Samhain is comiiiiiinggggg and i’m one excited witch!
Samhain (pronounced ‘sow-in’) is drawing very near, and as its my favorite holiday i can’t seem to make enough posts about it. It begins at midnight on October 31st, and celebrations often go on until November 2nd. It is the witches new year!
Some historic traditions:
Just like at Beltane, bonfires are lit in high places on Samhain, like at hilltops, and around them rituals would take place. During this community ritual, people would take flames from the bonfire and use them to relight the hearths of their homes. They did this to bind the community together. They would also use these fires for divination in their rituals.
In Gaelic regions, during household festivities many rituals that took place were intended to divine the future of everyone there, for example apple bobbing. (If you don’t already know this, Apples are strongly associated with ancestors and the other world.) The first to bite into an apple was the next allowed to marry!
As you most likely have heard a zillion times, The veil between our world and the next is thinner on Samhain. This is true, Samhain is a liminal time, and that means the barriers separating the world of the living and the dead and other spirits can be crossed more easily than at any other point in the year. It is said that entities called ‘Aos Si’ can slip from their world into ours, through a summoning or their own will. During Samhain it is traditional to leave libations for any aos si that have come into our realm. This is usually in the form of food & drink, like a plate of soul cakes, a small portion of a meal and a cup of wine. Due to this thin veil, it is a time for honoring those who have passed. It is widely believed spirits of loved ones will come and visit their former homes and seek hospitality from those within. Places should always be set for loved ones who have passed at the table on Samhain. I even set a place for a spirit I feel in my home. People will often hold a “dumb supper”. It is a silent meal during which you set a place for visiting spirits, and invite them to join you.
Traditional Samhain Activities
Bobbing for Apples- The fewer tries it took to catch an apple, the sooner you’d fall in love or marry. If the apple was crisp and crunchy, the participant would have a happy marriage. If it was soft or rotten, it was bad news for your love life future.
Peeling the Apple- You peel one long strip of skin from an apple and then throw the peel over your shoulder. Whatever letter the peel resembles is said to be the first letter of your soulmates name.
Hazelnut Divination- Couples would throw hazelnuts into a fire, and if it burned it predicted a long and happy relationship, and if it cracked open it showed a rocky road ahead.
Colors: Red, brown, gold, yellow and orange.
Herbs: Rosemary, mullein, rue, mugwort, calendula, tobacco, apple leaf, sage, wormwood, tarragon, bay leaf, almond, hazelnut, garlic, mandrake root, yew, sandalwood, pumpkin, pennyroyal, pine needle, cedar, chrysanthemum, & hemlock.
Symbols: Lanterns, candles, acorns, bones, photos or memoirs of passed loved ones, Jack O’ Lanterns, corn dolls and corn stalks, scythes, cauldrons, spiderwebs, masks, oak leaves and mirrors.
Food & Drinks: Apples (or foods with apples baked in), potatoes, corn, nuts, turnips, pumpkins, mead, cider, mulled/spiced wine, tea.
Things to do: DIVINATIOOOON GIRLLL(scrying, tarot reading, rune casting, pendulum reading, etc.), holding a dumb supper, lighting a bonfire, looking into your past life,leaving offerings for spirits, cooking, feasting, dressing up in a costume.
Stones & Crystals: Obsidian, Onyx, petrified wood, hematite, smokey quartz, bloodstone, clear quartz, garnet, carnelian, amber, sandstone.
Animals: Black cats, owls, bats, stags, ravens, crows, spiders and black dogs.
I would like to add a note to be cautious on Samhain. If you have a black pet please keep it inside, lots of sick people will harm these animals on this night. Please be careful with spirit work as well, the veil is very thin and as you would normally with spirit work protect yourself, but x10 on samhain. Carry a gris-gris, Create your circles, Keep blessed salt around, Make sure you end conversations with the Ouija and it won’t hurt to keep a silver coin on it, like they say it keeps evil spirits from coming through. Treat spirits, creatures and humans around you with respect.
Blessed be, I hope everyone enjoys Samhain!! Note your favorite samhain activities and traditions, and please note any traditions passed down to you!