Samhain (pronounced Sow’ain)
Samhain is Celebrated on: 31st Oct northern hemisphere / 1st May southern hemisphere
Otherwise known as: Samhaine, All souls, all Hallows Eve, Halloween, Apple Fest, Ancestor night, spirit Night, etc.
With many a witches (and non-witches) favourite night fast approaching, I felt it only fitting to do an informative post on the holiday that every child with a sugar addiction looks forward to. Halloween!
The Origins of the name Halloween
The name Halloween that we all know, has its origins in the Sabbat, Samhain. Then in the 8th century, Christians made a holiday on the first of November. It was called All Saints Day, it was otherwise known as All Hallows or All-Hallowmas. In addition, the second of November the Church made a holiday called All Souls Day, a day to celebrate the dead. Many believe this new holiday was trying to replace Samhain as a Church-approved holiday, much in the ways of the other sabbats like Ostara and Easter, Yule and Christmas. The day before All Saints Day, or All Hallows, then became known as All Hallows Eve. It took many years for Halloween to become what it is today, merging from Samhain celebrations, to harvest parties, to dress up gatherings and into what we now know.
Candles Colours: White Black and Orange
Incense: Hazel, Pine, White Sage, Myrrh, Nutmeg, Mint, Cinnamon, Copal, Sandalwood, Sweetgrass, Wormwood
Crystals: Black Tourmaline, Smokey Quartz, Obsidian, Clear Quartz, Amber, Carnelian, Onyx, Bloodstone, Jet
Herbs: Calendula, Rosemary, Appleleaf, Bay, Garlic, Mugwort, Wormwood
Food: Apples, Pears, Pumpkin, Corn, Cider, Meat, Pomegranate, Root Vegetables, Gingerbread
Gods and Goddesses: Hecate, Hel, Odin, the Morrigan, Anubis, Persephone, Lilith, the Horned God, Baba Yaga, Isis, Kali, Ishtar
What is Samhain?
The Triple Goddess is in her Crone Phase now, and she swallows the sun god, bringing darkness upon the world. The Wild Hunt begins and will continue through the winter months. The Horned God rides, his hounds in tow, to gather the souls of those who are lingering on the wrong plane.
Samhain is to a witch what New Year’s Eve is to your average Jane Doe. It marks the end of one year and entry into the next. The end and the beginning of the wheel of the year, reminding us of the cyclical nature of our world. And just as we celebrate New Year, peaking at midnight, Samhain should be too. In the community surrounding witchcraft, paganism, and the occult, Samhain is widely considered to be the most important celebration of the year.
It is the 3rd harvest festival of the year, the Harvest of Meat. In days gone by this was a time of taking stock, evaluating which of your livestock was unlikely to make it through the year, and slaughter. This was done not only for food but to preserve the feed for the other animals through the winter months. It is a time for a huge feast, as Samhain once was the last chance to indulge in fresh foods until Spring made its return.
Samhain is a celebration of death and the dead. It is a happy event, rather than sombre. Some believe that on this day, the veil that is between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest. This makes it possible to make contact with those who have passed over to the other side, should they wish to be contacted. It is not a time, as many believe, for summoning spirits. We should merely extend an invitation to those who wish to be with us on this day. As the veil is thin, this also means that a witches power is at its strongest, so it marks a great time to do any rituals, divination, dreamwork, and more.
Many of our current Halloween traditions originated from Samhain celebrations. From dressing up as your favourite spook, which mimicked the wearing of pelts and animal heads dancing around the ceremonial bonfire. To the carved pumpkins we have today. These likely originated from having a lit candle in your window as a beacon to the spirits who were welcome in your home, and to ward off those who weren’t.
How You Can Celebrate Samhain
To celebrate Samhain there are numerous things you can do. You don’t need to implement them all, even just doing one little thing, whatever you are called to, will suffice. Here are some ideas:
- Go for a walk in nature, and observe the seasonal changes taking place. Reflect on what you see and notice both life and death that is involved. Then consider how what you see is applicable to your own life and your body. Doing this will make you feel closer to nature and its life cycles. Keep in mind always, that in nature death and decay are a natural resting point before regrowth and new life.
- Remember those who have passed on. Remember the good times you shared, hell, remember some of the bad and how you got through it with them. For example, in their memory you can go to their resting place, or a place they enjoyed, read their favourite book, eat their favourite food, or play their favourite music.
- Set a place at the table for the people you have loved and lost to attend, or for your ancestors to attend. When dining, keep the place set and invite any of those who wish to be with you to do so now. Eat in peace, silence and keep your mind open to any messages or signs coming through.
- Create an altar space for your departed loved ones, much as the Mexican Dia De Los Muertos celebrations do. Include photos, memories, vices such as food, alcohol and cigarettes, alongside a candle for each spirit you are remembering. Let this candle be their beacon to find their way to you.
- Leave an offering by your door for any spirits who can’t find their way, or who have nowhere to go (but please be mindful of what you leave and where! You don’t want kids or other friendly visitors getting their hands on something they shouldn’t)
- Burn a fire, whether it is a bonfire or just a candle. Samhain is a fire festival and was often celebrated with a ceremonial bonfire. Its intent being to keep the ghosts and goblins at bay, but can also be used to scry
- Harvest the last of your crops. It was considered bad luck to leave any crops out after this Sabbat (obviously if you have crops which last all winter like kale and sprouts don’t be hasty, but your summer crops should be all harvested and cleared away)
- Practice a form of divination, learn a new one, or start a divination journal. There’s plenty to choose from, just a few being Runes (you can choose from our sets to buy here), Ogham, Tarot, Tea Leaf Reading, amongst many more. Whatever you choose, use your intuition and your observance before referring to written interpretations. Check back in your journal often to see how accurate your readings have been.
There are many more ways to celebrate this wonderful Sabbat, we want to know what your plans are this year? So, be sure to let us know in the comments. Also, don’t forget to sign up for your free Book of Shadows page below, and we wish you a Happy Samhain!