Halloween may be over, but for witches, the year is just beginning.
Every year around Halloween, witches and Wiccans celebrate the harvest festival of Samhain. The festival has its roots in Scotland and Ireland as early as the 9th century.
Samhain is typically celebrated on the evening of Oct. 31 into Nov. 1; however, it can be celebrated at different times depending on individual traditions. For example, some witches observe Samhain after the first harvest moon to the end of the first week of November.
Celebrations coincide with the “thinning of the veil”, the time of year where it is believed that the veil between the living world and the spirit world is at its thinnest, allowing spirits to cross into the living world more easily.
For witches like Tanya Ryan of Okotoks Alberta, Samhain is a time to clear out any energy that no longer serves her and set intentions for the year ahead.
“My favourite thing about Samhain is its a really good time to honour ancient wisdom, honour people who have passed before you, and honour the wisdom that’s been passed down to you. You can take an inventory of that and use it to set a tone for what you want to come or what’s going to come in the year.”
Witches typically practice their “magic” in accordance with the phases of the moon. Lunar cycles begin with a new moon, which is ideal for setting intentions (the next one is Nov. 4). The moon then enters the waxing phase where practitioners can build on their goals. At the mid-point of the lunar cycle is the full moon, which is typically regarded as the most powerful time for manifestation and bringing goals into fruition. The lunar cycle ends with the waning phase, a good time to rest and clear out any residual energy.
Ryan describes herself as a solo practitioner and practices her rituals with her own internal cycles.
“I like the symbolism of the cycles of the moon, but I don’t fall into using them exactly as it’s set out. I put my body into the equation and think do I feel like I’m in my full moon phase? Or am I in my winter season or my summer season? I use the symbolism of each of those, honour that and work around and with that.”
Ryan said that anyone curious about learning more about witchcraft shouldn’t get too hung up on the timing of the moon or adhering to strict rules when it comes to their rituals.
“The craft itself is more important than the details. Have fun, just do what feels right to you and don’t let anyone tell you that there are hard and fast rules if they don’t align with you.”
So for folks who didn’t ring in the witches’ new year on Halloween night, there’s still time to celebrate in any way that feels right to you.
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