Samhain for Beginners

May 12, 2019

Samhain is perhaps the most famous of Wiccan Sabbats, and is also celebrated worldwide by non-Pagans as Halloween. It is mentioned more often than you might think in modern media. The 'House of Night' book series places a lot of emphasis on it, 'The Addams Family' has nods to it, and most recently, 'The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' on Netflix had a huge focus on it. Although in Wicca it’s less about signing over your soul to the devil and more about preparing for winter but hey, whatever floats your boat!

The most famous idea surrounding Samhain is that the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest at this point. This is a very similar concept to that of the Mexican Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. At this time, we like to honour our ancestors and deceased loved ones by placing their photographs on our altars, and thinking about and sharing our memories and stories about them. Some people even lay an extra seat at their table to welcome their ancestors home, maybe serving their favourite food as everyone remembers them. All departed loved ones, be they friends, family, pets, or other, are welcome at a Pagan’s table during Samhain.

Samhain is also the final of the three harvest festivals. Lammas was all about grain and bread, Mabon was focussed on fruit and vegetables, and at Samhain we have an abundance of nuts and berries. I think a really lovely idea to celebrate this aspect of Samhain would be to go blackberry picking in hedgerows. Just make sure the hedgerow you go for isn’t on someone’s private property first!

In Wiccan mythology, we believe that the Sun God has now passed away, and is exploring the world of the dead, gaining wisdom and strength before he can be reborn. And at this time, the Goddess, who takes on three forms: Maiden, Mother, and Crone, is now adopting her Crone form as we reach the end of the Pagan year.

Samhain is also known as Pagan New Year, so it’s the perfect time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the future with hope. By remembering your ancestors, you’re thinking about the past, but for your own personal past, you could make a list of the best times you’ve had this year, and all the things you’ve accomplished. Then you can set yourself some New Year’s Resolutions (in October? How very Pagan of you), and think about what you aspire to accomplish in the future. By doing these simple things, you’re beginning to embrace the spirit of Samhain.

Have a lovely day, and blessed be.

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