By: Meg Crawford
How do we say it, for a start?
Good question! The standard pronunciation is “sow-in”, enunciating the “ow” as in “cow”, but
dialects differ (for example, in some places it’s pronounced “sow-een”). Don’t worry if you’ve been
mispronouncing it – they even got it wrong on the otherwise excellent Halloween episode of The
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Otherwise known as?
Hallowmas, All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween, Samhuin and the Witches’ Magickal New Year.
What is Samhain?
Gaelic for “summer’s end”, Samhain marks the end of summer and the beginning of winter. The
festival is celebrated in the northern hemisphere from October 31 to 1 November, but here in the
southern hemisphere we mark the occasion from 30 April to 1 May.
In the pagan calendar, Samhain holds an important place, marking the beginning of the year and
the consequent cycle of seasons.
Estimated to be the second oldest unbroken European holiday, Samhain has been celebrated for
over 6000 years. Traditionally it was known as the time where the veil between this mortal coil and
the spirit world is at its thinnest. It also coincides with the end of summer and the beginning of
winter. Accordingly, the festival is a time to honour the dead as well as commemorating the
beginning and end of all things. It’s also a good time to focus on transformation, divination and
preparation for winter.
How can I honour Samhain?
Try some of these ideas:
spend some reflective time acknowledging and remembering your ancestors;
decorate your alter with a carved pumpkin, skulls and other items associated with the dead. Other
correspondences for Samhain include apple, ferns, mint and sage, which could also be used to
adorn your seasonal alter;
green witches need to start guarding their gardens against frost;
practice your mediumship skills;
cast a spell to rekindle your connection with your ancestors. This is also a good time to cast a spell
to find a mentor, tapping into the wiser energies at play during this period;
hold a “dumb supper”. Note that this is conducted in absolute silence, so you need to be well
prepared! Set the table with black settings (tablecloth, napkins, cutlery, plates and candles, if
possible) and leave a space at the head of the table, designated as the “spirit chair”. Shroud the
spirit chair in black cloth. If you have space, light a tea-light candle to mark for each person you are
honouring. Ask each guest to bring a note to the deceased they’re commemorating, but keep their
contents private. Cast a circle or smudge the space and have guests turn off their mobile phones.
The host should sit opposite the spirit sitting and serve guests from oldest to youngest. Commence
dining only after all guests are guests can read and then burn their notes using the relevant tea-
light candles. Everyone leaves the room in silence, saying farewell to the spirit chair on the way
out. You may wish for everyone to join hands at the start and end of the meal and offer a silent
prayer to the dead.
try a recipe like Soul Cakes , which were traditionally baked as gifts for the dead;
research your family history;
visit the cemetery and place flowers;
build a shrine to your ancestors;
incorporate divinatory practices into your ritual.
How do we celebrate the festival at Muses?
As always, we’ll discuss the intricacies of the festival, including it’s history and associations, enjoy
some group ritual work and meditation, and roll our sleeves up to craft something Samhain
appropriate for you to keep (don't fret if you’re not crafty – we’ll guide you.)
Then, we eat! A light refreshment will be served, but we’d love it if you would bring along a snack
or something tasty to share (vegan or vegetarian – no meat please). Feel free to whip something
up yourself, but that’s by no means compulsory.
Book online here or pop in store to secure your place and find out more.
Saturday 27 April; 11am- 2pm; $35