Our modern Halloween is a mixture of many Paleolithic traditions, passed down, twisted, and melded together through the ages.
Celtic, Roman, and Christian influence held the most sway in creating the holiday that is celebrated by trick or treating and costumes in modern times.
The History of Samhain
To the Celts, Samhain (pronounced Sow-in) was a time when the veil between worlds is thin, making this a time for honoring those who have passed through that veil, or our ancestors.
Historically, they would often burn large bonfires to light the way for the dead and leave a place setting at the table for the ancestors. Celtic practice also often entailed practical jokes and pranks in the spirit of the season before the winter set in.
This time of the last harvest and marks the end of the year, so it is also a New Year Celebration and the end /beginning of the Wheel of the Year.
The ancient Roman Goddess Pomona, of the orchards and harvest, was celebrated at around the same time. The Celts had no issue integrating these similar traditions into their own practice, and feasting became a more integral part of the celebration of Samhain.
Christian Rome, which would not come for around two hundred years, demonized both traditional Roman and Celtic practices, including the celebration of holidays like Samhain. All Souls Day was created to honor the dead, on October 31st, and All Saints Day, to celebrate those who have attained sainthood, is on November 1st.
Many pagans, however, persisted in their traditional beliefs, preserving a few by adapting them to more modern times. Trick or treating and costumery cite their origins back to Celtic pranking, and many symbols of the season are pagan in nature: bats, spirits, scarecrows, broomsticks, and of course, witches.
In Mexico and many other Latin American countries, the Day of the Dead ~ el Dia de los Muertos, is celebrated from the eve of October 31st through November 2nd. It is a time of remembrance and welcoming back the dead to honor them during a brief reunion filled with celebration, food, and drink. Many here in the United States follow these traditions.
Herbs Associated with Samhain
The following Herbs are commonly used to create ritual incense and offerings for Samhain.
Bay Leaves, Blessed Thistle, Butcher’s Broom, Calendula, Catnip, Cedar, Cinnamon, Dragon’s Blood, Frankincense, Goldenrod, Mandrake Root, Mugwort, Mullein, Passion Flower, Pine, Rosemary, Sage, Sandalwood, Thyme, White Oak Bark, Wormwood
Essential Oils Associated with Samhain
These are the essential oils that are commonly used to create ritual anointing oils for the Celebration of Samhain
Angelica, Anise, Cedarwood, Cinnamon, Clove, Myrrh, Pine, Rosemary, Sandalwood, Thyme, Vetiver
Feel free to use the following graphic in any of your social media posts, but please refer them back to this article.
How are you going to use herbs and oils in your Samhain Celebration this year?