It’s that time of the year again! As we approach October 31st, pumpkins and Witches begin to appear everywhere as the symbols of Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve). This means we are entering the dark half of the Wheel of the Year, so let’s cast a Samhain spell and prepare a ritual at home, to celebrate the dead and the living too.
Samhain: The Witches’ New Year 🎃
Samhain is a powerful time of transition which marks the Witches’ New Year. That’s because the Celtic days, just like in Hebrew tradition, began and ended at sunset. In the same fashion, the year was considered to begin with the dark half. It was a time of magic and ethereal moments (a.k.a. “the thinning of the veil”) that made the period an enchanted time.
The word Samhain comes from Old Irish samain or samuin, where sam means “summer” and fuin, “end, sunset”; which can be translated as the “end of summer”. The most common pronunciation nowadays is “Sau-ihn” or “SAH-win”.
When is Samhain?
The celebration occurs halfway between the Autumn Equinox (or Mabon) and the Winter Solstice (or Yule). Historically, it was observed throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Today, it is growing in popularity as many people take note of ancient traditions that honor the dead. Samhain is one of the eight sabbats celebrated by Wiccans, and perhaps the most important one, six months after Beltane.
How to Celebrate Samhain 👻
To celebrate Samhain is to bring in the darkest half of the year and embrace everything it has to offer. Those who take part in Samhain believe that the veil between the physical world and the spirit world is lifted during this time. Interactions with the invisible realm are heightened as we can pass on messages to our ancestors.
This is a celebration of life, death, and darkness, associated with the realm of spirits. Read on to find traditional ways to celebrate Samhain this year.
Samhain Wiccan Rituals and Spells ⛤
1. Commemorate the Dead
The purpose of Samhain is to give thanks and remember the dead, therefore it is appropriate and common to create an ancestor’s altar in their memory. A special area is filled with photographs of the dearly departed, their favorite food, personal items, and candles. At this point one can sing songs, pray and take some time to take in their memory.
Here’s a Samhain spell you can perform on the eve of November 1st to honor your deceased loved ones and ancestors, offering gifts and sharing memories:
The ancestors are a main part of Samhain, during this season it is said that their spirits cross over into this realm. This can be a comfort for those who have recently lost someone and also those who seek advice and guidance from spirit.
2. Light a Bonfire
During the celebration of Samhain, fire rituals are a common sight. This event symbolizes the beginning of winter and the end of the harvest season. A bonfire brings warmth in the midst of the cold. It is a community event that would engage local people and bring family and friends together.
It is believed that fire calms the disturbed souls of the dead. If you don’t have a fireplace, burn some incense in your cauldron or simply light a candle.
Lighting candles will have a similar effect and can be used in a ritual to bring in the new season. Colored candles that are brown, orange, red, or black are ideal. 🕯️ Light a black candle for protection.
3. Host a Silent Supper
Also known as a “dumb supper”, this tradition involves being silent during mealtimes. This is a special occasion that calls for a grand feast, candles, and silence.
Simple Samhain Dumb Supper
- Add extra plates and chairs at dinner for the deceased and share old family stories.
- After the meal, the dishes set to the deceased (with food) are left by the door.
- In many cases, children are left out during this practice to maintain the quiet of the atmosphere.
- Dining in silence gives worshippers the headspace to focus on the dead and the spirits of their loved ones.
Dumb Supper Recipe Ideas
- Easy Pumpkin Bread by Kasie
- Comforting Chowder by SilverBear
- Potion Brew for New Beginnings by TheTravelWitch
- Quick Apple Pancakes Recipe by Kasie
Explore Samhain Recipes in the Infinite Roots Coven
4. Cast a Samhain Spell
Incantations and prayers were also traditionally recited during Samhain. They would be used to keep bad energy away and call upon the spirits of deceased loved ones. Here is a Celtic blessing that was used to mark the start of Samhain:
“At all Hallow’s Tide, may God keep you safe
From goblin and pooka and black-hearted stranger,
From harm of the water and hurt of the fire,
From thorns of the bramble, from all other danger,
From Will O’ The Wisp haunting the mire;
From stumbles and tumbles and tricksters to vex you,
May God in His mercy, this week protect you.“
More Wiccan Samhain Rituals
Whether it’s setting up an altar, having a feast or casting a spell, we acknowledge and honor the passage of time, and the cyclical nature of life.
This is a spell for the most important date in the yearly cycle of holidays that Witches celebrate in the Northern Hemisphere: Samhain! 🧙♀️🧙
Members of Spells8 can print this and other grimoire PDF pages.
- Write down on a piece of paper everything you want to let go in your life, for example: bad habits, grudges, enemies, sorrow, and burn it in your cauldron, saying goodbye and releasing it for good.
- Cast any spells for protection, banishing, cleansing and renewal.
