Celebrating Samhain: An Ancient Fire Festival
Revel in your magic, the season of the witch is upon us! All Hallows Eve, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, Samhain, whatever you want to call it, is a deeply spiritual time of year. A time to connect with those who live in the unseen world, those who came before us. These Fall celebrations are typically honored 10/30 - 11/6, with the height being midnight 10/31.
This season, Autumn, is also known as the time of Water. Water is the direction of the West in the Celtic Wheel, which signifies cleansing/endings, love, & emotion. In Daoist cultures, we see the season of Autumn portrayed as the element of Metal, which also brings endings & letting go. A time to truly release what no longer serves you, shedding old layers as you turn inward for Winter.
Like twilight, Samhain is that in-between time, the transition of seasons. Samhain is the Autumn counterpart to its Spring sister, Beltaine. Beltaine being the time for new beginnings/fertility, while Samhain is the time for reflection, letting go, & honoring the life/death/life cycle. Samhain is also a time of celebration, known as the Witch's New Year!
The veil is thin, connect with your ancestors! Meet your shadows & bring them to the light. Who are you at your core? What does your soul desire in this lifetime? Let go of what no longer serves you. Clear out & make space honoring the cycle of death & rebirth. Samhain is also a time to plant seeds for next year, similar to setting intentions & making a "New Year's Resolution."
Ancestor Altar: Samhain is the best time to connect with ancestors, guides & spirits beyond this lifetime. One of my favorite ways to connect with my etheric folks is by creating an ancestor altar! Welcome your ancestors who love you unconditionally & create a beautiful altar to thank them for everything they did to get your family to this point in time. Some of us might even have guides that have stuck around with our families for centuries! I share some ideas for your ancestor altar & offerings below! Samhain is also a great time for shadow work, so you could connect with that aspect of your family lineage to heal grief, but be safe & protect yourself if you go this route. Don't forget to cleanse your space!*
Ancestor Altar Ideas:
Place photos of those you love who have passed away
Light white candles as you commune with your ancestors to bring forth light/cleansing
Any totems from ancestral land: rocks, postcards, wood, seashells, photos, pottery, brick, etc.
Mementos from your loved ones/items that remind you of them...I will offer a couple of examples: I place my grandpa's old pipe on my ancestor altar. I also place a Heineken pin that reminds me of one of my dear friends who passed away in college on the altar.
Items of remembrance: amber, petrified wood, bones, sand
Offerings of food & drink! Place a small dish of your ancestors' favorite food or drink. Bury it in the Earth the next morning or two to avoid mold & pests!
Symbols of Samhain:
Bones: cleaned animal bones & skulls are a beautiful symbol of the life/death/life cycle.
Besom: A witch's broom! Make your own at home with local plants.
Crows/Ravens/Wolves: these are all animal transformations of The Morrigan! And, the crows & ravens pick the bones of the dead.
The Hag/Crone/Cailleach: also known as the wise one, the magical high priestess, the OG Witch! Some examples of how this goddess/god shows up across cultures: Cerridwen, Black Madonna, Medusa, Lilith, Kali, The Morrigan, Hecate, Dadga, etc..
Oak/Acorns: a sacred tree to the Fae, oak also brings forth ideas, strength, magic, protection, empowerment, & endurance! The acorn is also a sacred symbol of sisterhood with a deep rooted connection to the archetype of the Witch, the acorn represents connection, acknowledgement & fertility. Carry an acorn for good luck!
Arborvitae/Yellow Cedar: known as the tree of immortality. Use arborvitae essential oil to soothe grief when confronting shadows & healing ancestral lineages.
Apples: who doesn't think of apples when they think of Fall?! Apples have been ingrained into our society as a symbol of wisdom & immortality, but did you know that they are also very connected to divination & the heart as well? Apples rule the heart, they even look like the classic "Valentine's Heart" when you cut them in half! You can bury apples as food for those waiting to be reborn.
Corn: a symbol of the harvest, & acknowledgement of the Corn Mother that brings life.
Calendula (marigold): a symbol of good luck & prophetic dreams! Make your own luck, & place a marigold flower underneath your pillow to increase visionary dreams.
Water: a great time for water blessings, baths, making moon water, any astrological events, etc..
Herbs: sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, cassia, hazelnut, mugwort, mullein, pumpkin, turnip
Colors of Samhain: black, grey, orange, purple
Crystals for Samhain:
A Simple Ritual:
You could connect with the Water element aspect of Fall, & take a cleansing bath to release & let go of what no longer serves you. Find this cleansing bath "Simple Ritual" in the Autumnal Equinox post. Or, you could connect with the Daoist Metal element of Autumn (+ Earth of late summer), & see how you like the following ritual:
A Cleansing & Transmuting Blessing
Black Obsidian (representative of metal) is known to protect & cleanse. Like a sword, it cuts away anything unwanted, clearing your aura. Be sure to cleanse this stone using water, earth, smoke, moonlight, sunlight, or salt.
Grab your black obsidian stone or chips & begin to envision a bright white aura around it.
Begin to set your intention of whatever it is you wish to release & let go of this Fall, infusing it into the stone. It's time to let go of what is not necessary for Winter, go inward & rest.
Bury your black obsidian in the Earth with your wish to release as you face West, an offering for our beautiful planet that we neglect all too often.
Give this prayer to Mother Earth as you bury the obsidian, "Thank you for all the gifts you have given us. I wish to heal with you. Blessed be."
Tip: make this ritual extra potent by burning dragon's blood for healing, banishing, protecting, & cleansing
Truly feel gratitude for this life in your heart as you work through this ritual. Notice what it feels like. Is it warm? Does it make you smile? Do you see a color? Thank the Metal & Earth, thank your ancestors, thank your friends, family, guides, angels, etc.. Let your prayers be heard while the veil is thin. Happy Shadow Season!
Check out my yummy Samhain Pumpkin Bread recipe to make for friends & family! Don't forget to share a piece as an offering to the ancestors.
*How I clear my space: I typically clear my altar & wipe it down with either lemongrass or cedarwood essential oil. Next, I will either spray a smudge blend I've made, or burn one of the following: sage, palo santo, cedarwood, or resin of dragon's blood / frankincense (keep your windows open when smudging).