Samhain marked the end of the agricultural year. It was the time by when no further food could be harvested or gathered for winter.
Each farmer knew the head of livestock that they tended, the head of livestock that could be fed, and the head of livestock that could not.
Instead of allowing livestock to starve, many were killed, butchered and smoked, salted or pickled.
This was the opportunity for a feast but also a time to contemplate mortality and those that have died.
Samhain was a time when the veil between the worlds was thin.
However, while Samhain could be marked by astronomy, it was more easily marked by the presence of the fires that would burn all night.
As well as for cooking, warmth and preserving meat, the fires kept unwelcome spirits away and provided a beacon for those whose memory was treasured or wisdom prized.Of those that stalked the Samhain night, the most fearsome was the Cailleauch Bheur.
A Leicestershire port, John Heyrich Jnr (18th century) wrote of her:
'Vast talons, foul with human flesh, there grew
In place of hands, and features vivid blue
Glar'd in her visage; while the obscene waist
Warm skins of human victims close embraced'
Described by Kate Westwood in her article on http://www.whitedragon.org.uk/ and published in Samhain 1998