Happy Samhain! (It’s pronounced sow-in.) I wanted to share ten well thought out ideas for ways you can celebrate this special day, and I hope that they are helpful for you! Samahin is October 31st every year, and it’s the last Pagan Sabbat of the year, AKA Pagan New Year. It’s also the third and last harvest. Most importantly, it’s the day believed to have the thinnest veil between this world and the world of spirits, making it the easiest we possibly can to connect to those who have died. It’s a time where many witches, Pagans, Wiccans, Celtics, etc. are likely to facilitate contact with the dead, specifically their ancestors.
In the Southern Hemisphere, some people choose to celebrate Samhain because it’s also Halloween, but the Wheel Of The Year has spins opposite in each hemisphere. So the opposite of Samhain is Beltane. Click here for the free Beltane guide!
It’s definitely different from Halloween, which is secular holiday, but there are a lot of traditions Halloween has in common with Samhain that aren’t just the date! So how can we honor this occasion today? I’ve got ten ideas for you, and they’re all super doable.
10 Ways To Celebrate Samhain
1. Create/Redo Your Altar – A perfect way to set the mood for Mabon is to create an altar as a sacred space. Supplies/materials to consider using for your Samhain altar include: skulls, skeletons, gravestones, gravestone rubbings, pictures of cemeteries, bones, ashes, ghosts, or other symbols of death, a scythe, pictures or physical representations of your ancestors who have passed, set up a food offering to those who have passed (specifically maybe something they really loved to eat/drink), pumpkins, candles, crystal balls, cauldrons, apples, pomegranates, scrying mirror, autumn flowers and/or leaves, Ouija board, bowl filled with water or black ink mixed into water, Sunflower petals/seeds, pumpkin seeds, Rosemary, Mugwort, Black Obsidian, Smokey Quartz, Jet, Hematite, Garnet, Amber, and generally stick to orange, black, purple, burgundy, white, and gold.
2. Visit A Cemetery – Many of those who have died are buried in cemeteries, and they are places that hold a lot of specific energies. You can visit a cemetery in a meditative, contemplative way. You can go to visit a loved one and talk to them. You can do a gravestone rubbing to put on your altar. You can even find a famous person’s gravestone. This is an activity that can be customized in a lot of different ways, and a very interesting location for a ritual. Please be respectful.
3. Make A Family Tree – This is a great time to learn more about your ancestry and lineage. Use amazing online tools to create your family tree, and feel free to reach out to people you didn’t know you were connected to and are still alive. Research people you find out you are related to who have passed already. Teach your children and/or other people in your family about your family tree or people you knew personally they didn’t have a chance to meet to keep those people alive.
4. Take A Nature Walk – Spending time in the crisp Autumn air is really great, and this is the ideal scenery for a meditative walk to contemplate the circle of life. Look at the leaves as they change color and fall to the ground. They aren’t worried about how they look or their transition, they simply are. Think about your existence, your life, your legacy.
5. Hold A Séance – This should be done with a professional, but is a very powerful spiritual tool to connect with people who are not longer in this realm. This includes using Ouija Boards.
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6. Cook A Meal/Have A Ceremony – There are specific ceremonial meals people have been having to honor Samhain for a very long time. Things that tend to be a part of this tradition include gathering people together (this Sabbat is all about community and other people!), lighting candles, setting a centerpiece/altar, set an offering of food/drink for the dead. There is also a tradition where you eat the meal in silence to be extra respectful and honor the dead during the meal. You can also start the meal off with a blessing.
7. Make A Jack-O-Lantern – This actually started off as a Pagan tradition, not for Halloween! The idea is to frighten away evil spirits who might be blocking energy ways for their ancestors to get back to the living. You’re supposed to light them with a white candle, sometimes anointed with Patchouli oil.
8. Burn A Habit – Write down a habit you’re trying to kick (and would like to have broken by next Samhain) and either burn it in a cauldron or in a bonfire. If you choose the bonfire method, try dancing around the fire clockwise to really affirm your affirmation.
9. Make A Besom Broom – A Besom Broom is the original name for a witch’s broomstick we see in Halloween movies. It was used by witches to cleanse a space for a ritual, and the whole witches riding on them likely became from Samhain culture because of astral projection and “flying” from one realm to another. Check out this DIY recipe to make your own.
10. Create A Samhain Ritual – Lastly, the best thing you can do for yourself is to just create a ritual that feels the best to you! There are tons of other things you can do to celebrate Samhain that I haven’t mentioned, and maybe you want to incorporate those into your own personalized ritual. For example, hosting a Samhain party/gathering, decorating your house, journaling reflections on your past year, getting a Tarot reading on the year to come, joining a group in your community, educate people on Samhain and the history/how it connects to Halloween, do some harvest-themed crafts, bury apples in your yard for spirits going by who need to be reborn, and/or make a mask of your Shadow Self. Make this the best Samhain your can have for yourself!
I made you a downloadable cheat sheet with the colors, crystals, apothecary, foods, activities, and altar supplies for your ease. Download it for free below!
Photo: Maura Housley
I love these ideas, Mary! This year, I’ve aimed to take a walk on Samhain. Of course, I’ll go out walking before the trick-or-treaters come, because I love handing out candy.
That’s a good goal! Did you make it happen? (And yes, I did the trick-or-treaters thing for the first time this year and LOVED it)!