Samhain, Fairies, and Symbolism in Your Writing

With the Samhain (Halloween) celebration just around the corner, I wanted to gaze back into the past to see how this ancient festival evolved and became the holiday we celebrate today. Besides, if you write fairy fantasy, you’ll want to incorporate some of the ancient myths and other such symbolism into your work. It is important to make a connection to our ancient past and long held beliefs. It gives your work a realistic touch.

Samhain (pronounced: “sowin”) is from the Gaelic for “Sam,” which meant “summer,” and “fuin,” which meant “end,” giving us the definition of “summer’s end.”

mysticalmind.com also shares the fact that the Irish separated the year into two halves to represent the seasons. Summer occurred from May 1st – November 1st, while Winter was from November 1st – May 1st. Samhain marked the beginning of Winter. Samhain Eve, (Halloween) became the night to celebrate before the first day of winter began.

So what does Samhain have to do with fairies? Plenty. The Irish believed that during the celebration of Samhain Eve, the portals into the Otherworld swung open allowing the fairies and supernatural beings to roam the earth. Now, it is easy to make the connection as to how our Halloween traditions evolved into what they are today. I came to the conclusion that Halloween was invented by the Irish!

Even more interesting is how the Irish interpreted what the fairies were. There was a belief that the fairies were angels who were not good enough to be saved nor bad enough to be lost. mysticalmind.com also shares: “The ancient Irish Book of Armagh calls them, the gods of the earth.”

Magickalenenchantments.blogspot.com shares:

“Possessing the power to bewitch or bedevil humans with their illusions, known as glamours, fairies gradually found their way into the myth and folklore of many European cultures.”

“Glamours,” used in the sentence above was a new definition for me, and I had to look it up!

Glamour originally was a term applied to a magical-occult spell that was cast on somebody to make them see something the spell-caster wished them to see when in fact it was not what it seemed to be.” Glamour-wikipedia.com

Even more interesting, was the widely held belief that on Samhain night, when the fairies freely roamed the earth, they grabbed unsuspecting humans and placed them under a permanently enchanted status. This bewitching was said to cause people to go mad, or to die from some strange incurable illness. I couldn’t help but think what a great way that was to explain a medical condition that didn’t have a cure.

The legend also specified that every seven years the fairy beings captured babies or small children which they would then sacrifice to their god.

The number seven is significant in early folklore and Christianity. Seven was creatively used in many myths and fairy stories.

The Seed of Life, mysticalnumbers.com

Seven circles intertwine to form the symbol called “The Seed of Life.” The Seed of Life symbolizes the six days of creation. The central circle symbolizes the day of rest.

Seven also represents the seven colors of the rainbow. Isaac Newton classified the seven colors of the rainbow as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. (ROYGBIV).

My research has played a huge part in the writing of my book, The Heart Stone Chronicles – The Swamp Fairy. I believe that sharing some of the old myths in new ways in our writing gives our story credence, even though it is a fantasy.

The use of symbolism in our writing gives our readers a way to relate to our story by creating a deeper meaning to our words.

WritersHelpingWriters has an excellent article entitled, “Five Important Ways to Use Symbolism in Your Story.” Click the highlighted link to the site above to read the blog post.

So tell me all you fantasy writers out there. How do you incorporate symbolism into your novel writing? Do you look to holiday celebrations for inspiration? Inquiring minds what to know!

 TO SEE YOU ALL. Thanks for stopping by. ❤

36 replies »

  1. Personally I like to focus on fantastic imagery borrowed from myth and folklore and leave room for the reader to find what symbolism they may in the story.
    When I try to write it in it feels too contrived and I lose interest writing it. Usually when I revise I will see where my subconscious insisted on symbols, and I find that satisfying and authentic. For me, no criticism of those who write it in, I’m simply unable to work that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our family tradition at Haloween and Midsummer is to leave a plate of food out for the fairies at night. Nice bits and pieces like bread, milk, honey and sweet biscuits. Also a drop of rum or whiskey is added to the mix. It was never forgotten and I have carried it on.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love reading about where modern traditions evolved from. A lot of my fantasy stories incorporate fairy lore into them and while I think as writers we get to explore and create our own uses and interpretations of these traditions to suit our stories, it’s always good to know the facts first to use as a jumping off point.

    Liked by 1 person

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Author, Colleen M. Chesebro


Welcome to the fantasy realm of the Fairy Whisperer where I write the magical poetry and stories that the fairy nymphs whisper to me in my dreams. If you love fairies, myths, and magic you have found a second home. I'm glad you're here. Namaste.

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