October 31st is not just Halloween. It’s also Samhain: an ancient sabbat and powerful point on the wheel of the year.
Divinatory and protective practices connected with this time abound, as does lore about the realm of the dead and the realm of the fae.
Here are 10 such beliefs.
1. Spirits and fairies walk among us. At Samhain, the veil between the worlds lifts, which means all usually unseen creatures are free to dwell in our human realm.
2. Dressing up like an animal or a fearsome creature may trick the fairies into not kidnapping you. If you would prefer not to be kidnapped by a fairy, this gives you one more reason to dress up for Halloween.
3. Jack-O-Lanterns help guide lost spirits to the light. No matter what vegetable was employed to create Jack-O-Lanterns (they were originally made from things like turnips and beets), their flickering light was said to guide trapped or gloomy spirits into a brighter and happier realm.
4. A bonfire will protect you from unfriendly fairies and ghosts. As such, many ancient peoples in the British Isles lit a bonfire in the center of town, at the edges of crops, and near their homes.
5. Thoroughly cleaning and tidying your home will help welcome in beloved deceased ancestors and friends. Burn some sweetgrass and copal incense afterwards for extra magical power.
6. Two sticks of rowan tied together to form an equal-armed cross will protect you from fairies. Red thread is apparently the best thing with which to tie them.
7. A bat in your house means a ghost got in. On Samhain, a bat in the house means at least one ghost is probably in there too.
8. Two nuts, thrown in a fire, can provide romantic insight. First, name the nuts after yourself and your partner. Then throw them in the Samhain fire. If they burn brightly, expect a happy relationship. If they don’t ignite, it’s a sign of future unhappiness. Or if they jump apart, separation (or at least acrimony) may be in your future.
9. A pair of shoes over a house on Samhain will reveal future travel plans. In short, you’ll know by the direction the toes are pointing.
10. Seeing a spider on Samhain means you have a loyal ally in the realm of the dead. Whether it’s a friend, a close family member, or a more ancient ancestor, seeing a spider is a message that someone on the other side is looking out for you.
For more fun traditions and beliefs, check out Samhain: Rituals Recipes, & Lore for Halloween.