There’s a crisp chill on the breeze. Candy colored leaves crackle and twirl as they tumble to the ground. Night begins to make Her dramatic return to power, claiming more real estate with each turn of the calendar. Pumpkins appear on every stoop, and macabre tales by the fire replace barefoot romps through the fields.
It’s that time again, blissmakers … Samhain arrives in just a few short days.
Samhain is the pagan holiday from which Halloween was born. It is the halfway point in the calendar between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. As such, it’s one of the four cross-quarter holidays on the agrarian Wheel of the Year. It is also the final of the three harvest holidays marking the end of the harvest season.
Samhain is a sacred time for many. It occurs as the Sun is making His ride through Scorpio season, lending an air of Mystery and Shadow. This is the time when it is said that the veils between the worlds are thinnest. Magick is afoot and time and space lose structure during a Samhain eve.
I, personally, don’t have one set way of celebrating Samhain. I like to go with my intuition and my feelings in the moment when I celebrate my holy days, rather than limiting myself to one particular experience. That said, there is nothing wrong with finding what works and sticking with it. Life is all about experimenting, you know.
Some of my favorite ways to honor the Samhain holiday are:
Create a shrine for loved ones passed. Because the veils between the worlds are thin during Samhain, it is common to reach out to, or to be visited by, loved ones that have crossed the veil from this mortal coil. Creating a shrine of photographs, belongings or things that otherwise remind us of our deceased loved ones can be a powerful way to not only honor their spirits, but to call them forth, if desired. These shrines can be decorated as simply or elaborately as you like. The key is to make it personally resonant.
The Feast of the Dead is another to honor and commune with those who have passed through to the other side. Simply create your celebratory feast as you normally would. (This can be a multi-course meal, a potluck buffet, a favorite takeaway or a simple soup or salad. No rules, remember?) When serving everything up and sitting down to eat, make an extra plate of food for the dead. Honor them before eating. After enjoying your feast, you can then either leave the plate of food out for the local fauna or compost it so that it goes back into the earth providing nourishment to the Great Mama.
Celebrate the end of the harvest season by creating some delicious food from Earth’s bounty. There are many delicious foods in season now, so you have plenty to choose from, whether you are a raw chef or a baking queen or anything in between. You can also get cheeky with your creations by giving them a thematic twist. Some of my favorites are stuffed orange bell peppers carved like Jack-o-lanterns, bananas decorated as ghosts and iced skeleton gingerbread cookies. Favorite non-cheeky treats include Soul Cakes, pumpkin ravioli and apple cider.
Practice releasing. Interpret this how you will. Samhain is the end of the harvest season. It is the gateway to Winter, the season of death and transformation. As the Natural world is releasing its ballast, so can we release ours. One of my favorite ways to do this is to do a big house purge, going through each room, closet and drawer releasing anything I no longer use, that no longer fits, I no longer enjoy, or that is no longer fully functional. Just as in Nature, releasing what has served its purpose makes room for new, more resourceful replacements. Plus, it feels good.
Lastly, this is an excellent time to practice divination of any kind. Grab those tarot cards, runes, tea leaves, pendulums, crystal balls or whatever tools you like, and connect with the Divine!
These are but a few of the ways Samhain can be celebrated. I encourage you to experiment with what feels magickal and blissful for you. That’s the only true way to create a powerful and potent ritual, IMO.