Happy Samhain, folks! Or Halloween, if that’s what you prefer to call this day. I wish I could say I had a costume standing by and an event to go to tonight, but alas, I don’t, so I’ll be finding other ways to mark the day.
If you’ve visited my blog before, you’ve probably read about my first Samhain ritual three years ago. I can’t say that I’ve bumped up my ritual practice since then, although I do try to make it a point to honor my late grandparents on Samhain by lighting candles. None of the pagan holidays I’ve celebrated have been elaborate in any way, though they’ve all been meaningful. Sometimes it feels like my practical pantheist side is in a tug-of-war with my spiritual pagan self, so I never go all out with witchy celebrations, even though I’d love to.
This post is less of a how-to and more of a what-I-would-love-to-do. After scouring the web for Samhain ritual ideas, I’ve come up with a nice list of celebrations to put on my list for future Samhains. Some of these I may incorporate in my observance today, others will have to wait another year. Regardless, they all seemed very meaningful to me, so hopefully they will speak to you.
5 Ways to Celebrate Samhain
1. Create an Ancestral Altar
Honoring our ancestors is at the forefront of Samhain tradition. It’s said that Samhain is the time of year when the veil between the earthly and spirit worlds is thinnest, which is probably why speaking to and honoring lost loved ones became such an important Samhain practice. Setting up an ancestral altar can help you focus your energies on remembering those who have passed. You can include photographs, heirlooms, and other keepsakes. Most people like to have one tealight or small votive candle for each family member, friend, or pet that has passed, which will be important if you’re planning on doing a ritual.
2. Perform a Samhain Ritual
There are many ways you can perform a ritual for Samhain, and there’s no right or wrong way of doing it. One of my favorites is this ritual from the Nature is Sacred blog, but you can use any ritual that speaks to you. I do recommend tweaking any existing ritual to make it more of your own, which is what I’ve always done. Wiccan bloggers are a great source of information when it comes to rituals, but pantheists can get hung up on deity names and terms like goddess and god, so change whatever feels necessary!
3. Visit a Cemetery
I love this idea, probably because I’ve only visited my grandparents’ grave once since my grandmother died – but I like the idea of making a graveside visit part of an annual Samhain tradition. I’d go even further and say now would be a good time to bring a new bouquet of flowers to place on the grave. If you incorporate ritual into your everyday life and don’t mind performing a small one out in the open, you can even bring an offering or libation and say a few words.
4. Bonfire Magic
Unfortunately, because of where I live, I’m in no position to have a bonfire at Samhain – or any other time of year – but this would be the perfect time to have one! I love the meditative quality of fire. I’m probably the last person in the world who can quiet her mind long enough to meditate, but if I sit still and look into a flame, it all seems to come together somehow. I also like to use ritual fire to let go of something negative. Even if you just have a cauldron or candle instead of a bonfire, write down something you wish to be rid of and cast it into the flames, imagining release. It’s quite therapeutic.
5. Nature Hike
Fall is my favorite time of year, but for some reason I never seem to get outside enough before the weather turns colder and winter sets in. Samhain is a great time to lace up the hiking boots and hit the trails. If you don’t live near the mountains like I do, stroll along the beach, through a dying garden, or in a park. It doesn’t matter where you walk, just get outside and absorb the aromas and colors of fall, being mindful of the circle of death and rebirth.