Samhain 2022: Pronunciation, meaning, and rituals to celebrate ancient Celtic festival

Samhain 2022 falls at October's end and per Celtic tradition sees 'the barrier between our world and the other world is at its thinnest'

Samhain 2022: Forest witch at work on the altar. Female hands with sharp red nails among candles, herbs, pumpkin, nuts, dry leaves, acorns, ashberry, selected focus, low key
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Samhain is a Celtic pagan tradition that is celebrated from October 31 to November 1. Samhain 2022 shares the same date as Halloween and is believed to be the source of the spooky season itself. 

The Celtic calendar was divided into two halves – the light and dark parts of the year. This festival heralded the end of the harvest season and welcomed the darker turn of the days. It occurs at the midpoint between the Fall equinox, when day and night are equal in length, and the Winter solstice, when the night is at its longest.

When translated into modern Irish, the Gaelic word Samhain means 'summer's end' and marks the start of the Celtic new year. During this season, the barrier between our world and the 'other world' is at its thinnest. According to Celtic myth, this is when the gods and deities would play tricks on humankind, who, in turn, would have to placate their impishness through sacrifice and offerings. We can see similar practices in our modern Halloween traditions: our fascination with ghosts and goblins, which we must appease through trick or treating.

Samhain 2022: Objects for divination, runes and candle on a wooden background

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Samhain pronunciation

Irish Gaelic is one of the oldest living languages in the world and is far older than English. Sadly, however, the language has faced a steady decline since it was colonized by the British Empire. 

So, for those whose Gaelic isn't quite up to scratch – I think we can include most of us in this camp – it's pronounced "SAH-win", with the emphasis on the first syllable.

What’s the difference between Halloween and Samhain?

 Personally, I use the term Samhain rather than Halloween. Both celebrations indeed connect to the spirit world and the supernatural. However, Samhain emphasizes reverence and remembrance, rather than the ghost-and-ghouls-scare-factor this holiday season has been reduced to. 

As fun as the candy-popping customs can be, it is more important that we use it as a prompt to reflect on the cycles of life and death. This reflection does not have to be a morbid affair.  But instead, a meditation on the natural rhythms of growth and letting go in your life. Use it as a chance to ask yourself: to who or what am I grateful? Even if they're not physically with you right now. What have I worked hard to achieve this year? What am I holding onto that isn't serving me? 

Why is Samhain important?

For me, Samhain is a time to go inwards. I know for many, winter months can represent a  cold dreariness. Yet it always reminds me of bedding into my nest, be it my home or routine.  I luxuriate in the stillness and creature comforts the darkness may bring. 

Remember, Samhain traditionally marked the end of the harvest season. Therefore, this is a time to rejoice in the sweetness of abundance life has brought us, not to focus on what challenges might lie ahead. 

We can use this time in the year to cultivate gratitude within ourselves, not only from our own effort but also from the support and guidance passed loved ones have provided us. 

Samhain rituals to celebrate Samhain 2022

Samhain 2022: Creative Images Images Creative Editorial Video Creative Editorial Search by image or video Mysterious still life with old tarot cards, crystal ball and black candles on witch table - stock photo

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1. Samhain ceremony – Cleanse the home.

We can often think of cleansing the home as a springtime activity – indeed, the annual spring clean exists for a reason. But as we begin to spend more time at home, curled up with a  blanket and a good book, it is important that we 'set the energetic stage' so that we can quieten and rest well. 

Cleansing your home needn't be an overly complicated or cryptic process. The best and most straightforward way to cleanse the house is by tidying and cleaning it with intention. Use, "I  now let go of old stuck energy from my home and life, and invite in new opportunities and  beginnings." After this, you can take your smudge stick, incense, or sound instruments, such as bells or Tibetan bowls, to smooth out the energies afterward. 

My top tip is to open your window or doors and envisage the spent, stale, or stuck energy leaving your space. 

2. Samhain altar – Honour your ancestors

Here is a ritual given to me by a wonderful Pagan friend that celebrates Samhain 2022 and remembers those who have gone before you.

  • Light a candle, fire being the element of this festival, for your ancestors who have passed on. Meditate, asking for the wisdom that you need moving forward in this new season. 
  • Make a special meal and place an extra table setting to honor your passed loved ones.
  • With gratitude and openness, pull a few Tarot or Oracle cards, asking for what's between this Samhain and the next - setting the intention of allowing things to fall away and welcoming the changes winter brings. 

3. Connect with your Guides

As I mentioned, this is when the veil between the seen and unseen world is at its thinnest.  Clients come with their minds turning to their lineage, ancestors, and Guides – who might be there for them spirit side to support or offer advice. As a result, it's perhaps one of the most exciting times for me as a psychic, as I'm able to bring forth Guides and ancestors much more easily. Therefore, this is a perfect time to book with a psychic, medium, or Tarot reader. 

4. Embrace your shadow

As the days get shorter and the darkness envelopes us, now is the perfect time to embrace our shadow and integrate ourselves, ready for the next cycle. Via the useful and transformative method of shadow work, you're able to lean into the darkness 

5. Hit 'Pause'

A woman meditating in the bath surrounded by candles.

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As we mentioned, Samhain is also a time to celebrate the abundance of life in contrast to death. It's a great moment to stop and introspect. Reflect on you and your life over the last 12 months. Just as our ancestors would literally take stock, counting up their crops and recognizing their hard work, so too do we need to acknowledge our accomplishments and achievements.  Review journals, planners, photographs, blogs, and other projects you've created during the past year.

Fiongal Greenlaw
Founder of The Wellness Foundry

Fiongal is the founder of The Wellness Foundry. Having read for hundreds of clients, he blends Tarot, Psychicism, and Mediumship to give you an in-depth reading, exploring every aspect of your life.
He offers an Aura diagnosis, so that you may better understand your energetic makeup and health. Then he works with his Guides to give you honest, yet compassionate, accurate guidance, and reassurance.