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Celebrating Samhain

Celebrating Samhain

5 Activities for All Hallow’s Eve Festivities

With Halloween and Samhain just around the corner here in the Northern Hemisphere, it may be time to think about how you may be celebrating. Being one of the biggest witchy holidays, Samhain is a popular one to celebrate and go all out on.

What is Samhain?

Samhain is considered by many pagans to be the Pagan New Year. It is celebrated on October 31st, but many spend several days before and after basking in the energy of this holiday. It is better known by its modern holiday equivalent, Halloween.

It is considered one of the major Celtic Fire Festivals. It is also viewed as the last of the harvest festivals. Many believed that any crops left in the fields after Samhain were no longer good as they were now seen as offerings to the spirits and faeries.

For modern pagans and witches, it can sometimes be viewed as a solemn holiday for remembering and honoring our loved ones who have crossed over to the spirit world. It is believed by many, both pagan and not, that the veil between the seen and unseen worlds thins, making it much easier to communicate and contact the spirit world.

Some spend time communicating with the dead or other spirits during this time. Others spend time protecting their home from unwanted spirits. And still others will use the thin veil between worlds to practice their divination skills.

No matter what way you view Samhain, it is a pretty important celebration for witches and pagans all over.

Related Holidays and Festivals

There are a number of other holidays and festivals around this time. Some are more secular and others are from different cultures that share some similarities to the pagan Samhain.


Halloween is the modern day celebration of Samhain and All Hallows Eve. It is often celebrated secularly rather than religiously these days, despite its origin in All Hallows’ Eve festivities. It is celebrated in many countries around the world on October 31st. Children, and children-at-heart, dress up in costume and go trick-or-treating to collect candy. Some attend costume parties, watch scary movies, bob for apples, among other activities.

Halloween is a modern amalgamation of both Christian festivals and pagan traditions honoring the dead.


Allhallowtide, or Hallowmas, is a series of several days, usually beginning October 31st with All Hallows’ Eve (or All Saints’ Eve) and continuing with All Saints’ Day (All Hallows’ Day) on November 1st and then ending with All Souls’ Day on November 2nd. These Christian festivals are geared toward honoring the dead, particularly martyrs, saints, and faithfully departed Christians.

Day of the Dead

Also known as Día de Muertos or Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd in Mexico and by those of Mexican heritage. It is related in ways to All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, but has many of its own culturally significant elements. It is often celebrated with home altars to honor deceased family members and friends.

Calan Gaeaf

Calan Caeaf is the Welsh equivalent of Samhan but is viewed in the context of being winter’s eve and the first day of winter. But like many of the other holidays around this time, it is viewed as a time when spirits are abroad.

Other Resources

All About Samhain from LearnReligions

How to Celebrate Samhain [video] by Magical Crafting

Samhain - How to Celebrate [video] by HearthWitch

2022 Sabbats Almanac for $14 - gives information on all the Sabbats starting at Samhain 2021 up through Mabon 2022



Veneration and Honoring the Dead and the Ancestors, Pagan New Year, Death, Rebirth, Summer’s End and Winter’s Beginning, Spirit Activity and Thinning Veil, Otherworlds, Ancestry


Goddesses: Cerridwen, Demeter, Hecate, Hel, Inanna, Ishtar, Isis, Kali, Lilith, Macha, the Morrigan, Persephone, Psyche, Rhiannon

Gods: Cernunnos, the Dagda, Hades, the Horned God, Osiris

Archetype Energies: Crone, Grieving Mother/Wife, Woman in White, Huntsman, Faery King, Witch, Changeling, Grim Reaper, Wild Hunt


Black cats, Owls, Ravens, Spiders

Symbols and Colors

Black, Brown, Gray, Orange, Yellow, Silver, Purple, and Green

Tarot cards of Death, the High Priestess, and Wheel of Fortune

Besom, Cauldron, Mask

Pumpkins, Black Hats, Gourds and Squashes, Skulls, Ghosts, Spider Webs, Bats

Food and Drink

Apples, Fermented Foods (sauerkraut, pickled eggs, pickled beets), pumpkin, raw nuts, roasted nuts, Pork, Pomegranates, Potatoes, Squash, Pies/Cakes

Apple cider, Ale, Mugwort tea, Mulled Wine

Plants, Herbs, Incenses, Scents, Etc.

