Here are 10 bits of ritual and folklore you may not know about October 31st.
October 31st is not just Halloween. It’s also Samhain: an ancient sabbat and powerful point on the wheel of the year.
Here are 10 Samhain-related beliefs about fairies, ghosts, telling the future, and communicating with the dead.
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.
In the old days, it was believed that fairies might not kidnap you at Samhain if you dress up like something scary! As if you needed 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No matter what vegetable was employed to create Jack-O-Lanterns (they were originally made from things like turnips and beets), their flickering light was said to guide trapped or gloomy spirits into a brighter and happier realm on Halloween night.
4. A bonfire will protect you from unfriendly fairies and ghosts.
On Samhain night, ancient peoples in the British Isles lit a spiritually protective 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 deceased ancestors and friends.
After cleaning and tidying your home for Halloween, burn some sweetgrass or copal incense to invite in your loved ones on the other side.
6. Two sticks of rowan tied together to form an equal-armed cross will protect you from fairies.
If you’ve read many fairytales, you know that not all fairies are like Tinker Bell. Some steal human babies and others will keep you hostage in the fairy realm until all your human loved ones are long gone. For protection from these more sinister fairies on Samhain, tie two rowan twigs together with red thread.
7. A bat in your house means a ghost got in.
On Halloween, 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.
On Samhain night, name the nuts after yourself and your partner. Then throw them in a 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 disharmony) may be in your future.
9. A pair of shoes thrown over a house will reveal future travel plans.
If you can manage to throw a pair of your shoes clear over your house on Halloween, look to see which way the toes are pointing once they land. The direction(s) will indicate the places you will travel in the upcoming year.
10. Seeing a spider 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 on Samhain is a message that someone on the other side is looking out for you.
Wishing you a blessed and magical Samhain!
Have you ever encountered fairies, spiders, or ghosts at Halloween? Please share your experiences in the comments!
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Several years ago, I saw a spider spinning a BIG web on Samhain. The web was so huge it covered the entrance to the back yard, where I lived, and it was dewey that night, so the web had drops of water on it, like you seen in pictures. In the backyard was a faerie circle in the grass. That Samhain, I was invited to one of my first rituals, where I was a guest.
The same year my friend’s mother died, she was Irish. When she died we heard a woman scream a terrible scream. It was hair-raising, the scream, and the person I lived with went out on the street to see if someone was being assaulted, but nothing seemed wrong in the neighborhood.
I really think we heard a Banshee, because it was such an awful scream. Later, my friend, who’s mother died, said that she wanted us to know she had passed. She was not a Pagan. but her family had been pagans in the past.
Tess Whitehurst says
Dee, how interesting! I know Ireland has a unique magic all its own, which often carries over to those of Irish descent. Also, that web sounds gorgeous and magical. Thank you for sharing.