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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Samhain

While you're running around dodging miniature witches and vampires today, remember that Halloween (All Hallows' Eve) evolved from the ancient Celtic pagan festival of Samhain (pronounced SOW-en). The Celtic New Year began at this festival, that time between the equinox and Yuletide. Samhain marks the beginning of the darkest part of the year, when the earth sleeps. Its element is water, which is abundant in rain and swollen streams, feeding the greedy earth in preparation for its long hibernation. Animals gather food; trees shed their leaves and get ready for dormancy. The last of the harvest is gathered, including apples and hazelnuts, both of which are symbols of this time. And on the night of Samhain, the veil between worlds is thinnest: the world of the living and the world of the dead, as well as the world of the mortals and that of the fairies. It is said that mortals may enter the land of the fey on this night.

Because of the increase in traffic between worlds at this time, the Celts often dressed in costume to hide their identities. That way, no spirits would find them and take them to the Land of the Dead before their appointed time. Divination was also considered to be especially useful on this night, as the barriers between past and future were lifted.

You may remember that The Key & the Flame takes place during the Midsummer festival. The sequel, The Wand & the Sea, occurs during Samhain. In Anglielle, it is a night when Adepts may walk into the Realm of the Good Folk with impunity, provided they return before dawn. Holly's first task in The Wand & the Sea is to do just that: to journey into the Realm to seek help from the Good Folk who reside there. Meanwhile, Ben and Everett conjure aid of their own--in the form of a Sea Witch.

Now what could possibly go wrong with that?



Read more about Celtic traditions at Samhain here and here.


image: copyright Mickie Mueller; permission granted to use in noncommercial ventures. Visit http://www.mickiemuellerart.com/index.html for prints and other products.

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