Wiccan Celebrations

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The Eight Pagan Holidays

If you're new to Wiccan practices, this might be the toughest Samhain tradition to get comfortable with.

Wheel of the Year

But it's only when you stop talking that the dead can start communicating; remaining silent will heighten your sense of the energy around you and allow any spirits close to you a chance to make contact. This can be a difficult barrier to cross, he says, but "the power that we tap into when we reconnect with our ancestors Although the dumb supper isn't intended to raise actual dead people and bring them to the table, some covens leave place settings open as offerings to spirits.

It's not all silence and solemnity, though: Happiness and mourning coexist on Samhain, says Betty Turner, psychic, healer, founder of Black Hat Society of Southeast Wisconsin, and owner of Wonderfully Wiccan. The transition from sorrow to joy, she explains, begins with donning a costume for the subsequent witches' ball, part two of the evening's festivities: "Costumes As far as parties go, a witches' ball is the best of both worlds — equal parts feast and dance party, it can go into the wee hours, and those costumes are a must.

Tradition holds that the night must end with a divination ritual , to take full advantage of the thin veil between the worlds of the living and dead on Samhain. This brings the evening back around to where it began: with an attempt to reach loved ones who have passed on. How could you party at a time when you're supposed to be mourning the dead?

Ancient Samhain

Turns out, people have been doing this kind of thing for centuries, Cain says. Later Irish tradition switched to pumpkins. In Wales, men tossed burning wood at each other in violent games and set off fireworks. In Northern England, men paraded with noisemakers.

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That night, doors and windows might be left open for the dead to come in and eat cakes that had been left for them. As Christianity gained a foothold in pagan communities, church leaders attempted to reframe Samhain as a Christian celebration. The first attempt was by Pope Boniface in the 5th century. He moved the celebration to May 13 and specified it as a day celebrating saints and martyrs.

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  6. The fire festivals of October and November, however, did not end with this decree. Neither new holiday did away with the pagan aspects of the celebration. October 31 became known as All Hallows Eve, or Halloween , and contained much of the traditional pagan practices before being adopted in 19th-century America through Irish immigrants bringing their traditions across the ocean.

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    Trick-or-treating is said to have been derived from ancient Irish and Scottish practices in the nights leading up to Samhain. In Ireland, mumming was the practice of putting on costumes, going door-to-door and singing songs to the dead. Cakes were given as payment. Halloween pranks also have a tradition in Samhain, though in the ancient celebration, tricks were typically blamed on fairies.

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    A broad revival of Samhain resembling its traditional pagan form began in the s with the growing popularity of Wicca. Wicca celebration of Samhain takes on many forms, from the traditional fire ceremonies to celebrations that embrace many aspects of modern Halloween, as well as activities related to honoring nature or ancestors. Wiccans look at Samhain as the passing of the year, and incorporate common Wiccan traditions into the celebration.

    Pagan/Wiccan Event & Holiday Calendar

    In the Druid tradition, Samhain celebrates the dead with a festival on October 31 and usually features a bonfire and communion with the dead. Pagans who embrace Celtic traditions with the intent of reintroducing them faithfully into modern paganism are called Celtic Reconstructionists. Celtic Reconstructionists celebrate by placing juniper decorations around their homes and creating an altar for the dead where a feast is held in honor of deceased loved ones.

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    Diana Rajchel. The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween. Jean Markale. Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween. Lisa Morton.

    Celtic Gods and Heroes. Marie-Louise Sjoestedt. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. I have had direct experience with all of these. The Sabbat cycle I describe here reflects the climate zone in the Northern hemisphere where I live as well as my own multi-cultural, spiritual approach with a Wiccan emphasis. Feel free to adapt these customs to reflect your own environment and spiritual path. Spring Equinox.

    Summer Solstice.

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