Sam·hain [SOW-in, SAH-vin] noun
meaning “End of Summer” ~ the third and final harvest, also known as the Witches’ New Year. Generally celebrated on October 31st,, many muggles know it as Halloween.
As witches, we know this day to be the festival of the dead, and the beginning of the spiritual new year. We feast, dress up, create altars that honor our ancestors, we engage in deep spellwork, we celebrate all we’ve accomplished in the previous year. Samhain seems to be a favorite among witches, our energy seems to strengthen and magic can be found everywhere.
The veil between life and death is thin, and those who have passed on are remembered and celebrated. We ready ourselves for rest & hibernation as the dark, winter half of the year commences on this Sabbat.
This Goddess Guide celebrates & honors traditions of this holiday. I hope you find time today to celebrate in your own way if it is in your practice, otherwise here are some of my favorite traditions to do on this day. Enjoy Witches, and Happy Harvest.
Do Some Shadow Work
Shadow work is a term that means confronting the darker parts of yourself, the parts we try to hide away. Things like jealousy, anger, temptation—all of the traits that society tells us aren’t okay to exhibit.
Rather than trying to pretend these parts of us don’t exist, shadow work asks us to honor these feelings and, more importantly, to understand them. It’s a path towards self-love and self-acceptance.
Shadow work isn’t easy and it’s usually uncomfortable, but there’s no better time of year to give it a try than Samhain. As the weather gets colder and the nights get longer, it becomes easier to turn inward and tap into our shadow selves.
One of the best ways to understand your dark side is through journaling—sometimes just by writing things down without judgement, we can begin to piece them together bit by bit.
Shed Old Habits ~ Set New Intentions
Witches often choose to shed old habits or attitudes at this time, replacing them with new ones. Write on a slip of paper what you want to leave behind when the old year dies--fear, self-limiting attitudes, bad habits, and so on. Then burn the paper in a ritual fire to symbolically destroy what you no longer need. *REMEMBER* Magic is 99% intention, you don’t need a bunch of tools or “things” for your spells to work. If anything, focus on items, or music that will get you in the mood for your spell work.
If you keep a journal, or spellbook, go back and read what you’ve written from the previous year. See what goals, spells, and intentions you started many moons ago have come full circle. Acknowledge the ones that didn’t and ask yourself how you can bring that work into the new year.
Honor Your Loved Ones That Have Passed
Samhain is a time to remember and honor loved ones who have passed over to the other side. It’s very popular to put together an altar specific for your ancestors. Adorn the altar with photos of passed loved ones, and offerings such as apples, nuts, flowers, leaves, and pumpkins. Light a tall jar candle and let it burn on the altar all day. The light allows spirits to find their way to it.
Witches may attempt to contact spirits in other realms of existence, or request guidance from ancestors or guardians. Because the veil that separates the seen and unseen worlds is thinnest at this time, it’s easier to communicate with beings on the other side.
It wouldn’t be Samhain without….
Pull your Tarot Cards or crystal ball during Samhain, to see what lies ahead in your future.
Wearing a costume or dressing up is powerful magic spell, a visual affirmation of your goals. Try dressing up as the person you’d like to be in the coming year in order to tap the magickal energies of this sabbat.
Light a black candle. Really sit still and listen to the flickering flames. Remind yourself that everything you currently have, you have rightfully gained. Everything that is leaving is leaving for a reason. Dream into the treasures that are on their way.
Part II - Till Death
“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” -Albus Dumbledore
Samhain marks a time of transformation into the darkness and into solitude. It is a time to allow yourself to rest, and to bless the parts of you that are changing into something else. Let go of what needs to die so that different life can begin to take form. Death is a major theme of this sabbat. It is one of the greatest wonders of all existence. We never know how or when it will happen, so the best we can do is accept it. We figure out ways to live so that our ideas, our love, our truth ring out to help humanity for long after our bodies decay.
The Moon shows us death in every one of her cycles. Many of us work with these cycles on a weekly basis. Every new moon we set goal seeds that we water and feed through the waxing moon in hope it grows taller from the increasing light as we reach the full moon. From the full moon we become fully charged and release any habits that are no longer needed. And as the waning moon dims in energy and light we see our life turn into what we truly need for our spirit to thrive. We can work with this lesson of death to bring us an appreciation of life.
We all experience many deaths before we ourselves take our final step. And even then, we are not truly gone, our legacy lives on in the form of love and spirit. Our bodies return to the earth, back to the source. We transform into fresh soil to nurture more seeds.
Death--the beginning of all beginnings. The ultimate reminder that we are in a cycle that is never ending, much like the seasons, the Moon, and the stars. Yet, we are taught to fear it, to avoid it, to not speak about it, it is inevitable. We are only able to grow through pain, conflicts, loss, and change. Every breath through it is a level up on this plane of existence.
If you have trouble with the idea of death or loss, allow yourself to take space and time as needed. Be mindful of putting your physical and emotional needs first. There is no right or wrong way to process death. There is no magic spell to get over a death. Staying mindful, conscious, and kind to yourself is always recommended. Acknowledge your suffering, and not blaming yourself or others is a necessary component of healthy grieving. Only when we accept grief as an ongoing part of existence will our grief change. We can move into a deeper healing.
Tell your loved ones you love them, whether they are dead or alive. Be clear what your elders have taught you, and which lessons they’ve helped you learn. By doing this, you honor their spirit.
Death is not the end of the person’s legacy. It is not the end so long as we have people who remember us. What a gift it is to grieve. To be touched by someone’s love and be present enough to feel its pain. You honor the spirit by remembering them, by grieving them.
Let the deeper meaning of death inform your life. Let it change you and offer new vantage points. Let it break you open. Let your life be made meaningful by your pain, let your suffering make you softer. Death is powerful, but it is even more powerful when looked at as a new beginning. In the end, we’ll all become stories, and I wish you the happiest of endings.
Wishing you a very magical, spooky Samhain, my Witches 🔮👻