In October death is all around us. All of life is withdrawing into itself. This is a time of rest and rejuvenation. The work of the year is almost complete. The wheel will soon turn. Samhain is both the ending and the beginning of the wheel.
The Celts regarded Samhain eve like our New year on 31st December. At Samhain nature is retreating, the world is preparing for winter. The trees shed their leaves, plant life dies back. Samhain nature shows us her beauty in her death. The Celts believed that on 31st October at the moment of nature’s death, the barriers between the worlds became thinner and the ancestors walked among us. Hence the connection with ghosts and spirits on today’s Halloween. It was a time of honouring your ancestors, your lineage.
In the celtic world, on Samhain Eve, the coming together of the dead and living in one place, was a cause of celebration and a strengthening of the ties of kinship. Today Samhain is celebrated by pagans, witches, druids and people who have a spiritual connection with nature.
How can you celebrate the ancient festival of Samhain?
SYMBOLS OF Samhain
Symbolism of Samhain: Ancestors, Death, Rebirth, Rememberance
Date of Samhain: Samhain is celebrated on the eve of 31st October
Symbols of Samhain: Apples, Pommegranats, fire, pumkins jack-a-lanterns, cauldron, photographs of deceased family and friends.
Colors: Orange, red, yellow, brown, dark yellow, dark green, black, purple
Foods: Apples, pomegranats, pork, nuts, roasted game birds, cider, dark wine, pears, root vegetables
Herbs: Rosemary, calendula, myrrh or patchouli
Flowers: Calendula, Chrysanthemum, wild gingseng, wormwood
Animals: Blackbirds, bat, cats (particularily black cats), owls, spiders, ravens
Goddesses: Cerridwen(Welsh), Persephone (greek), Aradia (Italy), The Norns (Norse), Hecate (greek), Lillith (Hebrew), death goddesses, dying and rising goddesses.
Gods: Cernunnos (Celtic) Dionysus (Roman), Bacchus (Greek) & all wine Deities, Odin (Norse), Osiris (Egypten), the Horned God (British), Herne the Hunter(celtic), Bran (welsh), death gods, dying and rising gods.
- Hold a feast of the ancestors and fill one extra plate with food for your ancestors and put it out somewhere as an offering.
- Take a walk before sunrise and watch the sunrise.
- Make a family tree. .
- Carve a pumpkin or turnip lantern
- Write down a family story a see if this has a lesson of understanding within it for you.
- Spend the evening sharing stories of the lives of people who have passed over with your family, partner or friends.
Incense is great for evoking smells of the season. And collecting a drying ingredients a good way to go out and get to know the season better. Here is one recipe however you may have you own ideas. Burn the incense on a charcoal brick in a metal container.
- 2 tsp. frankincense
- 2 tsp. sandalwood
- 2 tsp. poppy seeds
- 1 tsp. gum arabic
- 1 tsp. myrrh
- ½ tsp. bay
- ½ tsp. thyme
- ¼ tsp. jasmine flowers
- ¼ tsp. rose petals
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp crushed cloves
Apple and honey cake is one of my favourite samhain recipes
- 4 tiny-to-small apples, halved, peeled and cored
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (125 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup honey (any variety you like to eat)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 2 good pinches of salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup honey
- A good pinch of sea salt
To 350°F. Coat a 9-inch springform with butter or a nonstick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper.
Place peeled, halved and cored apples cut-side-down on a cutting board. Use a knife to create parallel thin slices, but only cut halfway through each apple so that the apples stay intact. Don’t fret if you cut through, however; you can just reassemble the halves on the cake in a few minutes.
In a bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and 2 tablespoon granulated sugar.
Prepare cake base:
Beat butter and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar together in a bowl with electric beaters until fluffy. Add honey and beat until combined. Add vanilla and egg yolks, beating until just combined. Sprinkle salt and baking powder over cake batter, and mix for just 5 seconds, until they disappear. Add flour, half at a time, mixing only until just combined.
In a separate bowl with cleaned beaters, beat egg whites until stiff. Stir 1/4 of them into the cake batter, to lighten it a little. Fold in the rest in three additions. It will seem impossible to fold in at first because the batter is so stiff, but it will loosen with careful folding. Only fold the last addition of egg whites until it has mostly disappeared (a couple faint streaks of egg white are fine).
Spread cake batter in prepared cake pan, smoothing the top. Arrange apple halves facedown over the cake batter. To warn, 4 tiny/small apples will definitely fit over the cake batter. When I made it with 4 small-almost-medium apples, I could only fit 3 1/2 of them. No need to press the apples into the batter. You can pour any extra lemon juice and sugar in the bowl over the apples.
35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let rest on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then cut around the cake to make sure it’s not sticking to the pan at all, and unhinge the sides. Let cake cool completely. You can store it at room temperature at this point, or after you add the honey, for up to 5 days 3 days at room temperature. After that, a fridge is best for longevity. The cake is lovelier on day 2 than day 1.
Warm 1/4 cup honey and a good pinch of sea salt until it liquefies to the point where it makes a thin glaze — this will take less than 30 seconds. Brush honey-salt mixture over cooled cake.
I hope you have an amazing Samhain celebrations