What is the Witch’s New Year? How to honor and Celebrate Samhain and Halloween

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If you’re like me, you freakin’ LIVE for Halloween. It goes beyond playing dress up — it feels so magical, mysterious, and ominous but in a very comforting kind of way. 

Sweet and revered Halloween, a time of sweet treats and sneaky tricks. There is a deeper history to Halloween than you might realize. The last week of October is when the veil is at its thinnest throughout history. The veil is the line between this earthly realm and the spirit realm. The ancient celts called this time Samhain (pronounced sow-win), The Mexican tradition calls it Día de Muertos, and it eventually became All Saints Day with the rise of Christianity. 

What all of these have in common is the belief that the line between the living world and the other world has become almost nonexistent, and our ancestors and loved ones who crossed over are easily accessible. Physic downloads come with ease, communication with higher beings are a breeze, and magic is afoot. 

They call this day the “witch’s new year” because it is marking the beginning of entering the darkness. In the Celtic tradition of Samhain, they honored the cycles of nature. During this time, they would have wrapped up their fall harvest, getting ready for the longer nights and shorter days, and the time when nature turned inward. This time was directly associated with death. 

Now is the time to honor the darkness. When I was at an apprenticeship with an old witch learning about it, I would walk at night by myself, during the new moon in the woods with no flashlight just to be comfortable in the dark. At first I was terrified — every noise seemed like a threat, I imagined every terrible scenario that could happen, and I ran in panic trying to get out. Sound familiar? That happened until I just stopped. What you may not realize is that the second you become comfortable with the dark is the second you can see better. The moment you give in to it and surrender and look up instead of down, is the moment your path becomes more clear. Several stubbed toes later, I can say that the darkness is not to be feared.

We enter our own darkness in life when we enter the unknown. The teachings of the divine feminine say that this darkness is the womb-space, the place of being reborn, and the dark is not to be feared, it is to be honored. Whether it is our own shadowy side that we don’t want to look at or that’s deeply buried in our subconscious, or in a major transition of life, or actually facing our own death — we are held. 

Some modern day spirituality talks strictly of love and light. This aggressive optimism can make us complacent and ignore the things inside of us and in our society that truly need to be looked at, felt, and experienced to heal. And that is truly, truly uncomfortable. This kind of transformation is a death of who you once were and what you believed to be true — of course it can be unpleasant. Just as a wound begins to heal, it gets worse before it gets better. Healing is not pleasant most of the time. It’s uncomfortable, ugly looking, and a mess that you must tend to or it gets infected.

This day is about honoring the uncomfortable, honoring the unknown, honoring the darkness. There’s one more thing I want to shed light on about darkness: If you run from your shadow it gets bigger and bigger, but the second you face it something magical happens — you realize it is you. You have it in you. And you’re not scary, but you’re incredibly powerful. 

This is a time of shedding, transformation, and embracing a mini death of the person you once were; a death of naivety, of ignorance, of complacency. This Scorpio-driven time is asking you to get to the root of what you wish to heal, muster up all your courage and strength, and look at it in the eye. Do you see yourself staring back? This time is also about radical self acceptance, healing, nurturing, and having compassion for yourself and for humanity as a whole while rising up to be better and make society better. 

So now the question is… What do you wish to shed? What is calling you to look at and let go? What part of you, to put it bluntly, needs to die? You are held in a container from the cosmos to process and rise. You are not alone. We are all in this together, rising up. Embrace the message of the phoenix this Samhain. Burn down and rise up from the ash. It’s the most fiercely compassionate act you can do. Godspeed, my loves. May we all rise together.