Pronounced "sow-in" and is Irish-Gaelic for "summer's end".
Samhuin ~ All Hallow's Eve ~ Samhraidhreadh
Halloween ~ (Old) Hallowmas ~ Witches' New Year
The God is dead, having given His energy to the Earth in return for our harvests. He has become Lord of the Underworld, resting there and waiting to be reborn, while the grieving Goddess has become the wise Crone - She is preparing Herself for the rebirth of the infant God at Yule. Winter begins and the Earth goes into hibernation - this is a time of death and darkness.
Third harvest, death, the
circle of life, wisdom, old age, sleep, hibernation.
Pumpkins, apples, thyme (associated with
departed souls), rosemary (for remembrance), mugwort, allspice, catnip,
deadly nightshade, mandrake, oak leaves, sage, poppies, straw, turnips.
Orange, black, dark purple,
Samhain is the Witches' New Year and the first of the balefire holidays. Originally, Samhain was a Celtic festival marking the end of the summer and the coming of the barren winter - for Wiccans, it marks the death of the Lord and the start of a new rotation of the Wheel of the Year. This is a time for fireworks, sparklers, bonfires and night-time celebrations, and a time to both say farewell to the old year and welcome the new. The Druids would kindle bonfires in which the people would symbolically burn away symbols of frustrations or anxieties they had experienced in the preceding year. The ancient Celts believed that on Samhain night fairies would be out and about making mischief - people left treats on their doorstep for these sprites in the hope of avoiding their tricks, and this is the basis of the traditional Halloween 'trick or treat'.
On this sabbat, we hold celebrations to honour the dead and the Ancestors. At midnight on Samhain, the veil between the land of the living and the realm of the dead is said to be at its thinnest: the Ancestors can pass through this veil to walk upon Earth once more, so it is common to prepare a Feast for the Dead on Samhain night, when extra places for the dead are set at the table and offerings of food and drink are left for the spirits. Some Witches also hold a 'dumb supper', a meal during which no-one speaks - the time is used instead to remember loved ones that have passed on. Candles are traditionally burned at each window of the house, to guide friendly spirits home and keep away unfriendly souls.
Wreaths are also commonly found on Witches' doors, as a marker to wise ones that a Witch dwells within.
The powers of divination (particularly
scrying) and supernatural communication are strengthened on Samhain night,
and it is considered a powerful but dangerous time to communicate with lost
loved ones. Samhain is a good time for banishing and sorting out unfinished
Jack-o-lanterns, gourds, and autumn foliage are ideal, as are the barks of trees that are 'awake' (non-deciduous trees), photos of dead loved ones, black candles.