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Throughout Ireland and Britain, the household festivities included rituals and games intended to foretell one’s future, especially regarding death and marriage. Apples and nuts were often used in these divination rituals. They included apple bobbing, nut roasting, scrying or mirror-gazing, pouring molten lead or egg whites into water, dream interpretation, and others. Halloween Beetlejuice waiting room shirt Special bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them. Their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective and cleansing powers, and were also used for divination. In some places, torches lit from the bonfire were carried sunwise around homes and fields to protect them. It is suggested that the fires were a kind of imitative or sympathetic magic – they mimicked the Sun, helping the “powers of growth” and holding back the decay and darkness of winter.
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Samhain/Calan Gaeaf denoted the finish of the gather season and start of winter or the ‘darker portion’ of the year. Like Beltane/Calan Mai, it was viewed as a liminal time, when the limit between this world and the Otherworld diminished. This implied the Aos Sí (Connacht articulation/iːsˈʃiː/eess-SHEE, Munster/e:s ʃi:/), the ‘spirits’ or ‘pixies’, could all the more effectively come into this world and were especially active. Most researchers see the Aos Sí as “corrupted adaptations of antiquated divine beings […] whose power stayed dynamic in the individuals’ psyches even after they had been formally supplanted by later strict beliefs”. The Aos Sí were both regarded and dreaded, with people frequently conjuring the insurance of God when drawing closer their dwellings.