Celebrating Samhain - two pumpkins, a bouquet of flowers and a tabby cat.

Celebrating Samhain – A Personal Perspective

Celebrating Samhain has many meanings and many traditions. Drawing from cultures and beliefs from around the world this day goes by many names, including Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain and others.  There’s even multiple pronunciations for these names too.

(Click here to get your free one page Samhain Guide for your Book of Shadows.)

According to powerthesaurus.org there’s 37 different names for it.

Just like the various names and pronunciations, some folks will consider it a very sacred day, and others will see it as just a fun day of candy, dressing up in costumes, and fall fun.

Whatever your traditions and whatever name you have for this day, I could make a case that it’s the one time of the year when ancient pagan traditions meet our modern lives.

(Even bobbing for apples has its roots in the ancient rites of the Druids.)

Being that Halloween is a modernized version of Samhain, most witches and pagans will embrace elements of each.  Blending honoring our ancestors, ancient magickal rites, a celebration of the harvest, and trick or treating into our celebrations of Samhain.

In this post, I’m sharing 3 personal perspectives with you about what this third harvest festival of the year means to me.

black cat against fall background

1. Celebrating Samhain Memories

Halloween has long been my favorite holiday, even before I began my path of spirituality (now spanning more than 25 years), which is an eclectic blend of elements drawn from paganism, animism, and witchcraft, among other things.

I have many fond memories of dressing up and going about the neighborhood door to door, trick or treating with our pumpkin shaped buckets in hand to collect our windfall of candy.  My costumes were rarely store bought, but instead put together from the boxes of old clothes and masks we’d accumulated over the years.  My late mother was a whiz at shaping these odds and ends into clever costumes, which included a lion with a tail braided from baling twine.

One of my favorite houses to go to on Halloween was an elderly gentleman that lived in my neighborhood.  He was a World War 2 veteran and was missing his legs from the war.

He lived alone.  Every Halloween, though, he had buckets full of candy and would sit in his favorite living room chair waiting for all the neighborhood kids  to stop by. His door was unlocked, and he’d cheerfully call out for us to come in when we knocked.

I think it made his day to see us, but now, he makes my day, every Halloween as I call up that memory.  It’s funny how that works, isn’t it?

2. Celebrating Samhain Beginnings

These days, I think of Samhain as my new year.  I celebrate it that way and set new intentions for the year ahead.  New beginnings come as the result of something else ending, and so this is a perfect time of year for that, as we move from the growing seasons into the dark months.

I will repeat this at the end of December too, celebrating the end of the calendar year and the beginning of a new one.

I’m a huge fan of new beginnings.  Grab every one of them that you can. That is my personal mantra.

I also use this time to review the year:

  •  What have I planted and what have I reaped?
  • What has grown in my life?
  • What do I want to grow next year?

Preparing for the dark months ahead started at Lammas and continued with the fall equinox, and now that we’re at the third harvest festival, it’s time to make the final preparations.

How will I use the dark months ahead? I grab a journal and get all my thoughts about this down on paper.  This bit of reflection helps me decide how I’ll use this time.

Where I live, this is a time of not only decreasing light, but also falling temperatures.  It’s a time where things die back with the frost, and snow isn’t uncommon in late October where I live either, although it’s usually short lived.  The trees have lost most of their leaves, and they skitter about on the ground, pushed by a chilly breeze.

I begin to move my life more inside, during these months.  Into the warmth of my home and less outdoors. I take the time now to refresh my home and give things a little boost.  Maybe a thorough fall cleaning, maybe different curtains.  Maybe just a new throw for the sofa. The particulars depend on my mood and needs.

I know I’m going to be looking at the inside of my home a whole lot more, and I want to enjoy my indoor space.  My home is my sanctuary, so I use that as my guide for a bit of indoor fall prep.

Celebrating Samhain - two pumpkins, a bouquet of flowers and a tabby cat.

3. Celebrating Samhain Endings

Halloween marks the time of endings, culminations. This is the time when the triple goddess is now at the crone stage, wizened from her experiences, even a bit tired or worn.

This is a beautiful time to honor the endless circle of beginnings and endings—birth, death, and renewal.  I feel this very strongly now.

The veil between the worlds is thin now, so I also take this time to celebrate my ancestors.  Everyone who has come before me, paving the way for me. From the soul family that I share no blood ties with to the most recently departed in my family, I honor every one of them.

I set up an ancestor altar for this and spent some time in meditation to let them know that I appreciated all that they had done.  While they were living and all that they continue to do now that they stand behind me in spirit.

My family experienced three deaths last year.   One of them was a suicide.  This year is an especially poignant time for me as I honor my ancestors.

Last October, my mother passed over and just 30 days later, we lost my oldest sister.

It was a lot.  A lot. 

I’m an ordained minister and I officiated the funerals for both my mother and sister.

Doing so was the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, but it was also the most cathartic for me in alchemizing these losses and overwhelming grief.

You can read the blog post, 3 Lessons from Losing Mom, by clicking here.

Summary of Celebrating Samhain – A Personal Perspective

Celebrating Samhain is as much a personal tradition as it is one of following the path that others have set for us by their teachings and grimoires.

There’s much to celebrate and honor at this time.  Beginnings, endings, memories, and ancestors are all part of my own traditions. Establish your own traditions, follow those of your ancestors, or blend them all together, and never be afraid to switch it up if it feels right to do so.

Get your free one page Samhain Guide here. Pop it in your Book of Shadows and use it to plan your rituals and celebrations for celebrating Samhain.

Here’s to celebrating Samhain.

Blessed be.

 

 

You  might also like these Wheel of the Year posts:

How to Celebrate Yule

6 Ways to Celebrate Mabon

Summer Solstice