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Samhain- a Pagan Honoring of the Ancestors, and Death

By Angie Buchanan

Ancient faith was influenced by the natural world. Originating in ancient Europe as a Celtic Fire festival, the Pagan holiday of Samhain, marks the end of the harvest season, heralds the beginning of winter; the dark half of the year, and honors death. Samhain, (pronounced SAH-win, or SOW-in) is also the Gaelic name for the month of November, the literal translation being, ‘summer’s end’.

Being largely a pastoral people, the Celts observed the season of Samhain as the time when the earth was dying. The crops had already been harvested and stored; the fields lay barren, and now cattle and sheep had to be moved from remote areas to closer pastures and secured for the winter months. Those who kept livestock would assess the stored bounty of the two prior harvests; of field and orchard in order to determine how many animals could be adequately fed through the winter. Those not able to be cared for were butchered, and would help to feed the family during the dark days ahead. It is partially due to this that Samhain is sometimes referred to as the ‘blood harvest’

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