Happy witch’s new year, Glasglow Girls!
• Oct 24th 2023 • by GLASGLOW GIRLS CLUB • 0 Comments
It’s spooky season. The TV is flooded with horror movies and houses are draped with fake cobwebs. Ghosts swing from trees, and ghoulish pumpkins guard the doors to our homes. Halloween is a cultural phenomenon, but this is also a special day for modern witches and pagans. We call it Samhain, and it’s also considered the witch’s new year. So let’s peek beneath the veil of this season to find out how to use it to deepen our spiritual connection.
I’m Renee, and I’m the creator of Awesome on 20 Kitchen Magick and the co-host of The Coven of Awesomeness Podcast. I also offer tarot readings, spiritual coaching, and witchcraft workshops through Sagittarian Tarot & Coaching. I’ve been studying witchcraft since 2019, and I’m thrilled to share a little bit more magic with all of you.
The wheel of the year is a circle, so it has no beginning and no end, but if it did, it would be Samhain. Every six or so weeks, the wheel spins, marking the seasons and the changes in the natural world. It’s a moment for us to pause and honor Mother Earth. The wheel of the year keeps us connected to the cycles of life, death, and rebirth that are part of our existence. It invites us to experience awe and reverence for the web of life we are intricately woven into and supported by.
These days, we celebrate Halloween as a commercial, secular day to unleash our wild side, dress up, become someone else for a night, and indulge in parties and more candy than we would ever allow ourselves at any other time of the year. We may carve pumpkins, watch scary movies that tap into our fears of death and the afterlife, or wear a mask to hide our true identity. All of this has roots in pagan festivities like Samhain and other autumn celebrations of the dead.
What is Samhain
Samhain is commonly celebrated on October 31st or November 1st. Astrology experts might wait until the sun enters 15° Scorpio. There are no rules in witchcraft, so you can really honor this day anytime you like. Samhain is often referred to as the witch’s new year, and it’s a special day for witches. I’ll be celebrating Samhain on October 28th with a group releasing ritual if you’d like to join me.
It’s said that the veil between worlds is at its thinnest around this time. Many who are sensitive to spirits will feel an intensity of energy. And those of us who don’t usually notice much beyond the material world might feel a slight change as the days grow colder and the night’s darker. Spirits may be close at hand, whether we can see them or not.
This is where the idea of dressing up, painting your face, or wearing a mask comes from. Jack-O-Lanterns also play a role in protecting us from wandering spirits. Their scary faces protect our homes from any negative energy, and the lights within are believed to guide spirits on to their intended destination rather than lingering in your home.
With this close connection to the spirit realm, it’s only right that we use this time to honor our deceased ancestors. You’ll see many cultures around the world partaking in festivals to honor the dead, most famously Dios de los Muertoes in Mexico.
What are the origins of Samhain?
The word Samhain comes from the ancient Celtic culture, and it means summer’s end. This day marks the start of the dark half of the year. Today, we have four seasons, but the Celts only had two, dark and light. This day marked the threshold into darkness with the light returning at the festival of Beltane.
This was also the last of three harvest festivals. The last of the crops needed to be cleared from the fields, and animals that couldn’t be sustained through the winter were slaughtered. Food and other materials would be preserved. Equipment would be cleaned and stored for the winter. Any crops left in the fields after Samhain had to be left for the Fey. I always get an image of ancestors closing the barn doors one last time and taking a well-deserved rest before it all needs to be started again in the spring.
The tradition of trick-or-treating has its roots in Samhain as well. Children used to dress as ghosts and spirits and go from house to house asking for offerings. They were gifted with “the seeds of life” which usually came in the form of fruit and nuts, especially hazelnuts.
How to Celebrate Samhain
A lot of things that you would do to celebrate Halloween can also be incorporated into Samhain festivities. You may simply want to bring a different intention or energy to them. For example, carving a pumpkin can take on new meaning when you infuse it with the energy of home protection. As you scoop and carve your pumpkin, focus on maintaining a safe and happy home where fear or despair may not enter. Then as you light the candle, ask it to guide wandering spirits to a place of rest.
If you decide to make a special meal for Samhain, you can set an extra place at the table to honor your deceased ancestors. Serve them food and drink as an offering to say thank you for giving you life. You may want to take a moment of silence to remember and honor them. Some people will even keep completely silent throughout the entire meal. This is known as a dumb supper.
Even if we have a difficult relationship with our families, it’s amazing to consider the thousands of people who had to exist across the centuries so that we could be born. They had to find a way to survive and thrive and pass on their genes, and I think that deserves our gratitude.
Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of Halloween trick or treating, you can bring some new energy to this practice as well. Even sweets and chocolates from the supermarket can be charged with intention.
Turn that mini Snickers into the new “seeds of life.” Hold your hand over the bowl of sweets and say something like this. “On this day when the spirits of the deceased are close at hand, may these treats remind us of the vibrant life within us.” Focus on gratitude for the beating of your heart and the air in your lungs. And as the chocolate melts on your tongue, you can smile at the pleasures of simply being alive.
Create a Samhain feast
A feast is always a beautiful way to celebrate any witchy holiday, but as a harvest festival, Samhain practically begs for it. This is a great way to gather with family, honor your ancestors, and share your abundance. I’ve got some delicious ideas for what to serve.
Foods that grow underground or have an association with the underworld are perfect for Samhain. They’re also in season at the moment. So things like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables are ideal. Pomegranates, with their ties to the myth of Persephone, are also great. Give some of these recipes a look.
- Chili with Gnocchi
- Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spiced Maple Butter
- Pomegranate Margarita
Apples are also big this time of year, and things like apple bobbing or candy apples are fun seasonal traditions. This fruit has a strong tie to witchcraft and can be used for protective magic. If you cut an apple open horizontally, you’ll see the hidden pentagram or 5-pointed star revealed in the seeds. Here’s a few apple recipes you might like.
And of course, you really must make something with pumpkin at Samhain. I know it’s not as common here in Scotland to bake with pumpkin as it is in my home country, the USA. American bakers almost always use tinned pumpkin puree rather than roast a whole pumpkin. You can easily source this online. Buy a few tins to keep in your pantry for the whole season. These are some of my favorite pumpkin recipes.
And these recipes are just the beginning. If you want more ideas for your Samhain feast, be sure to check out my Recipes to Celebrate Samhain post for 100 awesome recipe ideas.
I hope you’re feeling inspired to celebrate Samhain this year. Even if you just light a candle in your window and whisper a simple thank you to your ancestors, you’ll be making a little bit of magic. If you have any questions about this sabbat, the wheel of the year, or any other witchcraft topics, leave a comment or get in touch.
I’d love to see your Samhain celebration photos. Tag me on Instagram and let me know how it goes. Happy witch’s new year, Glasglow Girls!