Review: Otherwise Trading & Find Out What Is Behind Halloween (Samhain)

SAMHAIN

I love nature, I love the seasons we have in the UK, and while I do not consider myself to be a follower of any one spiritual path, I do love the Pagan and Wiccan ways of living. To me, giving thanks, releasing and blessing different parts of the year in time with the seasons, makes the most sense to me. And one of my favourite celebrations is Halloween (or Samhain pronounced Sow-en).

I investigated this particular celebration (otherwise know as a Sabbat) some time ago as I wanted to know what was behind our western Halloween traditions, and so here I am revisiting this because it’s great to gain knowledge and awareness behind why we do what we do.

Samhain takes place on the 31st of October and in Pagan traditions is New Year’s Eve. The Celts believed that the 31st of October was the end of summer and the 1st of November was New Year’s Day, so Pagan traditions carry on into the 1st of November and merriment continues.

Samhain according to the book ‘The Wiccan Way – A Path To Spirituality; Self- Development’ by Sally Morningstar states:

“Samhain is the festival of remembering the ancestors, marking the end of the Celtic year and the dawning of the new year, and honours the last of the harvest festivals for the year just passing. The crops are in and the days become ever shorter and darker. Since this night ( October 31) rests on the threshold between the old and new year, it is considered to reside between the worlds. Thus, the veils that separate spirit from matter are thinner and more easily crossed than at other times of year. This is an ideal night for divination as well as for remembrance.”

This explanation makes sense in that we have crossed the tradition over into it being a spooky night of the year full of ghosts and ghouls and goblins. To me, it’s a great time to light some candles, to remember my family who have passed before me, to raise a glass of thanks to them and to celebrate a new beginning.

The ancient traditions involved lighting giant bonfires on the 31st of October and the people would gather around the fire to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. This was symbolic of giving the Gods and Goddesses a share of the previous year’s harvest, and the fire was also a part of cleansing the old year and getting ready for the new. 

Many of these celebrations involved wearing costumes (hence why we adapted this into our Halloween) and dancing took place around the bonfire. The dances represented stories of the cycle of life and death and the cycle of the wheel of life.

 

At the end of the celebrations on the morning of the New Year, each family would take a burning ember from the remaining sacred bonfire and take it home. As their own home fires had been extinguished during the day, they were relit with the sacred flame of this fire, which acted as a  protection for the home and family, and as a way of unifying the small communities. The fires would be kept burning for several months to protect them during the harsh winter.

 
The veil between the worlds is thinnest at this time, and so divination and psychic readings would take place from resident shamans and witches. This is probably a great evening to book in for a psychic event.
 
And lastly the family would place food and drink outside of their homes to appease the roaming spirits who might otherwise play tricks on the family.

So where do our Halloween traditions come from?

  • Wearing a costume – This was to honour the dead who are allowed to rise on this eve from the netherworld.  Costumes were also worn to hide from the dead, who may be up to trickery on this evening.
  • Jack-O-Lantern (carving turnips) – apparently a souling custom, which was a way of remembering souls trapped in purgatory. Pumpkins were brought in to celebrate the end of the harvest, but were not related to the Halloween date until the late 19th century.
  • Trick-or-treating is similar to the medieval practice of souling, where the poor would go door to door on November 1st, begging for food in exchange for prayers for the dead on All Souls’ Day (November 2nd).
  • Apple Bobbing (place apples into a large container filled with water, place your hands behind your back and see if you can bite into a bobbing apple) – Similar to the tradition of hanging apples from string, apple bobbing was not just a game to see who could grab the apple with their teeth and enjoy the fun to be had there, but was a form of divination. It was believed that the first person to bite the apple would be the next person to get married. An ancient tradition, along with many Halloween traditions, where communities would come together and there would be dancing and feasting, and people would relate strongly to the transient nature of life and death and make it into a celebration.
  • Orange and Black – The colours orange and black are significant to this particular Sabbat (Samhain). Orange represents the awakening of the dawn that comes during Yule (Dec 21st – 1st January) when the God is reborn. And black represents the time of darkness after the death of the God (represented by fire and sun) during an earlier Sabbat known as Lughnasadh (also known as Lammas) and the waning light of the day.

Some of the things you can do on Samhain can include:

  • Welcome and thank the spirits of the ancestors, your guardian angels, and spirit guides. Share your thoughts for those friends and family who have died, but do not attempt to call them back in any way.
  • Light a fire and place in it an object, something written on paper, or something symbolic like a twig or leaf that you wish to transform or purify.  Speak it out. Honour the cycles of endings and rebirth.
  • Eat an apple and use the seeds to share with each other whatever you wish to incubate during the winter months – and eat them.
  • A good night for doing tarot readings, consulting the ancestors, asking for guidance. Ask your spirit guides to protect you and work with you, to help you on your spiritual path.
 

