I tend to say "Samhain blessings to you" or similar. I've only ever heard it as sow-en too. I don't consider it as new year - that's not universal amongst initiated Wiccans. As a Scot, Hogmanay is new year but a lot of people feel that spring is a time for the new year starting.
I bought a book that was meant to be an introduction to wicca and it's really not - plus it's full of specific sets of instructions for performing rituals - didn't explain anything about different types of witch. Should have saved money and just researched online.
Paganism is a religion that is logical, useful, resourceful, eco friendly, promotes equality and tolerant of people's individuality and religions - quite the opposite to Christianity and other religions. Basically Samhain is the recognition and celebration of the sun God's death and where the spirits of our ancestors and passed loved ones are able to enter the realms of earth and interact with the living souls of earth.
Op, the PF open festival looks good. I suspect there will be a lot of people for whom it will be new or newish. Every similar thing that I have been to has had explanations first about what will be happening and what people are going to do. Chants are normally simple and can be picked up after a couple of repetitions - they're usually a couple of lines repeated many times. Why not contact the PF and ask? People are usually very welcoming. I don't know about women only ones but, if it helps, a friend credits Paganism with teaching her that men can be strong, kind, gentle and believing in equality after a lifetime of seeing the worst type of man through work and in her personal life.
I have been thinking about it and I'm not a really a person for groups anyway, it was more I was just curious because something about it has struck a chord with me
I'm definitely going to read up more about it it's already making me feel better about winter and that usually makes me a right grump
I've bought some nice nature prints for the flat and I saw a fox at the Tube station today, which cheered me up. (I don't see them where I live, I know they are here but for some reason I hardly ever see them).