Samhain is an ancient pagan tradition that has been celebrated for centuries. Meaning “Summer’s End” and pronounced “saah-ween,” Samhain is recognized at the end of harvest and the start of the coldest half of the year. For many, it’s the beginning of the spiritual new year—a time to focus on mourning and communicating with the ancestors that came before us, while also celebrating the meaningful gift of life.
To our modern ears, connecting with the dead may sound morbid and scary, but paganism respects death as a normal and natural part of the human journey.
Here are a few fun and not-so-spooky ways you can celebrate this year!
Kindle a bonfire outdoors, if your location permits, or in a fireplace. Contemplate habits that you wish to rid yourself of and write them down on a piece of paper. After deep self-reflection, cast your old ways into the Samhain flames and begin moving around the fire clockwise to signify release and letting go.
- Nature Walk
Take a walk in nature and observe the colors, aromas, sounds, and other sensations of the changing season. Reflect on life, death, and rebirth as being an important part of both nature and human existence. If your location permits, gather some natural objects and use them to adorn your home.
- Herbs + Spices
Celebrate with the magic of plants. There are many herbs and spices that tie in closely with Samhain tradition—allspice berries, cinnamon broom, catnip, mountain ash berries, mugwort, mullein, oak leaves, acorns, rosemary, sage, pine cones, and straw. Get creative and decorate your home with a few of these, or find a recipe and prepare a delicious dish!
- Ancestor Altar
Honor your deceased loved ones with a ceremonial altar. Gather photographs, heirlooms, and other mementos that best represent your family, friends, or even pets that have passed. Arrange them on a table or dresser along with several votive candles. Light the candles in their memory and express your thoughts, well wishes, and thanks for them being part of your life and/or lineage. Sit quietly and pay attention to what you experience—while noting any messages you receive in a journal.
- Harvest Crafting
Get crafty using fall foliage. Gather brightly colored leaves, acorns, nutshells—anything that catches your eye outdoors or that you might have on hand—and get creative. Make a collage, string a necklace, carve a pumpkin… let your imagination run with the season!
- Halloween Blue Moon
For the first time in over 75 years, Halloween will receive some spooky ambiance from a full moon this year. Although it will be a “blue” moon, it won’t actually appear to be blue—this term is used by scientists to describe the second full moon of a given month. Don’t forget to step outside and celebrate this rare Halloween treat!