Samhain (pronounced SAH-win) is an old Irish/Celtic holiday dating back over 6,000 years. Today, it is celebrated by many, including those who practice Wicca. For Wiccans, it is one of the more important annual sabbats. At this time of year, the weather turns colder, and the last of the crops are harvested. It is a time of reflecting on what was accomplished this past year, and looking forward into next year. It is also a time when the veil between this world and the hereafter is the thinnest allowing us to reconnect with dear ones who have crossed over.
There are many ways to celebrate Samhain. Attend a public ritual, get a psychic reading to look ahead into the New Year, or scry/gaze into a black mirror or a dark bowl of water for guidance. Here are a few things other things you can do at home to celebrate the season.
Altar for the Dead
In my tradition, we create a sacred space to honor those who passed over (including our pets) called the Tree of the Dead. Here we place objects that remind us of those who passed over. These objects can also be items from deceased loved ones. Each of us spends a few moments communing and connecting with our departed loved ones and ancestors.
You could create a similar sacred space in your home by building an altar to honor those who have passed on. Place items from your loved ones or items that remind you of them on a table, shelf, or other space. Arrange the items in a way that is meaningful to you. If you feel inclined, add a candle, incense, or other items to complete the altar. After dusk on Samhain, sit at the altar, and breathe deeply. Close your eyes, and remember the loved ones. Tell them what you need to tell them. Send them love, appreciation, and gratitude. Listen for their messages.
Honor the New Year, Let Go of the Old
Samhain is also thought to be a New Year’s celebration for Wiccans. It is a time of reflection and release. Take a moment to remember what you accomplished throughout the year. Celebrate the harvests of your efforts. Let go of things that you no longer need. These could be past arguments with loved ones, regrets of actions taken or not taken, and so on. By leaving these behind, you can be more open to new things in the future.
To help you disconnect from the past year, try this simple exercise. Cut a piece of string about six to eight inches in length. Light a candle or a fire in the fireplace. Sit comfortably with the string in your hands, close your eyes, and center yourself with a few deep breaths. When you are centered, open your eyes. For each thing you would like to let go, tie a knot. Continue tying knots until you feel you are done. Place the knotted string into the fire. As the string burns, know that your connections to those issues also burns away. Know that you no longer carry that negativity around with you into the fresh New Year.
Happy New Year and Blessed Be!