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Halloween Spirituality and Samhain – How to Have a Spiritual Halloween

When you think of Halloween, you probably think about Halloween parties, pumpkin carving and fun costumes. Let’s dive a little deeper and learn more about the meanings behind Halloween spirituality.

I love all of the fun things that come with how we celebrate this holiday, but I was curious to find out more about the deeper meaning of Halloween.

If you want to have a more spiritual Halloween this year, you’re in luck.

Keep reading to learn about Samhain, and how to incorporate the traditions of this holiday into your Halloween spirituality practice. 

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Halloween meaning & origin

Let’s go over the meaning of Halloween. Over the years, there have been many names for this holiday: Halloween, Hallowe’en, All Hallows Even, All Hallows Eve, All Saints’ Eve (not to be confused with All Saints’ Day), and Allhalloween.

A carved jack-o-lantern on a porch next to other pumpkins celebrating the history of Halloween.

The name Halloween is a contraction of the phrase All Hallow’s Even. The Online Etymology Dictionary estimates that the word Halloween dates back to 17th century Scotland.

One of the earliest mentions of the word is from Robert Burns’ poem, of the same name, published in 1785. This well known poem help popularize the name. 

It was also mentioned a couple of years, earlier in 1783, in reference to a song. This reference occurs in The Cheerful Companion which is a Scottish English songbook.

The history of Halloween & Samhain

All Hallows Eve, also known as Halloween is beginning of Samhain (pronounced “SAH-win”). In order to talk about Halloween spirituality, we need to learn about Samhain.

A woman with black nails lighting a large candle in the center of a semi circle of smaller lit candles as part of a Halloween tradition.

Samhain begins the night of October 31 and ends the night of November 1st. It is rooted in ancient Celtic Pagan traditions. 

The Celts believed that during Samhain (more specifically the night of the 31st that we now consider Halloween) the veil between our world and the next was the thinnest.

I have a guide with everything you need to know about Samhain traditions. I recommend reading it and learning the history of Samhain in order to fully understand and appreciate the spiritual Halloween practices suggested below.

Halloween spirituality

One of the reasons spiritual energy is thought to be highest during Halloween is because each passing minute brings the us closer to November 1st.

The numbers 111 made up of red hearts.

If you look at the date of November 1, numerically, it’s 111. Some believe that those three numbers represent three pillars – one for this world, one for the next world, and one for the veil in between. 

This time also marks a shift in seasons, taking us from the more plentiful harvest months, to the colder winter months where things die, before they are reborn in the spring.

This theme of death and rebirth is one of the main spiritual Halloween components. In nature, it’s easy to see the cycles of death and rebirth.

We also have those cycles within ourselves, and Halloween is a great time to observe and appreciate them.

How to have a spiritual Halloween

If you want to break away from your usual festivities, and have a more spiritual Halloween this year, you can try observing and modifying the ancient Celtic traditions present in the festival of Samhain.

A cauldron, book about the origin of Halloween, and a lit candle against a black background laid out as the start of a Halloween ritual.

Below I’m going to outline some Samhain traditions practiced in ancient times, and offer ways to modify and incorporate them into your Halloween spirituality practice.

Only do what feels comfortable for you, and remember we, at Always The Holidays, are not licensed medical care providers or therapists and therefore cannot give out medical advice.

Our wellness content is meant to be used only in addition to qualified medical guidance and only if approved by your doctor, or other professional care provider.

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Halloween rituals around rebirth, the seasons, self-reflection &  journaling

The Celts witnessed the death and rebirth in the earthly seasons of the year. Samhain marked the end of an old year (and old harvest), and the beginning of a new one.

A pumpkin and journal with the words "practice gratitude" on it, on a wooden tabletop.

Just as they observed this in nature, you can use this time to witness the deaths and rebirths you’ve had within yourself this year.

Notice what things metaphorically died in order for you to usher in new possibilities. Try journaling about these changes and and reflecting on them.

Thinking about death (even metaphorically) can be scary, but if you are able, I encourage you to think about the beautiful rebirth that can happen afterwards.

Halloween traditions using prayer, ancestral lines, & reverence of the dead

In Pagan culture, the people were not scared of death. They knew it was a natural part of life, and had a great reverence for the dead. 

Two hands turned up to the heavens with a bright light of prayer in them.

If you feel connected to the principle of revering the dead, try praying to your ancestors and remembering those who have passed.

Maybe you’ve met the ancestors you choose to pray to before, and or maybe you haven’t. Either way, you can say a prayer to them to ask for their blessings in this new Celtic year.

You can also use this time to think about a plan for your own funeral, and how you would like others to send you off to the particular afterlife you believe in.

It can be cathartic to talk to others about death and your wishes. If your family and friends are open to the conversation you can ask them about their wishes too. 

Observing the spirits and ghosts of Halloween

If you feel more called to the mythology of monsters and spirits crossing through the veil during Halloween, try taking a page from the Celts.

A halloween altar with candles, crystals, a sphere, and natural grassy elements that are all part of a Halloween ritual.

Just as they left offerings to the spirits they wanted appease, you can leave offerings for the spirits you wish to bless you.

Similarly to the Celts, if you wish to hide from spirits who bring mischief and want to do you harm, you can dress up in costume for the holiday.

