Samhain also known as All Hallows Eve, Feast of the Dead and Halloween is the historically Gaelic festival and in a literal sense means summer’s end, marking just that – as it signifies the start of winter and the end of the harvest season. It falls between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice and is a time when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest due to it being a liminal/threshold festival. In the 19th century it was suggested to be the “Celtic New Year” and in modern time this became the “Witches New Year”. This year in the Southern Hemisphere calendar it falls on the 5th of May at 4.36pm. Gods such as Hekate, Hades, Persephone, Osiris, Crom Cruach, Cerridwen, Lilith, Kali, Ishtar, Persephone, Oya, Innana, Pamona, Cailleach, The Morrigan, Nephtys, Rhiannon, Herne, Anubis, Odin, Bran and Cernunnos can all be honoured during this time of year.
I have celebrated Samhain with groups of people in a religious, spiritual and mundane way both here in Australia and overseas. The one thing which I found resonated with them all was the celebration of what has passed and honouring that which came before us.
One of the first memories I have during this time of year was when we were visiting my mother’s village on a small Aegean island of Greece, Lemnos (where its origins can be traced back to the Epipaleolithic Period) but its more commonly known for its (Mycenean Period) whose matriarchal line had lived on for centuries. She took me to her family’s mausoleum which from the outside looked like a mini Parthenon with walls. Once inside, the marble covered walls were lined and stacked from ceiling to floor with ledges crammed with skulls and bones. My mother with arms outstretched swept over what I was taking in said in an echoing voice that these were my ancestors and I needed to honour them and that one day she would be amongst them and I needed to remember to pay my respects.
I personally like to honour my ancestors during this time by leaving offerings for them on their ancestor shrine I have been keeping and tending to for more years than I can count. My mother was a very spiritual person and taught me to always tend to the ancestor shrine and light incense and leave offerings for them frequently. During this time since its so close to Greek Easter I make and leave coloured eggs (usually red with patterns of leaves or flowers on them like I was taught using old panty hose and dried leaves/flowers) along with other items my blessed dead liked in life.
(C) T. Georgitsis 2013
I feel that Hekate resonates with this time of the year for various reasons. This is a liminal time and this is Hekate’s domain as she can traverse the various realms (sky, earth, sea and underworld) as she easily navigates through the thresholds as well as being Goddess of the Underworld, Crossroads and Queen of the Dead and Lost Souls she can help guide.
I personally like to honour Hekate during this time and make offerings of apples, pomegranates, garlic, onions, bay leaves, mead, beer, wine, red meat such as lamb roast, wine, bread, barley, nuts, acorns, pumpkins, gourds, mushrooms, sage, nutmeg, mint, oregano, thyme, marigolds, lilies, chrysanthemums, mugwort, wormwood, dittany of crete, oak leaves, rosemary, corn, gingerbread, chestnuts and apple cider.
Since this tends to be near or after Greek easter I tend to make an apple tea cake and leave a token inside (usually a wrapped up gold coin) which I divide and serve and whomever gets the coin has the token of luck. I also like to cook items for Hekate which resonate with familial recipes so I like to bake and offer Anastasia’s Spiral Pita and Greek Kourabiethes.
- Dumb suppers such as a place for them at your table or food left for them on a ancestor shrine/altar, doorstep, property boundary, gravestone or crossroads to your blessed dead such as ancestors or other loved ones who have passed over.
- Making offerings of appeasement to lost souls.
- Connect and communicate with the spirit world.
- Divination using various methods such as scrying (crystal, fire, mirror, black ink and water), reading such as tarot, runes, dice, I Ching and pendulum.
- Rituals and spells involving protective and cleansing properties for oneself or one’s property.
- Light a hearth fire either in a fire place, outside bonfire style or a simple small fire inside using a proof vessel on a shrine such as a cauldron, lamp or even a candle.
- Collect the last harvest from your garden – be it fruit, vegetables or herbs and flowers.
- Honouring the dual nature of life and death and accepting its beauty. This includes honouring the darkness and the light as both are equally as important.
- Prepare food for the God/s you honour during this time and thank them for their gifts.
- Personally reflect on the last 12 months and take note of your accomplishments and failures and create a plan to continue with said accomplishments and rectify failures.
- Make a jack-o-lanturn from a pumpkin or gourd and place a candle inside it and when lit leave i (in safe) view of a windowsill or outside near your front door.
- Host a feast with family or friends which can include music and dancing.
- Create a shrine with images or items from your blessed dead and recite prayers and leave offerings in their name.
As is my style, I like to craft during this time of year making Hekate and ancestor beaded necklaces, anointing oils, and seasonal incense and candles. With the necklaces, I make them using my mother’s agillete (knot magic or witches ladder) and then I bless and consecrate them in my yearly Samhain ritual which you can find here:
So work your magick this Samhain, honour those who came before you and reflect and contemplate on your journey thus far taking in and celebrating the ebb and flow of the seasons and of life itself.
(c) T. Georgitsis 2021