Samhain marks the end of the autumn harvest and the onset of the dark half of the year. Traditionally it is celebrated from sunset on the 31st October until sunset on the 1st November and is when the veil between the living world and the realm of the dead is believed to be at its thinnest—allowing for more accessible communication and interaction between worlds.
Although Samhain appears to revolve around death and darkness, it is also a time of renewal and new beginnings. After all, it is a celebration that is tied to the rhythm of nature. It signals the end of the growing season when vegetables are harvested, and vegetation dies. And the cold air pushes life back underground. This is a time to celebrate the end of the old year and prepare for the beginning of the new one. The dark half of the year signals rest and relaxation, a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future.
Just like a plant that lies dormant and cocooned in the ground, resting and preparing to blossom when the time is right, we also need to rest and prepare. Light is born from darkness, and nature’s rhythm shows us we need both to survive. Samhain is a meeting point of opposites, light, and dark, life and death, fear, and hope. Below we have listed some of our favorite ways to celebrate to allow anyone to join in:
Celebrate Your Ancestors
Celebrate the lives of your ancestors and loved ones by making an ancestor’s altar. You can choose to make this as large or as small as you like. Start by deciding where to put your altar. Then cleanse that area with a white sage smudge stick. Next, add an altar cloth, to help welcome your ancestors. Gather together photographs, heirlooms, and any other mementos of your loved ones. Before finally arranging them all on your altar. Along with some candles and any other decorations that you want to include.
Once your altar is built, you can light the candles and sit quietly, looking at your ancestors’ photographs. Reminisce on times spent together. Or if you didn’t know them, think about what their lives could have been like. Thank them for being part of your life and heritage and acknowledge any feelings that you may have. Samhain is a time to honor our ancestors, and an ancestor’s altar can be included in many different rituals.
Feast with the dead
When feasting with the dead, prepare an extra place setting at your table for your ancestor to join you. Eat by candlelight and remove all other distractions. Also, if possible, use the color black in your table setting, such as a tablecloth, napkins, or plates. Traditionally a Samhain supper consists of harvest vegetables and game meat. Served with dark bread and accompanied or followed by an apple dish. But you can choose any menu you and your family prefer. You should make enough food to include some on your ancestor’s plate.
Once you are all sat at the table, you can invite your ancestors to dine with you. However, if you decide to experience a Samhain dumb supper, you will need to invite them in silence and eat in silence. Once the meal is over, you can take the contents of the deceased plate outside and leave it as an offering for the dead. It makes a lovely feast for wild animals that visit your garden, but please make sure there is nothing that may cause harm in the food.
Bonfire stories and rituals
Bonfires were traditionally lit at Samhain to keep evil spirits away. Nowadays, they are often seen as a place to gather. Why not get your family or friends together around a bonfire? To share stories of loved ones and learn about your family histories. As we said earlier, Samhain is not only a time of ending but also of new beginnings. Another tradition is to write down on a piece of paper a habit you want to leave behind. Then throw the paper into the fire before thinking about your future without the unwanted practice in it.
Crystals for Samhain
If you want to carry crystals at samhain, these are three of our favourite:
- Howlite is an excellent stone for Samhain as it is related to communication. It also allows insight into past lives and can open up forgotten memories and is a strongly protective stone.
- Labradorite helps to balance and protect your aura. It will ground your spiritual energy and prevent any energy leaks. While also boosting your psychic abilities and honing your intuition.
- Smoky Quartz grounds your spiritual energy and protects you when engaging in metaphysical work. It is also believed to aid communication with other worlds.
For more information, hints, and tips, take a look at our blog. And please remember to tag us @surrender_to_happiness on Instagram with all your Samhain adventures. If you are looking for more protection, then take a look at our crystal protection kit. Finally, for more ideas on how to enjoy 31st October, check out our Happy Healthy Halloween blog.