Cedar, Hazel, Hemlock

Chrysanthemum, Calendula, Marigold

Broom Dittany of Crete, Garlic, Mugwort, Myrrh, Rosemary, Sage, Wormwood, Yarrow

Cinnamon, Clove, Copal, Decaying Leaves, Myrrh, Pine Needles, Warm Honey


Carnelian, Jet, Moonstone, Obsidian, Onyx

Iron, Silver

Magic and Spellwork

Divination, Seances, Needfire, Shadow Work

Healing, Protection, Release from Old Bonds, Renewal, Grief


Apple bobbing, bonfires, dumb supper, jack-o’-lantern carving, luminaries, mummer’s plays, scrying and divination, seances, soul cakes, sugar skulls, trick-or-treating, visiting haunted houses, dressing in costume, watching scary movies

Acts of Service - clean off gravesites, dedicate memorials, offering food to the dead, visit nursing homes

Ways to Celebrate

Set Up Your Seasonal Altar

Samhain is a great time to set up an altar. Using any of the correspondences above, you can create an appropriate altar. Halloween decorations are aplenty during this time too and many can double as Samhain decor too.

If you wait until after Halloween, you can get some good decor on sale that you can use for this current festival or for the next year.

Honor Your Ancestors and Beloved Dead

Ancestor work and honoring the dead is a huge part of Samhain. Many cultures and pagan traditions spend time focusing on this throughout their practices but Samhain, with its thin veil between worlds is an ideal to work with them.

Build an altar space dedicated specifically for your ancestors and beloved dead (those that you knew that have since crossed over). Black altar cloths is appropriate but you can always use your loved ones' favorite colors too. Collect several pictures of those you want to honor.  Place offering dishes filled with your loved ones' favorite foods and drinks. Place fresh flowers too if you can. If you have saved possessions from your loved ones, you can place those on the altar as well.

If you are curious, you can spend time working on your genealogy tree during this time. If inclined, you can create a small visual of your tree that goes back a few generations and place that on your altar as well.

During your meal on Samhain night, or one of the nights near, put out a place setting for your loved ones. Fill it with small portions of the meal and leave it while you eat. When you finish your meal, dispose appropriately but do not eat it yourself. This is an offering for the dead and it is often considered rude to eat what you have placed out for them.

Light candles for your loved ones. Remember the moments spent with them while they were alive. Journal about them. Write a letter to them and burn it if desired. Place a light (battery operated or electric candles work well) in the window to guide your loved ones home to visit. If they are distant ancestors, journal about their influence on your existence today.

Spend time trying to communicate with them as well. This can be through meditation, seance, or spirit board work. Use appropriate protection methods before hand, but this can be a good way to connect again with them.

Visit a Cemetery

Somewhat connected to the last activity, consider visiting a cemetery or graveyard. If you want, visit the grave sites of your deceased relatives. Take the time to clean them up. This can involve clearing off grass, dead leaves, etc. Take fresh or silk flowers to leave as well.

Consider cleaning up some graves of others too. This act is a good way to honor the dead and show your respects.

Also just take time to walk the grounds. Cemeteries are usually fairly quiet places and generally well kept to make for nice leisurely and meditative walks.

Communicate with the Other Side

Whether you are wanting to connect to your loved ones or spirits in general, Samhain, with the thin veil, is an excellent time to communicate with the Other Side.

Prepare yourself appropriately by gathering any necessary tools. Candles to set the mood, spirit boards (like the Ouija Board) or pendulum or other divination tool for communication, or a table for table-tipping exercises are some things you may want to gather.

Be sure to look up the proper way to contact the Other side as well. Be sure you also use appropriate protection methods before getting started. Research methods of banishment too.

Once you have gathered tools and researched a method to contact the Other side that works for you and your traditions, consider having some questions ready to go or having a set of spirits you plan on communicating with. These will help keep your session focused and avoid unwelcome spirits from joining. Also remember to be respectful in your communication.

Perform Divination

This is also a prime time to perform any sort of divination that strikes your fancy. Pull out your tarot cards, oracle cards, runes, scrying mirror or crystal, tea leaf reading cup, etc. If you want to practice a new form, this is the time to try.

The thin veil makes communication from the divine or our spirits much easier so take advantage of it. This is a good time to offer readings to others if you are inclined.

Final Thoughts

Samhain and Halloween are some of the most enjoyed and loved of the Pagan Wheel of the Year dates. Make it fun for yourself and take moments to treat it with solemnity as well. Plan a ritual or just enjoy some of your favorite activities.

Let us know how you plan on celebrating this year!

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