In the turning of the Great Wheel the festival of Samhain marks the end of the Solar cycle and the start of the long and dark yin period of the dark goddess or, as Wiccan priestess, Diana Rajchel describes it in her book Samhain,
…the goddess has descended into the underworld to be with her beloved…‘ and that ‘
…the now barren land gives way to the rulership of the Crone.
On the night of the 31st October, it is said that the veil that separates our world from that of the spirits folds back and as a result all kinds of mayhem breaks through.
For Pagans and Wiccans, this date is celebrated as Samhain – an important festival because it marks a time to recognize the spirits of the dead.
Most people Samhain is known as Halloween, or All-Hallows Eve.
So we all know how our modern society has taken to celebrating Halloween but how do those of a magickal persuasion mark Samhain?
Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween is a introduction to the celebration of this most important date in the Pagan calendar. In it the author, Rachel Rachel, explains how Samhain was established as one of the four fire festivals within the ancient Celtic Tradition. She says that it is a time during which the ancestral spirits are said to pay a return visit along with other elementals such as the faeries.
During Samhain welcoming meals were often set out ready for the annual reunification of the departed ancestors as well as for members of their family who were still living.
As for the faeries, well, their rather less-welcomed presence, with their ability to control and confuses ancient folk, came to form the basis of what we know today as ‘trick or treating’.
These, and many other ancient Halloween traditions, are described in Diana Rajchels’ book; along with information on some of the more modern ways in which Samhain is celebrated by modern Pagans, Wiccans and Druids.
In Samhain she offers practical advice on such activities that are popular at this time; those such as pumpkin carving, community bonfires as well as fun and games with that most popular of autumnal fruits – the apple,
If these are a little too mundane for you then the author does offer some advice on how to engage more deeply with the Halloween experience by creating your own haunted house, adopting an ancestor – either living or dead, and holding a divination party.
If you are keen to become even more magickally involved with the energies of this time then you might wish to try out some of the spells that the author recommends along with divination techniques that she favours at this time of the year.
Should your interests lay in cooking and preparing meals from the foods that are available around Samhain then you will enjoy the seasonal recipies on offer in the book. These include ideas based around apples, pumpkin seeds, bread, cakes and stews, etc.
In addition to cooking and serving meals this is also a good time of the year for working on a variety of crafts. Rajchel suggests activities as pumpkin dressing, spinning, making masks, protective crosses and potions. She also suggests that it is a good time of the year for decorating the home.
The Pagan tradition believes that Samhain belongs not only to the faeries and the spirits of the ancestors but also to the gods. In honororing this Diana Rajchel includes a whole section in the book to prayers and invocations to some of the many dieties associated with the dark underworld.
Leading directly on from this she includes some advice on group ritual work for such magickan operations as seeing beyond the veil, enhancing psychic connections between couples and taking a group trip to the underworld.
The book closes with some additional information regarding Samhain keywords, related herbs, trees colors and deities as well as a bibliography and and index.
Halloween is such an exciting time of the year no matter whether you celebrate it on a serious magickal level or simply as a way of marking it as the one day of rhe year when children feel they can let their hair down a bit and have some fun.
This book is, like all of the books in Llewellyns Sabbat Essentials series, aimed mainly at those readers who are interested in studying the ancient Celtic roots of Halloween; or who are seeking guidance on how to celebrate the event as a modern Wiccan or Pagan.
In this regard the author has done an excellent job in presenting her undoubted wealth and experience as a Wiccan in a publication that is full of magickal ideas and practices.
It is a thoroughly enjoyable trip into the Halloween/Samhain traditions and the way in which it draws upon both traditional and modern facets of this festival makes it a well-balanced book – one that offers something new exciting and different for everyone.
Samhain is a rich and varied celebration of one of our most popular and enduring spiritual festivals. It will be an invaluable asset to anyone looking to engage more closely with this season of fun, frolics and serious magical work.