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Samhain – The Harvest Fires

October 29, 2010

Fairies dancing in the harvest fires

Welcome to the fires of the New Year and the Three Nights of Summer’s End. Samhain, [pronounced SOW-in (Ireland), SOW-een (Wales) or SAV-en (Scotland)] marks the end of the old and the beginning of the new, linking us with the world of spirit at the turning of the year. October 31, when we celebrate Halloween, is the last night of the old year. November 2 is the first night of the New Year and the night of November 1 is the night between that belongs to no time. Our modern Halloween stems from the Celtic Samhain. It is a sacred time, when the veil between this world and the Otherworld is so thin that the dead can walk with us and warm themselves at our hearths. It is also the time when some mortals, especially shamans and poets, are able to find entrance to the Otherworld through special doorways that open only at Samhain.

This is a time of transformation from summer to winter, from the time of growth and bounty above ground, to the time of storing the harvest in the root cellar below ground. Although the seasons in Faerie are not quite so pronounced, nature in the Otherworld follows the cycles of life as well, so the process of moving from outside to inside, from exuberant growth to nurturing dreams affects the Fairies’ way of life just as it does ours.

There are many choices that need to be made at this time of transition from endings to beginnings. For us in the modern, mortal world, the decisions are often metaphorical but there are important realities behind the metaphors. Of the crops that you have grown this past year, which do you want to put in the root cellar to feed yourself and your family through the winter, and which do you save as seed to plant in the spring? Of the animals birthed last spring, which can you afford to feed through the winter and use to breed for next year, and which ones will feed and clothe you and your family through the cold time.

The turning of the year

As we see the fields of dead cornstalks waiting for harvest or the brilliant colors of leaves in their last moments before becoming compost, the turning of the year and the movement from life to death is unmistakable.  That the dying leaves should grace us with such beauty has always struck me as a Fairy thing.

There are many rituals from around the world to mark this time and to honor the energy it brings to our lives. The rituals we know and suggest to you all center around endings and beginnings and acknowledging the possibility of the existence of a world beyond our usual awareness. So, on these three nights of Summer’s End, set a place at the table for your ancestors who want to visit; leave food outside your door for other spirits so that they might bless your home for the coming year. Make a bonfire outside, throw into it everything you want to clean out of your life from the year passed; in the morning, bring coals inside to start your “hearth fire” for the New Year. If you have nowhere to make a fire, turn off all the lights in the house, light a candle and use the flame to burn (carefully!) small scraps of paper on which you’ve written what you want to dispose of. In the morning, light a candle to welcome the New Year and keep you warm through the coming Winter. With the veil between the worlds so thin, it’s a great time for divination, so take out runes or tarot cards. As you or your children walk the streets in costumes, remember that the real spirits and the Fae are walking with you.

—Bridget Wolfe

11 Comments leave one →
  1. SuSun Conway permalink
    October 31, 2010 2:28 am

    Thanks for putting out the real scoop on All Hallows Eve!
    I didn’t know about Nov. 1 Very cool!
    I look forward to sharing about the other worlds around us.
    I do believe in fairies!!!

    • October 31, 2010 5:47 pm

      It’s a good thing that you believe in Fairies because the Fairies believe in YOU! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. – Bridget

  2. Dan in Chicago permalink
    October 31, 2010 5:31 pm

    Bridget – I really enjoyed this. Mike Malloy read this on his radio show Friday (his Halloween show!) and I found it fascinating. Thank you.

    • October 31, 2010 5:51 pm

      It’s always a pleasure to hear from a fellow TruthSeeker. Can’t wait to see pictures of Molly’s Halloween costume. Watch out for heartless ghouls and other monsters tonight and thanks for stopping by to say hello.

  3. Paula permalink
    November 1, 2010 8:44 am

    This was fascinating! I enjoyed learning things I never understood before. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    • November 1, 2010 2:50 pm

      Thanks so much for reading it! And for taking the time to comment. It’s always good to know that what one writes on a blog is not falling into a vacuum, that someone reads it. Bright Blessings, Bridget

  4. kate permalink
    November 1, 2010 2:02 pm

    of all the Seasons and time passages Fall-all hallows eve is my favorite. I have some knowledge of Samhain, but had not understood the connection of my desire to “celebrate” this time of year. you brought more knowledge and brought a clearer understanding of that connection.
    I enjoy your website very much and the gentle spirit that emanates from it’s pages.
    The fairy houses have inspired me to build a few of my own and place them in my small garden, in hopes that they will be inhabited.
    thank you,

    • November 1, 2010 2:55 pm

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad to know that what we do has touched you. We’d love to see photos of your fairy houses if the inhabitants wouldn’t mind. Go to and hit the “contact” link anywhere on the site to email us.
      The nature spirits who live in your neighborhood are lucky to have you!

  5. November 8, 2010 3:42 pm

    Thank you for your beautiful post. We had a huge bonfire and discussed the theories of Abraham-Hicks into the night. I’m looking forward to meeting you and participating in your class at FaerieCon.
    Shine Bright, Susie

    • November 8, 2010 5:14 pm

      We look forward to meeting you as well! If you can, come to the screening of Gateways to Faerie on Sun morning. You’ll get an even better sense of the elemental concepts that inform everything we do and you’ll have a head start on the workshop. Bright Blessings until then – Bridget

      • November 9, 2010 4:06 pm

        I will for sure come to the screening. I am also looking for your book about Faerie Houses, I’m sure I have it in my library but, I don’t keep any real order here-LOL.

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