Ireland's Guide to Samhain (Halloween) - October 2018

By Maria O'Farrell Carr

celtic wheel

This is a great article about Monumental Ireland's Guide to Samhain (Halloween)

Among the ancient Irish, the year was divided into a light half (Summer) and a dark half (Winter). In those ancient times, the day was seen to begin at sunset. So too, the year was seen to begin with the arrival of dark half (winter) at Samhain, which began at sunset on the 31st of October. The Festival of Samhain marked the end of the Celtic year and the beginning of the new one and as such can be seen the ancient equivalent of New Year's Eve.

Although now on a set date (the 31st of October), Samhain would have been originally celebrated on the astronomical 'cross-quarter' day, mid way between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice (usually around the 5th of November). The other cross quarter days are Imbolc, Bealtaine, and Lughnasadh, which are all ancient festival days.

At Samhain (pronounced Sow (like a pig) - en), the division between this world and the otherworld was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through into our world and walk amongst the living. In order to appease the harmful spirits, food was left at the door. People would also wear costumes and masks to disguise themselves as the harmful spirits, in order to confuse them and thus avoid harm themselves. However, not all spirits were seen as harmful and the spirits of a family's ancestors were honoured and invited into the home.

In later times, the Christian religion incorporated the honouring of the dead at Samhain into its calendar with All Hallows Day on November 1st, preceded by All Hallows Eve (Halloween) the night before. However, the wearing of costumes and masks and other Halloween customs still survived. During the 19th Century, when large numbers of Irish emigrated to America, they carried these traditions with them and today Halloween is one of the biggest holidays of the year.

Fires played a large part in the Samhain festivities and traditionally all household fires were extinguished and re-lit again from a communal bonfire. These fires also symbolised our early ancestors fear, that with the onset of the dark half of the year, the sun (or sun god) would need assistance by way of offerings and ceremonies, to return again in Spring (Bealtaine).

There are some notable ancient monuments in Ireland that are specifically associated with Samhain. The first is Tlachtga (Hill of Ward) near Athboy in Co Meath. A multivate ringfort about 150 metres in diameter, Tlachtga dates from the Early Iron Age c. 500BC and was the location of the Great Fire Festival begun on the eve of Samhain. The festival would have lasted for least several days and is thought to have been associated with the sun-god (Lugh). The site takes its name from Tlachtga the daughter of the Druid Mug Ruith who is said to have died there while giving birth to triplets.

Much older than Tlachtga however, is the Mound of the Hostages, a passage tomb located on the Hill of Tara in Co. Meath. The short entrance passage is aligned with the rising sun at Samhain. The Mound of the Hostages is roughly 5000 years old, suggesting that Samhain was celebrated in Ireland long before the first Celtic people arrived some 2,500 years ago.

Oweynagat cave (part of the Rathcroghan Royal Complex in Co. Roscommon) features heavily in Irish mythology and is said to be the actual birthplace of the mythical Queen Medb. There is even an ancient ogham inscription that reads “Freach, Son of Medb” located at the entrance to the cave. The Morrígan; a goddess with whom Queen Medb is often associated, is also said to dwell within the cave. The Morrígan was the goddess of battle and strife and was said to drive her cattle out of the cave every Samhain at sunset and return them before the sun rose again.

Bull Rock is a steep side pinnacle of rock that rises out of the sea several miles southwest of the Beara Peninsula in Co. Cork. A large natural tunnel passes completely through the rock giving it a distinctive arch form. The old Irish name for the rock is Teach Duinn meaning House of Donn, after Donn Dubh (Dark One), the god of the dead. The tunnel that passes through Teach Duinn is aligned with the south west horizon and the setting sun can be seen shining through the tunnel before disappearing into the darkness below. It was believed that after their deaths, the dead continued to walk in the land of the living as 'shades' until they heard the sound of Donn's horn at Samhain, calling them to Teach Duinn, from where they traveled west over the sea to the Otherworld.

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Maria O'Farrell CarrMaria's Bio: Maria is a gifted healer, intuitive and medical intuitive from Ireland. She carries a vast wealth of experience from a life of passionate exploration of the profound healing and ancient Irish intuitive gifts she inherited from her mother and going back to her grandmothers, two great uncles who were well known healers of the sick and even as far back as her great, great, great, grandfather (b. 1837) who was known as the Irish Healer of Animals. Her depth of knowledge and wisdom comes from her deep study and relentless research. Maria offers Celtic Intuitive & Angel Card Reading thru Skype or phone to any were in the world. Maria grew up in Ireland and has travelled to over 16 countries and visited 245 cities. She has lived and travelled to Australia, Canada, North and South America, Europe and many places around the world. Maria has lived in the Okanagan, BC, Canada for years. She now lives part-time also back home in Ireland in the Spring and Autumn. Maria is the founder and publisher of 'OK In Health eMagazine' and Web site since 2014. is a beam of light in the wellness community. Maria was awarded the 2008 SOWINS, Women Up Front and Centre - Health & Wellness Award for her work on OK In Health eMagazine and the community. Over the years she has also worked as an Event Organizer and brought instructors to the Okanagan from all over the world. Maria was also involved at the grass root level in bringing in Dr Deepak Chopra. Gregg Braden and Dr. Wayne Dyer to the Okanagan valley. Maria has a wealth of experience in travel, as a healer and in events organizing. Maria hosts a weekly Health Column in 5 Okanagan newspapers. In 2013, Maria brought 30 people to Ireland for the 14 day Celtic Angel Ireland Tour and since then brings two tours over to Ireland each year. Maria has published two books on Sacred Ireland and is working on her third book. Maria continues to enjoy studying, travelling, offering sessions, working on OK In Health eMagazine, loving life in the beautiful Okanagan Valley and the Sacred Ireland Tours. - Maria O'Farrell Carr Website - Email

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