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Hello, everyone! Happy Halloween—or, if you’re a pagan/witch who celebrates, blessed Samhain!
Samhain — pronounced “sow-in” or “sow-een” (“sow” as in “cow”)
I don’t talk about my craft much on here, but ever since I came out of the broom closet on Twitter recently, I’ve been amazed by how many of you have messaged me about it! I decided I might like to talk about my practice a little bit here. Let me know if this is something you’d be interested in learning more about in the future!
Now, some of you might be wondering what Samhain is! Originally, it was a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season. It was often celebrated from sundown on October 31st to sundown on November 1st. (Side note: most southern hemisphere pagans celebrate it on May 1st, instead!)
FUN SAMHAIN FACT: Samhain predates Halloween!
We’re going to focus on the pagan aspects today: Samhain is a time to celebrate the cycle of death and rebirth, reconnect with our ancestors, honor those who have passed, and commune with the spirit world (as it is believed that this is the time when the veil between worlds is thinnest).
Not every witch celebrates Samhain, and it does not make you less of a witch if you choose not to!
How I’m Celebrating:
There are tons of things you can do for Samhain, such as creating feasts, spirit work, rituals, meditating, divination, spellwork, and more.
As for me, I don’t do much spirit work inside my home because I have a very sensitive nature to spirits. Many of my friends and family members actually refuse to go to places with a lot of spiritual activity with me because they have had so many strange things happen to them in my presence! Since I have a toddler, I’ve decided not to intentionally invite spirits in until he’s older and less sensitive.
If you DO want to do spirit work, I recommend lighting candles in your windows (traditionally speaking, west-facing) and stating very clearly and firmly that the candles are to guide in only positive spirits and lost loved ones—be sure to express that negative spirits and energy are NOT welcome in your home.
Many of the things we associate with Halloween, such as setting out treats, wearing costumes and masks, and carving jack-o-lanterns, actually began with Samhain! If you want to do any of these things, go ahead, and the best part is that because they’re associated nowadays with Halloween, if you’re a closeted witch, this can be an easy way to practice on Samhain without drawing unwanted attention to yourself!
Some other rituals you can do are decorating your altar, burning incense, reflecting on lost loved ones and happy memories you shared with them, meditating with power stones (stones often associated with Samhain are black onyx, amethyst, obsidian, bloodstone, and opal), summoning your spirit guide (you can do this through meditation as well), herb smudging (herbs associated with Samhain are sage, mugwort, bay leaf, and lavender), or candle work.
One candle ritual is the black candle/white candle ritual, in which you light your black candle, reflect on the past year and what you’ve learned and how you have grown, then bid farewell to the past year and blow out the black candle. Next, light the white candle and visualize your goals for the next year, as well as reflecting on what you would like to learn and grow in. When you’re done, blow out the white candle with thoughts of hope and optimism.
Finally, one thing most pagans like to do during Samhain is to host a feast. Some pagans like to practice a silent supper, in which everyone takes the time while they eat to sit in silence and reflect on lost loved ones and ancestors long gone. I personally prefer to celebrate the happy memories and life that was shared, so I don’t like silent suppers, but if that works for you, give it a try!
Samhain feasts can be a small supper for one or a huge party for many, but what is generally expected is indulging in warm, cozy, hearty foods! If you can fit in some traditional recipes or recipes inspired by traditional Samhain foods, even better.
For my family’s feast, we’ll be having mulled wine, spiced cocoa, beef stew, traditional colcannon, and soul cakes! For breakfast and snacks throughout the day, I’ve made cranberry pecan scones and baked apples. Other good options you could make are Irish barmbrack, spiced cider, or anything with pumpkins or other gourd foods (like butternut squash soup!). You can find loads of recipes online, and many witches and pagans have created entire pages of recipes such as this one here, but I’ll also add links to the recipes I’m using below:
- Mulled wine
- Beef stew
- Soul cakes (don’t forget to set some out as an offering!)
- Apple crisps/baked apples (I cut mine extra thick and baked them an extra 10min for delicious baked apple bites!)
- Spiced bread (this is a WoW recipe, but it is my favorite spiced bread of all time!)
- Cranberry pecan scones
- Colcannon (if you don’t like kale, you can use cabbage or spinach!)
That’s it! Besides the feast, I’m just going to take some extra time out of my day to meditate, practice a little divination, and reflect on my lost loved ones (specifically my grandmother, the woman responsible for introducing me to craft).
What about you—are you celebrating Samhain? If so, what are you going to do to celebrate? If you’re not practicing, was this an interesting post for you, and should I do more like it?
By the way, if you ever want more witchy resources and recipes, feel free to follow my tumblr here! It’s entirely devoted to my practice and has loads of tips, recipes, rituals, spells, tarot spreads, and more. ♥