What is Samhain?

How Do I Celebrate It?

(and how do I say it?)

All Souls Night. Halloween. Feast of Apples. New Year. 

It begins on the evening of October 31 and ends the evening of November 1. 

This night is special all over the world.

If you’ve been learning about the Wheel of the Year with us this year (see these blog posts) our next celebration is Samhain (pronounced Sow-win or Sow-wheen) and for many practices it’s the most important festival of the year. 

Samhain is a Gaelic festival.

From an agricultural perspective, it’s our third and final harvest and it’s the end of the birth and growth cycle (represented again by the triple moon/goddess symbol of Maiden/Mother/Crone). 

Death of the old year, beginning of the new 

Our plants have produced their fruit and it’s time for the leaves to wither and die. All of the seeds of the harvest have been turned underground, seemingly lifeless.

It’s the point of death and the dark half of the year is beginning. Death is followed by rebirth

And it’s the time of rest and reflection.

Closer to the veil

It’s believed this is the time of year when the barriers between the physical and spiritual worlds are the thinnest. 

For many psychics and intuitives, mediums and empaths, their connection to the spirit world is strong this time of year, making it easier to “connect.  

Many people start with flashes of memories, receive messages and feel more connected to the universe. They might even feel the energy of others more than usual. 

Celebrating our ancestors

During Samhain we also take time to honor our ancestors. 

We can place photos or mementos of friends, family and familiars who have passed on our altars. 

We can set extra places at our dinner table to remember them. Evening having their favorite drink to toast their presence. For a familiar…place a bowl of kibble outside to honor them!

These acts can be a tremendous source of comfort, connection and healing because they lived, thrived, loved, suffered, and experienced life before we did.

It’s humbling to recognize the power of their lives because without them, without the experiences that shaped them, we simply would not be. 

Light it up

Samhain celebrations usually feature bonfires as a way to commune with the dead.

Can’t do a full out raging bonfire? How about working with candle magic

Fire symbolizes the welcoming of Winter and is a sacred element. Make it more meaningful by selecting black, purple and orange candles!

Black - symbolizes endings/death/protection

Purple - insight, wisdom and inspiration

Orange - vitality of life 

Use a Candle Scribe to write the words or create your own sigil and scribe that on your candle to represent your wishes for the coming year. 

Write the name (or names) of the dead on a candle to honor them. 

Other ways to celebrate

Host a Dumb Supper or host a coat drive in order to give back to others (and recognize that in the coming winter months others may need help).

Nature walks are great for connecting with nature and honoring the circle of life…the death and rebirth of nature. And while you’re out, gather nature’s objects to bring home.

Tell stories! There’s nothing greater to honor our ancestors than to pass on their stories. Funny stories from eccentric uncles. Magical stories from great-great grandparents.

Even celebrating in private ways like journaling to reflect on your life, how you’ve grown, the challenges you’ve worked through, trips or adventures you’ve taken.

Symbols for the season

There are so many object for this season that you can use on your altar and to decorate your home with symbols of the season:


I love collecting acorns from the mighty oaks in my backyard. 

They make lovely decor on my altar, and as the seed of the great oak they symbolize wisdom, rebirth, and longevity. 

They’re also an ornament of the abundance of fortune ahead! 


Brooms (including cinnamon brooms) are used both symbolically and and practically at this time of year. 

Traditionally besoms were made from Birch wood, which has been associated with renewal and purification. 

Used not only to sweep away the last of the dead autumn leaves, but in the ritual of clearing out old energy and creating space for the new. 


The round feminine shape of the cauldron is no accident. It is the symbol of life and death, of transformation and rebirth. Used in ceremonies or cooking it symbolizes all of these!


Despite it being a more American tradition pumpkins have catapulted to the top of the list of Samhain symbols! 

In the middle ages, many carved faces into turnips. But the “switch” to our round-headed carved faces could be a Celtic connection. 

Celts believed the human head to be our soul center, and this round gourd with a candle burning brightly inside just might represent the light shining from our souls! 

Others believe the faces ward off darker spirits! Whichever, pumpkins are iconic and make lovely decorations.

This is a magical time that marks the darkened end of summer and upcoming rise of winter, we celebrate those that came before us and it a time to reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead. 

~ Karen

Karen Steuer