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Orenda Circle Sanctuary

****** SAMHAIN ******
Goblins....ghouls....spirits....bats....pumpkins....witches....haunted houses....the cries of "Trick-or-Treat" at the door and things that go bump in the night. These are all the things that make up what most folks call Halloween or All Hallows Eve. Like most people, I grew up not knowing the true meaning or history behind Halloween and the significance it has for the Wiccan/Pagan community.

Samhain (pronounced "sow-en") is that time of year when the veil between this world and the world of our Spirit Ancestors is thinnist. Candles are lit and put in the windows to help the spirits find their way and normally a plate of food and drink is set out in respect for the spirits that are visiting.

The Wiccan/Pagan Samhain is not and never has been associated with evil or negativity. It has always been a time to reaffirm our belief in the oneness of all spirits and resolve that death is not our final act of existence. While death is very much a part of Samhain's symbolism, this Sabbat also reaffirms and celebrates the triumph of life over death. The idea that "All Hallows Eve" was the night that evil spirits roamed the Earth is a mis-interpretation of the Pagan belief that the veil of conciouness that separates the land of the living from the land of the dead is at its thinnest on this night. It does not mean that evil spirits cross over into our world. Most Pagans believe that this "veil between the worlds" is made thin by theGod passing through it into the land of the dead. In almost all Western Pagan Traditions, deceased ancestors and other friendly spirits are invited to join in the festivities and to once again be reunited with loved ones from whom they are normally separated by time, space and other dimensions of existence.

All Pagans are keenly aware that evil does exist and so they often sought to protect themselves at Samhain by carving out faces in vegatables to ward them off. This was most likely the forerunner of the jack-o-lantern that has become so popularized today, with their carved out faces. This is also probably a relic of an even earlier custom of lighting candles and placing them in windows to guide the "Earth-walking" spirits along their way. To this day, it is the custom in Ireland to place a candle in the windows and leave a plate of food for the visiting spirits on Samhain.


McCoy, Edain. The Sabbats:A New Approach to Living the Old Ways. St. Paul, MN Llewllyn Publications © 1994
Cunningham, Scott. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. St. Paul, MN Llewllyn Publications © 1988