Halloween, a time for haunted houses, scary costumes, pumpkins, ghosts, goblins, witches, mounds of candy and trick-or-treating. At least, that’s the way most of us celebrate it in modern America. However, this time of year is also very sacred and celebrated by many in a deeply spiritual way. Samhain, pronounced sow-win or sow-ween is a sacred celebration that originated in ancient Europe as a Celtic fire festival, honoring the end of harvest and welcoming in the coldest time of the year. It is also a time of remembering and paying respects to the dead, a time of shedding light on the delicate balance of life and death and acknowledging the inevitable that we all must experience one day. Samhain is still observed and honored by Wiccans and Pagans throughout the world. It also marks the Celtic new year or as some call it, “the witches new year.”
It is believed that the veil between the physical and spirit world is thinner around Samhain, allowing us to communicate with the other side more easily and heightening our own intuition. I am personally not a practicing Wiccan or Pagan, but as I get older and deepen into my own spiritual journey, I find myself desiring a more meaningful celebration around this time of year. I also find myself longing to more deeply honor the cycle of life and death, death and rebirth and my own personal dance with these natural cycles within my own life and as a woman.
Death is not something in our culture that is your typical dinner table discussion. In fact, it is rarely brought out in the open for discussion and if it is, most of our discussions around death are fear based, not free flowing or celebratory in any way. For many years now, I have longed for a different view and experience of death and have set out to create my own relationship with it, which is happening as I shift my personal perception surrounding it and deepen my inner, spiritual world.
Death has come knocking on the door of many of those dear to us this year…some of our friend’s parents, a close friend, who’s passing we never saw coming and our beloved dog, Eveie. Death and its weightiness has made itself known. Grief has swept through our lives and our inner circle. It’s been traumatic, life altering, dense and tender. Grief is something we carry with us for life, exposing itself less and less as time goes by. It can be a great relief to create space for that grief to flow, for it to be ritualized and celebrated and to remember those who have passed on who are so precious to us.
As I read into some of the celebration rituals around Samhain, I was moved by many of them and inspired to create my own ritual honoring those who have crossed over. So, I thought I would share with you my ritual and if you are moved to create your own, please do. This is my own creation, not based in any religion, although inspired by many sacred beliefs. I take what feels right to my soul and move with her as my guidance.
Samhain Ritual Of Honor
1. The day before Oct 31st, think about who you will be honoring and calling in. For me, it’s my friend, Gabe, my dog, Eveie and my Godfather, Gerald who passed away when I was 15. We haven’t spoken in a while ☺️ I have a lot to catch him up on. Whip out paper and pen and write each of them a letter. Allow your heart to speak. This is a wonderful way to gain closure with a LovEd one who may have passed on before any final words of peace were spoken. Save your letters for the following day’s ritual in a safe place.
2. The evening of Oct 31st, create an alter for your ceremony. This can include pictures of your LovEd ones, items of theirs you may have kept and a candle for each LovEd one you are honoring. You can also include apples and pomegranates. Wiccans believe that apples are the fruit of wisdom and death and the pomegranate is herald as the fruit of life. Placing them both on your alter honors the balance of our natural cycle of life and death. If you wish to continue creating a more elaborate alter, add anything that represents death, such as skulls, bones and the ashes of any deceased family member or beloved pets. You may also add any representation of late fall, such as sticks, fallen leaves, pumpkins… get as creative as you wish or keep it as simple.
3. Light each candle, speaking their full name as you light their candle, telling them they are welcome here. Sit comfortably in front of your alter. Make sure you have the letters you wrote to your LovEd ones within arms reach. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, in through the nose and long exhales out the mouth. Continue this for a few minutes until you feel relaxed and anchored into the moment. Say a prayer in your own words, thanking god/the universe for their protection and ask that you be connected with your LovEd ones you have brought forth and any spirit of the light that may have a message for you at this time. Ask that your connections all be experienced through the heart and in LovE.
4. Here you can choose to read your letters aloud or place them on the alter for your LovEd ones to connect with. If you choose to place them on the alter, maybe you want to speak out loud to them anything that’s rising from your heart in this moment. Allow all emotions to flow. Allow for the cleansing and healing to happen. Grieve what has yet to be grieved.
5. After you have spoken what needs to be spoken, you may ask if there are any messages or guidance that they wish to bestow upon you now. Then, sit and listen. Allow whatever comes through to flow with ease, do not try and force anything. And if nothing comes through, it’s ok! Don’t beat yourself up and think you are doing it “wrong.” What’s important here, is that your soul is nourished and your LovEd ones memory kept alive within your heart. There are many different ways we connect with the other side, with our higher self, with god, so be aware of your whole experience. Messages may flow in as visuals, bodily sensations or you may even hear voices, which may sound like your own, but trust me, when it’s a message from beyond YOU KNOW! TRUST! Sit as long as you wish and when it’s time to come out of your meditation, thank your LovEd ones for connecting with you, release them from any binds or baggage you may still be carrying from your past experiences together and ask that past grievances be replaced with forgiveness. Blow out each candle you lit in their honor with a deep bow to their spirit.
And so it is! Amen!