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Celebrating Samhain

Oct 25, 2022 | 0 comments

Samhain, pronounced (Sow-in), is a Gaelic festival celebrating the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the ‘dark half’ of the year. It is also known as the Celtic new year or the Witches’ New Year.
Samhain marks the mid-point between autumn equinox and winter solstice and with this the beginning of the winter season. In the outside world the darkness takes over the light, and nature is truly coming to rest. We are asked to firmly begin our journey of looking within.
It is the night when the veil to the otherworld is thin and therefore offers an opportunity to be in contact with our ancestors, to receive guidance and inspirations for the new cycle – the journey towards our inner wisdom. In many cultures November 1st is recognised as the day of the dead. In contemporary life it has been expanded into what we know as Halloween.

What is Samhain?

Samhain is the celebration of the dead. It is at this time when we take a moment to contemplate and remember the importance Death plays in our life’s cycles.
 
In the teaching of the wisdom of the seasonsSamhain is the moment when autumn finishes and winter begins. We know autumn to be the season of transition, the season when we harvest. Nature teaches us how to let go, how to bring things to completion, and how to allow our energy to return to our roots, where we stay dormant during winter.
 
To learn how to let go, to surrender to the natural movement, to truly receive the harvest and acknowledge the feeling of loss as well as of gratitude for the abundance we receive through this process, is the blessing offered to us in this teaching. When we do this process well, we create space for new insights, for a moment of rebirth, promised to us in the depth of the silence of winter.
 
In nature we observe how trees and plants return their vital energy back to their roots. Equally we are called to connect to our roots during the dark half of the year. Samhain is therefore the moment when we call to the wisdom of our ancestors, to share with us their knowledge and teaching. Through their inspiration we are now ready for the journey within. The silence and external darkness offer the gift of listening to our intuition and learning how to use our senses to connect to our intuition.

Guardian spirits of Samhain

All ancient traditions will have a guardian and archetype which is particularly related to the celebration of transformation, death, and rebirth. I have journeyed with and would like to introduce to you the following three.

Morrigan

Goddess and guardian of the dead. The
goddess of witchcraft and death, protection and retribution.
 
She carries the gift of moving the soul through the cycles. She is the triple source of power needed to regenerate the cycles of life. The symbols of circles and spirals are associated with her. The raven and vulture and the owl are her companions. Shapeshifting, death and transformation, regeneration and renewal are only some of the powers she is known for.
 
She is the moon goddess, representing the three phases maiden, mother and crone.
 
The Celtic gods Dagda and Lugh are named to be her consorts.
 
Dancing with her energy demands courage. She will take you to meet your shadows, she will move you through the process of death and letting go.
 
And if you call on her, if you put your trust in her, she will take you through the cycles from surrender into rebirth.

La Catrina

La Catrina is Mexico’s lady of death. She is a reminder to enjoy life and embrace death.

In this tradition the day of the dead is a celebration rather than a somber event. Altars are set up in the homes and filled with the favorite foods of the departed. The celebration also includes visiting family and friends and sharing gifts and sweets.

Raven

Magic is the first force which comes with the presence of the raven spirit. The raven assists us in becoming one with our will and intent, achieving great change, allowing dreams to become reality while opening doors to deeper powers of healing.

He signifies rebirth, renewal, and healing. He helps with transformation and transitions bringing light into darkness. He is the perfect companion for shapeshifting. He is a master of dismemberment, teaching us how to let go and move onto the next cycle.

The raven is a guardian and keeper of secrets.

Call on the raven to unleash your inner magic. He will teach you to hear messages from the otherworld and show you the real beauty of your shadow side.

Celebrating Samhain

Any celebration should be in resonance with your personal practice and means. It is the intension which counts. Keep it simple and relevant. Make it fun. Allow yourself to be surprised.

Celebrating life while embracing death can seem like a bit of a challenge. I invite you to include a sacred ritual in your celebration which will give you the space and opportunity for a calm reflection. Then when the ritual is done you can continue with different forms of your celebration. As Samhain marks the moment of transitioning from autumn into winter season, we are called to make a last effort of releasing negative energy from our lives, our habits and our mind. When we cleanse, we make space for new visions and opportunities. Begin with a cleansing ritual and let it naturally flow into the celebration of life.

Prepare your Samhain ritual

1. Cleanse your space

In shamanic healing cleansing is done through smudging and using sound in particular the rattle. You may choose to do a cleansing ritual before setting up for your Samhain ritual or include it, thus beginning your celebration with cleansing.

Prepare your smudging bowl and burning incense. Cedar or sage are particularly good for this purpose.

For your ritual light your incense and smudge your room, tools, sacred space and all people participating. State clearly your intension of releasing negative energies and blockages. Letting go of behaviors, dependencies and attachments. Then play your rattle and repeat the process using sound. Call on the spirit guides for release – the raven if you are courageous!

Continue with the incense and rattle until you feel the energy has shifted.

 

2. Build your altar

Take some time to prepare your altar space. I take this time to cleanse my existing altars and move things around. I clean away decorations and offerings from autumn. I change the spirit mask and other elements. I make sure I have a representation of Morrigan and La Catrina. I add candles and new offerings: fruits, sweets, mead, lotions and magic potions, herbal blends in tinctures, incense, herbal bath sachets, smoking blends to name just a view.
 
If building an altar is new to you, you might like to look at the post ‘Creating a sacred altar for daily connection’ and the Wisdom of the Witch publication ‘Creating your altar’.

Prayer to the dead

In your preparation for your Ritual think of the people and ancestors you would like to honour. If you know their likes, consider making a dish or include an offering of a food or drink they liked. Prepare a short prayer or song to connect with them, so they know that they are not forgotten and included in the celebrations.
 

Samhain invites you to…

Reflect on the following questions:

  • What part within me am I ready to let go of? What is ready to die?
  • What do I need to release to transform?
  • What can be revealed from my shadows? What light can emerge from the darkness?
  • What magic is awaiting me in the dark?
  • What is the message from my ancestors?
  • How can I best nourish myself in this winter season?

You may like to do a shamanic journey to receive answers to these questions and be in communication with Morrigan and the raven to ask for assistance in this process.

 

“Samhain is here, cold is the earth, as we celebrate the cycle of death and rebirth. Tonight we speak to those through the veil, the lines between worlds are thin and frail. Ghosts and spirits in the night, magical beings rising in flight, owls hooting up in a moonlit tree, I don’t fear you and you don’t fear me. As the sun goes down, far to the west, my ancestors watch over me as I rest. They keep me safe and without fear, on the night of Samhain, the Witches’ New Year.”

Morrigan, Morrigan Three times Three,

Hear the words I ask of Thee.

Grant me vision, Grant me power

Cheer me in my darkest hour.

As the night overtakes the day,

Morrigan, Morrigan light my way…

Morrigan, Morrigan Raven Queen,

Round and round the Hawthorn green.

Queen of beauty, Queen of Art,

Yours my body, Yours my heart.

All my trust I place in thee,

Morrigan, Morrigan be with me…

Luna’s Grimoire

 

Celebrating the change of seasons by celebrating the related festivals will allow you to live more in tune with them, awakening the energies associated with them and allowing them to manifest in your life. By celebrating Samhain, the passage from fall to winter, you will allow yourself the opportunity to enter a new cycle dedicated to the journey inward. I hope you will take full advantage of this season to take time to listen to the messages and connect with your intuition.