The Celtic Wheel of the Year begins at Samhain (a Gaelic word pronounced ‘Sow-whan’) on 31st October/early November (31st April/early May in the Southern Hemisphere). For our Ancestors, their day began at dusk just as life started in the wombs of their womenfolk in darkness, seeds germinated underground before sprouting and Winter was time to dream before the activity of Spring.
Our fore mothers knew this instinctively and celebrated this auspicious event gently easing into early Winter. Crone Goddess An Cailleach (On Kal-yack) is our guide for this Celtic Festival. This ancient festival which honours the death of the old and the birth of beginnings begins the Celtic New Year. Nowadays it has morphed into the modern celebration of Hallowe’en. You may remember or indeed currently love the excitement of dressing up and looking forward to the festivities. It is very healthy to celebrate death as our Mexican sisters know with their Day of the Dead. Here in our Celtic Isles we used to have a great understanding of the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. We knew innately that this was life in all its glory and like the seasons we accepted its inevitability.
Samhain, (a Gaelic word pronounced ‘Sow-whan’) is perhaps the most auspicious time in the Celtic Festival calendar. For our Ancestors, each day was perceived to begin at dusk with the coming of darkness. Therefore, the New Year was understood to begin in the period of gamos, thetime of more darkness than light. In the same way, the growing darkness of the early Winter was also understood to be the true start of the growing season, as seeds germinated in the earth.
An Cailleach, the great Crone Goddess guides us as we gently enter hibernation time. Samhain has always been a natural time for reflection on Life and Death, on personal renewal and for celebration of the turning of the year and homage to those who have lived so that we have life today. Fires countrywide were lit to fortify our endurance in the coming darkness of Winter. This is the season to remember our loved ones who have died and celebrate their soul’s journey to the Otherworld.