Samhain (Leanne Daharja Veitch)

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  • (Posted 2011-03-21)  CPDL #23285:     
Editor: Leanne Daharja Veitch (submitted 2011-03-21).   Score information: A4, 3 pages, 44 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: First release of movement 2, "Samhain" from "Wheel of the Year" as a separate work, as a result of numerous requests.

General Information

Title: Samhain
Composer: Leanne Daharja Veitch

Number of voices: 2vv   Voicing: Women, Men
Genre: SacredPagan music

Language: English
Instruments: Piano, violoncello

First published: 2004
Description: First release of movement 2, "Samhain" from "Wheel of the Year" as a separate work.

(Click here for 'What is Samhain?')

What is Samhain?

Samhain (pronounced sow-een) Pagan New Year, and it is from here that the Wheel of the Year is traditionally counted. If falls on October 31 in the Northern Hemisphere, and between April 25 and May 1 in the Southern Hemisphere.

It is a time for fireworks, sparklers and night-time celebrations, and a time to both say farewell to the old year, and to welcome in the new. Thyme (associated with departed souls), rue (the flower of repentance), and rosemary (for remembrance) are traditional herbs burned at Samhain.

Samhain is one of the eight lunar Sabbats, and many families choose to celebrate this festival not on the actual date, but on the eve of the first full moon after the correct date.

Samhain is associated with Shadowfest (Italy/Latin/Strega), and Martinmas (Celtic/Scottish) and is commonly known as Halloween. It is believed that the veils between the worlds of the dead and of the living, and of the realm of faery in between are very thin, and that at this time souls that are leaving this physical plane can pass out and souls that are reincarnating can pass in.

Interestingly, in the southern hemisphere, Samhain also ties in closely with Anzac Day (April 25), the day on which Australia and New Zealand remember their war dead, and take time to honour the fallen.

At Samhain, the darkness increases as winter approaches. In many religion - including several branches of Christianity - families to prepare a Feast for the Dead on Samhain night, when offerings of food and drink are left for the spirits. Candles or lanterns are traditionally burned at each window of the house to guide friendly spirits home and keep away unfriendly souls.

Samhain is a time to reflect on the mortality that inevitably confronts us all, and to learn to deal with the fears that surround death. It is a time to reflect that life is cyclical, and that change is the natural order of things. It is a time to confront our own inner demons, and learn to face fear, and to grow stronger by acknowledging the fears that we have.

Foods that are commonly enjoyed at this time include gourds, nuts and underground tubers of all kinds, and the last of the harvest fruits, including apples and pomegranates (both sacred to the Goddess), pears and grains. Samhain plants include chrysanthemum, hazel, mandrake, mugwort (used to aid visions and reflections) and rue (repentance).

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Eucalyptus, rosemary,
Burning brightly for remembrance:
Burning bright for purity
On this night when we remember…

Once again, Shadow's Eve.
Light the candle at the window.
Set a light to guide them home
Through the darkness of the night.

Contemplate our visions,
Dreaming of times long gone:
Dreaming of our loved ones
Who have passed across our lives…

Eucalyptus, rosemary,
Burning brightly for remembrance
Burning bright for purity
On this night when we recall.