Samhain is a funny celebration. It is the most important Sabbat, yet nearly everyone celebrates it in one form or another. As a child we used to dress up, bob for apples, tell ghost stories and watch scary cartoons or films. Somehow, I always understood it was a time when the veil between our world and the spirit world was thinnest. When I started on my pagan path, it was explained to me that the year ends when the sun sets on the 31st October, but doesn't begin again until dawn on the 1st November, so the night is a sort of no-mans land, a time when spirits can join our world and we can glimpse theirs.
Even as an adult and a witch, I still throw the odd party. We may dress up, and the food is themed. Last year we served sticky witches fingers (sausages in sweet chilli sauce), worms (spaghetti), mouldy mash (it's amazing what a bit of food colouring does) and eyeballs for dessert (a brilliant fruit cocktail with blueberry-stuffed lychees floating in it!). We served witches brew to drink - lemonade with a different coloured drop of food colouring in each glass - what colour will you get? - and the adults and kids loved it. The house was decorated, we had such a laugh! One of the guests was a Christian from America. Her family had been very strict and she had never been to a Halloween party. She did, however, know I was a witch and wanted to find out what I thought it was all about.
Every year, even if we aren't throwing a party, I try to make an effort to cook something nice. If laying the table, I always set an extra place; if it's an informal buffet I put a small plate at the back of the table with a candle by it, and I make up a portion of whatever we are eating for any visiting spirits. This year there has been nobody close to us that has passed over to the Summerlands, so we will honour and remember my grandparents, family members, people we were close to, but also look forward to the year ahead.
Samhain is a good time for divination. There has been a lot of turmoil in our lives recently, so I think I will get my tarot cards out and see if they can shed any light on where we are and what may be in store for us. Another ritual is to light a black candle to represent the year just gone, and let go of that year while the candle burns. What did you achieve? What mistakes did you make? What lessons and challenges will you bring to the new year? Then light a white candle and give thanks for the year ahead and set out your ambitions, goals and dreams, and ideally let the candle burn down to release the cleansing positive energy, but always be mindful of the Health and Safety faeries and never leave a candle burning unattended; it's better to blow the candle out than burn your house down!
So that's how we will be celebrating Samhain. This year, of course, it falls on a Sunday, so I will probably skip the bloodied entrails and instead do a full English roast, but still there will be some set aside in case Gran wants to see what sort of a cook I turned into! Then, once the feast is over, I will give it back to Mother Earth as an offering, and start the new year as I mean to go on; with broomstick in hand and spirits at my shoulder.
Blessed be )0(