Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Review: Otherwise Trading & Find Out What Is Behind Halloween (Samhain)


I love nature, I love the seasons we have in the UK, and while I do not consider myself to be a follower of any one spiritual path, I do love the Pagan and Wiccan ways of living. To me, giving thanks, releasing and blessing different parts of the year in time with the seasons, makes the most sense to me. And one of my favourite celebrations is Halloween (or Samhain pronounced Sow-en).

I investigated this particular celebration (otherwise know as a Sabbat) some time ago as I wanted to know what was behind our western Halloween traditions, and so here I am revisiting this because it's great to gain knowledge and awareness behind why we do what we do.

Samhain takes place on the 31st of October and in Pagan traditions is New Year's Eve. The Celts believed that the 31st of October was the end of summer and the 1st of November was New Year's Day, so Pagan traditions carry on into the 1st of November and merriment continues.

Samhain according to the book 'The Wiccan Way - A Path To Spirituality; Self- Development' by Sally Morningstar states:

"Samhain is the festival of remembering the ancestors, marking the end of the Celtic year and the dawning of the new year, and honours the last of the harvest festivals for the year just passing. The crops are in and the days become ever shorter and darker. Since this night ( October 31) rests on the threshold between the old and new year, it is considered to reside between the worlds. Thus, the veils that separate spirit from matter are thinner and more easily crossed than at other times of year. This is an ideal night for divination as well as for remembrance."

This explanation makes sense in that we have crossed the tradition over into it being a spooky night of the year full of ghosts and ghouls and goblins. To me, it's a great time to light some candles, to remember my family who have passed before me, to raise a glass of thanks to them and to celebrate a new beginning.

The ancient traditions involved lighting giant bonfires on the 31st of October and the people would gather around the fire to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. This was symbolic of giving the Gods and Goddesses a share of the previous year's harvest, and the fire was also a part of cleansing the old year and getting ready for the new. 

Many of these celebrations involved wearing costumes (hence why we adapted this into our Halloween) and dancing took place around the bonfire. The dances represented stories of the cycle of life and death and the cycle of the wheel of life.

At the end of the celebrations on the morning of the New Year, each family would take a burning ember from the remaining sacred bonfire and take it home. As their own home fires had been extinguished during the day, they were relit with the sacred flame of this fire, which acted as a  protection for the home and family, and as a way of unifying the small communities. The fires would be kept burning for several months to protect them during the harsh winter.

The veil between the worlds is thinnest at this time, and so divination and psychic readings would take place from resident shamans and witches. This is probably a great evening to book in for a psychic event.

And lastly the family would place food and drink outside of their homes to appease the roaming spirits who might otherwise play tricks on the family.

So where do our Halloween traditions come from?

  • Wearing a costume - This was to honour the dead who are allowed to rise on this eve from the netherworld.  Costumes were also worn to hide from the dead, who may be up to trickery on this evening.
  • Jack-O-Lantern (carving turnips) - apparently a souling custom, which was a way of remembering souls trapped in purgatory. Pumpkins were brought in to celebrate the end of the harvest, but were not related to the Halloween date until the late 19th century.
  • Trick-or-treating is similar to the medieval practice of souling, where the poor would go door to door on November 1st, begging for food in exchange for prayers for the dead on All Souls' Day (November 2nd).
  • Apple Bobbing (place apples into a large container filled with water, place your hands behind your back and see if you can bite into a bobbing apple) - Similar to the tradition of hanging apples from string, apple bobbing was not just a game to see who could grab the apple with their teeth and enjoy the fun to be had there, but was a form of divination. It was believed that the first person to bite the apple would be the next person to get married. An ancient tradition, along with many Halloween traditions, where communities would come together and there would be dancing and feasting, and people would relate strongly to the transient nature of life and death and make it into a celebration.
  • Orange and Black - The colours orange and black are significant to this particular Sabbat (Samhain). Orange represents the awakening of the dawn that comes during Yule (Dec 21st - 1st January) when the God is reborn. And black represents the time of darkness after the death of the God (represented by fire and sun) during an earlier Sabbat known as Lughnasadh (also known as Lammas) and the waning light of the day.

Some of the things you can do on Samhain can include:
  • Welcome and thank the spirits of the ancestors, your guardian angels, and spirit guides. Share your thoughts for those friends and family who have died, but do not attempt to call them back in any way.
  • Light a fire and place in it an object, something written on paper, or something symbolic like a twig or leaf that you wish to transform or purify.  Speak it out. Honour the cycles of endings and rebirth.
  • Eat an apple and use the seeds to share with each other whatever you wish to incubate during the winter months - and eat them.
  • A good night for doing tarot readings, consulting the ancestors, asking for guidance. Ask your spirit guides to protect you and work with you, to help you on your spiritual path.


My quirky, mixed-belief altar. I am not religious, or Wiccan. I am just me and I take what feels great from all...

This year I will be lighting some beautiful beeswax candles, naturally scented with essential oils from Ghislaine from Otherwise Trading. I searched online to see who did beautiful Samhain candles and these are the best I have seen. And you all have a chance of winning a pair for your own Samhain or Halloween event.

Receiving these natural hand-rolled beeswax candles from 'Otherwise Trading' felt a real blessing. Ghislaine, the company owner, hand-made them herself and anointed them with oil. The scent is heavenly.

What is lovely about 'Otherwise Trading' is Ghislaine puts heart into her business. She likes to do business in a way that sells things to make a positive contribution to people's environments, and she loves to create lovely things (like the candles) and put her own special energy into each item. Her favourite time of year is Samhain, the new year, one I will be celebrating more this year. 

As these are for Samhain, I won't be lighting them yet, but the unadulterated pleasure of natural beeswax is one of my guilty candle secrets. If I had a choice between beeswax and ordinary candles I would choose beeswax every time. Apart from being a bee lover, the natural scent of beeswax, combined with essential oils, is fantastic to get me in the mood and spirit of the season. In the traditional black and orange I can light these candles, appreciate my ancestors and family in spirit, and say goodbye to the previous season and hello to the new year and new beginning. I love lighting candles, I love ritual, I love saying prayers or reciting blessings over candles, something that is so primal in this tradition. A great reminder of the light within each one of us.

Otherwise Trading

These candles, you can tell, were made with love and positive intention. The quality of beeswax is fantastic and there is nothing quite like holding beeswax candles. The texture is lovely.The essential oils were hypnotic when I opened the package and I couldn't stop sniffing them.

I can guarantee a lovely feel to the candles if you win them or decide to purchase a pair from HERE. She delivers worldwide.

She also makes candles for the other Sabbats too, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara.......

Otherwise Trading
For Other Beeswax Candles For The Different Sabbats Click HERE

And she has been kind enough to offer a pair to one lucky winner and you should receive them in time for your own Samhain or Halloween celebrations.**

Thank you Ghislaine!

To enter to win these beautiful candles follow the instructions on the Punchtab app below. You can receive extra entries by sharing and tweeting. 


All steps will be verified by blog owner.

What Is Behind Halloween (Samhain)


At Halloween (Samhain) what is your favourite tradition and why?

(Please note your comment will not count unless you have gone through the punchtab application above)

**These will be sent from the UK so no guarantee they will arrive on time for Halloween if you live outside the UK.

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