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By Anne Baird

Samhain (pronounced “Sow-en”) or Halloween is the most magical night of the year! Celebrated on October 31st, beginning at sundown, it is the greatest of the four Pagan Sabbats that divide the ancient calendar into winter, spring, summer and fall. Samhain means “end of summer.” The summer reign of the Goddess is now over; the Winter King is on his way.

In ancient days, Samhain was the Celtic New Year, a time of gathering in for pastoral folk. Crops were harvested and stored. Animals were driven in from summer pasturage and slaughtered for food, or housed in barns and pens. People came home to ride out the harsh winter with families. Their very survival depended on the harvest and on a tightly knit community.

On this mysterious night when the old year turned to the new, the veils between the natural and supernatural world were thought to have thinned. The ghosts of ancestors, heroes, heroines, villains, and a host of fairy and otherworldly creatures, returned to Earth. Leprechauns might appear. Trees might talk.

The wise Celt honored returning spirits by setting out treats on the doorstep for them. Empty chairs were set at dining tables in case an unexpected ancestor popped in for a meal. Jack ‘o Lanterns were carved and carried to frighten off unfriendly ghosts. Costumes were worn as disguises to throw vengeful spooks off the track.

Read the original article at: Pagan Pages

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