Old Demdike: Forty Three

Samhain, Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Souls Night

Call it what you will – but the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest on October 31st.

Samhain means Summer’s End. Wise Women celebrate on the nearest full moon before November, after the harvest is gathered, halfway between Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. It represents the end of summer and the start of the spiritual New Year. Samhain comes from the Celtic Fire Festival when Druids remember their dead. Bonfires are built to cleanse and protect – and sacrifices offered to the gods. It’s a night of divination, mummers, feasting, guising, and young lads following the Hobby Horse about the village.

The Church of Rome made this feast into All Hallows’ Eve – the start of All Saints’ Day to honor the Christian saints and martyrs. There’ll be Soul Cakes eaten instead of meat – candles lit for the dear departed – vigils – feasts – and the ringing of church bells everywhere.

The youngsters celebrate Halloween, short for Hallowed or Holy Evening.  They remember the frailty of life with skeletons, ghouls, cobwebs, tombstones, and demons, hoping to chase evil and death away by honoring the darkness. Some carve turnips into Jack o’ Lanterns for those lost souls who’ve been denied both Heaven and Hell. They partake in pranks to imitate mischievous spirits, costume feasts, processions, and mummers’ plays.

Aye, it’s a powerful time – so be careful to guard your own soul!

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