

SAMHAIN CELEBRATION

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

Left over Apple Juice

Leftover Bread

Pictures of 2 Ancestors

2 Birthday Candles or Flashlights

Heat Proof Dish with ½ inch/1,5 cm of sand or dirt (the candles will be placed in here and should be allowed to complete burn down.

Trivet/hotplate/potholder to place heat proof dish on.

Samhain Celebration

I invite the Spirits I call upon to come to me one by one. (Light 1 candle each time you say
a name and place it in the sand)

Visit and return from whence you came when your candle is done.

So mote it be

After doing the spell spend 2 minutes just sitting quietly and thinking of the people you have summoned. They may just want to spend some time with you also and/or have a message for you or someone in your life. Ancestors are not just blood relatives that have crossed over they include anyone in your life that has had some type of impact on it.

Leave candles burning as we move on to the Beltane celebration. If you want to light more candles for people after the circle has been opened please feel free to use this spell and enjoy time with those who have crossed the veil.

END OF SAMHAIN RITUAL

Southern Hemisphere Beltane Ritual- using the 4 elements to create our very own Beltane Wand

Select a piece of wood that you have been called to. Ensure that no tree is hurt in the process, in other words do not take the wood for your wand by snapping it off a tree branch.

Wood for wand making is everywhere, in the form of driftwood, branches that have naturally fallen, a piece of wood that you have collected over time.

The secret to finding the perfect wand wood is that the wood actually calls out to you. In order for you to be accepted by the wand it is respectful to do a mediation and ask the wood, ask the tree, ask the ocean if it is a piece of driftwood. It is then that the wand becomes an extension of you and your power within the Natural World. Gratitude is the key.

Over time I have collected so many pieces of wood, rocks, shells, all these things that call out to me when out in nature while walking, doing rituals or even working. Some items are over 15- 20 years old waiting for the right time to be used.

 

DECORATE YOUR ALTAR

Beltane brings the beginning of life, decorate with beautiful bunches of flowers from your garden, make wreaths to wear in your hair, make your own candles to burn on the altar, use fertility Goddess and God symbols, fill baskets with seasonal fruits.

 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

A piece of wood to create your wand

Representing Fire– An altar candle

Representing Water– I prefer to use consecrated moon water that I sometimes place in a spray bottle with a couple of drops of my favourite essential oil

Representing Earth– Consecrated salt-I prefer to use black salt or Himalayan salt

Representing Air– Your Athame, a feather or even incense

 

A BLESSING TO THE EARTH GODDESS-

EVERYONE – Please say……

“Great Earth mother!

We ask for your blessing on this day

May our lands see the seeds of life in abundance

Our grass grow green and lush

Our rivers flow and be filled with life

and the great Sun God shine upon our lands

We sit in gratitude in the blessings you have given

and the gift of life with each turn of the wheel. “

 

 

DURING THE BELTANE RITUAL

Take the wood that will become your wand and……

 

Pass it over the Fire

 Say…

With this Fire I ignite the spirit within me

 

Sprinkle it with Salt

Say…

With this Earth I create my body

 

Spray or Anoint it with Water

Say…

With this Water I bless my blood that runs through my veins

 

Pass the Athame, Feather or Incense over it

Say…

With this Athame (or whatever you choose to represent your air) I give it life from my breath.

Now take 3 deep breaths and blow your breath 3 times, emptying your lungs each time.

You now have concentrated your wand and have given it life creating an extension of you.

 

A One Minute Meditation

Hold the wand in your hands and allow the power of the wand to guide you how you need to create its power. Connect to the wand as this will become an extension of your power. Imagine a flow of light from your heart going into the wood and giving it life, bringing the light back into your heart and connecting it to your being as an expression of the Divine.

 

CONCLUDING THE BELTANE RITUAL

Dearest Lady, we honour you Queen of Spring

May our lands be fruitful ready to make offerings in your name

 

AFTER THE RITUAL

Now to finish your wand……

  • Anything that you would like to decorate your wand- (you can add these later after the ritual allowing time for you to be as creative as you like)

o   Now some like elaborate colourful decorations expressing their creativity, others like simple with just a polish and a couple of Sigils sacred to just them. The choice is purely yours, remember it is an extension of you therefore it will reflect your power.

  • I attach anything from crystals to feathers, sometimes I simply use sandpaper to bring out the colours and patterns of the sacred wood.
  • If you have the tools wood burning is a wonderful option.

