Celebrating Samhain: Honoring Our 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 (and the US presidential election), 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. 1st 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.

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 an 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


Here is a list of items to incorporate into any of the following ritual ideas listed below.


  • Carnelian: Healing, peace, protection, sexuality

  • Moonstone: Balance, divination, feminine influence, the Goddess, healing, hidden knowledge, insight

  • Obsidian: Depth, divination, grounding

  • Onyx: Protection, self-defense, self-discipline

Herbs / Plants

  • Cinnamon

  • Clove

  • Copal

  • Decaying leaves

  • Myrrh

  • Pine needles

  • Garlic

  • Mugwort

  • Myrrh

  • Rosemary

  • Sage

  • Yarrow


  1. As we come to the end of a cycle it can be an important and liberating practice to cut away any energetic and psychic ties that you sense may be holding you back or binding you. Being energetically connected to people, places and spirits is not necessarily a bad thing (since this is how we form healthy bonds) unless that connection or energetic tie is no longer serving you. Cord cutting allows you to let go of people, stories you might carry about yourself and/or patterns of relating and being that you’re ready to let go of.

  2. To perform this portion of your ritual, first get clear and spend some time journaling about what cords you will be cutting. Set intentions. When you are ready, bind your hands, feet or other areas of the body that you sense need releasing with black cord/yarn. Cut the ties to symbolize an energetic release. Complete this portion of your ritual by burning the bindings.

There are many other ways to celebrate Samhain including some of the following examples offered by Selena Fox from Circle Sanctuary:


  1. This is a good time for us to look at wrapping up the old and preparing for the new in our lives. Think about the things you did in the last twelve months. Have you left anything unresolved? If so, now is the time to wrap things up. Once you’ve gotten all that unfinished stuff cleared away, and out of your life, then you can begin looking towards the next year.


  1. Take a meditative walk in a natural area near your home. Observe and contemplate the colors, aromas, sounds, and other sensations of the season. Experience yourself as part of the Circle of Life and reflect on death and rebirth as being an important part of Nature. If the location you visit permits, gather some natural objects and upon your return use them to adorn your home.


  1. Gather photographs, heirlooms, and other mementos of deceased family, friends, and companion creatures. Arrange them on a table, dresser, or other surface, along with several votive candles. Kindle the candles in their memory as you call out their names and express well wishes. Thank them for being part of your life. Sit quietly and pay attention to what you experience. Note any messages you receive in your journal. This Ancestors Altar can be created just for Samhain or kept year round.


  1. Prepare a Samhain dinner. Include a place setting at your table or at a nearby altar for the Dead. Add an offering of a bit of each beverage being consumed to the cup at that place setting, and to the plate, add a bit of each food served. Invite your ancestors and other deceased loved ones to come and dine with you. To have this as a Samhain Dumb Supper experience, dine in silence. After the feast, place the contents of the plate and cup for the Dead outdoors in a natural location as an offering for the Dead.


  1. Learn about family history. Contact one or more older relatives and ask them to share memories of family members now dead. Record them in some way and later write accounts of what they share. Give thanks. Share what you learned and have written with another family member or friend. Add names of those you learned about and wish to honor to your Ancestors Altar.


  1. Visit and tend the gravesite of a loved one at a cemetery. Call to mind memories and consider ways the loved one continues to live on within you. Place an offering there such as fresh flowers, dried herbs, or a libation of water.


  1. Reflect on you and your life over the past year. Review journals, planners, photographs, blogs, and other notations you have created during the past year. Consider how you have grown, accomplishments, challenges, adventures, travels, and learnings. Meditate. Journal about your year in review, your meditation, and your reflections.


  1. Select an area of your home or life as a focus. Examine it. Re-organize it. Release what is no longer needed. Create a better pattern. Celebrate renewal and transformation.


  1. Kindle a bonfire outdoors when possible or kindle flames in a fireplace or a small cauldron. Write down an outmoded habit that you wish to end and cast it into the Samhain flames as you imagine release. Imagine yourself adopting a new, healthier way of being as you move around the fire clockwise.


#Samhain #CelticNewYear #DayOfTheDead #Transformation #Threshold #RitualOfRelease #EarthBasedWellness #EcoSpirituality #SacredCeremony #HonorYourAncestors

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