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The History Of Samhain And Evolution of Halloween

 Photograph by Mukul Soman

Photograph by Mukul Soman
National Geographic

Samhain – The Celtic New Year
Whether you use the Gaelic pronunciation “Sow-en”, “Sow-ween”, “Sah-ween” or the Americanized version “Sam-hain” (yes that is an acceptable pronunciation), it’s still the biggest holiday on the Pagan Calendar.

It’s the start of the Celtic New Year and honors the year that has passed. It is the time when the veil of forgetfulness is lifted between the physical world and the spiritual world. Where the dead are honored and communication with spirit can take place more than any other time of the year.

For pagans it’s a time of celebration, but it’s also a time of reverence and deep spiritual reflection for the past and the future year to come.

An article by the Library of Congress states: Pagans divided the year by four major holidays. According to their calendar, the year began on a day corresponding to November 1st on our present calendar. The date marked the beginning of winter. Since they were pastoral people, it was a time when cattle and sheep had to be moved to closer pastures and all livestock had to be secured for the winter months. Crops were harvested and stored. The date marked both an ending and a beginning in an eternal cycle.

Pagans follow a Lunar calendar and the day would begin at sunset. Celebrations for holidays therefore would also begin when the sun set and the moon rose. This is why we start our Samhain celebrations at sunset on October 31st and continue them through the day on November 1st.

Where many will say Happy Halloween, the proper salutation for pagans would be Merry Samhain. Continue reading

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History Of Lughnasadh

The Fire Festival Of The Summer Sun
By Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D.  🐾

Arctic Wolf Fire

“Arctic Wolf Fire”
© Tom-in-Silence

This is the first of the Pagan Harvest Festivals. This is a time where we celebrate the Sun God Lugh, honor the rain and thank the magikal folk of the Tuatha Dé Danann for their help in our own gardens.

As local clans migrated, they took with them their religious and spiritual traditions. Many people believe that during these migrations, names of holidays also changed and Lughnasadh became Lammas. That’s not quite accurate however.

Lammas comes from the Old English word hlafmæsse, which  literally means “loaf mass,”. It was first used in the 15th and 17th centuries by the early Catholic Churches to celebrate the grain provided by the first harvest. In other words, it was another attempt by the early church to co-opt a pagan holiday, make it their own, in order to convert pagans.

Many Anglo-Saxon pagan clans, adopted the name, but still observed the original celebrations of Lugh and the original intent of the holiday. Must pagan purests prefer to ignore the Christianized version of the festival and stick with the early Celtic name of Lughnasadh. As with most things in the world of spirituality, your preferred name should ring true with you. It’s your festival to honor the Sun, the warmth of the summer and their blessings upon the fields. Call it what you feel most connected to, Lughnasadh or Lammas.
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