Book Review: Samhain: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween by Diana Rajchel
Review by Dawn Thomas
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
Religion & Spirituality, Comparative Religion, Wicca & Witchcraft,
This is the next installment of the Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials series. It is an excellent book on the Samhain season. The author does an excellent job researching and presenting information about the Sabbat.
The first chapter covers the old ways. Samhain, pronounced SOW-in, is the last spoke in the wheel of the year. To most this signals the end of summer. Ancient Celts considered Samhain a fire festival. Fire festivals are also known as cross-quarter festivals. The author describes the Christian influence, how Halloween traveled to the new world, and the reassertion of Samhain with the rise of Paganism.
The second chapter discusses the new ways the holiday is celebrated. The author discusses the modern themes and elements associated with Samhain. She debunks several Halloween stories including razor blades in apples. The author covers the different traditions within Paganism. The list includes Wicca, Celtic Reconstruction, Druidry, Stregheria, Heathen, Hellenic, Feri and Reclaiming traditions. She then explains other festivals celebrated around Samhain. These include All Soul’s Day, All Saints’ Day, Dia de los Muertos, and several more. The chapter closes with trick or treating and suggested activities.
Chapter three contains spells and divination. There are spells for both the living and the dead. There are also protection spells and love spells. Threshold magick and faery magick is also included. Kale is used in a divination to dream of a future spouse. Chapter four has recipes and crafts with a Samhain theme. Kale, apples, and pumpkin are the stars in this chapter. The author also includes the directions to make sugar skulls. In the craft sections there are different ways to decorate a pumpkin. I liked the idea of decoupage. The author also made recommendations for costumes and masks.
The next chapter has prayers and invocations. There are several prayers to different goddesses and gods. There are beautiful prayers and invocations to the dead especially an invocation for young ones lost. I made note of the prayer for pets that have passed on. The chapter ends with a meditation to greet the dark. The last chapter gives examples of different rituals to celebrate Samhain. There are correspondences for Samhain at the end of the book.