Happy Samhain, everyone! Special today for paid subscribers is a piece about divination for the holiday—including recipes.
By Siobhan Ball
Samhain has always been a time for divination in Ireland and Scotland. Long before Christianization and its adoption of the old agricultural festivals into its calendar, the Quarter Days were established as powerful, liminal times; ideal for spellwork and trying to catch a glimpse into the future. Of them, Samhain has always been considered the most potent time for divination, due to the presence of the dead and otherworldy beings in the world around us, and the thinning of the boundaries between us and them.
Like many domestic divination traditions, the kind practiced by ordinary people rather than contracted out to a spaewife or other professional, most of the Samhain traditions revolve around food. Intended as social activities for families, groups of friends, or young couples, these fortune telling foods serve double duty at Samhain celebrations; entertainment and insight as well as a good meal for the participants. I’ve included some of my favorites below, many of which are still a part of the average Samhain celebrations in these countries today.