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What is Samhain?

So around this time of year, the other witches, boss witches, pagans, and loads of assorted people will start talking about Samhain (pronounced “Sah-win”, among other pronunciations). So what actually is it?

Three dogs wearing ghost costumes pose with a pumpkin.

Samhain celebrates the point between the light and the dark half of the year, and the time in which the veil between the two worlds (ours and the next) is at its thinnest. So while we celebrate Samhain on the same night as Halloween (October 31st), it’s not the same. But the two do have history.

Of course, on Halloween, we traditionally dress up as ‘scary’ things (ghosts, spooks, witches etc) and go around to get treats. But Samhain is less for children and more for the spiritual.

Tarot cards and candles.

Samhain is basically the time when the door to the world of the departed opens and we welcome and are wary of the visitation from those from the other realm into our own. For 24 hours (from Samhain night to the night of November 1), we are aware that spirits may be with us, and we can commune with them, if we are so inclined. We celebrate their lives and we honour our ancestors, as well as asking advice and performing divination rituals, such as reading the Tarot and gazing into the future.

An image of a ghostly hand in a circular mirror with illustrations around it.

I’m no historic (or witching) expert, so if you’d like more info on how Wiccans celebrate Samhain, I highly recommend Wicca Living’s write-up on it.

But for now – be mindful of your thoughts and feelings, and be aware that we are in a phase where spirits may be more readily nearby than normal.



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