TWH – The Wheel of the Year is turning again. This evening in the northern hemisphere marks the beginning of Samhain, the celebration marking the third harvest and the remembrance of our ancestors. In the southern hemisphere, many Pagans celebrate Beltaine, the celebration of the fires of life.
According to the old Celtic calendar, Samhain marks both the start of winter and the new year. It is a time when the ancestors are honored, divination is performed, and festivals are held in honor of the gods. Perhaps the best-known of modern Pagan holidays, Samhain is recognized as the last of the three harvest festivals in Pagan paths that follow the wheel of the year.
For many, Samhain represents a new year and the soberest of days of our annual celebrations. At Samhain, we remember those who have crossed the veil and honor and commune with the mighty dead to bring their wisdom into the new year.
During this season, other celebrations and festivals are also being held, such as Velu Laiks (“the time of spirits”) by Baltic Pagans; Álfablót – or the Scandinavian sacrifice to the elves, Winter Nights – by Ásatrúar; Foundation Night in modern devotional practices to Antinous; Allelieweziel by the Urglaawe tradition; Dziady, the holiday whose name means “grandfathers,” commemorated by Slavic Pagans; Fête Ghede by Vodou practitioners; Día de los Muertos for followers of Santeria and several Indigenous religions in Mexico and throughout Latin America; and the astrological Samhain on November 7, celebrated by some Witches and Druids.
In the southern hemisphere, many Pagans celebrate Beltaine, the celebration of the fires of life, or Beltane, honoring the turn to summer. Beltane is one of the four fire festivals and often represents the optimism for a good harvest, the growing power of the sun, and fertility.
Tonight is also the secular celebration of Halloween, too. This evening will be marked by various festivities as the secular understanding of the holiday focuses on avoiding the tricks laid out by goblins, fairies, and other spirit folks.
Like last year, we asked readers to send us pictures of their ancestor altars and bovedas to mark Samhain. We are honored to present their submission to our community.
The Wild Hunt would like to wish all of our readers a blessed Samhaintide season. We hope that our forebears will offer us their guidance, comfort, and wisdom during this time of great transition. May the new year be ever brighter than the one passing.
What is remembered, lives.