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The Real Meaning Of Samhain

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by Conscious Reminder

Samhain is a Gaelic word, it comes from an ancient Celtiberian tongue, the mother of languages like Pict, Irish, Breton, Cornish and Welsh. It means ‘summer’s end’.

Samhain is literally that, and was celebrated right from the time of ancient Greece, in Central Europe and the British Isles.

It coincides with Halloween in the modern era, and is one of the main eight festivals for the Celts and their modern descendants, in England, Scotland, parts of France, Ireland and of course America, with its plethora of people and cultures.

The strange thing is almost all major world religions celebrate the coming of winter with some or the other kind of festival that has chthonic associations.

Chthonic means associations with the Earth, and the underworld; in case you’re wondering, Lovecraft got the name of his Cthulhu from it. Ancient Greeks worshipped Demeter, the goddess of the fields and spring and her daughter Persephone (per-say-phone-ee; and not per-see-phone) in the autumn.

Persephone would be abducted by Hades, the lord of the dead and taken to his realm, where she would eat six pomegranate seeds. This caused the Earth to plunge into six months of winter.

But keeping the hope of spring and Persephone returning alive, the Greeks too would worship said goddesses around this time.

Even in India, especially in the eastern parts of it, autumn is the time of the Goddess Kali destroying and keeping evil at bay, in order to help her devotees get by winter.

Samhain too is one of this series, a celebration of magic and death and the circle of life. Things are born, they die and are reborn again in order to rejuvenate the Earth and the people living on it.

According to Irish legends, the sun god ritualistically dies on October 31st, also called Samhain. This is in line with the Celtic ritual of king-killing, which archaeologists have found proof of.

This is the time when the goddess Crone mourns for her husband, thereby letting loose all kinds of magical havoc. This is the time of peak supernatural happenings too because with the sun god gone, the realms of life and death sort of merge.

But it does end, with the sun god being reborn on Yule day, which is the winter solstice which falls on December 22nd/December 23rd. This day was also celebrated as Saturnalia by the Romans, and was later taken to be the time of Christ’s birth as well.

Samhain hence is the celebration of death itself, of the absence of life to prepare for a bigger, fresher harvest, which is bound to come with spring.

It is also the start of the shortening of days and lengthening of nights, considerably.

And interestingly, the Celts took it to be symbolically the New Year beginning. The New Year literally begins with death itself because there can be no life without death first. Life without death will be over-fecund and the Earth would simply perish trying to provide more and more resources.

The Celts also understood that life was in a way constant, and that new souls are rarely born. Older, previously dead, souls come back through cycles of life and death and take back their places on the planet and the Earth they were made of.

This is the time of rejuvenation through ritualistic death. The Earth and the realms of life and death are disentangled, in order for the proper shuffling of souls.

This once-again primordial Earth dies and comes back on yule to celebrate life in all its divine prosperity again.

It is because of the profundity and fecundity of rebirthing energies that people have always practiced magic on and around Samhain.

In case you are planning on it, four days from now would be the best time to start.

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