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Samhain is the most sacred of holidays.   It begins at sundown on October 31.   It is the beginning of the new year.

Samhain represented the final harvest for the ancient peoples.   They stored food for the coming winter.   It was a time of abundance, when they gave thanks to the God and the Goddess.   Their festivals acknowledged the changing of the seasons, and Samhain marked the beginning of the time when the fields would lie fallow through the long dark winter.   They bade the God farewell as he left to prepare for his rebirth at Yule, which would come in another 52 days.

Samhain is a time outside time, a time when barriers have been removed and spirits from the other world can visit ours.   The doors are opened and the thresholds can be bridged.   In the dark evening of Samhain when you are within the circle, past and present and future have merged; there is only one great NOW.

Any observation of Samhain should be done with great solemnity.

Preparation:   Your altar setup should include a bowl containing fresh fruit; bring in some dried leaves and twigs from outdoors and place them around the bowl.   If you plan to make contact with a specific person who has crossed over, you may include a small photograph of him on the altar.   You should never take a watch or any other timepiece into a Samhain circle, and any clocks in the room should be covered or turned so that the faces can't be seen.

Cast the circle and invoke the deities, and when you reach the place in your ritual of Actual Working, speak these words:

"The wheel of the year turns again and again.

"Dark is the night as we reach this turning point.   Now is a time of death, yet we also think of birth ... endings and beginnings, ebbing and flowing, a journey finished, another journey now starting.

"O Lady of darkness, of wisdom, of mysteries shown,

"As the wheel turns, we see birth, death, and rebirth.

"Every ending is a beginning.   Every door of exit is a door of entry to another place.

"Goddess, you are the passage from life to life.   You are She who is at the beginning and at the end of all time.

"You and the Lord Cernunnos abide within us.

"Tonight we honor our dead.   On this sacred night, when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, we can call to those who have gone on; we can call to the Ancient Ones, and they will hear us.

"The Circle has been cast.   I am within the Circle of my own free will, in perfect love and perfect trust.

"To those whose voices are stilled, the Ancestors, those who laugh with me no more, I say:   My love was with you here on earth, and is with you now in that place where you rest and take delight.   May your feet walk where all is fresh and green and new, where lovers and friends wait with open arms.   But tonight ... remain with me awhile.   I miss you.   Be near me now.   I know that I will see you again when the wheel turns for me; when it does, be there to greet me, and we will once again walk the paths together.

"I come to you, O Ancient Ones, with an open heart.   I honor you this night.   Commune with me.   Speak to me."

Having spoken these words, you should now relax, breathe slowly and deeply, and meditate.   You are reaching out for the Ancient Ones, listening for them.   How they will communicate with you is up to them.   Don't be surprised at anything that happens.

Further reading:   The Book of Hallowe'en by Ruth Edna Kelley (1919)

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