[2021] Popular and Practical Samhain Rituals and Traditions

Beloved Samhain night is just around the corner. This time of the year is definitely the most magical and witchy of all other seasons. Below you can find information on Samhain Rituals, Traditions, and History. Are you going to try any of them?


What is Samhain?

Samhain is the third and final harvest festival of the year. It is a cross-quarter holiday between Mabon (Autumn Equinox) and Yule (Winter Solstice). In the northern hemisphere, Samhain is celebrated on the 31st of October, while in the southern hemisphere around May 1st

Astrologically Samhain falls between November 6-8, when the Sun is at 15 degrees of Scorpio. 

The name Samhain comes from the Irish words sam and fuin meaning “summer’s end”. Other names for this holiday are Samuin, Samhainn, Samain, Samhuinn, Sauin; also known as Hallowmas (Celtic/Scottish), November Eve, All Hallows’ Eve (Christian), Calan Gaeaf, the Witches’ New Year, Root Harvest, and Shadowfest.

Samhain Date

✦ NORTHERN HEMISPHERE
October 30th – 31st

✦ SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
April 31st / May 1st

Samhain Rituals and Magical Intentions

ancestry, banishing, beginnings, candle magic, darkness, death, divination, endings, faerie, harvest, honor, introspection, love, magick, past life, protection, psychic powers, rebirth, release, renewal, rest, return, sacrifice, spirit communication, the underworld, uncrossing (removing hexes), visions, wisdom 

Samhain Traditions and History

Samhain is the name of an ancient Irish-Celtic festival. Unfortunately, nowadays we know very little about its original celebrations. In myths and legends, it was the time of magick, witchcraft, fairies, and spirits.

Back in the day, people feared the roaming spirits and fairies. To protect themselves they lit bonfires and carved turnips (Jack-o’-Lanterns) to confuse the spirits. 

It is believed that Samhain falls on during the liminal time of the year when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest. This allows spirit entities from other realms to freely roam around the Earth.

Our ancestors used the time of Samhain to collect the last crops, slaughter the animals, and move cattle from the mountains into protected pastures for the winter. They also made sure to preserve as many foods as they could for the dark days ahead.

In the 17th century, practicing love divination during Samhain became popular. Young women wanted to reveal their true love’s name and practice things such as bobbing for apples or throwing nuts into the hearth fire.

Samhain marks the end of the Light Half of the Celtic Year and begins the Dark Half – The Gaulish month of Samonios (November).

Jack o Lantern is the most recognized symbol of Samhain. It comes from many folk stories about a lost soul roaming around the world and carrying a carved pumpkin (turnip) lantern. Originally the carved turnips were used to ward of the evil spirits during the night of Samhain. 

Aos sí – Irish Spirits and Fairies are known to roam freely during Samhain night. The tradition was to offer food and drink to please the spirits and lit bonfires for protection. Additionally, people wore costumes to imitate and disguise themselves from the Aos Sí or other spirits. 

Samhain Rituals

✦ Dressing up in scary costumes is another common tradition of the Samhain celebration. Originally, people dressed up in order to protect themselves from evil spirits, witches, and ghosts. 

✦ Gathering with your friends or family to tell the terrifying stories of ghosts and haunted places.

✦ Apple Bobbing is one of the oldest traditions of Samhain. In this game, the large basin is filled with water and the participants have to catch a floating apple with their mouth. It can be a fun addition to your Samhain rituals, especially if you practice it with a group of friends or children.

✦ As Samhain is the time for endings, you can write your fears, limiting beliefs, or unhealthy habits on a piece of paper and burn it in order to release them.

✦ Setting up New Witch’s Year resolutions. Samhain is an amazing time to reflect on our year so far and bring forth some new goals for our practice. This can be a simple addition to other Samhain Rituals that focus on luck and prosperity for the months ahead.

✦ Practicing protective magic. You can check out this simple Protection Spell Jar recipe and incorporate making it into your Samhain Rituals.

✦ Having a memorial ritual for loved ones who have passed away is another common type of Samhain celebration. It can be in a form of a Dumb (Silent) Supper, where you can leave an empty setting at the table. You can also honor the dead by lighting candles, having their pictures or personal items on an altar, and leaving the food or drink as an offering.

✦ Going trick-or-treating! Even though this seems like a modern Halloween celebration, you can also try to incorporate this in your Samhain rituals. There had been records of various similar activities throughout the world and why not have a little bit of fun with dressing up and visiting your neighbors?

✦ Connecting with the spirit world. Samhain is an amazing holiday to communicate with your ancestors, loved ones that passed away, or any deities or spirits that you feel called to work with. You might want to offer them some prayers or candles, maybe a feast together. It is also a remarkable holiday for starting working with fairies and mythical creatures from the spiritual realm.

✦ Samhain night is perfect for divination! You can add it to your other Samhain rituals (especially the ones that are celebrating the New Witches’ Year), and have a tarot or oracle spread to see what messages you need to hear right now. Or… if you feel adventurous, you might want to try a new form of divination, such as scrying or tasseomancy (tea leaf reading).

✦ Making a real autumn feast with Samhain foods! Incorporating vegetables and fruit such as pumpkins, gourds, squashes, potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, apples, and pomegranates. Some of the most common dishes for Samhain are pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup. Apple dishes and gingerbread would also suit well for Samhain rituals.

Wheel of the Year and Sabbats books:

Disclaimer: The links below are affiliate links that allow me to earn a small commission from purchases you make at no extra cost for you.

✦ “Witch’s Wheel of the Year” Jason Mankey
✦ “The Modern witchcraft guide to the wheel of the year” Judy Ann Nock
✦ “The Hearth Witch’s Year” Anna Franklin
✦ “Year of the Witch” Temperance Alden
 “Mabon: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for the Autumn Equinox” Diana Rajchel  


What are your Samhain rituals?

I am very curious to hear the way that you celebrate Samhain! What are the symbols that come to your mind when you think of this festival? Are you looking to make any spells or crafts? 

Let me know in the comments! Let’s see what we’re all up to!

* I know some of you might be in the Southern Hemisphere and celebrate Beltane at the moment. You can read my blog post about Beltane here!

Samhain Printable Bundle

For only $4.99 you can get your copy of a 10-pages Bundle with Samhain correspondences, herbs, crystals, crafts, oil blend, altar ideas, and a page about the Samhain Deities and Spirits. 

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Eva Maria
Eclectic Witch with tons of interests (Buddhism, Yoga, Ayurveda, Alchemy, Naturopathy, Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Climbing, Traveling, Jewelry making, Crocheting, Arts and Crafts and all sorts of readings). Creator at @witchjournaling and host of the witchcommunity.com

2 Comments

  1. Merry meet Eva Maria,
    I have been practicing for many decades and your article is one of the very best I have read about Samhain. Thank you for taking your time to share this information all across Mother Earth.
    I have posted a short segment on my website(I will not name it as I feel that would be disrespectful to you and your hard work) the link back to your website so my readers can finish learning from you through this article is at the top of my blog post.
    As the other Sabbats come about may I again use your article on them on my website?
    Until we meet again blessed be,
    Lady Beltane Sage

    • Merry Meet Lady Beltane Sage! It is a great honor to have my work featured on your website. It means a lot to me that you find these articles helpful and wish to share them with your readers. Please feel free to post the short segments as the Sabbats come. Blessed be! Eva Maria

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