END OF BELTANE RITUAL

OPENING THE CIRCLE and DISMISSING THE ELEMENTS FROM THE WATCHTOWERS

LADY BELTANE: I dismiss the element of Air from the Watchtower of the East with our thanks to you for helping to bring us clarity of mind as we work in our sacred circle.

I dismiss the element of Fire from the Watchtower of the South with our thanks to you for helping to bring us extra energy to work our magick we work in this sacred circle circle

I dismiss the element of Water with our thanks to you for helping to guide our emotions as we work in this sacred circle.

I dismiss the element of Earth with our thanks to you for helping to us to stay grounded as we work our magick in this sacred circle

I thank Hecate and Dagon for helping us with our rituals this night or morning. Please return from whence you came.

I walk this circle to bring us back into our regular place of existence and to the time the binds us in this plane.

The circle is open but never broken go with peace, trust, and love in your hearts.

 

For Your Viewing Pleasure

 I went to a Celtic Pagan Ceremony in Ireland (Gaelic Samhain Festival)

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

The Witch’s Sabbat – Samhain

The Veil Is Thinning! Samhain Is Almost Upon Us! May The Goddess Bless You & Your During This Magickal Time of the Year!

( A flashback from Lady Abyss)

Autumn Window Scene

“Hail Freyja, Golden One!
Holder of the glorious Brisingamen, that brings fertility and abundance.
As we love and honor you, may we find love and power within us.
Join us and accept our thanks.
Hail Freyja!

 

Hail Freyr, Harvest God!
Keeper of the rain and the sunshine!
As we love and honor you, may we find creativity and inspiration within us.
Join us and accept our thanks.
Hail Freyr!

 

Hail Sif, Great Lady!
We come to this place grateful for your gifts.
Golden-haired goddess of the ripening grain, as we love and honor you,
may we find beauty and grace within us.
Join us and accept our thanks.
Hail Sif!

 

Hail Thor, son of the Earth Mother!
Strong and noble keeper of Thunder, Red-Bearded Guardian of us all, guide us through the seasons and the cycles of life.
We thank you for the fertility of our lands and for the abundance we have received this year.
As we love and honor you, let us find strength and wisdom with us.
Join us and accept out thanks.
Hail Thor!”

 

–   Kristen Madden, Autumn Celebration Ritual

The Origins of Halloween by Sliver Raven Wolf – Part 7

Halloween Comes to America

Our first inkling of Halloween coming to America revolves not around a specific set of people (many indicate the Irish) but with William Penn’s motley collection of refugees from Europe. In 1663, Penn wrote a promotional tract about the Americans. As a result, fifty ships dropped the anchors in the Delaware River. They discharged persecuted souls from England, Ireland, Wales, and the Rhineland (now Germany). Collectively, the Germans and Irish shared Celtic heritage. Therefore many of the folk customs resonated together—including Halloween.

From 1684 through 1930, Halloween was more a time for tricking rather than for treating. Many of the tricks the German and Irish communities became universal, such as overturning outhouses, dismantling a wagon and putting it back together on top of a house or barn, and tying cows to church bells. The tricks often served as social function, such as mildly chastising a neighbor who exhibited antisocial behavior.

By 1910, several American manufactures were making or importing party products just for the American holiday Halloween. From noisemakers to costumes, a new holiday meant new business and an opportunity to make money.

The drawback to the new holiday came in the form of the “declared” Mischief Night, Goblin Night, or Devil’s night on October 30. Minor offenses, such as trying several garbage cans together and hanging them from a light pole, soaping windows with lard, and later, bars of hand soap, abounded. As the pranks grew to vandalism shopkeepers would bribe youngsters to ward off destruction of their property.

In an effort to stop the criminal behavior, the Boy Scouts, in conjunction with local town councils, cities, boroughs, instituted the custom of Trick-or-Treat night to help keep youngsters from naughty practices. By the 1930s the custom of trick-or-treating was well entrenched in our American culture. Halloween, like Christmas, became a holiday for children, and parents strove to make the holiday as much fun as possible for the enjoyment of their youngsters.

During he 1950s. ’60s, and ’70s our American Halloween stayed primarily the same, but in the ’70s and ’80s, with a recession coupled by a candy scare, groups and organizations once again sought to find appropriate avenues to make Halloween safe for America’s children. Halloween practices extended through the entire month of October. Haunted houses, parties, hay rides, plays, story hours, and numerous other events were held throughout the month.

