SamhainThe Samhain is a high holiday generally celebrated on the last weekend of October in the Northern Hemisphere (May 1st in the Southern Hemisphere). The word "Samhain" (pronounced "SOW-inn" by most) is derived from old an Gaelic term that means the end of summer.
Return to the EarthSamhain is opposite Beltane on the Wheel of the Year, and predictably celebrates an inverse set of attributes. Where Beltane focuses on new bright sun, warmth, new life and growth, Samhain is a time for reflection on darker, colder days ahead, harvest and the end of life. This is not, however a time of sadness. Instead, it is more of an appreciation for those who have already passed on from this earthly plane and into the other world of the unknown. In the bright light of our world, the other world is heavily shielded from our perception. On Samhain, the veil between our two worlds is very thin, so some things may pass from one side to the other.
Modern InterpretationSince the veil between our world and the spirit realm is at its thinnest, now is the perfect time of year to send loving thoughts to people and creatures in our life that have passed on. One modern ritual involves collecting photos of of people and pets that are no longer with us and setting them on a table in a place of honor in our home. Next, the table is decorated and adorned with candles or twinkling lights, and then a party is held in their honor.
Food, music and activities that were enjoyed by the spirits being honored are a central part of the festivities. Since the party is in their honor, guests should use this time to tell happy stories involving the departed spirits and speak as if they still walk among us - for on this night they do!
Although only certain gifted people can perceive the spirit world even the average person may get a familiar feeling of the departed personalities. Beloved pets are sometimes seen in a scant glimpse out of the corner of the eye, or felt as a brush against the skin. The main thing is to assure those who have gone before us that they are not forgotten.