SAMHAIN – HALLOWEEN – COMPETITION & REVIEW

 
My quirky, mixed-belief altar. I am not religious, or Wiccan. I am just me and I take what feels great from all…

 

This year I will be lighting some beautiful beeswax candles, naturally scented with essential oils from Ghislaine from Otherwise Trading. I searched online to see who did beautiful Samhain candles and these are the best I have seen. And you all have a chance of winning a pair for your own Samhain or Halloween event.

 

SAMHAIN - OTHERWISE TRADING
Receiving these natural hand-rolled beeswax candles from ‘Otherwise Trading’ felt a real blessing. Ghislaine, the company owner, hand-made them herself and anointed them with oil. The scent is heavenly.


What is lovely about ‘Otherwise Trading’ is Ghislaine puts heart into her business. She likes to do business in a way that sells things to make a positive contribution to people’s environments, and she loves to create lovely things (like the candles) and put her own special energy into each item. Her favourite time of year is Samhain, the new year, one I will be celebrating more this year. 

As these are for Samhain, I won’t be lighting them yet, but the unadulterated pleasure of natural beeswax is one of my guilty candle secrets. If I had a choice between beeswax and ordinary candles I would choose beeswax every time. Apart from being a bee lover, the natural scent of beeswax, combined with essential oils, is fantastic to get me in the mood and spirit of the season. In the traditional black and orange I can light these candles, appreciate my ancestors and family in spirit, and say goodbye to the previous season and hello to the new year and new beginning. I love lighting candles, I love ritual, I love saying prayers or reciting blessings over candles, something that is so primal in this tradition. A great reminder of the light within each one of us.

Otherwise Trading

 

 
These candles, you can tell, were made with love and positive intention. The quality of beeswax is fantastic and there is nothing quite like holding beeswax candles. The texture is lovely.The essential oils were hypnotic when I opened the package and I couldn’t stop sniffing them.


I can guarantee a lovely feel to the candles if you win them or decide to purchase a pair from HERE. She delivers worldwide.
 
She also makes candles for the other Sabbats too, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara…….

Otherwise Trading
For Other Beeswax Candles For The Different Sabbats Click HERE

 

And she has been kind enough to offer a pair to one lucky winner and you should receive them in time for your own Samhain or Halloween celebrations.**
 
Thank you Ghislaine!
 
To enter to win these beautiful candles follow the instructions on the Punchtab app below. You can receive extra entries by sharing and tweeting. 
 

OPEN WORLDWIDE



All steps will be verified by blog owner.

 
 
What Is Behind Halloween (Samhain)

COMMENTS :

 

At Halloween (Samhain) what is your favourite tradition and why?
 
(Please note your comment will not count unless you have gone through the punchtab application above)




**These will be sent from the UK so no guarantee they will arrive on time for Halloween if you live outside the UK.

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Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin is the author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ , a passionate writer and blogger questioning life’s illusions. After what seemed like a decade of intense anxiety, feelings of failure and grief from the loss of her father she chose to take a mindfulness path and has not looked back since. Kelly encourages people to find the treasures that lie within the pain and suffering and to learn to see themselves as ‘enough’ exactly as they are, right now through her writing and You Tube channel .

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87 Comments

  1. October 9, 2013 / 6:58 pm

    I always carve turnips for my kids as my mum used to carve them for me and my siblings – she would also always make a huge pan of homemade broth using the left over turnip and we would eat it before we went trick or treating. Now every Halloween I do the same – carve turnips and make homemade broth! Halloween wouldn't be the same without it!

  2. October 9, 2013 / 10:13 pm

    All time fave is dressing up the front of the house as spooky as possible – What a lark!!

  3. October 10, 2013 / 6:59 am

    Oh I love that, I am a Geordie and we always carved turnips (not pumpkins) but we never had broth sounds a wonderful tradition.

  4. October 10, 2013 / 6:59 am

    all good fun, I love dressing up, I don't really have the opportunity to as much now but love the traditions of this season.

  5. October 10, 2013 / 8:22 pm

    I love dressing my house up and my children, we play bobbing apples, spooky musical statues, I make lots of food halloween related and place a pumpkin at the window so trick or treaters call for some fun.

