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 great Pagan Sabbats that divided the ancient calendar into winter, spring, summer and fall. Samhain means "end of summer." The summer reign of the Goddess was over. The Winter King was on his way.
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 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. Samhain was also a night of serious reflection. Speculation about and resolutions for the future were made.
In this image, instead of a witch, we have Cerridwen, the wise Welsh triple goddess. (Maiden, Mother, Crone.) Cerridwen is celebrated as keeper of the cauldron. In her cauldron, she brewed a potent elixir of knowledge that she intended as a gift to her son. Though her gift went astray, it gave birth to Taliesen, the greatest poet Wales has ever known. Cerridwen is revered as the goddess of inspiration, rebirth, regeneration, and divination.
On this night of introspection and new direction, she embodies the spirit of Samhain. Accompanied by her favorite animal, the pig, and by a black cat, she looks deep into her cauldron of water to see what the future may bring. She is focused, curious and unafraid. So may we all be. (Story on back of card.)
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