October 10, 2021 2 Comments
Halloween is one of the most popular holidays of the year for all ages. Known for its spooky, scary-faced pumpkins, goofy costumes, and endless amounts of candy, it’s no doubt has this holiday has come to be one of the most fun, versatile and creative of them all for people of all ages. However, Halloween wasn’t always that way. In fact, many of the traditions of Halloween today are believed to be derived from an old Celtic holiday known as Samhain. And while these two events are commonly referred to as the same celebration, Halloween and Samhain are actually not the same and are considered to be miles apart in their traditions and practices. So, to help you better understand why these two October events are so different, today, we’re going to talk all about them.
In this article, we’re going to go over everything having to do with Samhain and Halloween. We’re going to cover their correspondences, history, origin, and key differences to give you better insight into these beautiful October celebrations and how you can honor them each in their own way. Let’s get started.
Date: October 31st - November 1st
Colors: Black, orange, gold, white, silver, and brown
Crystals: Obsidian, onyx, smokey quartz, and bloodstone
Deities: Horned god, Anubis, Loki, Hecate, and Demeter
Herbs: Mugwort, allspice, rosemary, cinnamon, and sage
Food: Pumpkin, apple, nuts, corn, cider, ale, grains, squash, and potatoes
To start, Samhain (pronounced SAH-WEN) is the third and final harvest festival of the Wheel of the Year that signifies the midpoint between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. Taking place on October 31st, starting at sunset and ending at sunset on the 1st of November, this day marks the end of summer and the beginning of the winter on the old calendar and was considered to be an important time for giving offerings to the dead and communing with them.
In Wiccan belief, Samhain is also the time in which the Sun God dies, leaving the Goddess, who is now in her Crone stage, to mourn him until he is reborn again at Yule. Without the light and warmth of the Sun God, the world then turns dark and cold, with nights growing longer, plants and trees dying, and a cold chill taking over the earth for many months ahead. On top of that, Samhain also marked the start of the Witch’s New Year and is considered to be one of the most powerful sabbat celebrations of all.
Now, when it comes to the practices of Samhain, in ancient times, Samhain was known as a fire festival that celebrated the third and final harvest. However, another big aspect of this day was also saved for honoring the dead. This is because, on the night of October 31st, the veil between our world and the spirit world would grow to be its thinnest, allowing spirits to return to earth for one night, making this a powerful time for communing with ancestors and loved ones. Because of this, large bonfires were often lit, and food and drink were offered to the spirits to appease them. To follow this, a spot was often left open at the table as an offering for deceased family members to join in a sacred ritual to honor them.
Not to mention, in many old traditions, sacrifices of harvest crops and animals were also thrown into bonfires and burned as a protective measure from evil otherworldly beings. Offerings were also done to ensure the spirits and deities do not do harm or cause mischief to ensure a safe and successful winter. But aside from this, at the bonfires of the Samhain festival, spiritual activities such as fortune-telling were also often done, as this was considered to be a powerful time when spirits were able to communicate more easily with the living than ever before. Because of this, many Celtic and Druid priests would also take part in rituals with the dead to receive information from the spirit world about the coming winter, including predictions, warnings of illness, or disaster.
However, where there is good, there is also bad, and this was also believed to be a time that dark spirits and otherworldly monsters could also return for one night as well and wreak havoc on the lives of the living. As a result, many feared angry spirits might destroy crops or kill livestock, so costumes were worn by the Celts during Samhain festivities to allow the living to hide from spirits and avoid their wrath, as well as scare them off so they did not do harm. To take this a step further, an old Irish tradition of carving the scary faces of evil spirits into potatoes or turnips was also done, followed by lighting them and putting them in their window on Samhain night to scare away any spirits that happened to wander by. These, alongside fires in the fireplace in the home, were left to burn all night to keep the evil spirits away. Many believe that this may also be where the origin of carving faces on pumpkins and placing candles in them for modern-day Halloween may have originated from.
Now that we’ve gone over a little of what Samhain was said to be traditionally about and what practices were common, we also wanted to share a few simple celebration ideas for Samhain that you can do today in our modern world that pay tribute to the sabbat. Let’s go over them.
To start off, the first and easiest way to celebrate Samhain is by embracing the changes happening all around you. While this is a sabbat that is heavily associated with loved ones and ancestors, it is also a powerful time for reflection, letting go, and planting seeds of intention for the winter that will rise in the spring. More than anything, make sure you take some time to slow down, reflect, and give thanks for all that you have and all the hard work you’ve put in since this time last year to fully embrace the healing energies of the season and align more intimately with the sabbat.
