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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Prayer to the dead
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…