In the mid-to-late 1990s certain sects of the Protestant Christian church declared war on Halloween. using the same erroneous propaganda cultivated hundreds of years ago. Other groups size Halloween for their own political agendas—hosting haunted houses showing aborted babies, drug addicts, and other modern day violent situations. This did not go over well, as the holiday had become an event primarily for children, not adult political issues. Radical Christian groups said that the holiday was Satanic—which, as we’ve seen from our research, is a bizarre and fantastic claim, based on misinformation, politicking, personal agendas and fear. With America’s policy of separation of church and state the battle for destroying Halloween in the United States is an uphill battle.

The original Samhain marked the the close of the agriculture season and functional third harvest festival. In America, Halloween has become the first holiday in our end-of-year rush for partied gaiety. Our Halloween functions as the opening of the three-month-long celebratory fest that includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, and Chanukkah, and ends with the popular American New Year.

As our children crave pumpkins with delightful chatter, adults find solace in a night when they can be whatever they want to be. We have little doubt about the joy this holiday bring to the American people. I am sure we will forever love the haunted house, the harvest Moon, the thrills and chills of a well-wrought tale—and, of course, the deliciously scary things that go EEEEK! in the night.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 1999 Pages 24 to 29

The Origins of Halloween by Silver Raven Wolf – Part 5

The Witches

So far, we’ve talked about the land of the dead, how the early Christians managed to superimpose Satan onto Samhain, and how fairies got zapped into demons, but there has been no mention of Witches, commonly associated in our time with Halloween. Where did Witches come from?

During the Dark Ages, the Church sought to eradicate the Pagans and wise women from the countryside so that the church could amass both power and property. First, they had to devalue women because women kept the holy days, trained the children, and provided the cohesive socialization of the culture, thus women held the power to shape society. The church taught, among other things, that women had no souls. Once this teaching had occurred, it was only a small step to make them inhuman, and the Church was able to incite the superstitious populace.

The Celtic women were the strong hold of the family environment, and although the Celts accepted Christianity at first, they did not want to give up their family traditions or their lifestyle. The Church was not into free thinking—therefore anything that did not follow the church dictates was evil. Hence, the Witches (really the women) became evil. Since Samhain was a primary festival of the Celts and the Church had already determined that Samhain was evil, the association between Witches and Halloween was born.

Copyright Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 1999 Pages 21 to 25

The Origins of Halloween by Silver Raven Wolf – Part 3

Feast of the Dead

As the Celtic religious system solidified so did the beliefs of the Celts concerning the dead—as has occurred in all religions, before and after the Celts. Since the turning points of the year were considered fissures in time and space, the Celts believe that the dead they loved so dearly could travel through time and space and return from Tir nan Og to visit them. The custom of leaving food at the table (the birth part of the treat part of trick-or-treat) was a gesture of welcome to the departed. From these visits came the belief that those who had gone beyond the land of the living could provide information on past or future events. This is how divination became associated with Samhain.

The Celts did not believe in devils or demons, but they did believe in the Fairy Folk, whom they thought inhabited the land of the dead (the land in-between). Fairies were thought to be resentful of humankind for taking over their land. Because time and space could be conquered on Samhain, fairies were said to roam countryside creating mischief and kidnapping a human or two now and then—just for fun, you understand.—except the humans never came back. Here then is the root of the scary stuff associated with Halloween. The mischief, of course, was caused by living humans, and accepted by the Celts as a psychological release before the onset of winter gloom—though I doubt they would explain it in those terms.

Is it odd, gross, or unusual that a group of people should set aside a day for the dead? Nope. Different cultures and religions have followed such a practice for centuries. Let’s get on our broom again and check out Rome and its contributions to Halloween.

A Fly-BY of Ancient Rome

Rome had the habit of changing rulers as many times as you empty the lint trap in your dryer. Between 14 and 37 CE, Christianity had begun its rise in Rome. By 41 CE, Claudius had distinguished himself with the conquest of Britain. The Romans also had a harvest festival, so the Celts didn’t have much trouble blending the two holidays together after they came into contact with the Romans. It was around 314 CE when Constantine the Great declared the Roman Empire to be Christian, and the fate of Samhain and Druids was sealed.