The month of October marks the end of summer and the beginning of winter … it’s all about preparation and change. The weather dampens, temperatures drop, days shorten, leaves fall and expose branches, and the sky begins to turn gray here in the North East as the wheel of the year turns toward winter’s deep sleep.
Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”) is recognized on October 31st and is the last of three harvest festivals. Other names for Samhain are: Hallowmas (Scottish/Celtic), Halloween, Shadowfest (Strega), Martinmas and All Hallow’s Eve. The word Samhain comes from the Celts and means “Summer’s End”. I absolutely LOVE Samhain and Halloween, fall is one of my most favorite times of year and I absolutely LOVE dressing up for Halloween. I bet you think I always dress up as a witch… nope. I dress up as a witch A LOT but this year I’m rocking a Mother Nature/Earth Goddess costume *giggle*
For the Celts, Samhain was the beginning of the year and the cycle of the seasons. It’s a time to acknowledge the beginning and ending of all things. It is a time to feast and celebrate the bounty we harvested from the growing season and to get prepared for the long, cold winter ahead. This is the time of year for getting rid of weakness (in the old days the livestock least likely to make it through the winter would be separated from the herd and slaughtered). Grim I know, but necessary for survival.
The primary focus of Samhain is transformation, regeneration, honoring the dead (your ancestors), divination, honoring the harvest and preparing for the winter ahead.
It is said that on Samhain the veil between this world and the next are at their thinnest, making it a great time to communicate with spirit and your ancestors. Ancestors can be honored and celebrated by displaying photos or lighting candles on their behalf.
So on Samhain take the time to appreciate your ancestors, loved ones, and mentors that have passed, and all that you have harvested as this years growing cycle comes to a close. This window begins the inward turning time of the year, a time for inner reflection in order to determine what you are ready to release or let go of and what you choose to bring into your life during the next growing cycle. The action of inward reflection is an essential step of the creation and manifestation cycle.
The six weeks from Samhain to Winter Solstice creates the darkest time of the year. The “Sun God” is thought of as going back into the womb of the “Goddess” to gestate there, until his rebirth at Winter Solstice, when the days begin to get longer and his power grows.
Magical Ideas For Samhain
- Create an “Ancestor Altar” with pictures of your deceased loved ones, candles, small pumpkins & gourds, cider and incense.
- Carve a pumpkin and empower it to repel negativity then put it by your front door.
- Burn black candles to ward off negativity from your space.
- Tune into what you need to release and have a “letting go” ceremony or a big give away of things you no longer need or serve you.
- Fill a small plastic pumpkin with gold wrapped candy and empower for prosperity and wealth.
- Set a place at your dinner table for the recently deceased. If it’s a pet who recently passed, place their favorite food in a plate and put it where their food used to be set out for them.
- Place pots of bright yellow mums by your front door to attract happiness.
- Visit the cemetery and place flowers on the graves of your deceased loved ones.
- If you enjoy divination, this is one of the most potent times of the year to do it because the veils between the worlds are thin. So get out your Goddess, Oracle or Tarot cards, runes, scrying mirror or other tools and ask for guidance for the coming year.
Correspondences for Samhain
- Herbs: sage, patchouli, heather
- Altar Flowers & Herbs: acorns, apples, pumpkins, gourds, autumn leaves, mums
- Feast Foods: pumpkin, squash, nut breads, sweet potatoes, milled drinks (cider or wine), roast meats, root vegetables
- Animals: bats, cats, crows, ravens, owls
- Incense: cinnamon, cloves, myrrh, patchouli, pine, mugwart, nutmeg
- Rituals & Spells: divination, spirit contact, crone magic, working with dark energy, making besoms, spells for new beginnings
Something to think about over the next few weeks: What are you ready to release? What are you ready to cull from your life? What no longer serves you?
Please share your thoughts below…