1127 Bobcaygeon Rd
Minden, ON K0M
This year Spectrum Healing Arts Centre will be celebrating a true Irish tradition known in Ireland as Samhain (pronounced Sowhen).
The root of the word – sam – means summer, while ‘fuin’ means end. And this signals the idea of a seasonal change rather than a notion of worship or ritual.
As millions of children and adults participate in the fun of Halloween on the night of October 31st few will be aware of its ancient Celtic roots in the Samhain festival.
In Celtic Ireland about 2,000 years ago, Samhain was the division of the year between the lighter half (summer) and the darker half (winter). At Samhain the division between this world and the otherworld was at its thinnest, allowing spirits to pass through.
It is also known as the mystics or witches new year.
These traditions are still honoured today all over Ireland’s sacred sites. The entrance passage to the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara is aligned with the rising sun around Samhain. The Mound of the Hostages is 4,500 to 5000 years old, suggesting that Samhain was celebrated long before the first Celts arrived in Ireland about 2,500 years ago.
The Irish emigrated to America in great numbers during the 19th century especially around the 1840’s. With them they carried their Halloween traditions to America, where today it is one of the major holidays of the year. Through time, other traditions have blended into Halloween, for example the American harvest time tradition of carving pumpkins. Origin of carving pumpkins is an interesting tale.
In order to prevent unwelcome spirits entering their homes, the Celts created menacing faces out of turnips and left them on their doorsteps. Adding a lit candle to the hollowed out face gave added protection. In modern times, pumpkins are used. They’re considerably easier to carve, and a lot bigger, too, but they are not native to Ireland.
People wore costumes and masks to disguise themselves as harmful spirits and thus avoid harm. Bonfires and food played a large part in the festivities. Food was prepared for the living and the dead, food for the ancestors who were in no position it eat it, was ritually shared with the less well off
Household fires were extinguished and started again from the bonfire.
Interestingly, the Hindu Diwali (Divali, Deepavali) Festival known as the Festival of Lights occurs about the same time as Samhain. Diwali marks the Hindu New Year just as Samhain marks the Celtic New Year, could it be that Diwali and Samhain have a common root in antiquity?
They also deliberately made a lot of noise to unsettle the spirits and drive them away from their homes. The timid, however, would leave out food in their homes, or at the nearest hawthorn or whitethorn bush (where fairies were known to live), hoping that their generosity would appease the spirits.
Just as spells and incantations of witches were especially powerful at Samhain, so the night was believed to be full of portents of the future.
Here at Spectrum Healing Arts Centre we will begin the festivities on Saturday morning with mask and costume making, pumpkin carving and preparing traditional Irish food. In alignment with our lifestyle here at the SHAC, all the food will be organic and both vegetarian and non vegetarian food will be served.
In the evening we will dress in our costumes and masks and in true Druid fashion, we will ceremoniously light the bonfire and gather to do some sacred circle dancing.
We will bob for apples as in the old tradition of finding your mate. When you get an apple you peel it, letting the peel fall to the ground. The peel will reveal the letter of your intended love.
We will feed the little people and watch for fairies and unicorns to join us. There will be treats for everyone and I’m sure a few tricks will be played. This celebration is fun for all ages.
- Cost: $50 + HST
- Overnight stay an additional $20 + HST / night
- Sunday Breakfast: $15 + HST
What to bring:
Items to decorate your mask and create your costume. We will provide the blank masks.