What is Samhain? That’s Halloween right? Well, not exactly but fret not as I’m about to give a brief overview of what it is, correspondences, and even some ideas on how I celebrate. 🙂
Samhain is the third and final harvest festival of the year. This would’ve been the time when the livestock that couldn’t be kept alive during the winter would’ve been slaughtered and their meat would’ve been preserved. Samhain means “Summer’s End” and was the Celtic New Year. For many witches, this is the New Year to them as well while there are those who prefer Yule instead. For the longest time I preferred the latter as well, however as I’ve begun to reflect on it it really does make sense for me that this would be the beginning of the New Year. This sabbat is celebrated when the sun is in 15 degrees of Scorpio although it is almost always celebrated on the 31st of October. Other names for it include: The Feast of Apples, The Feast of the Dead, All Hallow’s Eve, Ancestor Night, Hallowmas, as well as Halloween although I prefer not to refer to this sacred holy day as that. To me, Samhain and Halloween are completely different in their intentions even though much of Halloween is derived from Samhain or some of the aspects of it anyways. Don’t get me wrong. I love Halloween but I do keep the two different. The planetary ruler is Pluto.
This is the beginning of the Dark Times as this is the time in which the veil between the worlds is the thinnest which allows our ancestors and those who’ve gone before us to return on this night to visit. Divination is always great on this night for that reason. Our main focus during this sabbat is to remember and honor our ancestors either by including them in our evening meal (known as a Dumb Supper), by visiting their graves, telling tales about them, and/or creating an ancestral altar. This is also the time we turn inwards and reflect on ourselves. Just as nature and Gaia is turning inwards so too do we–remember, as within so without. For this reason, many people begin their Shadow work around this time which I’ll discuss at a later time. Transformation, Regeneration, Honoring the Dead, Divination, Celebrating the Harvest, as well as Preparing for the Winter are themes of this time. As this is the direct opposite of Beltane on the Wheel of the Year which is also a day when the veil is thin, fairies roam during this night except they are darker. Think of the Wild Hunt.
A few symbols for this sabbat are pumpkins, apples, pomegranates, skulls, cauldrons, and the waning moon. Colors would be black, orange, burgundy, deep purple, green, and brown. Items that can be included on the altar would be skulls to represent death and our mortality, photos of loved ones who’ve passed away, candles, pumpkins, gourds, and anything else representing the final harvest. Some crystals that can be used are black obsidian, black onyx, black tourmaline, smokey quartz, jet, garnet, amber, and carnelian. Foods could include beets, squash, corn, apples, nuts, cider, pumpkins, gingerbread, and meat dishes–especially pork. Herbs I associate with this time are mugwort, sage, and rosemary.
This is the time of the Crone Goddess although some also associate Her with the Mother as She is pregnant during this time with the God who shall be reborn at Yule. For this very reason, I prefer working with Cerridwen who is both Mother and Crone. Another Goddess associated with this time is Persephone who is Queen of the Underworld along with Her husband, Hades. A couple other Goddesses you could think about are Inanna, Ishtar, Hecate, and The Morrigan. If you wish to include the God during your ritual then some good choices would be Osiris, Hades as mentioned before, Anubis, and Pluto.
Some things you can do for this sabbat that I like to do are:
- Watch the Sun rise and set–a favorite of mine on all sabbats
- Create an ancestral altar set up in either the west or the east
- Place candles (I like the battery operated ones you can buy at Christmas) in the window to guide spirits
- Place a plate of food outside for the spirits
- Have a dumb supper
- Visit the graves of loved ones
- Carve a pumpkin for protection
- Use black candles to ward off negativity
- Buy a new house broom
- Make a Witch’s Brew (CharmingPixieFlora’s video)
- This year I’ll be starting my Shadow Work
Two great ideas that I am hoping to do this year are making sugar skulls (like the ones for El Día de Los Muertos) and Sweet Skull Bread. I’ll include the links. When I was in my Spanish 1 class in middle school, we decorated a sugar skull while learning the difference between the Mexican Day of the Dead and Halloween. El Día de Los Muertos is very similar to our own Samhain yet has sadly been thought of by many as the “Mexican Halloween” but I’m not going to go off on a rant here about it.Here are: CharmingPixieFlora’s How to make Sugar Skulls video and her Sweet Skull Bread 1, Sweet Skull Bread 2.
- Halloween by Silver Ravenwolf
- Solitary Witch, the Ultimate Book of Shadows by Silver Ravenwolf
- Sabbats by Edain McCoy
- CharmingPixieFlora’s youtube videos with the links above in post, also her Samhain Activitiesand Samhain Incense and Oil
- The Witches Zodiac–Samhainby Laura Daligan and Zoe Hind
Persephone and Shadow Work by Baubo Savvy (No Longer Available)