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Samhain is one of the Greater Sabbats, it is the witch’s biggest holiday and usually referred to as Halloween. It is New Year’s Day as it marks the death of the Lord. Samhain, is the death festival, and is the time when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead at its finest. This is a perfect night for communicating with the dead, and a powerful night of the year for divination and scrying.
In ancient times it was believed that this was the time that our ancestors would return to visit us, offering help and advice. Celtic countries would also leave food offerings on altars and doorsteps, for the “wandering dead”. Often candles were lit and left in a window to help guide the spirits of ancestors and loved ones return home.
The darkness increases during Samhain and the Goddess reigns in her powerful aspect of the Crone. The God passes into the underworld to become reborn of the Goddess again at Yule.
Samhain is a time of transformation and inner work, it is also a time of remembrance, when those who have died are thought about and honoured.
During this time Wiccans say farewell to the Pagan Lord, lore states that the Pagan god dies, and he travels through the veils into the otherworld, to be reborn at Yule.
Samhain was traditionally a time of sacrifice; livestock were slaughtered to ensure food throughout the winter.
This holiday marks the end of the old year and the beginning of the new.
- Decorate your altar with photographs of dead loved ones, pumpkin lanterns, oak leaves, apples, nuts, and sage.
- Drink warm apple cider mixed with cinnamon to honour the dead.
- Bury an apple in the garden as food for the spirits of those who have passed away.
- Carve a Jack-o-Lantern.
- Make candles for the coming year, add colour and scent depending on its purpose.
- Enjoy a night of trick or treating.
- Bob for Apples
- Make resolutions as you do when it is New Year, write your resolutions on a small piece of parchment and burn in a candle flame.
- Samhain it is a good time for divination, Tarot cards, scrying, and crystal ball reading.
- Private Meditation
- Enjoy sweets.
- Create a new magic wand or witch’s broom.
- Hold a private ritual and focus on the traditional themes for Samhain, such as Life, Death, and Rebirth.
- Host a Halloween party
- At dinner, set a place for your loved ones that have passed this year.
- Division: Major Sabbat
- Other Names: Witch’s New Year, Summer’s End, All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Festival of Spirits, Third Harvest, Celtic New Year, Festival of Pamona, Vigil of Saman.
- Southern Hemisphere Date: April 30/May 1
- Northern Hemisphere Date: October 31
- Associated Holiday: Halloween
- Associated Deities: Badb, Banba, Cailleach, Durga, Hecate, Hel, Inanna, Ishtar, Kali, Morrigan, Rhiannon, Persephone, Arawn, Belenus, Dagda, Hades, Loki, Odin, Pluto
- Associated Herbs: Bay Leaf, lavender, mugwort, nutmeg, sage
- Associated Stones: All Black Stones, Obsidian, black onyx, bloodstone, amethyst, opal
- Symbols of Samhain: Gourds, Apples, Black Cats, Jack-O-Lanterns, Besoms, Balefire, Masks, The Cauldron, Waning Moon.
- Foods of Samhain: Turnips, Apples, Gourds, Nuts, Mulled Wines, Beef, Pork, Poultry.
- Drinks of Samhain: Ale, Cider, Wine, and Herbal Teas.
- Incense of Samhain: Heliotrope, Mint, Nutmeg.
- Ritual Oils: Frankincense, Basil, Yarrow, Lilac, Ylang-Ylang, Camphor, Clove
- Colors of Samhain: Black, Orange, White, Silver, Gold.
- Taboos: Travel After Dark, Eating Grapes or Berries
- Plants: Mugwort, Gourds, Sage, Allspice, Catnip, Apple.
- Element: Water
- Activities: Divination, Past-Life Recall, Spirit Contact, Meditation, Drying Winter Herbs
- Animals: All Creatures that feed on Carrion, the Raven especially, Bat, Boar, Cat, Cow, Dog
- Mythical Creatures: Phooka, Goblin, Medusa, Beansidhe, Harpies, Fylgiar, Peryton, Erlkonig.
- Celebration of: The Lord dies and awaits his rebirth at Yule.