Many people will ask “what is Samhain?”, “is it Halloween?”, “Is Samhain celebrated down in the Southern Hemisphere?”.
Samhain is directly opposite to Beltaine (or Beltane) on the Celtic and Neo Pagan/Wicca Wheel of the Year. Think of it as Beltaine’s dark twin.
Pronounced “sah-win” (depending on dialect), Samhain marks the beginning of the darker half of the year and the last of the Fire Festivals of the Traditional Celtic New Year.
This is not a “MUST” guide on how to celebrate Samhain in Australia. It is merely a basic guide that you can always add to. So, let’s dive in to what it’s all about and how it works down in the Southern Hemisphere.
So What is Samhain?
A three day celebration of death and rebirth, Samhain is a time of endings, reflection of mortality, and releasing that which no longer serves in the mundane world.
During the season of Samhain, the veil between the world of the dead and the living is at its thinnest. Meaning, communication between worlds comes a lot easier. However, remember to always use protection magic before, and banishing magic after as you don’t want any entities hanging around.
Now, you maybe still wondering is Samhain is Halloween and the answer is… yes, and no (I’ll talk about Halloween later on). Unfortunately those of us here in the Southern Hemisphere tend to get a little confused, even more so when we have children. Australian pagan festivals like Samhain use the traditional date of Halloween (Christian Festival) and those dates do not coincide with the seasons down here. Going Trick or Treating isn’t as spooky during October for the kids due to the sun not setting till 9.30pm. Yet, getting them to dress up and go door knocking for candy in April is just unheard of and confusing for the kids.
Because of the traditional dates and the difference in seasons, some witches will celebrate both. Samhain being for what it is, spiritual and apart of their craft and Halloween (Christian) as a commercial holiday for kids and trick or treating. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, never let another tell you otherwise.
When is Samhain?
Traditionally, Samhain lands on the 31st of October, in the Northern Hemisphere. Samhain in the Southern Hemisphere, however, the veil is at its thinnest between April 30th and May 1st. During this time, divination, scrying and communicating with our ancestors is at its highest point.
With the veil now at it’s thinnest, we divine answers, making contact with our ancestral spirits, embracing our heritage in celebration with those who have crossed over into the spirit world. Here, in Australia, Samhain lands very close to Australia’s and New Zealand’s Day of Remembrance for our fallen in war, ANZAC Day on April 25.
What To Do on Samhain
An old ancient rite tells of writing a message to our departed loved ones on a piece of paper and casting it into the cauldron’s fire. As the paper burns, your message is released and will be acknowledged by the recipient. You can also write your intentions for change, renewal and release in this same fashion.
One of the most simplest ways to communicate with those who have crossed over to the otherworld, our family and friends, is by using a pendulum or a Spirit (Ouija) Board. To learn more about pendulums and how to use them, head over to the Pendulum Magic page.
Other magical and enchanting things to do during this time include, throwing a dumb supper, craving faces into Pumpions (see what is Mabon) “pumpkins” to create lanterns or decorating your altar with apples, pomegranates and other things to call in spirits of those that have passed.
Another simple thing to do is gather friends and family around a large fire (indoors or out) and perform a banishing ritual of sorts. Grab a small piece of paper and write down the one thing that wish you to rid yourself of. Fold it three times and hold it in both hands focusing your intention. The intention is to banish and release the issue that has been bugging you all year. Once you’re ready, throw the paper into the fire cleansing away and banishing what no longer serves you.
Crystals & Stones
- Black Obsidian
- Smokey Quartz
- Black Tourmaline
- Crystal Quartz
Herbs & Fruits
- Calendula or Marigold
- the Dagda
- Cailleach, Nephthys
Release, Death, Divination, Honour, Visions, Wisdom, Introspect, Darkness, Crossroads and anything to do with the Underworld and Otherworld
Best Time of the Year!
So when it comes to Samhain, whether it be from the North or the South Hemisphere, open your minds eye to the Otherworld and journey beyond the veil’s edge. Burn some candles, write what you want released from your life, honour your ancestors and seek answers. Have people around for a feast, create a bon fire – there are so many things you can do by yourself or with others to make this festival magical for all.
I personally have people over for a late night dinner with a dumb supper to follow. As an activity (as not everyone believes in what magic), everyone participates in a simple banishing ritual at midnight as we welcome in Samhain!