SAMHAIN / HALLOWEEN

As rue was thought of as the herb of repentance, the October 31 Celtic festival of Samhain included rue in the casting out of the old year & welcoming in the new.
It was also one of the funeral herbs used by the Druids – again, the theme of repentance & saying goodbye to the old & starting on a new path are all associated with this herb.
- See more at: http://herbalpicnic.blogspot.ie/2013/06/rue.html#sthash.LA4QZBrR.dpuf

Halloween marked the Celtic New Year in Ireland & was originally called Samhain, which translates to "summer's end" in Gaelic.
The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on this day & the autumnal festival acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, goblins, black cats, fairies & demons of all kinds said to be roaming about.
This is an evil night when spirits roamed the streets & villages.
Lord Samhain, the lord of Darkness, would arrive in search of the spirits to take them to the underworld.
The Druid religion of Celtic tribes worshipped Samhain, the Lord of Darkness. The Druid New Year began on November 1st, as the hours of nighttime were growing significantly over the hours of sunlight. Hence, Lord Samhain reigned over the long winter months as the influence of the Sun god receded.

Three of the sacred fruits of the Celts were acorns, apples & nuts, especially the hazelnut, considered a god & the acorn, sacred from its association to the oak.

As rue was thought of as the herb of repentance, the October 31 Celtic festival of Samhain included rue in the casting out of the old year & welcoming in the new.

It was also one of the funeral herbs used by the Druids – again, the theme of repentance & saying goodbye to the old & starting on a new path are all associated with this herb.

People were warned not to sit under the Hawthorn tree on Halloween lest they be kidnapped & carried off by the little people.

Another old custom was to make a Hawthorn Globe or charm ball from its twigs & foliage & tied with a white ribbon on the old Celtic New Year,Samhain.
The old charm ball from the previous year was then burned on the bonfire of straw,ash twigs & acorns.
This represented your old self with all your previous years troubles & sorrows being consumed in fire.
Your new self with all your hopes & new aspirations can then be forged into the new globe & hung in a safe place until the next New Year.

If you are a single woman & you put Rosemary under your pillow on Halloween night, you will dream of your future husband.
Or if a girl puts a sprig of rosemary herb & a silver sixpence under her pillow on Halloween night, she will see her future husband in a dream.

Each member of the family places a perfect Ivy leaf into a cup of water & it is then left undisturbed overnight.
If, in the morning, a leaf is still perfect & has not developed any spots then the person who placed the leaf in the cup can be sure of 12 months health until the following Halloween.

A lady who is engaged & wants to know how her married life would be, can place two Hazelnuts side by side in the fire.
If they pop & jump, the marriage would be filled with quarrels & strife.
However, if the nuts burn peacefully side by side, that is the best omen.

In Britain, people believed that the Devil was a nut-gatherer. At Halloween, nuts were used as magic charms.

Burn hazelnuts:

if burns quietly you will have good luck,
if exploded-bad luck,
if burns brightly-will be alive next 12 months,
If flared up brightly-marriage in next 12 months..

Hang an Apple by the door at chin height, rub the chin with saliva, stand about 20 cm from the apple & hit the chin against the apple. If it sticks to the chin, you will be married & your true love will stick with you.

Young ladies would try to peel an apple in one long continuous strip. They would then stand & with the right hand, toss the apple over her left shoulder. The act was sometimes accompanied by this charm:
I pare this apple round & again
My sweetheart's name to flourish plain
I fling the pairing o'er my head
My sweetheart's letter on the ground be read.
The initial the peel formed as it landed on the ground would be the initial of her future lover/husband.

If a girl had several young men courting her & was undecided as to which she should choose, on Halloween she could take apple seeds, naming one for each boyfriend & stick them to her face.
The last one to fall off was the guy she should pick.

If you peel an apple from the bottom, the one with the longest unbroken peel will have the longest life.

If you slice an apple through the equator (to reveal the five-pointed star within) & then eat it by candlelight before a mirror, your future spouse will appear over your shoulder.
If you place an apple under your pillow you will dream of your future husband.

Another myth was that if a girl put her bobbed apple under her pillow on Halloween night, she would dream about her future husband.

If a girl goes to a field on Halloween at midnight to steal Cabbages,the first man she meets on her return will be her new husband.

If a young lady walks backward into the garden at midnight & picks a cabbage,she will see her future husband over her shoulder.

Blindfolded local girls would go out into the fields & pull up the first cabbage they could find.

