There are many different ways to celebrate Samhain. I find that each year, I celebrate Samhain differently. I’m confident you will as well. The celebration can be solemn or it can be enjoyable. The big question is for you: Is it meaningful? These are some of the ways you can celebrate Samhain. Remember, these are ideas on which you can expand. Take what you want to use this year and leave the rest.
Have remembrance of your ancestors. Ahead of time, learn your family history and stories. Learn about ancestral places. Where did your family live in the past and where did your family come from?Find a family recipe that your ancestors used and make it. Create an ancestors altar with a candle, pictures of your ancestors and mementos. Put a mirror on your altar with a crystal on top to create a portal as Selena Fox does. (See Suggested Investigation below.) Have a dumb supper. Create a special place setting for an ancestor. Use good dishes or dishes with Samhain symbols and/or decorations. Before you eat, put food from what you will be eating on this this plate and drink from what you will be drinking in this cup. This is a silent supper of remembrance. When done, leave the food and drink from your ancestor’s meal out on a special place for offerings. Note: Because they would have to be quiet, the dumb supper would not be easy for children.
Samhain is the season to think about death. Not only is this a time to think about ancestors who have passed away, it is a time to think of one’s own death. This is a good time of year to write or review a will and obituary. Another activity is to visit a cemetery. Should protocol permit tidy the graves and lay seasonal flowers. If it is permitted, do headstone rubbings. For rubbings, it would be best to use charcoal, oil pastels, or soft chalk pastels. This can be a bit messy, so take a small towel with which to wipe your hands. These are some activities about death for this season.
Plan get togethers. Have a Samhain potluck with friends or family. Good dates this year may be October 28 (Friday) or 29. Ask guests to bring seasonal foods. Have a meaningful Samhain ritual for yourself and possibly others. Have a separate Halloween party for the children and children at heart.
Since Samhain is the Wiccan new year, plan ahead and review this past year. What were your successes? What did not go according to plan? What did you not plan at all and happened anyway? What did not go very well? What would you do differently this upcoming year? This is a good time of year for divination. Scry, use Tarot cards, oracle cards or runes (like the Elder Futhark or Ogam). Ask a pendulum specific Yes/No questions. Make plans for the upcoming year. This is a good time of year to start reinventing yourself by asking questions.
Samhain is known as the third harvest. If you have not started it during the past two harvests, Lughnasadh and Mabon, start a gratitude list. Decorate with some produce items such as gourds, multicolored corn, apples and pumpkins. Fill a cornucopia with fruits and vegetables to display. Bake cornbread, soul cakes or Samhain cookies with your children. Enjoy a third harvest meal with seasonal foods.
With the sun ever lower in the sky traditionally Samhain is a fire festival. Ancient Celts let their fires go out in October. At this time they herded their animals and finished the harvest. From a communal flame families relit their own fires. For us today, bon fires are a great way to celebrate. Of course, not all of us have a fire pit for a bonfire. Happily, smaller fires can be lit for example, a wood stove. Try cooking a little something over it, be it soup, hot dogs, marshmallows or water for tea. Candles are an excellent example of what can be lit. It may be a tea light inside a carved pumpkin, tapers or a skull candle. Where safety is an issue or live flames are simply not allowed, battery operated candles are not a bad idea. Look for the words “flickering” and “realistic” when purchasing them. Personally, I avoid the ones that have a white flame. There are a lot of differences in appearance. Fire is a meaningful part of Samhain, and I hope in one way or another you have the opportunity to enjoy the licking of the flickering flame.
Take a nature walk. Collect natural objects with which you might decorate: leaves, acorns, nuts and other natural objects you might find. Gather images of landscapes, trees and wildlife with a camera. This walk may occur well before the day of Samhain so you can use these things to decorate with ahead of time. Note: Acorns can be harmful for cats and dogs if they ingest them.
I have mentioned decorating which is a wonderful thing to do while preparing for Samhain. Use the nature walk treasures to decorate. Use the leaves, acorns, Samhain symbols and/or other things to create a wreath and hang it on the front door. Inside, decorate with apples, pumpkins, candles, pictures from your nature walk, gourds, multicolored corn and a cornucopia filled with produce. If you have one, utilize a cauldron in your decorations. Put up two or three dimensional images of witch hags. This is the season of the Crone. This is also the time of the Horned God. There are great images of deer with antlers you could put up. Enjoy decorating.
Enjoy the Season!
Anjou Kieran, The Ultimate Guide to The Witch’s Wheel of the Year, Rituals, Spells & Practices for Magical Sabbats, Holidays & Celebrations, Quarto, 2021.
Diana Rajchel, Samhain, Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Halloween, Llewellyn, 2021.
Janet and Stewart Farrar, A Witches’ Bible, The Complete Witches’ Handbook, Phoenix Publishing, Inc., 1981, 1984.
Selena Fox, Circle Sanctuary Podcasts:
October 6, 2019, Celebrating Samhain & Halloween
October 13, 2019, Ancestor Magic
October 20, 2019, Samhain Divinations of the Future
I will continue to post on Wednesdays. Next week will be more about Samhain.