What is a Samhain Celebration?

Samhain is a festival of the Dead, meaning “Summer’s End,” and t’s actually pronounced saah-win or saah-ween. 

Samhain is observed from sunset on October 31st to sunset on November 1st. It is the celebration that is the origin of Halloween. Samhain was first observed by Celtic Pagans. Samhain marked the Celtic New Year, the end of summer, and the end of the harvest season, when nature is winding down and appearing to “die” before the dark and cold of winter arrives. On this day, the Celts believed the veil between the living and the dead was especially thin. This allowed spirits of the dead to visit the living.

How to Celebrate Samhain 

Samhain is typically celebrated by preparing a dinner to celebrate the harvest. The holiday is meant to be shared with those who have passed on as well as those still with us. 

In the northern hemisphere, many Pagans celebrate Samhain from sundown on October 31 through November 1. 

Samhain isn’t necessarily a creepy, morbid holiday obsessed with death, as some may conclude. Instead, it is more about living in tune with Nature’s rhythms. And, yes, Nature is showing us the beauty of letting go and dying to the old to make room for the new.

This contributes to the ancient notion that at Samhain, the veil is thin between the world of the living and the realm of the Dead and this facilitates contact and communication. For those who have lost loved ones in the past year, Samhain rituals can be an opportunity to bring closure to grieving and to further adjust to their being in the Otherworld by spiritually communing with them. However, it’s also a way to appreciate life, when you get right down to it. And can’t we use more of that?

There are many rituals you can partake in to celebrate Samhain. Here is my favorite (and not just because it involves food!) and some additional recommendations from other witches I know. 




  1. Samhain Nature Walk. Get earthy and take a meditative walk around your home. Observe and listen to what nature is telling you- what sounds do you hear, what colors do you, what aromas do you smell. Watch the birds, the wind rustling through the trees, the way the clouds move- let yourself reflect on death and rebirth. If it seems appropriate, take a few natural objects (acorns, leaves, twigs) to use on your altar. 

  2. Set Up A Samhain Altar. In addition to your everyday altar, you can also set up a table to leave in place for the three days prior to- and after- Samhain. Decorate the altar with symbols of late fall, such as:

    1. Skulls, skeletons, bones

    2. Harvest food such as pumpkins, squash, gourds, root vegetables

    3. Nuts and berries, dark breads

    4. Dried leaves and acorns

    5. Mulled cider, wine, or mead

    6. Grave rubbings (done with respect or consent, of course) or funeral mass prayer cards

  1. Reflect and review. As we mentioned, Samhain is also a time to celebrate life in contrast to death, which makes it a great moment to stop and introspect. Reflect on you and your life over the past year. Review moon journals, planners, photographs, blogs, and other things you have created during the past year. Consider how you have grown, accomplishments, challenges, adventures, travels, and learnings. Meditate. Journal about your year in review and write down any reflections. 

  2. Bonfire Magic. Make a bonfire outdoors, if possible, or kindle flames in a fireplace or a small cauldron. Write down something that you want to release and cast it into the Samhain flames as you imagine release. Start moving around the fire clockwise and, while you do, imagine yourself rising like the Phoenix from teh ashes (another Scorpio symbol) and see yourself embodying a new, healthier way of being as you move around.

  3. Divination Station. Using tarot, runes, scrying, or your divination method of choice, to gain insight on questions you have for your ancestors or to ask guidance for the year to come. 

  4. Connect with Cosmic Community. Connect with others. Join in a group ritual in your area, virtually. Organize a Samhain potluck in your home with your pod. Research old and contemporary Samhain customs. Exchange ideas, information, and celebration experiences. Ask your friends for stories of their families and ancestors. Part of Samhain, is reflecting on how we are part of a much larger community. If you’re looking for a space to connect, join our Cosmic AF Community. 

  5. Light A Way Home. Light a white light for those who have recently passed in your life. Buy a white pillar candle and let it burn (safely!) in your window for up to 7 days, starting on the Full Moon, to guide those who are making passage to the Spirit World. Praying over their journey, that it may be done with grace and ease.

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