I must admit that what I do at this time varies from year to year but I would like to share what I have done combined with what I would like to do this year and through Samhain during years to follow.
First it has to be decided when your Samhain time is going to be. The oldest calculation for Samhain was to take the midpoint between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice and conclude that the dusk and dawn of the day where this midpoint falls is the day of Samhain. Very few people honour the true Samhain time now, or Solar Samhain as some call it. This year, 2007, it is on November 7th which is quite late so I doubt that many will hold off until then though I know I will, hence why I am a bit late posting articles about Samhain this year.
What Happened to Bonfire (bone fire) Night?
England has traditionally held on to November 5th as “Guy Fawkes” day, but its tradition is much more ancient than that. I often wonder if Guy’s name is a myth, short for Guisers, the masked players of Scotland who’s tradition has sadly been very watered down by the “trick or treat” traditions in North America.
Even England has watered down its Guy Fawkes traditions to be replaced by the “trick or treat” and Halloween retail marketing lure for October 31st.
Most folks around the world will now stick to doing something on October 31st, mainly because the high street shopping centres have told them too, and partially because churches set this date to be in line with the Roman Calendar that we all use without thinking of or challenging its “convenient” origins.
Our Changing Trust
A lot of groups who explore and engage in earth faiths choose November 1st each year, again aligned to the Roman Calendar. These same groups embrace Brigid’s Day on February 1st, Bealtaine on May 1st and Lughnasa on August 1st. They feel that aligning to the more natural universe measured sidereal time is too complex and may confuse others due to falling on different Roman Calendar dates each year. Some groups try to get closer to the Sidereal Calendar by delaying celebration to the 4th or 5th of each fire ceremony seasonal quarter.
Another Samhain date set by earth faith leaders is the sunset and sunrise time centred by the full moon closest to solar midpoint. This year it was between sunset on October 26th and sunrise October 27th. Where I live it is said to be the time the Whooper Swans arrive on the lakes in northern and central Ireland after arriving from the north. They are said to be bringing the spirit of Brigid to protect expectant mothers about to give birth in spring, mothers being sheep, cattle and horses as well as humans. When they arrive they cackle! This year I heard some arrive during daylight of the morning of October 27th, but could not see them due to low cloud.
And What The Druids Now Do
Perhaps the most complex Samhain date is that set by many of today’s druid teachers who align the date to when the Moon and Sun are together at 10 degrees Scorpio closest to the solar midpoint. This year that is November 9th and this is when the fires will be put out and re-lit on Tlachtga Hill in Co. Meath, the ancient site where new fires were distributed around Island. I will say more about this on my next blog where I will talk about Samhain Ceremonies.
Another question is how long a Samhain Ceremony or Festival should be. Most of us now confine this to one evening but in ancient times this was for 3 days leading up to the point of Samhain.
I find it interesting that fire festivals were always 3 days long and leading up to the point of the festivals alignment. Note how this is different to solstice and equinox times that we seem to pay attention to more these days. Celebration tends to linger 3 days after the alignment. This is best noted at Christmas where Winter Solstice is usually December 21st or 22nd and Christmas Day is 3 days later. Easter, though not now aligned directly to Equinox, has an interesting 3 day difference between crucifixion and resurrection.
So really, its up to you when Samhain 2007 is celebrated and how you do this.
To put this calendar in line to help you make your choices
October 26th: Lunar Samhain after sunset, embraced by main earth and goddess faiths people
October 31st: Halloween and Guising festivities after sunset
November 1st: All Souls, ancient new year, dated by early Christians but today preferred by many leaders of earth faith groups
November 5th: Kept alive by England’s Guy Fawkes and Bonfire (bone fire) Night and preferred by some leaders of earth and goddess faith groups
November 7th: My own preferred Samhain date, this year, as it is aligned to the natural universe measured sidereal time of the sun’s position between equinox and solstice, and not the Roman Calendar. A few earth faith leaders align to this too. Also, ceremony and celebrations should commence after sunrise November 5th. For me this also represents a male and female balance with Green Man one side, Goddess the other side and the snake (a symbol of earth shedding old skin for a new skin) coming up from the earth in the middle.
November 9th: Complex calculation, preferred by druids, and is especially important with today’s druids in Ireland. However, they seem to no longer make this a 3 day event but a singular after sunset event. This does tend to lean towards the male or Green Man entity yet is also about men being humble to the Goddess. You’ll have to know more of the Tlachtga legend to visualize this.
I will continue another blog providing ideas for Ceremony For Samhain