Samhain, the end of harvest and the beginning of the "darker" half of the year. A time when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld could be easily crossed. Spirits can easily enter our world and walk amoung the living. Offerings of food and drink were left outside for them in an attempt to appease them and keep them from taking their livestock. I wonder, is it enough?
Please come in....
The souls of the dead were also thought to visit their homes seeking hospitality. Feasts were laid out and the souls of dead kin were invited to attend, a place set at the table for them. Awaken lost souls and find your way home.
Festival For The Dead
According to Irish mythology, the doorways to the beyond are open but, unlike it's spring time equivalent Bealtaine, this wasn't a festival for the living but rather a festival for the dead. Bonfires were lit on hilltops and rituals were performed. These fires held back the decay and darkness of the coming winter. Their smoke had a special cleansing power. Many brought the fires back home with them to burn through the year.
Mumming was also a part of the Samhain festival, seeing people travel from house to house in disguise reciting songs or verses in exchange for food and drink. Participants attempted to impersonate the souls of the dead, receiving offerings on their behalf. Would you invite them in? Or would you turn them away and risk the misfortune that may befall you in the coming dark days?
And so we come to modern day Halloween. How will you spend it? Will you appease those visitors seeking offerings for their loved ones? Will you set a feast for the dead? Or will you go off into the woods and seek out the Otherworld for yourself? Whatever you choose, I wish you joyous end of harvest. Happy Halloween!