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Celebrating Samhain

Updated on October 31, 2013

Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the Celtic year. The Celts divided the year into two seasons: the light and the dark. Some believe that Samhain was the more important festival, marking the beginning of a whole new cycle, just as the Celtic day began at night. For it was understood that in dark silence comes whisperings of new beginnings..

Samhain literally means "summer's end." . It comes from the Scots Gaelic: Samhuinn With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints' Day, to commemorate the souls of the blessed dead who had been canonized that year, so the night before became popularly known as Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Hollantide.

In the country year, Samhain marked the first day of winter, when the herders led the cattle and sheep down from their summer hillside pastures to the shelter of the stable and byre. Peat and wood for winter fires were stacked high by the hearth. It was a joyous time of family reunion, when all members of the household worked together baking, salting meat, and making preserves for the winter feasts to come.

Celebrating Samhain: A Prayer for the Final Harvest

Corn has been shucked,

grain has been threshed,

herbs have been hung to dry.

Grapes have been pressed,

potatoes have been dug,

beans have been shelled and canned.

It is the harvest season, and food is ready for winter.

We will eat, and we will live, and we will be grateful.


Samhain was and still is a significant time for divination. Customs frequently featured apples and nuts from the recent harvest, and candles for adding atmosphere to the mysteries. In Scotland, a child born at Samhain was said to be gifted with an dà shealladh, "The Two Sights" commonly known as "second sight," or clairvoyance.

Things to do on Samhain:

ALTAR: Altar candles should be:

  • orange, representing the magic of fire and the remaining fire in autumn leaves;
  • -black, to absorb light and keep you warm for the coming winter; white, to send out energy;
  • -silver and gold, representing the moon and sun.
  • Decorate with autumn leaves and flowers, gourds, squashes, corn. As this is the meat harvest, you may also include an animal talon, horn or feather.

SPELLS: At Samhain, cast spells to keep negative things from your past (evil, harm, greed, corruption, betrayal) out of your future. Cast spells to contact the dead and receive ancient knowledge.

Scrying: This is one of the best times for scrying. You can use a black mirror or a black or very dark bowl filled with water, if you have a cauldron that would be better. Place lit candles nearby and gaze into the mirror or the bowl.

Dookin' for Apples: Place a large tub, preferably wooden, on the floor, and half fill it with water. Tumble in plenty of apples, and have one person stir them around vigorously with a long wooden spoon. Each player takes their turn kneeling on the floor, trying to capture the apples with their teeth as they go bobbing around. Each gets three tries before the next person has a go. Best to wear old clothes for this one, and have a roaring fire nearby so you can dry off while eating your prize!

If you do manage to capture an apple, you might want to keep it for a divination ritual, such as this one:

The Apple and the Mirror: Before the stroke of midnight, sit in front of a mirror in a room lit only by one candle or the moon. Go into the silence, and ask a question. Cut the apple into nine pieces. With your back to the mirror, eat eight of the pieces, then throw the ninth over your left shoulder. Turn your head to look over the same shoulder, and you will see and in image or symbol in the mirror that will tell you your answer.

(When you look in the mirror, let your focus go "soft," and allow the patterns made by the moon or candlelight and shadows to suggest forms, symbols and other dreamlike images that speak to your intuition.)


On this night of Samhain I mark your passing,

O Sun King, through the sunset into the Land of the Young.

I mark also the passing of all who have gone before, and all who will go after.

O Gracious Goddess, Eternal Mother, You who gives birth to the fallen,

teach me to know that in the time of the greatest darkness there is

the greatest light.

From a book Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary... , Scott Cunningham


The most important of the Neo-Pagan religions is Wicca (meaning "Wise ones"); Wicca is one of the largest Neopagan religions.

Samhain is one of the eight annual holidays, observed as part of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year. Which is a term for the annual cycle of the Earth's seasons because natural processes are seen as following a continuous cycle. The progression ofbirth, life, and death, as experienced in human lives, is echoed in the progression of the seasons. Wiccans also see this cycle as echoing the life, death and rebirth

Samhain is considered by most Wiccans to be the most important of the four 'greater Sabbats'. It is generally observed on October 31st in the Northern Hemisphere, starting at sundown.

Samhain is considered by most Wiccans as a celebration of death and of the dead, and it often involves paying respect to ancestors, family members and other loved ones who have died. In some rituals the spirits of the departed are invited to attend the festivities. It is seen as a festival of darkness and death, which is balanced at the opposite point of the wheel by the spring festival of Beltane, which Wiccans celebrate as a festival of life and fertility.

Samhain in Edinburgh

The Spiral Dance Ritual

The Celebration of Samhain by Acsbina


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    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      Great hub!

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 6 years ago from France

      I also like the ritual to get rid of bad things in your life. It is very easy to do and only involves writing down in a paper all those things that you want to get rid off, after a short ritual, you burn the paper and with it you shoud burn away all those things that annoy you.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from Summerland

      Voted up and awesome! Love these Samhain rituals. Might try one out myself.

    • Cresentmoon2007 profile image

      Cresentmoon2007 6 years ago from Caledonia, MI

      Thank you for the well informative hub. Real helpful

    • profile image

      dave meneo 8 years ago

      Can I purchase a high resolution copy of the woman praying with the moon background?

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 10 years ago from France

      Thanks Angela!

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 10 years ago from Around the USA

      Wow, I love this hub. It's so interesting. It definitely deserves a thumbs up.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 10 years ago from France

      31st Ocotber is also my husband's birthday, so we always have a big party on this day. As we have small children we also "mix" the birthday celebration with a Halloween party, and of course me and some of my friends celebrate Samhain at the same time. This "combo" celebration makes to an amazing party!!