Samhain (pronounced sow’ain) is the precursor to today’s Halloween, an ancient Celtic festival honouring the ancestors that came before us. It is believed that at this time of year the veil between this life and the Otherworld are at their thinnest, meaning that connection and communication with the dead is easier.
To our modern ears, this may sound morbid – or downright scary – but Pagans respected death as a normal and natural part of our journey. The fact that Samhain became Halloween – a day for getting dressed up in our most frightening and ghoulish costumes – means we mostly forget to mark this time of year with a deep, intuitive respect for the cycles of life.
8 ways to celebrate Samhain as a family
1). Have a feast of harvest goodies. Invite family, friends and neighbours – get them to bring a dish to share. Spend time with your community.
2). Make a memory table honouring loved ones who have passed away. Decorate it with pretty nature objects, coloured cut outs, photos, drawings, anything you like. On Samhain, light a candle and offer gratitude and love.
3). Spread your festivities out over three days in the traditional Celtic way. Dances, rituals and feasts are all ways of connecting with the special energy at this time of year.
4). Write down the habits, activities, feelings etc. that you want to let go of and burn your list in the Samhain fire, stating your intentions. Then write a list of ideas and dreams for the coming year – you can either share them as a family or keep them safe until Spring, making sure you give them tender attention over the Winter months.
5). Have a harvest craft day. Gather brightly coloured leaves to make a picture or leaf prints, string acorns on a necklace, make fairy beds in nutshells, carve a pumpkin…let your imagination run riot!
6). Get outside in the brisk Autumn air and have a run around to get the blood pumping. Often we tend to begin to slow down and get more sedentary at this time of year. That does, of course, make sense but it is also good to move around and enjoy the outdoors to keep energy levels high and your body and mind healthy.
7). Have a bonfire under the stars, toasting marshmallows and sharing stories! Make sure you rake through anything you’re going to burn carefully to make sure there are no hibernating animals.
8). Give thanks to the beautiful Autumnal world around you in whatever way feels right for your family. Whether it’s a private prayer of gratitude or a celebratory yodel in the garden, take time to look around and see the world on the cusp of magical change.