- Make a list of goals or intentions for the year that begins and add it to your Book of Mirrors.
- It’s a good opportunity for divinations and scrying spells. Use your Tarot deck, pendulum, or do a candle reading to assess the choices you are facing and to help you in the decision-making process.
- Meditate. Reflect on everything that happened during the year. Samhain can be a great time for spiritual catharsis and cleanse. Find Guided Meditations here.
- From the Infinite Roots Coven: Mirror Gazing to Contact the Spirit of a Deceased Loved One
5. Decorate your Samhain Altar
Decorate your altar with the symbols of Samhain. Traditional offerings include seasonal fruits such as pomegranates, nuts, grapes or pears. Those same can serve as offerings for the Gods or deceased relatives. Some Wiccans also build a separate altar for their ancestors, with pictures, letters, their favorite food and drinks.
Samhain Altars: Photos
Samhain altars shared by members of the Coven, from Altars, Love to See Yours!
There are many traditional ways of representing Samhain that are still used today. There are powerful items that are full of folklore and magic. Here are some that you should know:
Carved Pumpkins/Turnips: The Gaelic tradition of sculpting turnips led to the current activity of carving pumpkins for jack-o’-lanterns. These lanterns featured the faces of evil spirits and would be filled with candles that emit an eerie glow. This is a fun activity for both adults and children alike.
Here’s another idea: Instead of just burning a candle in the pumpkin, consider adding a disc of herbs like rosemary or sprinkle some nutmeg inside for a boost of protection. The negative energies won’t stand a chance with your house!
Continue reading: Pumpkins and Witches
Besom Brooms: These magical brooms are used to sweep away old energy to make room for the new. Rather than holding onto stagnant vibes and a besom broom will clear, helping those who use it to start fresh. They’re also used to remove the crisp, brown autumn leaves. Traditionally, Besom Brooms are made from birch twigs, a symbol of purification and renewal, and hazel or ash wood, which create the broom handle.
Read also: What does a Magickal Broom over the door mean? 🧹
Bowen Knots: This is a symbol of Samhain that brings protection to whoever uses it. It is a heraldic knot that is placed on doorways, houses, and other entrances to ward off evil spirits and bad luck. Its propellant properties will keep people that celebrate Samhain safe as ghosts and monsters roam the earth during this period.
Samhain Correspondences 🎃
- Incenses: Lilac, copal, clove, camphor, mint, myrrh, sandalwood.
- Colors: Black, orange, white, red, gold and silver.
- Drinks: Wines, ciders, tea, water.
- Herbs: Mugwort, mandrake, sage, chrysanthemum, thistle, thyme.
- Food: Beets, turnips, apples, corn, nuts, pumpkins, gingerbread, pumpkin pie, bread, meats.
- Crystals: Obsidian, black tourmaline, white onyx, labradorite, ghost quartz, amber, yellow jasper, hematite.
6. Samhain with Children
During Samhain, many would wear masks and costumes to disguise them from evil spirits. They chose to dress up as monsters to avoid the clutches of bad energy and stop them from being dragged to the land of the dead. This was a fun activity for children and has now become the famous ‘trick or treat’ that we know and love today. It was also common to mark doorways with the blood of slaughtered animals for added protection.
Samhain Coloring Page
Print this page, write your intentions for the new year, on it and start coloring!
Coloring has the ability to relax the fear center of your brain, the amygdala. It induces the same state as meditating by reducing the thoughts of a restless mind.
It also allows you to put everything else aside and live in the moment, generating focus.
- Invite your children to learn about their ancestors, even if it’s something as simple as asking grandma what her life was like as a child. You can either create a family tree or if you feel really cunning, use that information to make an ancestral altar tablecloth!
- Do you have family photos and inheritances? Build an ancestor altar with memorabilia and honor them throughout this month.
- If the parents make a bonfire, they can tell the children to burn there what they fear or what they want to forget. For example, if they are afraid of the dark, write it on a paper or symbolize it with a piece of black cardboard and then throw it into the fire to banish it.
- Spend the day decorating the house with orange and black balloons, pumpkins, black cats, skulls, brooms, apples. Or do a thorough cleaning of the house and prepare the garden for the winter.
More ideas to celebrate Samhain with Children
This is a lesson in the Wicca Level 2 video course which covers beliefs about the Other World in paganism.
More lessons and training material are added on a monthly basis
Samhain is a fun-filled holiday that is full of mysticism. Though it may initially come across as something to fear, it is a great tradition that can be celebrated by people of all ages, backgrounds, and creeds. As October 31st approaches, think about how you can observe the period and add your own flair to the festivities.
Light candles, play music, dress up and dance until the last of the bonfire embers fade. It will awaken your soul, help you to appreciate the power of life and death, and connect you to the spirit world in a way that you have never experienced before.