Samhain: The Autumn Cross-Quarter


“Elkhorn” by Brom

I conjure you, 
Though you untie the winds, and let them fight
Against the churches; though the yesty waves
Confound and swallow navigation up;
Though bladed corn be lodg’d, and trees blown down;
Though castles topple on their warders’ heads;
Though palaces and pyramids do slope
Their heads to their foundations; though the treasure
Of nature’s germins tumble all together,
Even till destruction sicken …

— Macbeth, Shakespeare

Samhain is pronounced sah-win. Samhain is the autumn cross-quarter. Traditionally Samhain is celebrated on the eve of November 1st. Some Neo-Pagans celebrate the autumn cross-quarter halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, which usually occurs around November 6th or 7th.

Samhain coincides with Halloween, and the Christian All Hallow’s Eve, which precedes All Saints Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2). Many Neo-Pagans associate Samhain with the rural practice of culling the flocks prior to the onset of winter. Thus, Samhain is sometimes called “Blood Harvest”, or referred to as the “Third Harvest”, following the grain harvest at Lughnasadh and the wine harvest at Mabon. For some Neo-Pagans, Samhain is a kind of Pagan Memorial Day, a day for remembering and honoring the dead.

There is no universal outline for the Wheel of the Year. Every version differs in the details of the Mythos and which events are assigned to which point on the Wheel. According to one version, at Samhain, the Dark God is crowned as the Holly King. He leads the Wild Hunt as it emerges from Underworld to roam the winter countryside. The Dark Queen rides beside him in her aspect as the Huntress, the devouring aspect of the Goddess.

Return to The Neo-Pagan Wheel of the Year.


One thought on “Samhain: The Autumn Cross-Quarter

  1. Pingback: Samhain / Halloween | A Year And A Day

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