While most Samhain divination games revolved around marriage questions, people also brought their concerns about health, career, weather, and wealth to the party. Farmers watched their bull to see what way it lay down on Hallowe’en —the direction indicated the direction of most wind through the winter. If Samhain fell on a Wednesday, farmers expected a rough winter. People threw shoes over houses to determine where they might be in the coming year: whatever direction they pointed indicated the direction that thrower might travel. There were multiple “three plates” divinations, where each plate contained something symbolizing a future possibility. Often mothers entertained children by piercing an egg, dropping the egg white into the glass of water, and foretelling future based on the visions created by the swirling white.
Despite the best efforts of the ninth century Christian Church, Samhain did not so much return as it remained. That, alongside Halloween, speaks to humanity’s enduring need to acknowledge fear, death, uncertainty, and loss. Samhain offers a chance for renewal and a chance to connect lovingly with the dead again. Halloween offers a release from the norm—often exactly what people need after enduring powerful grief. Pagans celebrate life, and with Samhain they do so by revering the dead, celebrating the chain of lives that brought us all together.