Oidche Shamhna, “the night of Samhain,” approaches. The fire that lights the night on October 31 crackles brilliantly with disorder signaling harvest’s end, the end of autumn and the end of the Celtic year. As the bonfire leaps skyward, it rends the boundaries between worlds and years, stirring the souls of the dead and those yet living. When the great bonfire finally sees ashes on November 1, the new Celtic year, the winter and the season of Death have arrived.
~ C. Austen
Samhain (pronounced /ˈsɑːwɪn/ sah-win or /ˈsaʊ.ɪn/ sow-in, Irish pronunciation: [sˠaunʲ]) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from the very beginning of one Celtic day to its end, or in the modern calendar, from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, this places it about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh.
In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga is a supernatural being (or one of a trio of sisters of the same name) who appears as a deformed and/or ferocious-looking woman. Baba Yaga flies around in a mortar, wields a pestle, and dwells deep in the forest in a hut usually described as standing on chicken legs.
Baba Yaga may help or hinder those that encounter or seek her out. She sometimes plays a maternal role, and also has associations with forest wildlife. According to Vladimir Propp’s folktale morphology, Baba Yaga commonly appears as either a donor or villain, or may be altogether ambiguous.
Andreas Johns identifies Baba Yaga as “one of the most memorable and distinctive figures in Slavic European folklore,” and observes that she is “enigmatic” and often exhibits “striking ambiguity.”Johns summarizes Baba Yaga as “a many-faceted figure, capable of inspiring researchers to see her as a Cloud, Moon, Death, Winter, Snake, Bird, Pelican or Earth Goddess, totemic matriarchal ancestress, female initiator, phallic mother, or archetypal image.
In the Polesia region of Ukraine,
the plural баби baby may refer to an autumn funeral feast.
dievca is honoring Samhain and Baba Yaga on the same evening, Oct. 31st. Would you like to join her? she cannot do all the things on this list (below) – but she will be cleaning up her fire escape garden, washing her windows, decorating her doorway and sharing a dinner with Master for the last harvest. XO
- Ceremoniously finish cleaning up your garden or lawn by October 31.
- Gather in remaining fruit or produce from your garden – anything not gathered in by Samhain should be left to the Pooka.
- Preserve flowers, a grain sheaf or garden produce for enjoyment in the coming winter season as well as to insure successful planting in the spring.
- Make a simple Samhain wreath of apples, nuts, leaves and a few grain stalks.
- Plant flower bulbs for Samhain – observe the moment when the bulbs rest within the welcoming underground of the Goddess.
- Dinner with food from the garden and/or farmer’s market celebrating the Earth’s gifts.
Or a little COSPLAY would never go amiss on the evening!