October 31st (traditional) / November 6th (zodiacal)
Samhain, the Witch's word of Celtic origin for Halloween or All Hallows Eve, is traditionally celebrated on October 31. The true cross-quarter, the halfway point on the 8-spoked Wheel of the Year between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice occurs when the Sun is at 15 degrees of Scorpio. This occurs a few days after October 31.
This is the season of the Crone Goddess, who stirs the cauldron of life, death and rebirth. She who sees beyond the veil might call between the worlds the presence of the Dark Lord, who has passed out of the earthly realm and reigns in the invisible world. There he assists the souls who are passing into his realm, and those who seek to return to earth reborn into a new form. The veil between the worlds is very thin at Samhain, and the spirits may walk more easily among us. This is a special time to honor those who have passed during the year past, as well as all of our ancestors, the old ones. It is a night of magick, when messages may be received from the spirits if we are alert, and when divination of the future can be especially profound.
Samhain -- Is it the end of the year, the beginning or both?
In astrology, the eighth sign is Scorpio, ruler of House 8 in the natural zodiac, and eight is associated with death. Yule, or Winter Solstice, is the longest night of the year, after which the Sun once again is reborn, and begins its waxing cycle. Samhain, by its lore of death for the agricultural cycle and the onset of winter, is most appropriately, then, the 8th spoke of the 8-fold Wheel of the Year. Still, many Wiccan traditions consider Samhain to be #1, the beginning of the new year. How can this be?
Philosophically , the answer should be easy. The Wheel of the Year turns endlessly. It is a continuous circle. If we can number its spokes at all, whatever is the final one is also the beginning. There can be no gap. We can't consider 8 the same as 1, for there are clearly 8 spokes, 8 Sabbats. But, if we think of 8 as also 0, the problem vanishes. Samhain is the end of the cycle, and it is also the beginning…but it is a beginning that is not yet visible, for the dark continues to increase until that longest night of Yule. Samhain is the seed that falls to earth after the plants die. Eventually, it will sprout again, but not yet. Later, after resting under the winter snows, it will begin to germinate. Even at Yule, the light is not visible. The Sun continues to wane, as the Dark Lord has gone beyond the veil. We know that the Sun is reborn at Winter Solstice, but clear evidence of waxing light is yet ahead, at the turn of the Wheel we celebrate as Imbolc.
Some may say, "But nine is the final number of our numerical series. It is the ending. And so it is, but nine and zero are equivalent-the all, the everything (nine) that is nothing (zero), and the nothing (zero) that contains everything (nine). Like the 360° degrees of a circle that reduces to nine: 3 + 6 + 0 = 9, but a circle is a zero. Yes? Of course. Try adding any series of numbers and then reducing it, in the same manner, to a single number. Strike out all the nines and add again. The result will be the same. Nine is zero; zero is nine. So, let's call the space between Samhain and Yule the "zero" (or the "nine"), and if that has you confused…well, that time has also often been called, in Wiccan lore, "the time of chaos!"
And so it is. But take heart, for the dot in the center of a circle that gives birth to one, is also the astrological glyph for Sun, as out of the time of chaos will come the rebirth of the Sun, new light!
Copyright © 2006 Maria Kay Simms