Celebrating Samhain

Image from The Haunted Realm 2019 wall calendar featuring photos by Sir Simon Marsden. Click image for more info.

Because I am resolutely pagan, we’re going to be celebrating the beginning of the dark half of the year old school at my house Wednesday night (October 31). For starters we’re going to make a big feast of a dinner and set a plate aside for our dead ancestors. I always make biscuits using my granddad’s recipe. We’ll make white gravy and eggs and coffee with cream and sugar just the way Granddad liked it. That plate will stay out on the table all night. We’ll stay home and give out candy to the trick-or-treaters, because our teenage daughter is too old for mom and pop’s company tonight. Understood. At some point in the evening we’ll tie knots into a piece of string or leather or yarn, and just as we yank the knot tight we’ll yank into it something we want to let go off in the coming year. And then we’ll throw that knot into the roaring fire in our fireplace. Sometime after that we’ll build a fire in our backyard and jump over it to make wishes come true. We’ll jump over that big fire and just at the top we’ll make our wish. We’ve been doing this every year for 25 years. When we couldn’t get pregnant, we wished for children. We don’t do that anymore.

Maybe we’ll also bob for apples. I read once that the old Celtic word for apples was the same as the word for soul. Which means bobbing for apples is a remnant of an ancient initiation or ordeal by water in the great search for your own soul. Just before bed we’ll make a bowl of milk and honey and set it on the back porch for any wandering spirits who pass by and we’ll leave our back door open a crack all night long in case any familiar spirits pass by. We want them to know they’re welcome. Halloween or Samhain is one of the special days of the year — a crack if you will — when the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead is thinnest.

Happy haunting!


Tim CampbellTim Campbell
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