Most frequently defined in Irish folk etymologies as ‘Summer’s End’, Samhain is understood to be one of the two times of the year when the veil between the physical and the Other worlds are thinnest, and it is frequently thought of as the ‘Celtic New Year’. Celebrated on the eve of 1st November—or in Ireland, that entire month, which is referred to in Gaeilge as mi na Samhna—Samhain marks the fading away of the warm months, the falling of the leaves, the stilling of the earth, and the dying of the year. The Dead in particular are remembered at Samhain, the concept being that that thinness permits a particular closeness or intimacy with the Ancestors at that time, which leads many modern Pagans to commemorate their own Beloved Dead at Samhain, and which has clear syncretic derivatives in the Christian celebrations of Hallowe’en/All Hallow’s Day, and Dia de los Muertos. In ancient Ireland, Samhain was the time when the cattle would be slaughtered, butchered, and preserved; and on the hill of Tlachtga, fires for the people’s hearths would renewed in preparation for the onset of the chill of the winter months.
23 October 2015, Raven’s Hollow Protogrove, ADF
I led the inaugural rite of Raven’s Hollow Protogrove, in fulfilment of the oath I’d made ten months earlier to create a (Proto)grove in honor of the Morrígan in the Carolinas, as She’d instructed and dedicate it to Her as its patron.
The primary Beings we called for our rite were the Dagda and (of course) the Morrígan, as the myth we enacted for the Lore of the Season was the tryst between the two shortly before Samhain on the eve of Cath Maige Tuired, where the Morrígan bestowed the sovereignty of the land upon the Tuatha Dé.
I’ve never before felt the Gods more powerfully present during ritual. The air was still all evening up until that point, the only sound the chirping of crickets in the trees and the crackle of the Fire. But when we began the invitation to the Morrígan, the wind gusted up and howled through our nemeton, nearly blowing out the torches, and not dying down until the invocation had concluded. We heard nearby cattle lowing, dogs baying; a horse neighed, and one attendee swore she heard distant drums.
Many offerings were made, including by people who’d never attended an ADF ritual before (about half); several of the latter held key parts of ritual and performed admirably. The questions we asked for our omen were Have our offerings been accepted? and How can we grow together as a Grove and establish our sovereignty in the land? The runes drawn were Thurisaz, and Jera, Ansuz, and Hagalaz respectively, which were interpreted as ‘Yes’ (signified by the protective sigil of a War God), and ‘A good harvest will be reaped by the cultivation of patience and wisdom, especially in your speech. These tools will enable you to weather the stormy chaos and obstacles in your path.’