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Halloween / Samhain and Wicca


Samhain is New Irish and means Halloween in English, the night of October 31st to November 1st and is celebrated as an Irish-Celtic festival. An encounter between the living and the dead. On this evening the veil between our world and the afterlife is at its thinnest. Back then it was said that people should stay indoors so that they don't encounter ghosts and demons.

It's different today, the Irish immigrants in the USA maintained their customs and memories of their homeland and expanded them into what we know Halloween as today.

Samhain is one of four Irish festivals, the Celtic annual cycle. There are also Imbolc which is celebrated on February 1st, Beltane on May 1st and Lughnasadh on August 1st.

Imbolc is the purification festival and is celebrated as a fertility and lustration festival, as well as a festival of light. One custom is to make straw figures that are considered healing and protective symbols and were used in some rituals. Just like a magical cheese is made that protects against people from the Otherworld and can be used to make prophecies. Bonfires were also lit. Today this is equated with the winter solstice (Yule) and Candlemas.

Beltane marks the start of summer in the Irish calendar. Also on this day (as well as on all three others) the inhabitants of the elf hill can be seen by people in the upper world. I also know this day as Walpurgis Night, where a large fire is lit to worship the forest and castle goddesses, the so-called Hagedises. It is still celebrated as a festival today. Many people also know it as May Day, where May bonfires are lit etc.

Lughnasadh is the beginning of autumn and the beginning of the harvest season. There were ceremonies at graves commemorating the sacrifice and death of the grain god.

A lot of things are connected to deities and Wicca. Many Neopagans do not follow the solar calendar but rather the lunar calendar (it is no different with herbs). In this case, Imbolc would hit the 2nd full moon, Beltane would hit the 5th full moon, Lughnasadh would hit the 8th full moon or black moon and Samhain would hit the 11th full moon/black moon.


Now back to Halloween/Samhain, it comes from Ireland and was celebrated as a festival for the beginning of winter or the festival of the dead. Since around 1990, Halloween, as it is celebrated in the USA, came to us and there were some local customs that were mixed with Halloween, such as the turnip ghosts or wedding lights. But the church also plays a big role, so on October 31st. Reformation Day, November 1st. All Saints Day and November 2nd All Souls. In the Catholic Church, the deceased and all the poor souls in purgatory were remembered. At Halloween, bonfires (bone fires - bones from cattle) were lit on hills and sometimes people dressed up to drive away evil spirits and divination. The church distances itself from the latter.

The custom of carving pumpkins also comes from Ireland. Although it was actually a turnip. According to legend, a villain named Jack Oldfield lived there. He used a trick to capture the devil and only wanted to release him when the devil no longer got in his way. After Jack died at some point and the devil was released again, Jack was not allowed to go to heaven (due to his actions) or to hell. But the devil had mercy and gave him a turnip and a piece of coal so that Jack didn't have to wander around in the dark. In the USA there were a lot of pumpkins instead of turnips and so pumpkins were used and faces were cut into them to keep evil spirits away.

There are many consumer goods to buy at Halloween time, from cookbooks, costumes, decorative items and of course the candy that you can collect by going door to door ("trick or treat").


This is different with the Wicca annual cycle, which is similar to the Celtic annual cycle (see above). There are 8 festival days in the wheel of the year, which symbolizes the cycle of growth and decay in nature. The light/fire festivals or Great Sabbats here are also Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh. The sun festivals or lesser Sabbaths are Litha (summer solstice), Jul (winter solstice), Ostara (spring equinox and Mabon (autumn equinox).

Samhain (the night from October 31st to November 1st)

Irish - Halloween, Christian - All Saints Day

It was originally the Celtic New Year and is the first day of the witch year. Ritual objects are often consecrated and new witches are initiated. As already written above, on this day the gates to the other world are open and protective fires are lit to banish the spirits. Samhain is a day of remembrance and is the shadow festival in Stregheria. The horned god dies on this day, but the goddess already carries his seed within her.

Jul/Yule (December 20th to 25th)

Yule is usually on December 21st. celebrated where the night is longest, on the winter solstice. Traditionally, numerous fires and candles are lit on this night to evoke the return of light. The rough nights are also part of it.

Imbolc (February 1st and 2nd)

Imbolc is the festival of purification and light. Day of the Powers of the Sun and Fire. It was/is common practice to light torches and lights/candles to help sunlight warm the earth again.

Ostara (20th to 23rd March)

Spring equinox, Easter

The festival symbolizes the time of new beginnings. The length of night and day are equal so that the light now overtakes the darkness and the goddess awakens and brings fertility to the earth. In Wicca, a gathering is held to draw energy from the ether and place it in the earth to provide strength.

Beltane (the night of April 30th to May 1st)

Walpurgis Night

Fires are lit to celebrate the fertility of the goddess and her union with the horned one. It is the beginning of light, sowing and grazing. It is a celebration of joy, color and grace. Fertility and sexuality, the cycle of fertilization and flowering. Gerald Gardner, one of the most important initiators of Wicca, uses the term “May Eve” to refer to Wicca. on Beltane.

Litha (June 20th to June 26th)

Midsummer festival, summer solstice

The sun is at its highest on these days and the nights are the shortest of the entire year. Dancing around bonfires or jumping over fires is done to promote fertility, purification, health and love. An invocation to drive away the forces of darkness and attract the fertility of the land. On St. John's Day where herb wreaths are tied and thrown into the fire...

Lughnasadh/Lammas (August 1st and August 2nd)

The festival of the light god, consecration of herbs, festival of water. The first harvests are usually harvested on this day and thus the festival of abundance and abundance, during which people thank the gods with offerings for the blooming nature and ask them for a rich harvest.

Mabon (September 20th to September 23rd)

Autumn Equinox, Thanksgiving Day

This is the celebration of the completion of the harvest. With a sumptuous meal, you give thanks for the bountiful harvest. At Mabon, people pause and reflect on what happened last year in order to prepare for the coming year. Relaxation from hard work.


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