The wild hunt of Samhain


The autumn equinox has long passed, and the sun makes its journey south along the ecliptic, spending less and less time above the horizon. The approach of winter is palpable now. There is a chill in the air, and the days are noticeably shorter. If you are brave enough to venture out on Samhain night, and if it is a moonless night, you will find an enchanting array of stars emblazoned across the celestial sphere.

Today on October 31, we celebrate Samhain, also called the witch’s New Year and it's the midpoint between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice.

In faerie lore, Samhain is the night of the “wild hunt,” a notorious and rambunctious ride when scores of faeries come racing out from within their hollow hills to wreak havoc throughout the towns. Meandering mortals avoided traversing near the sidhe , or faerie mounds, out of fear of abduction. And if one did venture out during the wild hunt, it was only under the auspices of a protective charm, such as salt or iron. Turning one’s clothing inside out was another way to protect against faerie mischief.

Faerie lore claims that a stone with a natural hole through it, dry but found near the water, would enable the wearer to enter the faerie realm and return from it unharmed. This same type of amulet was also believed to protect horses from faerie mischief and theft. Perhaps it was the practice of wearing charms for protection that led Samhain to become a night for divination.

Many different methods of divination were used by the Celts in order for young girls to learn the name of a future husband. Others sought to get a glimpse of the future and obtain information about a future occupation. Babies born on Samhain were thought to possess divinatory power and were often treated with special respect as well as fear.

Samhain is also the time when rituals were held to honor the dead. Benevolent spirits were beckoned and tempted with favorite foods that they enjoyed during life. Malevolent spirits were banished and kept away. The origin of the jack o’ lantern is rooted in the belief of wandering spirits and ghosts. The lantern’s glow was meant as a beacon for the spirits of the dearly departed, while the terrible faces carved therein were meant to frighten away any spirit with ill intentions.

The leaves are covered in frost in the early mornings while we are patiently waiting for the first snowfall. It's time to shine a light on what is really going on, no more distractions, no more hiding. Get to the bottom of what you want, how to get it and face your fears. Your emotions are here to tell you something, don't ignore them, embrace them and rise.

No matter what you call this day and how you celebrate it, may you stay warm and may your night be spooky. Blessed Samhain and have a fun All Hallows’ Eve!

Now when dying grasses veil earth from the sky in one last pale wave, as autumn dies to bring winter back, and then the spring, we who die ourselves can peel back another kind of veil.
— Annie Finch