How to do a Halloween Ritual at Samhain
Halloween is a time when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. This means it is possible to feel the connection between this physical reality and the etheric realm. We can also feel the drop in temperature and see the leaves falling off the trees. It sets the scene of change from light summer days into the darkness of winter. It is when we can share our connection with our ancestors and those gone before us. There is a magical quality in the air, so called the witches’ new year.
Samhain (pronounced ‘sow’inn’) is one of the earth festivals which on the Pagan, Celtic calendar marks the Feast of the Dead. Samhain has been celebrated in Britain for thousands of years. The evening before 31st October was known as All Hallows Eve and later became Halloween.
Halloween was a time of clearing fields and storing food. Animals were killed to provide meat for the winter ahead. Bonfires were lit to burn the remains of the harvest and would have given warmth and communal centre points to gather around. Hunters would go out to hunt for birds and wild animals, that’s why the full moon next week (24th October) is known as the Hunter’s moon. Nowadays Hunter’s Moon is a time to search out what is important to you and focus on making it happen.
At this time of year there is a connection to death, in nature and in our lives. Samhain is actually a celebration of death. To our ancestors it was not weird to celebrate death, it was not seen so much as the end of an individual life, but simply as the passing of that life into the unseen world and beyond and recognised as part of the eternal nature of death and re-birth. The two worlds exist alongside one another and this time of year is when we can feel the connection most.
In an earth ceremony celebration (of which there are eight in the Celtic Wheel of the Year) there are four key parts to consider; the preparation, the circle, the elements and the intention. Below is an outline of how to do a ritual which can be adapted for any festival. This one specially created to celebrate Samhain.
Get ready for the ritual by having a salt bath. Use epsom salts or magnesium flakes. This can be a brilliant, relaxing and ceremonial way to clear your mind, cleanse your body and meditate on the intention for your ritual. Afterwards you can dress up or wear a cloak.
Gather supplies for the ceremony. I love to get things from outside, to use as tools which represent each of the elements; earth, air, fire and water. You can light a candle to symbolise fire, use crystals for the earth, a feather for the air, a bowl of water for the water and at the centre I will have something to represent the season, perhaps a little pumpkin.
Gather everyone together in a circle. You can cast the circle using a wooden wand, crystal wand or even a stick. To do this walk around the outside of the circle three times in a clock-wise direction, marking the space with an imaginary line outside. You could also use salt, flower petals, sticks or leaves to mark the edge of the circle. To close the circle at the end of the ritual walk around three times anti-clockwise. Set up the circle with the symbols from earlier in the centre.
In a traditional magic circle the elements are called upon and welcomed. You can also choose to embody each element. Different traditions start in different corners. I start in the North (earth) move to the East (air) then to the South (fire) and end in the West (water). Invite guests to connect with their senses when calling in each element, examples include; (Earth – the body, physical reality, grounded-ness, trees, roots, rocks, mother earth, home) (Air – breath, birds, clouds, flight, sky, dreams) (Fire – spirit, transformation, heat, dynamism, power, light) (Water- blood / water in the body, emotions, the ocean, fish, swimming, ripples). Together call in and welcome each of the elements as you all turn to face that particular direction, share aloud what these represent and feel like to you. When this is done come back with everyone facing into the centre of the circle.
Have each person in turn step inside the circle and share what they would like to embody from each of the elements. Examples might be; (being more present here from the earth, listening to my dreams and taking steps to make them happen from the air, showing my inner fire and spirit to feel more empowered from fire and recognising and expressing the flow of my emotions as they ebb and flow from water.
Set the intention for the circle. At Samhain one idea is to share gratitude for what has come earlier in the year and what you want to release now, and / or of honouring someone who has passed away this year or at any time. This offers the opportunity to express feelings about our loved ones who have died and to share our emotions with our friends. It can be supportive to do this in the circle and showing our grief in a warm, loving environment can feel beautiful and nourishing. I often have a fire bowl and give everyone a stick to throw in at the end, representing something they want to let go, while shouting it out.
Closing the Circle
Close the circle by thanking each element for being part of the world, go round in the opposite direction from the start. Walk three times anti-clockwise around the circle. Collect up anything you used to mark it ideally throw it in the fire and burn it. Once the circle is closed it is time to eat and celebrate.
I like to serve butternut squash soup and dance to this playlist
To make butternut squash soup:
use one squash to every four people
cut the squash into cubes
melt some coconut oil or olive oil in a pan and soften the cubes of squash
cook slowly for at least an hour with some stock and then mash or blend in a blender until smooth
serve with sprinkled parsley, cinnamon or coriander.
That’s it for the soup, squash has it’s own creaminess and doesn’t really need anything else, although you can experiment with cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaves or chilli to suit your taste.