Celebrate Samhain by Learning How to Honor Your Ancestors

We need to dream the dark as process, and dream the dark as change, to create the dark in a new image. Because the dark creates us." Starhawk

With just a few days left before Samhain, we wanted to provide you with some resources and inspiration to ground and serve you in your preparations for this holy time of the year.

Samhain is an ancient Celtic festival of the Dead occurring in late October and early November (usually celebrated on Oct. 31st and Nov. 1st). Meaning "Summer's End" in Gaelic and pronounced saah-win, Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest and the start of the coldest and darkest half of the year. For many, Samhain also is the beginning of the spiritual new year.

What Nature Has to Teach Us

Samhain's long association with death and the Dead reflects Nature's rhythms. In many places, Samhain coincides with the end of the growing season. Vegetation dies back with killing frosts, and therefore, literally, death is in the air. This contributes to the ancient notion that at Samhain, the veil is thinnest between the world of the living and the realm of the Dead and this facilitates contact and communication with the spirit of our ancestors.

This year is extra special and potent because Samhain will fall under the energetic influence of the FULL BLUE MOON in Taurus and is the first full moon to occur across all time zones since 1944. This is an important time for centering, grounding and harmonizing our energy in nature and allowing the full moon to recharge and restore us as we prepare for what is to come.

For those who have lost loved ones in the past year, Samhain rituals can be a wonderful opportunity to bring closure to grieving and to further adjust to their being in the Otherworld by spiritually communing with them.


Hail the Ancestors,

You who walked the path,

Who lit the way before us,

Who gave the first sacrifice.

May your road be clear

As you return this day.

May we stand tall with you.

Making you proud in our work.

You stood against oppression.

You lifted up the downtrodden.

You welcomed the stranger.

We pray we have your strength.

Ancestors, we see you!

Ancestors, we honor you!

Written by Rev. Michael J. Dangler


Below are different ritual elements that you can weave together in whatever way you choose, otherwise may this serve as inspiration to you as you consider your own Samhain ritual creation. The most important thing to remember is that there is no one or "right" way to do ritual. What is most important is that you take the time to consider why this time of the year is important to you given the season of life you are in, what is happening in nature's cycles, and the culture context at large.

This is for one who feels called to the energy of the Samhain as a threshold crossing. It's an opportunity to look back and reflect upon the journey you've been on, to honor the sacred teachings related to death and decay, and to honor those ancestors (blood, movement, or otherwise) who have already crossed the threshold from this lifetime to the next. These ritual elements are designed to bring you into your depths and into "death consciousness" as you contemplate your relationship to this time of the year.

Time Commitment: 2-4 hours (4 hours if you are following the template)


30 min

Create an altar: Work with symbols associated to this season. Here are some ideas:

  • Themes: Time of Harvest; Transformation; Letting Go; Paradigm Shift; Balancing Opposites

  • Symbols: Double Spiral - Illustrates the inbreath and outbreath, the point of balance between the worlds, the inner and outer journey; Fruits/Herbs - Apples, Heather Bush, Herbs fennel, marigold, hops, berries and mushrooms are in full power and ready to harvest

Creating an Altar Inside:

  • Identify a space in your home that feels safe for you to perform your ritual where you can be alone. Begin to think about designating an area in your home for engaging in your rituals. Ideally this can become a sacred space to return regularly. Your altar becomes your anchor. Nourishing it with your presence charges the bond and improves the quality of the connection.

  • Set up the area in a way that pleases you. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish to make it. At the least, you may wish to represent your relationship to the elements. Different cultures and faith traditions have their own interpretation of the elements. For example: In Taoist cosmology the five elements are: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water; and are generated by the interaction between Yin and Yang. The five elements can be understood as an expression of qualities and as building blocks of life and matter.


Creating an Altar Outside:

  • Identify a space that feels safe for you to perform your ritual where you can be alone. This area should provide you with a good feeling - a place you may return to foster a relational bond with.

  • Come prepared to offer something as a gift. It could be water that you have prayed over or spoken to kindly; perhaps a stone cleansed by moonlight; perhaps leaves and other nature treasures you've found; perhaps even a strand of hair. Take some time to form a connection with this special place and ask permission to perform your ritual there, to be witnessed and blessed by their presence.

Cleanse Your Space & Purify Your Mind

  • Herbs for smoke cleans