If their cabbage had a substantial amount of earth attached to the roots then their future loved one would have money.

Eating the cabbage would reveal the nature of their future husband - bitter or sweet!

Put an Orange by the window & the devil will not come in, knowing Halloween is celebrated there & he is not wanted.

TRADITIONS:

The traditional Halloween colors of orange & black actually stem from the pagan celebration of autumn & the harvest, with orange symbolizing the colors of the crops & turning leaves, while black marks the "death" of summer & the changing season.

The idea of trick-or-treating is further related to the ghosts of the dead in pagan. Among the ancient Druids, the ghosts that were thought to throng about the houses of the living were greeted with a banquet-laden table.
At the end of the feast, masked & costumed villagers representing the souls of the dead paraded to the outskirts of town leading the ghosts away.

Celtic folklore tells the tale of a drunken farmer named Jack who tricked the devil, but his trickery resulted in him being turned away from both the gates of heaven & hell after he died.
Having no choice but to wander around the darkness of purgatory, Jack made a lantern from a turnip &a burning lump of coal that the devil had tossed him from hell.
Jack, the story goes, used the lantern to guide his lost soul; as such, the Celts believed that placing Jack-o'-lanterns outside would help guide lost spirits home when they wander the streets on Halloween.

Originally made using a hollowed-out turnip with a small candle inside, Jack-o'-lanterns' frightening carved faces also served to scare evil spirits away.

After the visits to the neighbours the Halloween games begin, the most popular of which is Snap Apple.
An apple is suspended from a string & children are blindfolded.
The first child to get a decent bite of the apple gets to keep their prize.
The same game can be played by placing apples in a basin of water & trying to get a grip on the apple without too much mess.

Halloween was thought to be the most favorable time for divinations concerning marriage, luck, health & death. It was the only day on which the help of the devil was invoked for such purposes.

In ancient times, the apple was viewed as a sacred fruit that could be used to predict the future.

Bobbing for apples is one of the traditional games used for fortune-telling on Halloween night.

It was believed that the first person to pluck an apple from the water-filled bucket without using their hands would be the first to marry.

If the bobber lucked out & caught an apple on the first try, it meant that they would experience true love, while those who got an apple after many tries would be fickle in their romantic endeavors.

Halloween in Irish Folklore

FOOD:

Roast pumpkin seeds:

1 1/2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds
2 tsp butter, melted
1 pinch salt
Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.
Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter & salt.
Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet & bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally.

Witches' Pea Soup:


1 tbsp butter
1-2 onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
650 g frozen petits pois
750 ml vegetable stock
6 rashers streaky bacon
Heat the oil in a saucepan.
Add the onion & gently cook over a medium heat for 5-6 min until softened.
Add the garlic & cook another min.
Stir in the petit pois, then pour in the stock.
Bring to the boil & simmer for 10-12 min.
Meanwhile, grill the bacon until crisp.
Allow to cool for a few min, then carefully transfer to a food processor & whizz until smooth.
Bring back to the boil season to taste.
Scatter bacon over bowls or mugs of soup.

Colcannon:

2 kg potatoes
1 green cabbage or Kale
~1 cup milk
120 g butter
salt & pepper
chives
Slice the cabbage,cover with boiling salted water & keep at a slow boil until the cabbage is softened.Drain.
Peel & boil the potatoes.
When the potatoes are soft, drain & add the milk along with the butter.Mash.
Stir in the cabbage.
Season to taste.
Sprinkle with chopped chives.

Barnbrack:

In traditional Ireland each member of the family would get a slice of the delicious cake.
There were several charms hidden in the cake wrapped in baking paper which signified an omen for the finders future:
If you found a ring you’re in for some romance or happiness.
If you got the coin then you were in for a prosperous year.
If you found the rag than your financial future was in doubt or general bad luck.
If you find the thimble then you will never marry..
If you find a key:journey.
If you find a pea:You will not marry next year..
Finding a stick:unhappy marriage or continually be in disputes.
If you find a button you will have bachelors carefree life for next year.

375 g dried fruit
300 ml cold tea
225 g self-raising flour
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp mixed spice
125 g caster sugar
Soak the fruit in tea overnight, then drain.
Mix together with the rest of the ingredients & stir in the charms.
Don’t over knead the dough.
Line the base of a 20cm round cake tin or 900g loaf tin with greaseproof paper. Grease the tin & pile in the mixture.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170C for about an hour until risen & firm to the touch.
You can brush melted honey or golden syrup over the brack before cutting.

