Halloween, or Samhain (“sah-win”) as we call it in the Celtic Shamanic tradition, is an opportunity to explore the lessons that might be lurking in the dark. If used wisely, we can journey to meet our ancestors, open to their teachings as well as our own, and enter the Celtic New Year (a time of renewal on Nov’ 1st) comfortable in this dark time of gestation, relaxed and ready with clear intentions.
Celtic Shamanism follows the cycle of nature and so Samhain, being the end of October, marks the end of harvest season. It is a time of darkness; of reflection, rest and reseeding our focus. The Celts honour the intertwining forces of darkness and light; night and day; death and life – you can see this in the knotwork of Celtic Art.
This is the time of the Crone, goddess of wisdom, symbolised by an old hag or witch (hence the reference in Halloween celebrations). The land, our great mother goddess, has offered all it can this year and so now we take stock, reflect and refocus with wisdom, planting seeds of hope for the new year in our cauldron for gestation.
How to Celebrate Samhain (Halloween)
Remember Your Ancestors
The veil between our reality and the Otherworld is thin at this dark, almost timeless moment in the year. So you might like to use this time to connect with your ancestors. Create an altar (ideas for which are noted below) and place a photo of the deceased you’d like to connect with. You could also light a candle of remembrance beside their image.
Once your altar is ready and your candle is lit, then take a moment of stillness, of quiet contemplation or meditation, to connect with this person (if there are a few people you’d like to contact, then do this preparatory work each time). You might like to consider a question for them. Then invite them in.
You can keep your eyes closed, if you wish, or you might like to focus on the candle and their photo. Allow whatever messages want to come through – try not to judge or question or analyse; simply let the journey happen. At some point you might wish to ask your question and see what comes.
And, as an extra for women:
The cervix (entrance to the womb) is the place where many women hold ancestral pain. This time is a good opportunity to literally feel into what you’re holding in your body, in your DNA. A slow, self pleasuring ritual could be a good addition to your ritual for this time. Starting with some warming body massage before moving to the labia or lips of your vagina, feeling into trust at this area, before touching on the g-spot, feeling into gratitude, touching on devotion at the clitoris, before gently feeling into what is held at the cervix. You might then wish to move energetically into the womb space; anchoring yourself from there into the Earth’s womb. Take this process slow – it’s delicious and truly enlightening, if you allow yourself to feel into what’s there with the access gates of trust, gratitude, devotion, and ancestry.
Sometimes messages you receive might not make sense initially. When this happens, I encourage you to sit with it – let it gestate within. Often the message will become clear, or you will find your way with it. You could also meditate on it at a later date.
Once your connection with your ancestors has passed, then thank them for their time and close the space out loud with ‘It is done’.
Reflect And Refocus On Your Life
Samhain is almost timeless, which is why the veil of our reality is thin – it is a transition time between summer and winter; light and dark; life and death. And so we can use this time to consider what we need to finish off and let go of before the end of the year. In this sense it is also an opportunity to learn from what has past and then leave all regrets and mistakes behind before moving on with awareness. It is also a time to plant the seeds of new projects; to consider what it is you wish to call in for your new year. And then again, relax, let those seeds germinate and develop in their own way.
Some ideas for this enquiry:
- What do I want to finish before the end of the year?
- What do I want to let go of from this year? Projects/people/plans.
- What have I learnt from this year? Mistakes and growth opportunities.
- What do I wish to call in for next year?
You might like to make a quick note to burn in your candle to close this ritual:
I let go of…. / I call in….
And then carefully set it alight, perhaps offering the burning paper into a symbolic cauldron or metal pot, letting it gestate over the dark, winter months.
Creating Your Samhain Altar
Create a space where you can take some quite reflection time and then create an altar to ceremonially work your intention. You could use harvest-like colours of red, orange and yellow. Add photos of passed ancestors and a candle of remembrance.