Lighting the Samhain fires

I wrote this column ten years ago, and the season compels me to repost it.

Woolgathering and Widdershins

Published Oct. 25, 2005
As Halloween draws near, the cool wind whispers, “Bring in your harvest and mend the holes in your wattle and daub, for soon winter will be upon you.” Travelers will draw their wool cloaks tightly about them, and fires will warm dwellings whilst fiddle and pipe cheer the soul.
In the Celtic tradition winter is nigh upon us. The Celts called winter Samhain (pronounced sau-en or sau-wen), and it began on Nov. 1., giving rise to Samhain’s Eve, now called Halloween, one of the most important days in the Celtic year. Samhain’s Eve is a border day, the division between seasons, when the tenuous folk of the Otherworld, Tir na nOg, or land of the dead, were released to briefly return to the land of the living.

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