Samhain - Season of Death and New Beginnings
Written by Megan Hudson - 25th October 2022
As the days are growing shorter, the leaves are melting into the colours of Autumn and we are digging our cosiest jumpers out of our wardrobes - preparing for the cocooning and comfort of the colder days to come. It is a time filled with earthly magic, transformation and space for deep rest and introspection. Reflecting the beauty and infinite wisdom of Earth, last month's series of 'Cyclical Wisdom' culminates into the ‘Samhain - Season of Death and New Beginnings’. Moving from a world view founded on linearity to one reflective of the cycles of nature, we highlight the ending of cycles through death with celebration. Bringing forward the natural flow of cycles - re-enchanting endings which birth new beginnings.
We want to pay homage to the transitioning season of the plant world, allowing nature to rest and hibernate - to blossom back into full bloom once more in spring. We embody the phoenix which births forward from the burnt ashes of its former self. Designing value chains which incorporate the death of an object, turning what would be considered waste into new life, or considering the end-life of a garment in its phase of decay and impact on the natural world. Respecting the interconnectedness of the earth and beings. Death has many different manifestations, be this in that of a loved one, an old version of ourselves, waste or world views.
We celebrate these energetic endings in their various embodiments - and prepare for the rebirths of nature, structures and ourselves.
FEMININE GUARDIANS OF CYCLES
The Autumn months are filled with rituals of the unseen world, feasts and celebrations, one being Halloween which has its ancient roots in the Celtic Pagan tradition of Samhain.The feminine keepers of the cycles of life have held sacred positions through-out almost all ancient societies, and particularly during the transitional season. As the birthers of life and holders of sacred ceremony for one another in the welcoming of a new life. Depicted as the gatekeepers of the veils between life and endings, bringing guidance and care in moments of transition from one world into the next. The feminine embodied as the bringers of destruction and transformers of the old structures, birthing new worlds into being. Or being the witches, healers and wise women of the earth - the feminine holds a sacred role in the continuation of life’s constant cycles.
SAMHAIN - THE ANCIENT PAGAN CELTIC HALLOWEEN
The most famous celebration of this season and the otherworld which still exists today is that of Halloween on October 31st. Many are unaware that this night was already celebrated 1000s of years ago in ancient Europe as the Irish Celtic tradition as Samhain (pronounced Sow (like cow)-ween) or Day of the Dead. The celebrations could be found across Northern Europe and held many variations in practice and ritual. These were later integrated into the Christian belief system. On this day and the days following, European ancestors celebrated the season of death and the coming of the darkness. A night marking the end of the Celtic year, filled with bonfires and prayers for those passed to the otherworld. On this night, the veils between our world and the otherworld are at its thinnest, spirits and ghosts being able to move freely in between. Beltane, celebrated the 1st of May, being the welcoming of the light, Samhain is the welcoming of the dark days to come as nature begins to hibernate and the winds turn slowly cold. The celebrations bringing solace and comfort through community and ritual to welcome the time of stillness and home.
RITUALS OF FIRE - SOLACE THROUGH THE DARK
Historically, the sunlight and its earthly resemblant of fire were the only source of light and warmth. The coming of Autumn signalled shorter days with little sunlight and warmth. Fires reflected the warmth and light of the sun on the earthly plane, whilst the sun made its transition across the skies. As the Celtic fire festival, rituals of fires were held in protection and in the burning of the old year to welcome the new. Bonfires were lit in ritual and fires placed through-out homes to ward off dark spirits. The fire burning the year passed to transition into darker days and new beginnings. The rituals of Samhain extended to large feasts to honour those crossed over and asked for protection from the ancestors, in some places putting plates of food at empty seats at the table head in remembrance. It was a time marked with suprestitition, sometimes fear, honouring and celebration. Honouring the gifts of crops received during the harvests of summer and the slumber of the plant world, darker days bringing rest and hibernation to the lands. It was the marking of the end of the lightness of the summer days and the welcoming of the time of ghosts, faeries, demons and witches.
Death has long been omitted from our gaze in the upholding of a linear world view. This energy of endings and transformation is everywhere, from our natural world to our identity, to value chains and systems. It lends to a time of rest and contemplemplation, giving gratitude to what has passed in welcoming with open heart the unknown and the new.