5 Things That Bring Samhain Home for Me


samhain7.jpg picture by witch_of_endore

I can’t believe it’s this time of year already!  Where did 2016 go??  This past year has been wracked with huge changes in my life.  All hell broke loose December 31, 2015, and it’s been a wild ride ever since– spiritually, emotionally, and financially.  However, the wild ride appears to be calming down now, life smoothing over with regular routine, new opportunities, and a new-found sense of stability.  The transitions involved have included acceptance, transformation, and new connections.  As I slide into the end of October, into the end of this year, I’m warmed and comforted by another celebration of Samhain at our house.

Five things that highlight this holiday for me include, but are not limited to:

  1. Hot Apple Cider ~ Every Samhain for the past 20+ years, I’ve drug out my huge (HUGE) silver canning kettle and set it on the back of the stove to slowly heat the Drink of the Evening.  My recipe —

5-7 large jugs of applejuice
8-10 bags of peach tea
a handful of cinnamon sticks
and a large metal tea ball filled
with whole cloves and allspice

You can leave a shaker of nutmeg sit on the counter & anyone who wants to add a dash of this spice to their mug of apple cider can do so.

If you don’t like this cider full force, you can dilute it some with water to suit your own taste.

My Hot Apple Cider

Let’s take a look at the ingredients we just used from a magickal perspective:

Peaches— love

Nutmeg— one of the most popular uses for nutmeg is to assure fidelity.  It’s also used for spells centered around luck, money, and health.

Cinnamon— spirituality, success, healing, power, psychic powers, lust, protection, love

Allspice— money, luck, healing

Cloves— protection, exorcism, love, money

Apple— love, healing, garden magic, immortality

2.  Autumn leaves & flowers ~ There is nothing more beautiful than a tree caught in its seasonal death throes.  It puts a new spin and realization on the idea of death and rebirth for me; the idea of shedding oneself of all the outward trappings of ego, vanity, and expectation; the idea of natural beauty that comes with age and experience, and a miraculous rebirth, whether physically or spiritually.


3.  The Ancestors ~ As I’ve gotten older and time has marched mercilessly on,  all through the past few decades, I’ve watched the Older Generation of my family die off.  First, the “Greats” (and these are people I actually knew, whom I remember)…great-grandparents and aunts:  Alpha, Tracy, Gma Smith, Gpa Smith, Lizzie.  And I still watch, even now, as the passing generations move up, ever closer to me and my generation…my grandmother, Darlene, Jim (my father).  And then there are those that died tragically, before they had time to get old…Joe, John Patrick, Norman.  It’s with a sense of awe and wonder, a sense of growing knowledge and acceptance, that I’m beginning to understand the real meaning behind the “Wheel of the Year” and its natural progression.


Last Year’s Ancestor Altar

4.  Spices ~ allspice, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg…They say that your olfactory sense, your sense of smell, can snap a memory into your brain faster than almost anything else, so closely are certain scents associated for us.  And this is true of the traditional smells of autumn at our house.  I can visualize Grma’s teapot, particular cups, favorite old trees adorned in autumn leaves, pets (both present and past) who laid at our feet around the kitchen table, puddles of glowy golden light from lamps on a wet and cold drooling autumn day…I could go on and on.  These smells, as pleasant as they are in themselves, hold all kinds of memories for me.


5.  Chili ~ Every year, for 20+ years now, I drag out my Great-Big-Red-Cooking-Pot and make a walloping batch of homemade chili.  You can tell the prosperous years from the lean years by my chili…on prosperous years, it will contain more meat.  This is another one of those scents that also connect closely with Samhain at our house, it’s a family tradition.  I usually start the chili early in the morning and let it sit and simmer on low all day, giving the flavors time to blend deliciously together.

My Chili

So, what are the things that bring this holiday, and this time of year home to you?  What are your family traditions and memories?  How does Samhain touch you?



