We are finally back in October, arguably the most beautiful time of year, but it is also the month of one of the most popular holidays worldwide, Halloween! Or for those that follow a more Pagan way of life, Samhain.

How do you pronounce Samhain?

S-Ow-En or S-Ow-In

Why is it pronounced so differently to how it’s spelt? Because Gaelic, that’s why

Most of us in the western world will be a lot more familiar with Halloween than we are Samhain, however Samhain is the OG Halloween, it is what the basic principles of the holiday are based off.

What are the traditions of Samhain?

Samhain is the last sabbat in the wheel of the year, before Yule roles around in December and starts a whole new cycle. It marks the official end of the harvest before the cold of Winter truly sets in, so it is most commonly celebrated with a feast of delicious seasonal foods.

From a Wiccan point of view (the view that is most personal to me) Samhain is a time when the veil between the world of the living and the dead is thinnest, and so it is the best time to honour and commune with those we have lost. They don’t have to be people we have lost recently, they can be anybody in your life that has passed away at any point, even ancestors you never met!

With Samhain marking the final sabbat, it’s also a great time for ‘releasing’ rituals. Known affectionately as the Witches New Year, Samhain is the perfect time to say goodbye to all the crap from the past cycle and start setting amazing intentions for the cycle ahead.


How do you celebrate Samhain?

There are lots of different ways to celebrate Samhain and it really depends on your beliefs and what feels right to you at the time. For example, last year I did a releasing ritual, because I felt like the cycle that was ending had been full of negativity for me, and I wanted to start with a clean slate. However the year before, I ate lots of yummy autumnal foods (and an entire tub of trick or treat celebrations), lit some candles and did a simple meditation.

If you want to celebrate this amazing time of year in a more formal way, here are a couple of things you can do:

  • Prepare a feast for you and your family using seasonal food – things like pumpkin, squash, wheat and grain based foods like bread etc.

  • Light a white candle for positivity and spend some time meditating on what you want the new cycle to bring to your life

  • Perform a ritual to pay respect to your ancestors and lost loved ones

  • Perform a releasing ritual to let go of something that has been holding you back

  • Practice scrying or other forms of divination, such as tarot or pendulums, maybe even a Ouija board if you’re feeling brave!

How did Samhain become Halloween?

Like many of our most popular holidays, Halloween gets its roots from the ancient sabbat of Samhain. Just like Samhain, Halloween is believed to be a time where spirits roam the earth. Over the years, with various changes to religion, spiritual practices and persecution of Paganism, the once Pagan influences started to get a bit watered down and lost.

Samhain is still the Irish and Gaelic name for Halloween, even after all this time. Back in the day, people started to dress as ghosts and souls, going from house to house in search of food. This is thought to have been symbolic of the souls that came to earth on Halloween and how the living could honour them with delicious treats.

When it comes to Jack-O’-Lanterns, these were created possibly for two different reasons, the first was to ward off evil or the devil (this was when the church took over most of the country) the second reason was to represent the spirits again. Each face carved in the lantern was said to represent a spirit and they were often carved from turnips and carried around from house to house (if you’ve never seen a turnip lantern, here you go, but I warn you, it’s terrifying).

Samhain or Halloween

These days you don’t really have to choose between celebrating Samhain or celebrating Halloween, you could even just inject a bit more spirituality to your normal Halloween activities, just to make things a bit less commercial and a bit more traditional.

For example, prepare a seasonal feast before you dress like Barb from Stranger Things and head out on the town. Eat your favourite candy and then do some meditation and say hey to your ancestors. Just small little things you can add to your Samhain/Halloween evening will make all the difference!