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WHAT IS SAMHAIN?
Samhain is an ancient festival, thought to have Celtic-Pagan origins, and historically observed throughout Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man, and beyond. Marking the end of harvest and start of the darker days. It is believed that the barriers between the physical and spirit worlds are thinner during this sabbat, opening communication with otherworlds and beings like the Fae. Offerings were often prepared for the dead and divine. Some historians have argued that it was the Celtic New Year, and many following Wicca or Neo-Pagan celebrate this as the ‘Witches’ New Year’, setting intentions for the new turn of the wheel.
WHEN IS IT?
In the Northern Hemisphere, Samhain is often celebrated around the 31st October, which is also known as Halloween. For the deepest experience, try to pick a time close to this day where you have a couple of hours to relax undisturbed by outside influence.
WHAT WILL I NEED?
- A sacred space to perform the ritual in, this can be as simple as a cushion on the floor, but it helps if you can feel cosy, safe, and relaxed.
- Comfy clothes and a blanket or scarf (optional)
- Your favourite mug filled with hot herbal tea, ceremonial cacao, or an adaptogenic elixir (optional)
- A journal or notebook and pen (optional) Photographs or objects that remind you of loved ones or ancestors, or divine beings — gods and goddesses traditionally celebrated at Samhain include Ishtar, the Horned God, and Persephone (optional)
- Decorations and offerings for altar — traditional objects for Samhain include acorns, pumpkins, and sunflowers, and crystals include obsidian, rhodonite, and hematite (optional)
You are welcome to follow your own intuitive guidance or traditional practices to help create your own ritual. The instructions below are just suggestions that you may find helpful.
Before creating your sacred space, you might want to take a herbal bath, massage your skin, or dress up in clothes or jewellery that feel comfortable or sacred to you. This is completely optional and depends on how much time you have available.
When you’re ready to perform your ritual, a good way to prepare yourself and your space is to follow the herbal cleansing stick ritual (see other PDF) or perform your own purification, burning palo santo, resins, sage, or incense, and calling in protection.
We recommend putting on some of your favourite relaxing or seasonal music or nature sounds.
Now it’s time to make your altar. Find a suitable space – old fireplaces, bedside tables, and windowsills work well if you don’t have a special altarplace. Mindfully add different items you’ve gathered one by one. This might be photographs or objects from deceased loved ones or ancestors, bones and leaves, crystals like obsidian, rhodonite, and hematite, autumnal foods such as pumpkins, squash, root vegetables, acorns and seeds, and drinks like mulled wine or homemade apple juice. Feel the energy and intention behind each piece you add to your altar. There are no rules for how it should look, so try to connect with your intuition. You can make it as minimal or elaborate as you like.
Once you’re happy with how your altar looks and feels, light a votive candle or candles (this can just be a tea light, and preferably natural and non-toxic), and place in the centre or in front of your altar. Please be mindful of safety whenever working with the fire element.
You can speak the names of the loved ones, ancestors, deities or beings you wish to honour out loud or in your head. Thank them for being part of your lineage or spirit team. Ask them for guidance and protection for the next season.
We like to write down one thing that no longer serves us and one thing we’d like to call in for the next cycle on two pieces of paper, or even better bay leaves. Then (carefully) burn the one we’re letting go of and bury the one we’re bringing in.
You can either end the ritual here or prepare your tea or cacao for a deeper meditation (you can also have this ready beforehand).
Take your brew to your sacred space and drink mindfully, engaging all of your senses.
Then find a comfortable position (usually sat up straight or laying down) to journey deeper with the ancestors. You can follow the free MP3 meditation or listen to shamanic drumming to help with this.
Once you come back, take some time to give thanks and journal or free write to allow any guidance to be integrated back into the physical realm. You may also want to write some intentions for the new season and year.