The next way to celebrate Samhain is by creating a simple ancestral altar to honor your loved ones. Of course, this can be done in any way you see fit, and no two ancestral altars are likely to look the same. However, a few ideas of what you could include on your ancestral altar might include:
Additionally, if you choose to honor someone who may have passed that you were unable to meet in person, you may choose to set the intention of honoring them by lighting a candle for them and holding the thought of them in your head. Above all else, just remember that you don’t need a personal item of theirs or a personal memory with them in order to make a beautiful connection with them.
Aside from ancestor decor on your altar, you can also decorate your altar with other correspondences of the season, including:
And lastly, another common tradition passed down from the past is a simple ancestral ritual known as a dumb supper. A dumb supper can best be described as a simple way to honor your loved ones who have passed by inviting them to your table and honoring them through food and drink. For this, a special spot at the table is left for your loved ones and ancestors who have passed, with a plate of food made up for them, and the rest of the family joins and sits around with their plates of food as well. However, the main aspect of this ritual is that it is done without speaking, with the word ‘dumb’ referring to silent. This means that no one may speak from the time they enter the dining room until the time they leave the dining room, as this is considered to be part of a sacred ritual of honoring and remembering your loved ones through intentional silence.
Now, before the meal begins, it is often recommended that everyone at the table joins hands and sends an intentional energy of love and gratitude to the spirits of their deceased loved ones. Many people also choose to write down their message to their family members who have passed and burn it in a dedicated ancestral candle in the center of the table. However, you may choose to do this however you prefer.
When everyone has finished, each guest should send love to their family members at the table once more and say goodbye. After this, you can place the plate of food for your loved ones in a dedicated area outside, perhaps under a tree, and close the ritual. Of course, it is important to note that there is no right or wrong way to host a dumb supper, so please feel free to adjust and change the ritual as needed to fit your personal needs.
Now that we’ve gone over Samhain, when it comes to Halloween, many know this as a festive annual holiday of dressing up in costumes, carving pumpkins, and treat or treating. However, it wasn’t always like this. In fact, the origin of Halloween is believed to have been derived from the pagan and Celtic celebration of Samhain but was taken and changed by many different cultures throughout the years.
In fact, it is believed that a day known as “All Hallow’s Day” was a Christian alternative to Samhain, originating in medieval England and celebrating the lives of faithful Christian saints. The Christian church originally celebrated this day on May 13th but later switched it to November 1st, making October 31st known as “All Hallows Eve,” which would eventually change and become known as Halloween. And, although the name may have changed, All Hallow’s Eve kept many of the same traditions of Samhain but focused more around their saints than that of ancestors or evil spirits.
Over time, and with the influence of many different cultures, Halloween would continue to lose its original meaning and would leave behind its associations of honoring loved ones and warding off evil spirits to instead become a fun and spooky holiday for costume parties and candy that we have all come to know today.
Now that we’ve gone over a little of Halloween’s origin history, let’s talk about a few of the most common Halloween traditions and how they may have started.
One of the first common traditions of Halloween today is apple bobbing. This is considered to be a fun game where children try to capture apples in water with their teeth to win a prize. However, in the past, this had very different associations that typically had to do with divination, love predictions, and protection.
Next, another common tradition for Halloween is to carve pumpkins. While this is often done as a fun, family-friendly festivity to decorate your house or yard with, this practice is believed to have originated from the Samhain practice of carving scary faces into potatoes and turnips to ward off evil spirits.
And lastly, the most obvious celebration linked with Halloween is trick or treating. While this is mostly done by children nowadays, in ancient times, it is believed that trick or treating originated from the poor begging for coins and scraps from door-to-door or children collecting soul cakes on All Hallow’s Eve. However, many others believe that it may have also originated from run-ins with evil spirits and monsters on Samhain night, bribing them with “treats” so that they would not do harm.
While the exact origins aren’t certain, what we know for sure is that trick or treating has grown and changed throughout the years to something entirely different today than what its original meaning may have been in ancient times.