Samhain

MYTHS & MAGIC:


It was believed that during Halloween, spirits could enter into the living world more easily than the lighter part of the year. From these beliefs, various superstitions were derived.

If you hear what sounds like footsteps behind you on Halloween,it is believed that ghosts are following you.

If you happen to see a ghost on Halloween, you can make it vanish by walking around it 9 times.

If you hear three knocks on your door & no one is on the other side of the door, superstition has it that this means someone close to you has passed away.The superstitious call this the 3 knocks of death.

You should never slam a door — especially on Halloween. If you slam a door on a ghost, it is believed that he will haunt you forever!

To ward off evil spirits on Halloween walk around your home three times backwards before the sun sets. For best results, make sure you are also going counterclockwise.

Oatmeal & salt were placed on children's' heads to protect them from evil.

& anyone tossing a bucket of water out the window must be sure to yell "Seachain" as a warning to fairies & ghosts to move away lest they get drenched.

One way to protect yourself from them was to turn your pockets inside out - something that was certainly done by anyone brave enough to go to the crossroads this night.

A person born on Halloween can see & talk to spirits.

Dine in silence; dinner conversation may invite ghosts to the table.
When walking in the dark, carry one lump of bread in your pocket as an offering to ghosts & keep another one sprinkled with salt to ward off witches.
Ringing a bell or leaving a turnip on your gatepost keeps the ghosts away, but don't try to hurt any ghosts. That means no door slamming or hunting trips & hide all the knives!

Witches don't like horses so keep them out of your house with a horseshoe over the door.
Tying a knot in a handkerchief wards off evil & since the Devil was a nut-gatherer, make your magic charms out of nuts.

You will have good luck if on the night before Halloween you sleep facing south.
Its a good luck if you find on your way a piece of coal & you pick it up.

If the top of your head itches, you will have good luck.
Another good luck sign is if you sneeze three times before breakfast.

On Halloween, journeys must be finished before sunset.

An omen of death is when you dream of death.

If you hear steps behind you on Halloween night, don't turn around, because is death following you & will take you if you do.

If you look over your left shoulder & you see the new moon, is another sign of bad luck.
On Halloween, you will have bad luck if you get off bed using the left foot.

If you want to avoid bad luck on Halloween, don't sing before breakfast or cry before dinner.

A medieval superstition that still lingers today, the ringing of bells (or chimes, doorbells & other sound-making devices) is supposed to chase away evil spirits.

To prevent ghosts coming into the house at Halloween, bury animal bones or a picture of an animal near the doorway.
To discover if the coming winter will be cold or warm,cut a chip from the beech tree on oct 31 & examine it to see if it is wet or dry.
If it is wet,this is the sign that winter will be bitter cold.
If dry,expect the winter season to be milder then normal.

On the morning of 1. november a silver coin to be thrown through the front door of the house.
Coin has to remain where it landed in order to bring financial luck.

Bird:

When a bird flies into a sick person's window, it means that person will die soon.
You know someone has died when a bird flies into your house.
If you listen three hoots of an owl is a bad omen.

Clock:

You will have bad luck if you do not stop the clock in the room where someone dies.
You will know that a family member has died when you heard the chime of a clock that is not working.

Cats:


It’s bad luck if a black cat crosses your path, especially on Halloween or Friday the 13th.

One old spell promises that if you:

"At the witching hour
hang a bell of gold,
round a cat's neck
& he'll do as he's told."

If you hear a cat sneeze, you will be lucky.

If you dream of a white cat, you will be a lucky person.

If you see a white cat on Halloween, you will have bad luck.

If you hurt a black cat on Halloween, you'll have seven years of bad luck.

If a black cat meows on your porch or near a window, a death will soon occur in the family.

Candle:

Light an orange candle when the clock strikes midnight on Halloween. If you let the candle burn until sunrise, you will be the recipient of good luck.

If a candle happens to go out by itself on Halloween, it is believed that you have a visitor — a ghost!

If the ghosts decide not to visit & your candle remains lit, if you look into the light — it is believed that you will see your future.

If a candle flame suddenly turns blue, there is a ghost nearby.

If the candle then begins to smoke, the ghost is trying to communicate with you. Grab a piece of paper & hold it over the smoke (be careful not to set the paper on fire)

Randomly move the paper around in the smoke while opening your mind to what the spirit is trying to say.

