Samhain—Witch's New Year
starts the dark half of the year
celebrate the dead
Autumn's gossamer shroud thins 
the Otherworld waits...

© Colleen M. Chesebro

There’s more to Halloween than trick-or-treat and the carving of pumpkins. For pagans, Halloween is called Samhain (Sah-win). This is the time of the year we give thanks and remember the dead. I do this each year by creating an ancestor altar where photos of my family and my husband’s family share space with books and other trinkets in my creative room.

This year, we lost Sue Vincent, a poet, author, and good friend. I added a poem she wrote to my altar as a way of honoring her kind and generous spirit.

It is said that on Samhain, the spirits of our ancestors cross over into this realm. This can certainly be a comfort for anyone who has lost someone dear to them. I will spend some time reflecting on the memories of those who came before me. I’ll light candles and recite a few poems to honor them.

Some practitioners like to host a dumb supper, where all the favorite foods of the deceased are served to friends who come to honor the deceased’s spirit. There is always a place set at the table for the deceased, along with a plate of their favorite foods. The supper is silent to give everyone the time needed to focus on the deceased and the spirits of their loved ones. Afterward, the food for the deceased is left outdoors.

I also will use my besom broom to sweep away the old energy to make room for newer energy. This is a great way to begin the new year. They often made the brooms from birch twigs, which symbolize purification and renewal.

This is the countdown to Samhain, day one. I hope you enjoyed it. Blessed Be!