Halloween is here, my dear, and as it approaches so does the festival of Samhain, which is a tradition among Wiccans, Pagans, and people of the Emerald Isles! The tradition of Samhain dates back to the 10th century. It runs from October 31 to Nov 1, and it marks the end of the harvest season. In some traditions of Irish mythology, it is the first of four seasonal festivals. Some of these tales say it was marked by great gatherings where meetings were held, drinks were plentiful, and feasts were abundant! Samhain is also believed to be a time when the doorways to the other world are open and the souls of the dead. Come into our world and while Bealtaine is the summer festival for the living, Samhain is the festival for the dead! Some tales suggest that offerings or sacrifices were made to the Fomorians such as people giving two-thirds of their children, or milk and corn. In Irish mythology, the Fomorians represent the harmful, destructive power of mother nature and to a farmer, a successful harvest requires mother nature to be calm and tranquil. Now according to the annals of the four masters, the God or Idol named Crom Cruach represents Samhain, and mythology states that the first-born child would be sacrificed at the stone idol. King Tigernmas and three-fourths of his people even died on one Samhain but not all parts of this mythology are bad. The events of the invasion of Ulster that make up the main action on Tain Bo Cuailnge began on Samhain, since cattle-raiding usually takes place in the summer. This surprised the Ulstermen! Then you have the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh which also began on Samhain where the Morrigan and the Dagda meet and have sex before the battle against the Fomorians. This act brought about the victory for the Dagda's people. In historic customs Samhain as stated above was one of the four festivals and is mentioned in several medieval texts such as The Togail Bruidne Da Derga. Traditionally Samhain is a time to take stock before the coming of winter making sure you have a count of your herd and crops. It is also a time to choose which animals, should be led to slaughter for the winter and this custom is still observed by farmers today because it is when meat will keep. It is, believed that some of these rituals associated with slaughter! may have been transferred to another winter holiday such as the Hebrides where a man dressed in a cowhide would circle the township. Some of these customs were meant to keep away bad luck but luck is what you make it, and while this time of year for many is about dressing up and going door to door for candy never forget, that all holidays have a beginning and while most believe that Samhain has roots in England it, in fact, has roots in other countries as well and while most people recognize Samhain as being evil, it is anything but. So remember all cultures have a way that they celebrate, whether it is based on the tradition or is merely a way to spend time with family and friends. So place your carved pumpkin on your doorstep to ward off evil spirits, get your costume, and grab your bag. Make sure you buddy up and have a good time, for October is upon us, the horror films have begun to play, but the tricks won't stay and as night begins to fall be ready, because Samhain stands tall.