Thematic photoshoot #1

Samhain – not to be pronounced ‘Sam-hane’, but ‘Sow-wen’ (as in ‘sound’) –, literally translates as (‘summer’s end’). This ancient Celtic pastoral / harvest festival marks the midway point between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice.

The festival originated with the Gaelic-speaking Celts of Ireland, and from there our modern holiday of Halloween was spawned.

Samhain was celebrated on the evening of October 31st and into November 1st, and is described as ‘an intensely spiritual time, for it was the period when the Otherworld became visible to mankind and when spiritual forces were let loose on the human world’. Or, in other words: ‘the veil that separated this world from the world of the Others grew thin’.

This thinning of the membrane between worlds meant that ghosts and fairies and all manner of otherworldly creatures could cross over on Samhain and wreak havoc.

Samhain was a dangerous time in the Celtic mind and numerous rituals evolved as protection. Our ancestors might have left out food and drink as a gift for the Others, or worn masks to frighten them away. Skulls with candles in them might have been hung in trees either to invite these spirits of the dead or to scare off the Others.

Christianity took this pagan festival over as a harvest festival. The feast became All Saints’ Day (i.e. All-Hallows) and the evening prior was Hallowe’en, still celebrated as the night when spirits and ghosts set out to wreak vengeance on the living and when evil marches unbridled across the world.

On November 1st the year was over, and the sun’s life of a year was done. The Celts thought that at this time the sun fell a victim for six months to the powers of winter darkness… From the idea that the sun suffered from his enemies on this day grew the association of Samhain with death.

Cidaq and I tried to recreate the ceremonial offering of food and drink, as well as inviting and scaring spirits, in an interior setting — to honour the ancient traditional Samhain rather than our modern-day Halloween with its emphasis on gothic horror. Our previous attempt had been in the woods, on Friday the 13th, and had to be discontinued because of the rain that kept pouring down all day (fairies wreaking havoc?).

No electrical lights were used, just candles.

Model: Cidaq (alternative model / bus driver / aid worker)
Reeuwijk, 13-10-2023 & Bodegraven, 29-10-2023