And finally, when it comes to the differences between these two celebrations, there is quite a bit to note. While Halloween is celebrated in similar ways as Samhain with costumes, carving faces, scary costumes, and more, the meaning behind each celebration is entirely different. For example, Samhain comes from pagan roots, while Halloween has roots in Christianity. However, many believe Halloween was initially created by Christians to replace Samhain for those who did not believe in otherworldly spirits. Therefore, instead of scary masks to ward of bad spirits, it became fun and scary and goofy masks to scare your friends or make them laugh. And instead of carving faces into turnips and potatoes to protect a home from evil spirits, it became pumpkin carving as a fun activity to see who could create the scariest faces, and so forth.
Not to mention, Halloween is more of a secular holiday that has evolved to become a celebration for all age groups with traditions such as trick-or-treating and costume parties. While Samhain, on the other hand, is considered to be a religious celebration for the harvest, honoring the dead, warding off evil spirits, and honoring deities. Therefore, Halloween could be considered to be more of a fun annual event for everyone, while Samhain is a sacred festival that is still followed by many old religions to this day.
To sum it all up, Halloween holds a small, loosely-based shadow of many of the traditions of the ancient sabbat of Samhain that have been changed to be more family-friendly and fun for all ages in today’s modern world. However, there is no denying the powerful history that it branches off of from so long ago. So, while these two celebrations certainly share similarities, these two events are incredibly different and should be honored and celebrated in their own unique ways. Above all else, we hope this article has helped you to better understand the differences between these two celebrations and how you can truly make the most of them throughout the powerful month of October.
Blessed Samhain & Happy Halloween!
Written by: The Spirit Chic
Comments will be approved before showing up.
May 16, 2022
Just because you’re a witch doesn’t mean your craft has to cost a fortune. In fact, it should never cost a fortune unless you want it to. While witchcraft is different for everyone, practicing as a witch is often about finding magic in simple things around you and creating something beautiful from them. Social media has played a huge part in the expensive expectation for those first coming into witchcraft in this day and age. From large and extravagant altar setups to enormous luxury crystals, many people are under the impression that you have to have dozens of crystals, candles, and tarot decks in order to truly practice, but that’s not true. Don’t get us wrong, while these tools can be fun and inspiring to add to your collection and can help you to enhance the energy in your craft; they do not supply the magic––you do. The magic is within you, dear witch, and you put magic into everything you use, whether it’s cheap or expensive items, and we’re here to show you that.
May 10, 2022
The moon is one of the most divine and mysterious energy sources available to us. Not only does it provide a truly captivating view in the night sky, but it also has the natural ability of connecting directly with our subconscious and helping us to heal in a number of ways. While the new moon and the full moon are most known for their empowering energies, the other phases of the moon are just as powerful and offer their own healing vibrations in many other ways. And today, we’re going to talk all about them.
In this article, we’re going to cover the meaning behind the eight phases of the moon. We’re going to talk about what each moon phase means, the unique energy they give off, and how you can work more closely with them to perform self-care practices to heal, grow, and align more intentionally in your life than ever before. Let’s get started.
April 28, 2022
As we move out of the inspiring and energetic energies of April, we move into the month of May with flying colors, welcoming new changes, transformations, and chances for renewal. To start, we will be kicking off the month in the balanced and assured sign of the Taurus. Often considered to be the mother of the Zodiac due to their kind, nurturing, and wise nature, the Taurus craves balance in all that they do. They are hardworking, know the importance of creating a good routine, and always approach their goals with a slow but steady pace. For that reason, the signs may also begin to bring these energies into their life this month. From creating a routine for yourself, focusing on small steps for your goals, or even just picking up the pace towards working towards your dreams, this month is all about gaining stability and finding what new direction you may wish to go with it.
Aside from this, May also marks the official start of the eclipse season, which is sure to bring a plethora of new energies into our lives. With so many energetic shake-ups at this time, the signs could find themselves feeling more drained and disoriented. However, all of the changes are likely to help us align with our destined path later on. Aside from this, the planets will also be quite active this month, with Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury as the biggest influences. Jupiter will be lingering in the sign of the Pisces for the beginning of the month, making this an opportunistic time for the signs to seize new opportunities and take a chance. After this, Jupiter will then make its way through the sign of the Aries, pushing hard work, confidence, and a new dynamic in your life as the signs likely begin to feel a little more open-minded in trying new things. We will then welcome our next Mercury retrograde on May 10 in the sign of the Gemini, which is bound to bring some energetic shake-ups in our social lives as well as our communication skills. Lastly, we will then end the month in the sign of the energetic Gemini, pushing our social interactions, lust for adventure, and need for expansion to the extreme.