Learn about the last harvest festival on the Wheel of the Year: Samhain. All the history, correspondences, magickal workings, and more.
This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you! Thank you in advance for helping to support Feralwood Farm.
What is Samhain?
Samhain, pronounced “SAH-win”, is the eighth Sabbat and final spoke on the Wheel of the Year. With ancient Celtic origins, Samhain was one of the four fire festivals, and falls at the halfway point between the Autumn Equinox, and Winter Solstice. Opposing Beltane on the Wheel, Samhain also similarly features a “Thinning of the Veil” a time when the barrier between our world and that of spirits and other magickal entities is weakened and easier to cross. While Beltane famously is a stong time to interact with the Fae due to this “Thinning of the Veil”, Samhain is most known for interactions with spirits or ancestors.
Samhain is also known as the Third or Final Harvest festival (The first being Lughnasadh, and the second Mabon). The frost is coming, and most of the produce has been collected from the fields and stored away, but as people prepared for oncoming harsh weather and lack of food/resources, they had to cut back on everything that wasn’t crucial to their survival. Thus this festival was the time of the animal harvest. All creatures who could not be fed through the harsh Winter, were harvested during this time, and celebrated for their sacrifice.
Other Names or Similar Celebrations
- All Hallow’s Eve
- The Witch’s New Year
- The Third/Final Harvest
- Calan Gaeaf “The First Day of Winter”
- Oiche Shamnhna
- All Soul’s Day
- All Saint’s Day
Common Samhain Traditions
The dumb supper is when a meal is hosted and consumed by the living, but the dead are invited to participate and given seats and places at the table as a sign of respect. Often the windows are open during a dumb supper to invite the spirits into the home, to be respected and revered by the inhabitants. Sometimes specific spirits are invited, other times the invitation is simply open for any spirit which chooses to partake. During the course of the dinner, the living attendents remain silent as they enjoy their meals, simply using the silence to remember those who have passed on.
As Samhain is one of the four Celtic Fire Festivals, it’s a great time to have a cozy bonfire or perhaps just a fire at home in the hearth. Meats can be roasted over the flames and thanks given to the animals who gave their lives to give you nourishment.
Carving Jack-O-Lanterns originally came from the myth of “Stringy Jack”, which is an Irish folktale about a man who tricked the devil and now has to wander the world with a lit piece of coal protected inside a carved turnip. This transformed into people carving their own turnips or potatoes and placing them in windows or doorways to scare away Stringy Jack and other potentially harmful or tricky spirits. Once Irish immigrants came to America, the tradition was continued with Pumpkins.
Trick-or-Treating is also derived from old Samhain traditions. The Celts believed that by dressing up they were disguising themselves from negative spirits who would wander the Earth on Samhain. In the Middle-Ages, “guising” was when children or impoverished people would dress in costumes and go door-to-door begging for food in exchange for songs or prayers. This practice was known as “souling” and the participants called “soulers”. In Ireland, the practice of mumming involved dressing up in costumes, and going door-to-door to sing in exchange for tasty cakes and baked goods.
- Black Obsidian
- Black Tourmaline
- Smokey Quartz
- Dittany of Crete
- Snapdragons (dried)
Food & Drink
- Soups & Stews
Ideas for Magickal Workings
- Ancestor Work
- Baneful Magick
- Defensive Magick
- Shadow Work
- Spirit Work
Did you know I use Canva to make all the graphics I use here on my website? Click here to try it out for yourself!
Don’t want to wait to start your next Witchy read? You try Audible Plus and get two free Audiobooks here!
More About the Wheel of the Year
- Beltane 101: The History of the Sabbat
- 10 Easy Ways to Celebrate Beltane During Quarantine
- Your FREE Beltane Grimoire Page
- 3 Simple Recipes for your Beltane Feast
- What is Litha? Everything you Need to Know About the Summer Solstice
- Your FREE Litha Grimoire Page