A picture will form in soot on the paper from which you can divine the spirit's message.

Always burn new candles on Halloween to ensure the best of luck. It is not a good idea to burn Halloween candles at any other time of the year. It may bring bad luck or strange things will happen to you, over which you will have no control.

Gazing into a flame of a candle on Halloween night will enable you to peer into the future.

Many people consider it to be extremely unlucky to look at their reflection in a mirror by candle light on Halloween night.It was believed that it would cause the Devil to appear in the reflection.

Bats:

Medieval folklore also described bats as witches' familiars & seeing a bat on Halloween was considered to be quite an ominous sign.

One myth was that if a bat was spotted flying around one's house three times, it meant that someone in that house would soon die.

Another myth was that if a bat flew into your house on Halloween, it was a sign that your house was haunted because ghosts had let the bat in.

If the bats come out early on Samhain night & fly around, it means good weather is coming.

Eggs:

Put an egg to roast before the fire & leave the doors & windows open. When it begins to sweat a cat will come in & turn the egg. After the cat will come the man you are to marry & he will turn it.

If you are to die unmarried, the shadow of a coffin will appear.

On Halloween go upstairs backwards, eating a hard boiled egg without salt & looking in the mirror.

You will see your future husband in the glass, looking over your shoulder.

Mirror:

Go down the cellar stairs backward on Halloween, carrying a mirror into which you look. A face will be seen over your shoulder which will be that of your future husband.

Another common method instructed a girl to light two candles at midnight, then sit in front of a mirror & eat an apple.
She was then instructed to brush her hair.
An image of her future lover/husband would appear in the mirror behind her shoulder.
"...he would gaze into her mirror
Where his image will be found.
But for fear that he will vanish,
She must NEVER LOOK AROUND!"
Single women get in front of a mirror in a darkened room & stare at it.
This way they could see the face of their future husband, but if their destiny is die before get married ,a skull will appear in the mirror.

Ring:

On Halloween put a ring in a dish of mashed potatoes & the one who gets the ring will be married first.

Spider:



If a spider falls into a candle-lit lamp & is consumed by the flame, witches are nearby.

If you spot a spider on Halloween, it means that the spirit of a deceased loved one is watching over you.

Haystack:

If you sweep around the base of a haystack three times with a broom, on the 3rd time around, your future lover will either appear or you will hear their name spoken.

Bread:

If you eat a crust of bread before going to bed & make a wish,
your wish will come true.

A piece of bread crossed with salt was carried in the pockets of travellers to keep them safe.

Well:


Looking into a well on Halloween night was another way to see the future for the next 12 months.

Fire:


In earlier times, bonfires were lit on hilltops to drive off witches: & on no account were household fires allowed to go out that night, or evil things might gain an entry.

Incidentally, if your fire flame turns blue, it’s said that an other-worldly being has entered the room.

The Halloween bonfire is a tradition to encourage dreams of who your future husband or wife is going to be.

The idea was to drop a cutting of your hair into the burning embers & then dream of you future loved one.

The old Celtic custom was to light great bonfires on Halloween & after these had burned out to make a circle of the ashes of each fire.

Within this circle & near the circumference, each member of the various families that had helped to make a fire would place a pebble.

If, on the next day, any stone was out of its place, or had been damaged, it was held to be an indication that the one to whom the stone belonged would die within twelve months.

Moon:

Another Celtic superstition involves the moon; if you catch your shadow in the moonlight, you're simply doomed to bad luck--& even death.

The more clouds are hiding the moon on Halloween night,the more rain we'll have in upcoming months.

Cemetery:


If you hold your breath while you drive by a cemetery, evil spirits can't enter your body.

When passing a graveyard or a house where someone has died, turn your pockets inside out to make sure you don't bring home ghost in your pocket.

There is an old superstition that says the body which is put in the first grave dug in a new graveyard is always claimed by the devil.

Coffins:

It is said that anyone who lies in a coffin, even for fun, is inviting death & that no item of clothing belonging to a living person should ever be placed on a corpse when it is placed in a coffin, for as it rots in the grave so will the rightful owner decline towards death.

Crossroads:


If you go to a crossroads at Halloween & listen to the wind, you will learn all the most important things that will befall you during the next twelve months.

Wind:

On Halloween Night, it is believed that those people who are destined to die within a year will hear a sigh that is carried by the wind which blows over the feet of the dead.

At the midnight look out for strength & direction of the wind:as it blows,it will blow for a few weeks to come.

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