Ynis Afallach Tuath


Avaloniana Path


The Wheel


Ynis Afallach Tuath




(© Caillean)

Samhain, meaning “end of summer”, is the ancient celtic festival which marked the beginning of winter and of the new year. It was considered a day out of  time and space because it marked at the same time the beginning and the end of a cycle. From this moment, the days become shorter, the nights are misty and darker, the energies of  nature retire in the underworld until the winter solstice, around December 21st, when the sun will be reborn. It is likely that this important festival took place in the days of the full moon of the actual months of October/November, which means the period of the last harvest, when leaves are falling ,leaving trees bare and exposed to the rustling winds, and apples and pumpkins are everywhere. These are ancient symbols of the Mother of Harvest, the ancient goddess of the land who gave abundant fruits to her sons and daughters.

Samhain is the time of the dead and the dying, of the Ancestors, and the theme of celebrating death and rebirth and the mysteries of life are widespread in ancient cultures. From pre-historic times, this is a very special and sacred period , celebrated also through the construction of megalithic tombs and monuments such as stonhenge, avebury, new grange.

In Avalon, Samhain in also called Calan Gaef. We celebrate the mother goddess Rhiannon, who lead us through the station of the inner Descent, to the core of our being and the mysteries within.

We also celebrate the crone goddess Ceredwen, the keeper of the sacred cauldron of inspiration, of death-rebirth and regeneration. We remember our dead, and feel the thread of life which link us to them and to our descendants. During these days, the Veil separating our world from the Otherworld, becomes thinner and we can glimpse through it, seeing the past and the future. It is a time of deep reflection and preparation for the cold and short days of winter, leading us to a new cycle. It is a time of dreaming and planning, we plant the seeds for the new season and nurture them with hopes and dreams. We reflect upon the past days, and learn our lessons.

Symbols of this period are especially apples. Avalon in the land of apples, a place of immortality and communion with the goddess. Apples keep the secrets of nature and time and we use them to represent the triple goddess: virgin, mother and crone.

Nowadays in the US and Europe is very popular the celebration of Halloween, which has replaced the old commemoration day of the dead. The ghosts and monsters populating this day are the ancient symbols of the communion with the beings of the Otherworld, which have been misinterpreted in Christian times. Pumpkins are very popular also. They represent a symbol of the crone goddess, of her belly, from which we come and to which we shall return to be reborn. The rite of carving pumpkins can also be related to ancient rituals in which the head of dead warriors were treated and buried to preserve them from corruption. In fact, it was believed that the spirit of the person was kept in his/her head.

Another important element of this celebration is fire. The Celts considered only three elements: earth, air and water: fire was the representation of energy and transformation. Bonfires were lit in the countryside all over the world to celebrate the harvest time, keep away evil spirits and celebrate the deities of abundance and nature. Fire is a transformative force: it burns everything we don’t want to keep anymore and leaves place for a new growth. Like trees, in these days we keep our fruits and let our leaves fall; we stand bare, waiting for rebirth, celebrating the Goddess of Transformation.


© Ynis Afallach Tuath, 2008/2009
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