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Celtic Wiccan Holidays: Samhain

Updated on September 4, 2015
Samhain | Source

Celtic Wiccan Holidays: Samhain

Samhain, Once a festival only celebrated by the Ancient Celts meant for honoring the dead and giving thanks for the bounty of the harvest. Samhain is still widely celebrated in some form or another in many parts of the world. Samhain today, is better known under its more modern adaptation called Halloween. Samhain over the decades, may have adopted many changes in its name and cultural traditions, but for us wiccans Samhain can be diversely celebrated to serves several spiritual and magickal purposes.

Samhain Page Summary:

  • Relevant Info
  • What is Samhain?
  • What Samhain Meant to the Celts?
  • What Does Samhain Means to Us Wiccans?
  • Ideas for Celebrating Samhain

Relevant Info:

Other Names for Samhain:


All Hallow's Eve


Dates Most Often Celebrated:

October 31 to November 1

Primary Focus for Samhain:

  • Transformation
  • Regeneration
  • Honoring the Dead
  • Divination

What is Samhain?

Samhain was once the name of an Ancient Celts celebration. Nowadays, however, most people commonly know this holiday as Halloween. Samhain grouped in with Beltane, Ludhnasadh, and Imbolc was once one of the four Ancients Celtic festivals. These four Celtic festivals where later adopted by the wiccan and pagan community coupled in with the four existing yearly equinoxes and you get eight sabbath all of these combined make up the wiccan wheel of the year. Samhain is not just mutually exclusive to Celtic Wiccans. Nowadays mostly wiccans and pagans alike celebrated Samhain as it is known in its newest incarnation in the modern times we live in.

Over the years Samhain has assumed many variations in its naming. Halloween as it is known today is the more modern adaptation, and is vastly observed in North America and some parts in Europe. While All Hallow's Eve was also an Christianize adaptation of the once Celtic holiday. Despite its different name changes over the centuries, Samhain is still a very popular time of year among wiccans.

Halloween Pumpkin
Halloween Pumpkin | Source

What Samhain Meant to the Celts?

The name Samhain is taken from the Gaelic language meaning to say Summer's end. Samhain is one of the four festivals celebrated by the ancient Celts. Each of these four festivals served as a reminder of such things as to when to plant crops and slaughter livestock during their calendar year. Samhain marked the time of year to butcher livestock and harvest the fields in preparation of the coming winter.

For the Ancient Celts, Samhain was used in celebration and as means to bring honor to their bounty as well as to honor ancestors. Huge feast where prepared for both living and dead. Empty place where left at the tables for the deceased guests, and hollowed out vegetables with candles in them where left out to mark the way home. This was done similarly to the way we now use pumpkin at Halloween.

Samhain Festival

What Does Samhain Means to Us Wiccans?

For us wiccan's Samhain can be a wonderful time, it can also be a reflective time. We have many option available to us in how we choose to celebrate this holiday. We can celebrate it as Halloween and go trick or treating or go to parties like many others do. We can also still come back early enough in time to celebrate Samhain in rituals if we so wished. In a sense we get to experience the best of both world. It is quite common for us wiccans to partake in both this Wolds, and for those who are part of a coven sometimes combine both of these activities as part of a ritual celebrations.

Samhain can be celebrated in many diverse ways. Each wiccan will have there unique way on how to celebrate Samhain. Some of us pagans may choose to hold rituals in the same fashion each year, others may want to experiment and try out the different ideas in how to hold rituals, while others still may feel it necessary to hold ritual in accordance to the recent events in their lives that occurred during the course of the year. Samhain is the time of year that allows many of us to speak to loved ones past, to partake in divination, or to just have some childlike fun.

Samhain Celebration

What Do You Celebrate?

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Ideas for Celebrating Samhain:

There are many things in which you can do to enhance your Samhain Experience. We are going to look at some of the most common ideas which you can use either in ritual, in practice or in a combination of both.

Visit the Graves in Honor of the Deceased:

Visiting the grave of a family member, loved ones, is a great ways to honor their memories. You may choose to speak a few kinds words, leave flowers or another mementos. Additionally you may also prefer to write them a note in regards to the positive impact they have made in your life.

It also doesn't necessarily only have to be the grave of someone you do know to visit. You can (where available) visit a military grave and thank the fallen soldiers for there sacrifice.

Ancestor shrine
Ancestor shrine | Source

Make A Shrine for Ancestors, Family Member, Loved One or Pets:

If for some reason you are unable or do not desired to go visit graves, you may then still be able to commemorate their memories. One of the forms in which you can do this is by placing pictures, tokens, or in the pets case favorite toys on an altar or table. This shrine should be placed in a very prominent location as its should be in full view of your ritual.

Place Jack-O-Lanterns in the Four Corner's:

Jack-O-Lantern's or whatever little trinket you wish to display, can be placed in the four corner's. This can be one of several colorful ways to dress up your altar. These trinket or tokens do not have to be expensive. a simple trip to the dollar store should easily procure you with a few selections without breaking your budget.

Set A Table and Make Offerings to Honored Guest:

Setting a table for honored guest is also a great to remember past loved ones, set a table leave an empty chair, a plate, and drink full of some of the favorite things your expected company would be sure to have enjoyed. Similarly in the case of pets you may also fill their bowls with special treats. You may also want to include either a photo or if one is not available a card with the persons name on it.

Samhian Altar

White Candle for Guest:

White candles can assuredly be used in lieu of pictures or tokens to represent certain loved ones or pets. Some of the things you may wish to do is etched the names of certain individuals on a candle (one per candle would be preferable). Whereas you may also want to tie a ribbon and add a name card to the candle. Additionally some of you may want to dress up the candle for your honored guest. Honey can be easily used as an adhesive to attach small token to the candle such as sea shell, beads and the like.

Divination Tools:

Samhain isn't all about the honoring the deceased. It is also a great time to do some divining. Why not perform during your rituals some type of divination such as runes, crystal balls what have you. Remember that during Samhain the veil between both our world and the otherworld is thin. There is no better time to attempt to have some of your most burnings questions answered more clearly.

Let Me Know What You Do On Samhain

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