Being immersed in nature as we are here at Blackdown Yurts, we like to think we are in tune with the seasonal year, and so try to learn as much as we can about pagan rituals. Rather than the mass commercialised holiday of Halloween, we like the more simple, ancient traditions and so thought we would introduce you to this holiday of Samhain.
What is Samhain?
Pronounced 'Sow-win', it is a pagan religious festival, which originates from an ancient Celtic spiritual tradition. It is celebrated from October 31st to November 1st to honour the harvest and bring in 'the dark half of the year'. It is considered by some as time to remember those who have died and to pay respect to ancestors, family members, friends, pets and other loved ones.
How do people celebrate it?
Samhain is mostly a time of intention setting and renewal, but there are many rituals that can be performed too, which can include bonfires, dancing, feasting and building altars. It is said that this time of year is the most liminal, when the veil between life and death grows thin. Some pagans bake special loaves of Samhain Bread and leave offerings to the dead. This is where the more modern festival of Halloween comes from.
The Wheel of the Year
Samhain is part of the wheel of the year, which is an annual cycle based around 8 seasonal festivals and honoured by many modern pagans. With pagan tradition, it is said that all things are considered to be cyclical, with time as a perpetual cycle of death and rebirth and so the festivals have been tied with the solar movements and centering on the life cycle of the Sun.
How can we bring Samhain into our celebrations?
Honouring Samhain doesn't need to be complicated, it is about celebrating the season, and embracing the darkness of the winter ahead of us. We like to get out into nature and notice what changes are happening around us. With the shorter days, it is even more important to find the light outside.
Why not try...
or just take a walk and notice what is around you.
Samhain is also about lighting a fire to welcome in the new season, so why not light candles, or even a bonfire outside (remember to be safe around fire). If you have an indoor fire or log burner you could use that. Tell stories around the fire together and remember your loved ones - you could even do a bit of dancing or singing around the fire too!
Eating seasonally is important, especially at this time of year. Root vegetables, warming herbs and spices, soups and casseroles all speak of this season. You could learn more about an Ayurvedic diet and bring elements of that into your cooking. We love to forage in the hedgerows around the yurts and use that within our meals. You can read more about our seasonal recipes here.
However you celebrate this time of year, the most important aspect is spending time with your loved ones, being within nature and noticing the beauty in the darkness. We love this time of year, when we can hibernate and embrace the 'hygge', but we appreciate that not everyone enjoys the winter. Just remember the cycle of the seasons and how soon it will be Spring again!
Further reading for Samhain ideas as a family: https://thegreenparent.co.uk/articles/read/eight-ways-to-celebrate-samhain
Katie is one of the owners of Blackdown Yurts and likes to write about things going on at and around her beautiful glamping site