One of eight seasonal festivals in the Celtic Wheel of the Year, Samhain (So-Wane) marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the dark time of the year —our world is plunged into the depths of winter.
Much like the Spring Equinox (Beltane), Samhain is considered to be a time where the veil between worlds is at its thinnest and that spirits, faeries, ancestors, and darker entities could more easily roam our lands or communicate messages. This is why traditionally the 'dumb supper' would be held around the time of Samhain - a strictly silent feast in which abundant offerings of food and drink would be made to ancestors past in exchange for messages, warnings or blessings for the upcoming year.
Samhain is a time of newness and beginnings —with Samhain considered to be the start of the Celtic New Year. This may seem unusual to those who have become accustomed to witness new beginnings with light and energy, but it is only through the portal of death that we find our rebirth. A rise from the ashes. That is what Samhain represents—our descent into death, darkness and winter. This is not a time to leap forwards with vigour in pursuit of achievement, but a time where we are urged to go inward—honoring the darkness of the veil that shrouds this time of year.
As one of the most famous Celtic festivals (thanks to its contemporary adaption Halloween), Samhain is rich with history and tradition. It is a time where we honour the dead, celebrate the living, and call upon guidance from ancestors.
Some rituals and ideas for Samhain;
Personally, I love to honour the Samhain festival with little rituals — spending the actual days around Samhain in a calmer, deeper state of quiet. This is a time of heightened sensitivity, so by allowing yourself to be slower and more intentional you can navigate this time with peace, wisdom and ease.
Herbs, Spices & Foods: pumpkins, squash, chai, ginger ginger, myrrh, rosehip, mugwort, bay leaves, cinnamon, rosemary, sage.
Tools for your altar/meditation: fallen leaves and twigs, dried flowers, black candles, dark-colored crystals, incense.
Honour your ancestors: Remember loved ones that have passed by pulling out old photo albums, writing a letter to loved ones on the other side, talking about old memories or lighting a candle in memory. Use this time to connect with loved ones who have passed, and with ancestors you’ve never met.
Meditation: A beautiful meditation for Samhain is the traditional practice of fire gazing. Light a candle and gaze on the base of the flame to calm the mind and cleanse the spirit.
Journaling: Take some time out of your day to journal your thoughts and feelings around this time. Notice the dark and light within you and use your words to dive deeper into your feelings and intentions moving forward from Samhain.
Herbal bath: Fill a bath with deliciously warm water and infuse with your favourite essential oils, herbs and salts. Soak for a while in candlelight to relieve tension and purify your energy.