  6. October 10, 2013 / 11:11 pm

    Pumpkin carving,I love to watch them glowing in the dark.

  7. October 11, 2013 / 7:32 am

    My two boys are a little bit too old to go trick or treating now but that was always my favourite bit! Getting them ready and one trying to outdo the other to see who had the scariest and most gory mask!

  8. October 11, 2013 / 8:55 am

    We guage the success of our efforts by how many people are too spooked to approach – but we are nice really & always hand out really cool stuff including non food in case we get someone come past who cannot eat sugery goodness

  9. October 11, 2013 / 10:25 am

    Sounds great and I love the idea of non-sugary food. Enjoy!

  10. October 11, 2013 / 10:25 am

    sounds so much fun, I wish I had children sometimes to do this with lol

  11. October 11, 2013 / 11:04 am

    Making pumpkin stew with my mum, grandma & little brother!

  12. October 11, 2013 / 11:06 am

    Setting a place at the table to remember loved ones no longer with us

  13. October 11, 2013 / 12:05 pm

    Dressing up and eating sweets as it reminds me of being a child.

  14. October 11, 2013 / 12:08 pm

    Eating sweets!

  15. October 11, 2013 / 12:08 pm

    Love seeing all the kids dressed up & trying to be scary!!

  16. October 11, 2013 / 12:25 pm

    tick or treating 🙂

  17. October 11, 2013 / 12:55 pm

    Having a party for my children and their friends

  18. October 11, 2013 / 12:58 pm

    SEEING HOW EXCITED THE KIDS GET BEFORE THEY GO 'TRICK OR TREATING'

  19. October 11, 2013 / 3:40 pm

    Pumpkin carving 🙂

  20. October 11, 2013 / 4:24 pm

    I always enjoy pumpkin carving

  21. October 11, 2013 / 4:27 pm

    Apple bobbing

  22. October 11, 2013 / 4:45 pm

    trick or treating

  23. October 11, 2013 / 7:42 pm

    My favorite Samhain tradition is setting an extra place at my dinner table for my family who
    Have passed on. Then those who have passed are welcomed to join our feast.

  24. October 11, 2013 / 8:43 pm

    I like seeing the children dressed up.

  25. October 11, 2013 / 11:17 pm

    trick or treating 🙂

  26. October 12, 2013 / 6:30 am

    Making a Pumpkin lantern

  27. October 12, 2013 / 9:45 am

    Avoiding black cats!

  28. October 12, 2013 / 12:09 pm

    Pumpkin lantern and pumkin soup!

  29. October 12, 2013 / 4:04 pm

    lots of pumpkin carving and enjoying pumpkin recipes afterwards!

  30. October 12, 2013 / 7:04 pm

    pumpkin carving great fun for all ages

  31. October 12, 2013 / 9:43 pm

    I love carving detailed pumpkins. Done it every year since 2009. I love creating atmosphere by candlelight,and scent:)

  32. October 13, 2013 / 4:50 pm

    I love this idea so much, I am going to do this.

  33. October 13, 2013 / 4:50 pm

    why are you avoiding black cats Stevie ? (wide grin).

  34. October 13, 2013 / 4:51 pm

    wonderful, I wish I was as creative with a carving knife.

  35. October 13, 2013 / 6:24 pm

    Just love pumpkin carving.

  36. October 13, 2013 / 6:45 pm

    carving a pumpkin and apple bobbing 🙂

  37. October 13, 2013 / 6:56 pm

    It's fun seeing the kids dressed up as ghosts and spooks 🙂

  38. October 13, 2013 / 7:22 pm

    Carving a pumpkin then putting in a candle. We put it on our doorstep to invite the children to call for their treats.

  39. October 13, 2013 / 7:37 pm

    Carving a pumpkin with my children because it is wonderful to do it together as a family

  40. October 13, 2013 / 8:07 pm

    The pumpkins with lights inside.

  41. October 13, 2013 / 11:27 pm

    pumpkin carving – definitely!

  42. October 14, 2013 / 4:20 pm

    pumpkin carving:-)

  43. October 14, 2013 / 5:41 pm

    I love bobbing for apples!

  44. October 14, 2013 / 10:17 pm

    I work in elderly care and see a fair few people die without family or friends to mourn them, I sit somewhere quiet and recall their names and faces as best I can, and think about my own family and friends who are no longer with us. I find it a very reflective time and its a very special night for me. Oh, and I like dressing up too!

  45. October 15, 2013 / 9:50 pm

    The kids love getting dressed up then going trick or treating

  46. October 16, 2013 / 9:35 pm

    The kids happy faces.

