30 October 2012
Happy Birthday, Brenna!
The Celtic origins of Samhain
Halloween, October 31, is Brenna O'Donnell's birthday, the main character in The Succubus Gift and Succubus Unleashed. In the second book, the O'Donnell Clan celebrates a traditional Celtic Samhain (pronounced So-ween), starting at midnight, November 1.
The ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain literally meant “the end of warm season". November 1 marked the combined Feast of the Dead and New Year's Day on the Celtic calendar. The Druids believed it was a time when the veil between our reality and that of the Otherworld is very thin and easily penetrated.
Originally a harvest festival, as in most Clan holy days it was a celebration to worship the Goddess who bestowed their Gifts. Beltane, or May Day, was the celebration at planting time in the spring to beseech Her blessing on their efforts to grow enough food to survive. Samhain, six months later, was the celebration to thank Her for the bounty they harvested.
At Beltane, offerings were made through Her priestesses, the Druids, called Succubi in modern times. At Samhain, all women were believed to embody the spirit of the Goddess and could accept offerings on Her behalf. Druidic tradition also considered it a celebration of the dead and it was considered the best day of the year for divination.
The ancient Druids believed the soul was immortal. After a person died in the Otherworld, their soul reincarnates and lives again in another living entity -- either in a plant or the body of a human or other animal. After a person has learned enough at this level, they move on after death to a higher realm, which has its own Otherworld. This continues until the individual reaches the highest realm. At every birth, the Celts mourned the death of a person in the Otherworld which made the new birth in this world possible.
Divination was tied to the Gifts of Precognition and Postcognition. One ancient tract has a passage saying it was a day for "divination, conversing with the ancestors, and prophesizing the future." The Druids used a wide pharmacopeia for healing in addition to their Healing Gift, but there are also plant extracts used to enhance their powers of divination.
At midnight as Samhain Eve transitions to Samhain, the women of the Clan welcome the men of the Clan and therefore seal their ties to the Goddess who grants them their Gifts. This is one of the festivals the Catholic Church found so objectionable as to trigger genocide in the form of the Inquisition against the ancient Druidic Clans.
Photographer: Ben Samson