Have you carved your turnips for Samhain this year?

Matt Morgan
Oct 31, 2013


Samhain (SOW-in) is upon us and this is a perfect opportunity to take a moment and appreciate October 31 as more than just a reason to eat candy and dress up. Let's take a look at WHY we originally started these traditions to use as milestones to see where we are today in modern culture. If you are uncomfortable or unwilling to discuss or learn about Pagan, Druidic, and/or Wiccan beliefs and traditions, turn back now.
Why is this day especially supernatural?
It is believed that this is the most liminal of days between our world and that of the spirits. Ghosts of ancestors and sundry denizens of the Otheworld like the Aos Sí (ESS-shee, banshees being related) are more likely to roam the lands and visit, play tricks, or worse. Since Samhain is also known in this culture to be the end of the year, or Third Harvest, any crops left in the field are considered taboo and should be left to the Nature spirits. On that note, considering the spirits of Nature and man are so restless this day...
How can we ward against their tricks?
Fear not, for there are ways to ensure your household will get through the night. One way is to put a candle in your window to help guide your ancestors home. Preferably this night you will keep an open seat and plate of food at your table for them. If not, you may leave an offering of food at your door to feed the walking dead (in this case, no, not the zombie-themed comics/show). If you feel particularly harmful spirits were about, you could carve a turnip into a face to try and scare them away. Or, to confuse them, it is appropriate to guise as a spirit or even in the clothes of the opposite gender. That way the Aos Sí won't be able to find the target of their mischief. Mumming door to door can help ensure your neighbors are both warded and observing the custom to feed the walking dead.
What can we do as a community to pass the night safely?
Fellowship is important especially now. There is much to be done. As The Darkness approaches we can practice a little sympathetic magic by lighting in our hearths or yards (please check all local laws and/or get permission for public fires) fires. It helps the sun fight The Darkness just a bit longer. As well, you can write down a bad habit to cast into the fire so you may help be rid of it. Carving your name and those names of your family onto rocks to ring around the fire may help purify them. As well, we each must take a flame from the fire to bring into our homes as warmth and remembrance of those who have passed and those we live with today. Cast bones of the animals we prepared for winter's demands into the bone-fire (bonfire) and spread the ash in the fields the next day to honor Nature and prepare it for Beltane's planting.
Where can I find more information?
For a great list of meaningful ways to observe Samhain.
To better understand the meaning of Samhain.
Learn some Irish words and phrases to celebrate!
Two great music makers got together to make a nice, atmospheric tribute to Samhain.


Stop It

Good stuff once again HZ. You are also right on the warnings. I know a whole lotta people that would tend to take offense to your blog/article for this week. Every holiday has its origins. Try and explain that to any sort of extreme fundamentalist, and you will have a tornado in your face in an instant.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Thank you. The warnings were both a courtesy and a bit of a challenge. People have all kinds of beliefs and I didn't want them uncomfortable being presented with one if they clicked on the article for something else such as turnip carving tips. As for the challenge, there are some people who may take the opportunity to learn something new about the history of this time of year and want to understand WHY we do things, not just that we do them. I hope people always want to learn more, ask questions, and find out the reasons for things.

I am fortunate because in my business I serve all manner people from a wide variety of faiths, not just one or two sects of Christianity. This has taught me a lot and opened me up to a great many traditions and ways to look at things.

Stop It

Most christian holidays were placed on dates that used to celebrate pagan holidays to get them to switch. Explaining that to a devout christian....well, evidently you've already tried. ;)

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

It's not my method to force a belief on anyone, but calling such powerful and fundamental practices into a legitimately historical or philosophical light for some people can be jarring. It is an experience that is uncomfortable for them to accept with an open (if not skeptical) mind. And, that's fine.

If anyone is interested in learning more not just about Samhain but about the traditions and practices those who celebrate it hold, you may enjoy books by Scott Cunningham. Especially "The Truth About Witchcraft Today".


I would presume the library has it so as Sam Chada from the Sandusky Library would have us do let's check: http://www.clevnet.org/

Yup! At least that title is there if not more!


Good journalism. A few references would have been nice.

Stop It

Those blue colored words are links to another website that explains. Try them.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Thanks for giving it a read. Hopefully you will find the included links to help frame the purpose of this Sabbat as well as shed light on why we do what we do this time of year. The challenge in doing so lies in not using Wikipedia as a primary source. As well I have personally tried to train myself to write with more brevity. Embedded links help that as they allow curious readers to quickly take an extra minute to learn even more.

In addition to the links above I have also learned about Samhain from several practitioners we have in our area. There is no better source. However, not all wish to be publicly known nor cited as they either wish to keep their faith private or don't want nosey judgment passed on them by those who are closed to alternative beliefs.

If you have any specific questions I will be happy to answer them. As was stated in the opener, I wanted this to be a discussion. There is always more to the story and details to be shaken loose from the main body.