Samhain

Since today is Samhain, it seems appropriate to discuss why I celebrate it, since I’m Heathen. There are a lot of Heathens who don’t celebrate Samhain which I can understand, as it’s not a Nordic holiday. There are others that do – Lucius honors Hela, as it is the day most sacred to Her.

It is, however, rare to find a Heathen who celebrates the holiday as Samhain – it doesn’t really fit into the Nordic calendar. For me, I celebrate it as Samhain because my ancestry is more Scottish than Nordic. As a descendant of the MacGregor clan, I have direct ancestral links to the Caledonians (generally referred to as Picts), so it makes sense for me to honor my ancestors during a Celtic holiday.

Interestingly enough, Tacitus suggested in Agricola that the Caledoninans, due to their reddish hair and large limbs, were of Germanic descent. In my ancestral background (I’ve seen the DNA report that they can do now; my uncle is a genealogist), I have both Scottish and Nordic blood.

Now, the reason I’m explaining why I celebrate Samhain is because my celebration of Celtic holidays tends to be something the general Heathen community absolutely hates. It’s okay if I celebrate the Norse holidays, but celebrating the Celtic ones is, in some way, dishonoring the Gods.

I’ve never agreed with that way of thinking. I also don’t think that to be Heathen it’s necessary to only honor the Norse Gods. I think that it requires a primary focus on the Norse Gods, but not an exclusive one, and that is one of the beliefs I hold that the general Heathen community may never accept as tenable. Considering my ancestry, however, and the fact that polytheistic traditions are by necessity ancestral ones, failing to celebrate Samhain would be an incredible insult to those who came before me.

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3 comments on “Samhain

  1. I am also of Scottish ancestry (Galbraith clan), and I still have many living relatives there, though I don’t know them well. The bulk of my blood is English and Scottish though my basque and Mediterranean genes cane through strongest in me, tenacious as they are 😉 but yeah, I initially referred to my self as a syncretic Gaelic-heathen when I began my dedicant work. Since then, my focus has been on the Germanic side since that is my adf hearth culture, but I consider the Druidic nature of adf and my groves alternating Celtic and Norse rites to add the gaelic element that I wish to hold onto. Samhain is my favorite holiday and the one I know best since I am new to heathen holidays. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with claiming a heathen title but celebrating some Celtic customs – after all wasn’t there nurse influence in Scotland for a while (if we want a reconstructionist defense)?

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