Halloween (Samhain) 2020

Yeah I know we already have a Full Moon Reading for Saturday. But Halloween (Samhain) is a major marker of the seasons, so it deserves its own reading.

For those unfamiliar, Samhain (pronounced in Irish Gaelic as “SOW-wen” or in Scottish Gaelic as “SAW-ven”) is not “the devil’s birthday” (insert eyeroll here) – it’s the Gaelic name for a Celtic harvest festival that predates Christianity.

It’s also a seasonal indicator marking the darker half of the year (for a northern latitude), opposite Beltane, in May. At Beltane, new life was the focus. The pasture gates would be opened and cattle and sheep could graze on fresh grass. The Sidhe [see the big footnote] would bless the people with abundance and health (and protection) during the summer while the gates were open. (Take a look back at the Beltane Reading.)

At Samhain, the gates – literally and figuratively – close to protect those within from the death and darkness – literally and figuratively – of winter. Obviously a harvest festival is a good time, but there’s a serious side to this time of year: if we’ve screwed up anything, we’re stuck with the consequences through the darkest, coldest, bleakest and hardest part of the year.

From the equinox to now was a time of preparation. There’s the harvest, of course. But also, not so different from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it was a time to get ourselves right, to clear things up with others. To decide what must go (within ourselves, like attitudes or patterns of behavior, and to make space for what would be necessary) before the gates close, and what can stay (like beneficial perspectives, for example, and supplies).

What Happened Last Year?

I only started posting readings here this year, but I thought it would be interesting to see what last year’s reading looked like. These are simple compared to most of the readings – the point is more of a checklist or an overview than a deep dive.

So last year, in 2019, it looked like this:

2019 Halloween

  • What is being illuminated? (Raido, reversed) A standstill on the path ahead.
  • What’s hiding under masks? (Hagalaz) Chaos, emotional storms and disruption.
  • What needs to go? (Kaunaz) The focus on enlightenment.
  • What needs to stay? (Ingwaz) Harmony, peace, unity.
  • What challenge is ahead? (Algiz) Protection, safety, refuge. [This didn’t make sense at the time, but I think we all understand it now!]
  • What will help? (Sowilo) The clarity of the sun, spiritual Light.
  • What message do the ancestors bring? (Tiwaz) Have courage and compassion, play fair.

It’s nice, it’s fine. At the time, I thought it was a little trite, tbh. In retrospect, considering all that happened between last Halloween and the first of May, it makes a little more sense, doesn’t it?

What’s Happening This Samhain?

The reading this year is, first of all, graphically more interesting! (To be fair, I was only posting for friends and family on Facebook last year.)

There’s no “map” this time. We’re going clockwise starting mid-right on this image, or left-to-right on the header image.

  • Halloween (Samhain) Rune Reading AnaktoriaHarvest (Inguz) We have an abundance of unity, human potential, and positive action to draw from and depend on.
  • Release (Wunjo, reversed) Let go of mistrust, miscommunication, and selfish wishing – it’s all dead weight.
  • The Trick (Uruz) Endurance, independence (and freedom?) will be challenges to face during the winter.
  • The Treat (Kaunaz) Soul-warmth, enlightenment, and deeper practical knowledge will inspire and reward us.
  • Ancestors (Dagaz) Honor them through awareness (not just saying you’re “woke” but acting like it) and bold positive change that outshines darkness.

Though we’re still in the midst of chaos, the overall theme here is more interpersonal and positive. Assuming, of course, that we’ve prepared for the coming season. The gates close Sunday at sunset, ready or not. (Which means you’ve got a precious little time to make amends and get your head right, if you’ve neglected it.)

I hope this reading inspires you. If anything here clicked for you, please let me know with a comment. As always, I appreciate likes and shares, as they appease the Google algorithm gods. And I invite you to follow me on Twitter or TikTok (@rune_reader) so you don’t miss another reading.

Have a blessed weekend and I’ll see you next time!

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BIG FOOTNOTE: Sidhe (also , “shee”, those who live in the little mounds) are sometimes also referred to as the daoine maithe (good people) or even daoine còire (kindly people) . Please don’t call them “fae” – it’s a very common word but it refers to their mound homes as graves and originally meant “doomed to die”. Thus, it’s offensive. And for the love of all that is holy, never “fairies”! Speaking disrespectfully about them would attract their attention, and the last thing you need, ever, is a pissed off supernatural creature.

(Point of interest: spelling is sometimes seen as Sith or Sithe. Think of the Sith in Star Wars. Now, if they were generally smaller than human or could change size, neutral instead of devoted to the dark side, and were willing to help you out for some sort of exchange, you have a great idea of who they are. And you also have an idea of why you don’t want them mad at you.)

Now, if we’re good to the Sidhe, they’re good to us. They mark the open gateways between realms in spring and fall with “fairy rings” so we don’t go blindly stepping into places where darker spirits roam and find ourselves unable to escape. They also keep us safe by restricting travel from those realms! But if we’ve taken blessings for granted, neglected them and our ancestors, or disrespected them, they aren’t so particular about minding the gates. While we’ve welcomed our ancestors with warm memories and love, other spirits may enter our world, too. Then the gates close, and we could be trapped with dark spirits for a season.

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