We celebrate Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, the night of October 31st, and those who commemorate Samhain use that date as well. Samhain is a cross-quarter day in the modern pagan calendar, and one of the four great Fire Festivals of the ancient Celts.
Samhain begins the Celtic year, at dusk, at the dark time of year, heading into a deeper dark. It is a time when the veils between the worlds are thin, when ancestors and spirits are active and may send us messages. It is a time of power, when the Shadow is near and we connect with forces beyond our ken.
Astrologically, Samhain arrives when the Sun reaches 15 degrees of Scorpio, the middle of the fixed sign of Autumn. This astrological timing holds true for each of the Fire Festivals: Imbolc at 15 Aquarius, Beltaine at 15 Taurus, Lughnasad at 15 Leo, Samhain at 15 Scorpio. This year, astrological Samhain falls on Saturday, November 7, at 1:59 EST.
There is a deep symbolic patterning here. Look at the image Pamela Colman Smith designed for the World card, the final trump, in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. See the four heads in the four corners of the card? Those are the four fixed signs: The bull is Taurus, the lion is Leo, the eagle is Scorpio, the man is Aquarius.
And yes, these are also the symbols of the four evangelists: The man is Matthew, the eagle is John, the lion is Mark, the bull is Luke. What’s happening?
Our experience of life, and time, is patterned. We come around, again and again, to the same markers on our way. What happens between the points may be completely chaotic, but the markers are always there, reminding us to pause, take stock, remember. To the ancient Celts, one of these markers is Samhain.
Why write about Samhain here, on a blog dedicated to the Moon?
Because we’re fast approaching the New Moon in Scorpio, arriving November 11 at 1:47 pm EST. The Sun and Moon will conjoin at 19 Scorpio, with Mercury at 15 Scorpio. This New Moon will carry Samhain energy.
Already, we’re in the dark of the Moon, the days before the New Moon when the Moon is scarcely visible and nights are dark. Soon she will disappear altogether, not showing herself again until after the New Moon has come and gone.
At this time in the lunar cycle, we release, complete, let go, get rid of, make space. A time of endings, of recognizing what is over. What we don’t need, we get rid of, composting the outworn to build soil for the not-yet-born.
With Samhain coming in this Dark Moon time, every observance carries extra power. We can ask for guidance from ancestors: What can we let go of now? What is finished? What is ready to die?
So I write to call your attention to this day, with its opportunities. Remember your ancestors. Leave an empty place at the table for the unknown guest. Listen for messages whispered on the night wind. Prepare now for the New Moon, when our wishes and intentions can be fueled by this powerful turning of the year.
Strong allies surround us this Samhain. The Sun at 15 Scorpio shares energy with Jupiter in Virgo, Pluto in Capricorn, Chiron in Pisces, and Uranus in Aries. All of these contacts present a mixture of opportunity and challenge. At Samhain this year, we look around and see how much we have changed, how much change is coming, and chose to embrace (or turn away from) the changes in our lives.
Each marker, each turn of the year, reminds us of change as much as stability. We’re at Samhain again, and we are not who we were. Now we let go of what’s ready to leave us, so we can plants new seeds for the year to come.