5 thoughts on “5 Things That Bring Samhain Home for Me

  1. Hello Amythyst – Thank you for this and all your articles. I love reading them and your way of celebrating and living the Craft. I’m originally from Chicago and have been living in France for 42 years, married to my French high school pen pal, and a solitary practitioner for almost twenty years. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was that was calling to me until I found its name on Internet, which was and still is a revealing door opener for me as I’m partially deaf (congenital, wear hearing aids). My husband and I live in the country about 40 miles south of Paris and have four grown children, raised in a harmonious blend of two cultures and nationalities, and four grandchildren. In France the Craft still retains its ancient occult aura, at least to me anyway. I’ve found that practitioners prefer to “stay in the closet,” primarily because it’s not something that needs to be shouted out. As it goes, all personal beliefs and lifestyles, whether religious, pagan or atheist, straight, gay, etc., are personal and private, and not anyone’s business to know, unless specifically asked for. This privacy is protected by law in the French Constitution as it is part of the principle of separation between “State” and “religion.” Practitioners of the Craft incorporate their knowledge of the Craft in their individual lives and professions and through interactions with others. The Craft, while as variable (different elements and practices within the whole) as major religions, isn’t a real religion to me; it is a way of life. I much prefer the old French term term “sage femme,” wise woman, or “sage” for men to “witch.” The modern meaning of “sage femme” is “midwife;” as these women were in the distant past. Coming to live in France seemed to be my destiny, a sort of returning to a life I once knew. In my present life I’m very involved with home and family. Since I wasn’t able to find an outside job (a long story); being a housewife, or better, a kitchen witch (I’m better at aromatherapy and need to do better with herb lore), is a “fossil practice” I thoroughly enjoyed and still do as it allowed(s) me to pursue my solitary practice at my own pace. My practice is actually a blend of the Divine Feminine, elemental/earth and Ancient Egyptian magick. I also practice Zen meditation. “Witches” are everywhere; they practice many professions, infiltrating their knowledge of the Craft within their professional practices. We can always tell who they are by the way they live and act, by their their propositions and suggestions as they continue their professional lives. My French husband worked for Air France as a ticket agent at the airport; he is now retired and very tolerant of my beliefs. I was surprised through the years to learn that much of life and living in France has many traditions of pagan origins; it was easy to find principles in the Craft in quite a few regional and national customs, such as honoring ancestors on All Hallows Eve.

    Halloween as the Americans know it is rather commercial in France; costumes and candy are sold in stores and some cities/towns do allow “trick-or-treating” but many prefer to organize activities and parties in recreation centers because Halloween occurs during the autumn school break (about ten to fifteen days). This time of the year closely follows the original ancient Celtic practice of honoring ancestors. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Catholic Church “borrowed” this idea to “convert” the pagan (peasant) folk to Christianity. Visiting the graves of beloved departed ones, parents, relatives, even children who have gone too soon, people bring chrysanthemums (the only flower that blooms at this time of the year while all others are fading away; they symbolize the continuation of life after death as well as resurrection/immortality) and leaving candles on top of the graves (we all know why). Many older folks create ancestor altars in their homes without knowing the origin of the practice. As you may know cemeteries in France and Europe are not like English/American ones; they consist of long rows of small chapels and marble or stone slabs covering graves on cobblestone with no grass and sometimes a minimum of trees, a rather sad and depressing environment, especially in autumn and winter. Beginning today up to November 1st cemeteries will be filling up with visitors honoring their dead. Famous cemeteries, such as the celebrated Père LaChaise cemetery in Paris with its many extravagant and strange graves will be keeping their gates open after dark on All Hallows Eve. Visitors are invited to bring flash lights and walk among the graves … few are said to be haunted. On Samhain I remember my beloved parents; my Dad passed on in June 1990 (aged 68), my Mom April 2015 (aged 95). They have let me know they are very happy together, having appeared in a dream hand in hand together in a dream a short time after my Mom’s passing. They have appeared many times in dreams, just to say hello or with a particular message, proof they are always near us.

    I was so sorry to read about your beloved’s passing; know that our loved ones have never really gone. Take care and blessings at this very special time of the year.

    Amazone – Joanne

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