Samhain (Sah-Win) is celebrated October 31st- November 1st in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the end of the harvest season and the death of The Horned God until he is reborn again at Yule. Like Beltane, this is when the veil between realms is thin and many people will leave offerings to appease the Gods and Goddesses, as well as many other magickal creatures, for protection throughout the dark days. Feasts would be held to honour lost loved ones, which consisted of place settings for them to return home for an evening of celebration. It is a time of year to reflect on our past and plan for our future, also known as the witch's new year.
How Can You Celebrate?
Have a Silent Supper
Usually this consists of a meaty stew or a potluck where everyone brings a dish that honours their ancestors. You bring mementos that represent lost loved ones and create a collective altar for them to be placed. Dinner has place settings for anyone who has passed throughout the year and is eaten in silence as you remember them and possibly hear/see signs of them joining you for the meal.
Have a gathering of family and friends dance around a big fire after your feast.
Visit a Cemetery
Bring over some supplies and clean up and redecorate the resting place of your passed loved ones. You could also just sit and remember them and tell stories of them or to them.
Since it is the last harvest season, many will bake with apples and pumpkins. Or make Jams and canned foods to last the winter.
What better time to contact our ancestors then a time meant specifically for them?
Reflect and Plan Ritual
Write a list of things that no longer serve your greatest good and need to be released. Throw the list into your Samhain fire. Write another list of plans and goals for the new year. You can either share these with your family/friends or hold it for safe keeping over the winter months while you focus those plans into action.
Spend some time with the kiddos or even just yourself or your significant other and have some fun carving pumpkins!
As always, these celebrations are a great reason to get out into nature and enjoy the gifts she has for us. Reflect on the death around you and even collect some leaves/acorns, etc to craft with or use as part of your Samhain decor.
Mumming or Guising
Traditionally, this was done as a community. People would dress up in costumes that involved animals: skulls, horns, fur, etc. This was an attempt to disguise yourself from malevolent spirits or from others in the community if you were up to no good. You would knock on the doors of your neighbors and sing or perform for food. Today, we mostly stick with friends and family for our celebrations and wear all kinds of creative costumes.
Hope this helps get you started!
Until next time,
The Bat Witch