Rituals for Samhain

Miranda Cook of The Wootique London shares her favourite ways to honour this auspicious festival.

Affectionately nicknamed ‘the witches’ new year’, the Celtic festival of Samhain(pronounced Sow-ain), falls on November 1st, with celebrations starting the evening before and continuing for three days. Samhain is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals along with Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasa. In Wales, they celebrate Calan Gaeaf, “spirit night” and the first day of Winter.

Witches, druids, pagans and Wiccans observe this date as it is thought to be the timew hen the veil between here and the otherworld is thinnest, and communication with spirit, faeries and ancestors becomes possible by taking part in rituals which open portals to commune with spirits.

One of the most common rituals of Samhain is to have a feast honouring your ancestors. Sometimes this supper is observed in reverent silence and as such is known as a ‘dumb supper’. An extra place is laid at the head of the dinner table and mementos from the deceased can be placed on the chair or around the table. When the food is served – and this is usually an autumnal feast – an extra portion is served for the departed. In this way your lost love one can be honoured and remembered.

Samhain means the ‘end of summer’ and was traditionally a time where farmers would bring their livestock in from the fields for sheltering or slaughter. A bonfire would be lit and offerings made to protect families from the harshness of the coming winter. In modern times a bonfire is still a great ritual for burning decaying vegetation in the garden and an opportunity to set the intention to release any stagnant or unwanted energies gathered around you or the home over the year.

It is also traditional to practice divination and to connect to the spirit world at Samhain.Whether that’s by using tools such as tarot cards or runes, or scrying using a mirror, ask for the messages you need to know to be revealed and make a note of the guidance which comes through for the forthcoming coming year.

You may also want to decorate your home for Samhain, whether that’s by creating a personal altar to give thanks for the harvest and show gratitude for all the blessings you have received, or simply placing pine cones, oak branches and other seasonal greenery around the home.

Altars are personal to each person making them and you should feel free to decorate with items which have personal significance to you. You may wish to make an altar to honour your ancestors at Samhain, by using photos, or items belonging to them - or simply laying flowers or foods which they enjoyed around the altar space. It doesn’t have to be a large area, a corner of a shelf or mantlepiece is sufficient. An altar is a great place to quietly contemplate the coming winter season, and how you may use the dark half of the year to restore and regenerate, as nature does.

Miranda Cook

Lastly, on the night where spirits are said to wander, you could consider lighting a seven day candle and leaving it on your window ledge to guide any lost souls home. Samhain can be a sombre celebration but also a time to celebrate life.

By Miranda Cook of The Wootique London

Miranda Cook is a tarot reader and the owner of the chic online tarot card boutique The Wootique London.

Visit the store at www.thewootique.com to view their range of unique independent tarot decks, crystal infused bath products and other magical supplies.

Instagram @thewootiquelondon

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