  47. October 16, 2013 / 10:57 pm

    trick or treating

  48. October 18, 2013 / 8:21 pm

    carving pumpkins, it's creative and they look great lit up at night 🙂

  49. October 19, 2013 / 9:41 am

    Trick or treating 🙂

  50. October 19, 2013 / 7:28 pm

    I like going to special events at like stately homes or museums 🙂

  51. October 19, 2013 / 9:01 pm

    Decorating the house.

  52. October 19, 2013 / 10:09 pm

    bobbing for apples

  53. October 20, 2013 / 1:44 am

    I love carving pumpkins

  54. October 20, 2013 / 5:53 am

    It's my birthday so I eat cake :0) and party

  55. October 20, 2013 / 6:13 pm

    Its christmas as then i have all my family with me

  56. October 20, 2013 / 7:11 pm

    ITS got to be the carving of the turnip

  57. October 20, 2013 / 7:32 pm

    Apple bobbing – guaranteed lots of giggles

  58. October 20, 2013 / 8:33 pm

    Setting alter and treats for departed family/friends

  59. October 20, 2013 / 9:42 pm

    Trick or Treating with my grandchildren. I couldn't get away with it alone.

  60. October 20, 2013 / 11:33 pm

    My husband sometimes grows his own pumpkin, he did it one year and it was the first food our baby boy ate, that was wonderful 🙂

  61. October 21, 2013 / 1:01 am

    Costumes are definitely my favorite part of the holiday. Not only do I love the fun my children have dressing up but I enjoy it myself too!

  62. October 21, 2013 / 8:12 am

    pumpkin faces

  63. October 21, 2013 / 10:31 am

    I love Halloween – we don't go completely over the top but I love to decorate the mantle on my fireplace with candles and little pumpkin and ghost ornaments. 🙂

  64. October 21, 2013 / 2:59 pm

    Dressing my daughter up in her little Halloween costume

  65. October 21, 2013 / 3:14 pm

    Any excuse to overeat, I like the toasted marshmallows

  66. October 21, 2013 / 3:23 pm

    Favorite Tradition: Dressing up!

  67. October 21, 2013 / 4:56 pm

    oh how lovely, that is great to hear.

  68. October 21, 2013 / 4:56 pm

    you keep your traditions from Christmas going into Halloween?

  69. October 21, 2013 / 4:57 pm

    Its halloween don't you mean?

  70. October 21, 2013 / 4:57 pm

    What a beautiful way to connect with this season. Thanks for sharing this.

  71. October 21, 2013 / 5:16 pm

    great day to be born!

  72. October 21, 2013 / 5:30 pm

    making pumpkin faces with my kids cause they really enjoy it.

  73. October 21, 2013 / 5:37 pm

    Dressing up and eating lots of yummy sweets!

  74. October 21, 2013 / 6:33 pm

    Taking the kids trick or treating. x

  75. October 21, 2013 / 8:49 pm

    I am hoping a family tradition will count . We have never liked celebrating the Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes tradition so Halloween is our night to provide the kids (and to be honest most of the adults) in the family with some of the trappings of that "celebration". After some games and fireworks we usually end up around the bonfire with baked potatoes telling scary stories . Its great to be away from the lights, TV, games consoles etc and just rely on our imaginations .

  76. October 21, 2013 / 8:57 pm

    When I tried to pin from the ap it didnt work but couldnt edit . Have pinned vua pinterest share button below x

  77. October 21, 2013 / 9:01 pm

    seeing all the kids dressed up because they are cute

  78. October 21, 2013 / 9:02 pm

    Dressing the kids up & seeing how excited they get when we take them trick or treating

  79. October 22, 2013 / 8:49 am

    I love seeing how excited my children are when they dress up in their costumes. I don't take my children Trick or Treating but instead we have a sweetie treasure hunt around our house and garden!

  80. October 22, 2013 / 9:11 am

    trick or treating

  81. October 22, 2013 / 11:58 am

    carving gourds to decorate

  82. October 22, 2013 / 12:07 pm

    Christmas eve love it!

  83. October 22, 2013 / 1:16 pm

    i always have a line of salt over my doorstep on halloween to protet the house from evil spirits. my grammy used to do it and it just became part of the tradtions

  84. October 22, 2013 / 7:57 pm

    baking Halloween cakes

  85. October 22, 2013 / 10:41 pm

    putting up teh halloween decorations!

  86. October 23, 2013 / 3:47 am

    Making caramel apples. (Gianna)

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