The Celts believed that if they needed to go out into the night, wearing disguises would keep them safe from the evil spirits and monsters that could break through the veil.

Spiritual Halloween rituals for community

One of the major traditions of Samhain was lighting a community fire to symbolize the sun that would soon be leaving for the winter. 

You don’t have to light a communal bonfire as they did – you could try lighting a candle.

I recommend getting a new candle just for this purpose and putting your intention towards keeping the metaphoric light of this candle with you during the dark winter months.

Three black candles lit against a black background with smoke and fog in the foreground.

Note: If you do decide to incorporate fire in any way into your spiritual Halloween, use extreme caution. Fires are dangerous, and can get out of control quickly. Never leave a fire unattended, and never light a fire without proper safety equipment and a way to quickly and safely extinguish the fire.

Another (less flammable) way to celebrate community during this time is feasting with others like they did in ancient times. 

If you have a garden and can use your own harvest, that’s perfect!

If not, that’s ok too. Take the intention of sharing your harvest with other people, and share in the ways you can.

Whether you cook a meal for your family, or order takeout, make sure your intention to share your harvest and bounty with your loved ones is clear.

Halloween traditions with divination, fortunetelling and intuition

If you feel more connected to incorporating the traditions of divination used during Samhain at Halloween these suggestions may appeal to you. 

Since the veil was thought to be thinnest on Halloween, the Celts believed friendly spirits would help with divination from the other side.

A silver basin of red apples in water.

Believe it or not, apple bobbing was used to predict happiness and compatibility in marriage. Each apple was assigned to a potential husband, and women bobbed for the apples in hopes they would get the apple of their preferred mate.

If they got their apple on the first try, it was a sign of good luck, and happiness in marriage. The more tries it took to retrieve the apple, the more doomed the match appeared. You could try bobbing for apples yourself if you’d like!

You can also use this time to connect to your awareness and intuition. I suggest meditating during this time. Ask the spirit world for guidance in the areas you’d like extra help in your life.

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Fun facts about Halloween

Now that we’ve talked about how to make your Halloween more spiritual, let’s lighten the mood by brushing up on your knowledge of the holiday with these fun Halloween facts. Some may surprise you!

A window with a jack-o-lantern peeking out from behind a lace curtain, with leaves outside the window, and a Halloween themed set of twinkle lights.

  • Vox reported that Americans buy 300,000 tons (aka 600 million pounds) of candy during the week of Halloween. Just to put that in perspective – that amount of candy would weigh SIX times more than the Titanic. It works out to be roughly 2 pounds of candy per person. 
  • The record for most jack-o-lanterns lit at once to celebrate Halloween goes to the city of Keene, New Hampshire in 2013. They lit a whopping 30,581 carved pumpkins to earn this record.
  • Samhainaphobia is the term for the fear of Halloween. Now that you know that origin of Halloween lies in the festival of Samhain, this etymology makes perfect sense.
  • Reeces Peanut Butter Cups are the most popular Halloween candy in America (current as of 2021, based on 14 years of research compiled by CandyStore). If you want to check out which candy is most popular in your state, check out this map.
  • Black cat adoption is a divisive topic in October. Some animal shelters don’t allow black cats to be adopted during the month for fear of the black cats being abused. Other shelters assert that black cats are no more likely to be harmed during October than any other month, and continue adopting out these sweet felines during this time.
  • In the 19th century an influx of Irish immigrants came to America to escape the poverty and starvation of the Irish Potato Famine. They brought Halloween traditions with them, and helped to popularize the holiday in America. 

More October 31 national days

Did you enjoy learning about the creating a spiritual Halloween? You might be surprised to learn that October 31 is home to more special days than just Halloween. There are also several national days on October 31.

National days of the year are a fun way to celebrate odd and unusual foods, animals and items that you come into contact with. Be sure to check out my national day’s guide for more fun days to celebrate.

Blocks that say October 31 next to a pumpkin with a black felt smile and eyes.

There are almost 2000 national days in the year and over 150 of them are celebrated in October.

To see them all, have a look at this post to discover more about the national days in October, as well as the October printable calendar of national days.

Here is a complete list of all the October 31 national days:

  • Halloween
  • National Caramel Apple Day
  • National Doorbell Day
  • National Knock Knock Jokes Day
  • National Magic Day
  • National Increase Your Psychic Powers Day
  • Carve a Pumpkin Day
  • Books for Treats Day
  • Scare a Friend Day
  • Trick or Treat for Unicef Day
  • Girl Scout Founders Day
  • World Savings Day

More Halloween content

Looking for more Halloween related content? Don’t worry, at Always the Holidays, we love Halloween! Check out these posts, we’ve got you covered.

Quote reading "Happy Halloween" with a spiders web cartoon around the "O" in "Halloween".

Pin this post about Halloween spirituality for later

Would you like a reminder of this post about having a spiritual Halloween ? Just pin this image to one of your Halloween boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

You can also watch our video on Halloween spirituality and Samhain traditions on YouTube.

A black background with a border of skulls, pumpkins, chains, leaves and candles with a text overlay in the center reading "Halloween Spirituality - visit Always the Holidays for our spiritual Halloween guide - Halloween meaning & origin, history of Halloween, Halloween rituals, facts about Halloween, Halloween traditions".

Jess author photoAbout the author

Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.

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