There are eight Sabbats through the year, celebrating the turning of the wheel of the year and the change of the seasons. The eight Sabbats consists of four solar holidays and four cross-quarter days, marking the shift from one season to the next. The four solar holidays of the year are Ostara – Spring Equinox, Mabon – Autumnal Equinox, Yule – Winter Solstice, and Litha – Summer Solstice. The four pagan cross-quarter holidays are Samhain, which is also considered the witches new year, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh.
Samhain* – By many Pagans considered to be the new year. Other names are All hollows eve, The day of the dead and The last harvest. October 31st/November 1st (*Note: Samhain is pronounced sow-wen/saw-vane/sahven, not sam-hayne)
Season + Element: the transition to Winter and the element of Earth
Incense: Sage, copal, sandalwood, wormwood.
Stones: All black stones, but preferably Jet or Obsidian.
Food: Turnips, apples, gourds, nuts, mulled wine, apple cider, pumpkin pie, beef, pork, poultry.
Decorations: Apples, lanterns, candles, pumpkins, pomegranate
Colors: Orange, brown, black and scarlet.
Deities: Loki, Odin, Osiris, Bast, Ishtar, The Horned God.
Corresponding Moon: Balsamic/Dark Moon – symbolizing introspection, sorting the seeds, deep listening and rebirth through death.
Samhain is the end of the Wiccan year, and is thus a time of death and rebirth. The God has died, and the Goddess mourns him until his rebirth at Yule. The Goddess herself has been through the wheel of the year, transforming from maiden through mother to the old crown, and she is ow ready to die to her old ways once more.
Generally celebrated on October 31st, this Sabbat is marked on November 1st in some traditions. Together with Beltane, Samhain is considered on of the two “spirit-nights” of the year, where the veil between the worlds are thought to be at its thinnest, bringing with it an energy of enchantment and magic.
There are an abundance of rituals connected to the Sabbats, and what’s listed below are simply suggestions. Always follow your heart and do what feels right for you ♡
This is a good night for deep reflection and inner work. Honor the energy of stillness and introspection that comes with this shift. The busy summer months are over. Now it is time to turn inward, and spend more time nesting with your loved ones. Journal, meditate, contemplate and savor that feeling of peace that can only be found in the stillness.
Honor those who have passed
Tell the tales of those who have passed is the greatest way of honoring their memory. Both those who share our linage and the loved ones that became like family through our life. Another way to honor loved ones who have passed is to create an ancestor box. Decorate the box on the outside, then fill the inside with precious memories of the one who has passed.Keep the box on your altar to be reminded of them through the year.
Invite your loved ones for supper
…using only recipes that has been handed down to you.
Work with your divination tools
The veil is thin at this time, making it the perfect time of the year to communicate with the energies beyond this world. Cast runes or the I Ching, work with your favorite deck of cards or use a pendulum. The choices are endless. What divination tools are speaking to you at this time?
Light a fire
Place candles in your window to guide the dead on their journey, light a candle on the ancestor altar, place lanterns outside to guide the way for spirits and fairies who are abroad this night and light a bonfire for purification, protection and transformation. Before midnight, let all the fires out, do a 10 minute meditation as the wheel turns from one season to the next, then rekindle the fire as you step into the new year.
Eat pomegranate or decorate your home with it. In the ancient tale where the beautiful Persephone traveling to the underworld, she eats the seeds of the pomegranate, and thus this decorative fruit has become a symbol of the underworld.
…and embrace the Halloween spirit!
Renew your altar
Samhain is also a time to redo and renew your seasonal altar. The best days to change your altars are during the cross quarter days (Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain), as they mark an initiation into the energies of the new season. Burn seasonal incense like copal or sage, and decorate your altar with with stones such as jet, obsidian, onyx or blood-stone, together with pumpkins, pomegranate and apples. Also be sure to light a candle in honor of those who have passed. Use your imagination and follow your gut. What feels right for you and your altar around this time?
Taking time to journal and contemplate
As always, the Sabbats are times of reflection. Life is busy, and these days are all opportunities for us to stop, breathe and check in with ourselves. Just like the earth goes through seasons, and the moon through her cycles, we do too. So on these special days of the year; take time to honor where the earth – our beloved pachamama – is in her cycle, and take time to honor where you are too.
- What “past ghosts” are re-visiting you at this time?
- This is a time to honor the cycle of life and death. Do you have a tendency to cling to light and life? Do you fear death or the darkness? Why?
- Be silent. Turn inward. What is your heart and soul whispering?