This article by Mead entrepreneur Kristof “Taranartos” Denaghel-Wybouw was written for issue 3 of Wyldspirit (The September 2014 edition of the Wyldwood Radio e-zine)
This article is written from my personal point of view, outlined as a druid and a pagan.
Samhuinn, is also known as All Hallow’s Eve, Hallowe’en and Samhain.
We consider this celebration as one of the four fire festivals. Albeit fire might indicate this is a male-energized ceremony, we don’t see it like this. We have four light festivals, known as Albans, and 4 fire ceremonies. I wish to talk about this one in particular.
This ceremony is one of the most well-known now in the Western traditions. We celebrate the departed, we mourn their loss, and we invite them over during the ceremony where we can honour them. This you can see as honouring your ancestors. I believe this is very important in our spirituality, because it can tell you where we come from. By honouring them, in the present time, you can merge the power that radiates from the past into the present. As with many other traditions, this can and may influence your future, the view on it, and it can grant you insight into who you are. This is very powerful if you can feel this energy. And with this energy, we ask our Ancestors to celebrate with us, and ask them for their further guidance in our Earthly lives. Samhuinn was a festival which lasted for three days, and was part of the assumed circle of the year. This indicated the end of a year, where Winter will come but also celebrated as the beginning of the new year, which starts with your beloved ones and family in the houses near a crackling fire and radiating heat. This is a Celtic view of the New Year. A historical discovery was not sure about this, but we assume that the plate of Coligny (nearby Lyon, France) was indeed a sort of “lunar” calendar. Some theories say that the months themselves are not celebrated each year. Some were skipped over and only returned every three years. Other theories say that it’s because it is a lunar calendar, it was only celebrated at the first Quarter of the month. So then the dates change again. We try to pinpoint our celebrations at fixed timings for obvious reasons.
I need to explain here, that the Old Celts/Gauls recognized a new day when the evening began. In our current calendar, the new day starts at midnight; this is a different view to when you go to bed at 22.00 and wake up at 6 am and say: ok , now is the new day. Our consciousness might differ from it, but we still have the Celtic view of day and night calculated into our time. So now we know this, the ceremony we do usually begins during the evening of 31 October. So far I have done about 7 Samhuinn ceremonies in a druidic order (seedgroup), and each time this has opened for me a new view on our life. It gave me opportunities, it granted me connection and more so, the connection we could experience here is of a different nature than the one I experience with certain animals or trees when walking into a forest or hearing the waves crash at the beach where I live. Again, this ceremony emphasizes connection, and so far it has brought up more bonds with the other side. And I am not talking about myself here, but everyone I saw partaking into this ceremony. It made me wonder at times why this seem easier. After all… we do summon the dead, and the Goddess Cailleagh to help us get rid of the unwanted energies.
This opens another aspect in this ceremony. During the ceremony we also call forth the Cailleagh. She is well known in Celtic lore. A Goddess of the winter, for she brings the winter when she comes. The energy is one of cold, and harsh, but that is what she radiates; not what she wants you to be. This Goddess in our ceremony asks to look into your heart, in one of the four chambers where you can find your soul. She asks to look deep and grant her that which is no longer wanted by you. She demands you search your soul deeply. To meditate on it. And when you feel her nearby, you can give this unwanted energy to her. She will know what to do with it, and although she may inspire fear in your hearts (It takes a courageous heart to look deep within yourself) she is there to help you. This comes from an ancient tradition were farmers made a doll of her likeness. Whoever had the first reaping gave the doll to the other farmer, who passed it on to the other one who was not yet finished with his harvest and so on. The last farmer had to keep the doll with him till the next celebration of Samhuinn. Now you know why I see this ceremony similar to the fire ceremony, for our fire may lure into our hearts. Only when your heart is pure, then we invite the ones who went before us to the Summerlands. Only then, because only then there is more room for them again. The heart is light, the heart is strong, and it can get transformed with their energies.
I hope this small article might inspire and explain a few things about how we celebrate our ceremonies now. It is not written in stone, it is a part of one particular Order, and adopted from legends and folklore. Since Belgium is known to be part of Gaul, it is not certain what celebrations the Old Belgae did for celebrating and indicating the New Year. Again, I assume they did the same celebrations as the French brothers and sisters as well the Irish, Scottish and the other Celtic regions.
In lovely connection and with Blessings,
Kristof ‘Taranartos’ Denaghel-Wybouw
You can find out more about Taranartos (Kristof’s mead emporium) at his website: https://taranartos.be/