A New Witches Guide to a Simple Samhain

As we turn towards the final sabbat of the year, here are some helpful ideas to get your stress-free sabbat on!

Planning for your first Samhain ritual can feel overwhelming as a new witch. So many websites and books to rummage through, and Samhain is right around the corner! 

Samhain has to be one of the most highly anticipated sabbats of the year. This sabbat originates in Gaelic culture and represents the end of the harvest season. At this time, the veil between the worlds has thinned, and spirits of the dead can visit the living. Samhain is also the Witches’ New Year because it marks the final turn in the Wheel of the Year when the seasons turn toward winter to prepare for slumber while waiting for the return of spring.   

As a new witch, possibly celebrating Samhain for the first time, you want this to be a memorable and enjoyable occasion. However, most new witches run into the problem of not having many supplies on hand and not being sure what activities and rituals to try. If this sounds like you, I got you covered!

In this article, you will find enough simple and affordable activities, crafts, and rituals to have a merry Samhain.

Meal plan

Since this task tends to be the most daunting, let us begin with meal planning. No sabbat is complete without delicious eats and drinks. However, the Samhain meal differs from other sabbat meals because it is called a “dumb supper.” The name refers to the fact that the meal takes place in silence to honor the deceased.

A traditional dish is soul cakes. Before trick-or-treating, there was the tradition of handing out soul cakes. The exact origin of the soul cake is unknown, but it is believed they were used as offerings to the spirits of deceased loved ones in old pagan traditions. Soul cakes are a fantastic, light sweet appetizer, don’t forget to leave a few on your altar as an offering. 

I am giving you two main course options: meat and meat-free. Both contain traditional seasonal ingredients. 

For the omnivorous diet, try roast pork loin with apples. In olden times, families would have to slaughter a decent number of their livestock because there was not enough food to feed all the animals through the long winter season, so it makes sense to include a meat dish in your meal plan if that is part of your diet.

If a vegan or vegetarian diet is preferred, try a fall harvest salad with butternut squash and apple; substitute or leave out the cheese if desired. This dish provides a variety of lovely and delicious autumn vegetables, making it a beautiful centerpiece for your dumb supper. 

One of the primary foods for Samhain was the potato, a crop that grew well in Ireland and Scotland’s soil and climate and was in season this time of year. A traditional potato-based dish in these countries is Colcannon. The recipe is basically mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale and lots of butter, making it a great side dish!

This meal plan would be incomplete without a drink to wash down the yummy food. For a warm beverage, give witches brew a good stir. The recipe provides options for adding liquor.

If a chilly concoction is more your style, try these wickedly cute and delicious apple-cinnamon cider cups! Adding a pinch of alcohol is always an option. 

Last but not least, the pumpkin! Though turnips are the traditional jack-o-lantern in the old ways, pumpkin desserts tend to be more palatable. This sabbat, give pumpkin spice crisp a taste. 

Decorations

With the meal planned, we now focus on the decor. Something to remember if you’re transitioning from Halloween to Samhain is that it doesn’t mean you have to throw out all the Halloween decor you’ve been saving. All those fun pumpkins, skeletons and ghouls go well when decorating for Samhain too. 

A simple and classic decoration to have around your home is winter squash. You can arrange them neatly around the house or in baskets. If you have a few paints about your home, you can create various designs to spice up your squash. Woman’s Day has 70 different painting ideas for your squash.   

If you’re like me and can’t look a pumpkin in the face without needing to carve it, then jack-o-lanterns make just as good Samhain decorations as they do Halloween. Pinterest has many carving ideas for the novice and the adept. 

Essential items to display for Samhain are memories and pictures of the loved ones you plan on honoring, whether family, friends, pets, or other witches long past. 

A touch of nature adds beauty to every sabbat. Decorating with natural objects representing the changing seasons, such as dead leaves, pine cones, fallen nuts, or fall-blooming flowers, to name a few, is a simple and inexpensive way to prepare for your celebration. 

A vital piece of your Samhain decor is your altar, but it does not need to be elaborate. Any previously mentioned decorations and food items can work as a piece of your Samhain altar. If you have or want to include candles, crystals, incense, herbs, or other symbols related to Samhain, here is a list of correspondences to help you.  

Music and Ambiance

Music and ambiance help set the mood for your Samhain celebration, and YouTube has a wide variety. The Dead of Night channel has a lot of ambiance videos that sound like a witch’s Samhain altar, a campfire, a relaxing autumn afternoon and much more. Plus, all these videos have beautiful imagery.  

You can also find Samhain music from various pagan artists on YouTube. Pagan Music Playlists has a 40-song playlist for Samhain with many different artists. 

If you want a few specific artist recommendations, check out these albums by SJ Tucker, Lisa Thiel and Jenna Greene

Divination

One of a witch’s favorite items is their divination tools. Divination is a fun activity for any Sabbat, especially since magic is more powerful on these sacred days. There are numerous ways to scry, but you must cleanse your space and clear your mind before scrying to ensure you receive an accurate reading. Here I will list a few divination options:

  • Tarot cards – if you have a tarot deck, try the Samhain Ancestral Spread
  • Book divination – this is called bibliomancy, and you can use any of the books you already own. 
  • Candle divination – also called carromancy. If you have candles, light one, drop some of the melted wax into the water, and see what images form.
  • Coffee grounds/loose tea-leaf divination – called tasseography. If you drink loose-leaf tea or coffee, you can do this style. 
  • Pendulum – a heavy-weighted object at the end of a string or chain. The Witch of Wonderlust briefly explains how to learn this type of scrying skill. 

If you’re new to divination, you can also focus this time on cleansing your tools, getting to them and understanding how they work.

Samhain Ritual

Samhain is a time to honor that which you’ve lost, whether someone or something. Use this time to grieve those losses, and let them go to prepare to move forward in the coming year. Corinna Wood shares three rituals that help you to do all of the above.

I hope this guide gave you all you need to have a simple bewitching Samhain and a merry Witch’s New Year! 

* All images used in this blog were created using Canva

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