Rituals + Practices for Samhain
Halloween has taken many shapes throughout my life. In my younger years, it was a big night out for my pillowcase and I. Together, we’d trick or treat our way up and down the blocks, filling my case with enough candy (and the occasional raisin packs) to last until Thanksgiving. From 15 to 25, I experimented with different ways to fuse function and fashion by exploring costumes which made drinking and smoking more accessible or funny (the most successful was when I was a squirrel and hid a bag of Franzia wine in a large fake acorn). Ages 25-30 was spent hiding from the phase I had just left – the costumed drinkers, bar covers, and vomit spots on the sidewalk. So here we are, firmly in my 30s, ¾ of the way through a year that has been its own horror movie, and I find myself entering a new phase of Halloween. This year, I find myself wanting to connect deeper into the history and traditions of my ancestors, and how to use Halloween to know myself better. Thankfully, I have friends like Leighana Martindale, creator of High Vibe Curator to take us through this magical time of year. She takes us through how to create our own End-of-Summer altars, and how we can use this time to shine a light on our Shadow Selves.
– Meryl, Barbari Co-founder
Halloween, aka Spooky Szn is the favorite time of year for many, but do you know the roots of Halloween? Or more traditionally known as Samhain [pronounced: Sow-Ween].
Samhain officially begins at sunset of October 31st through November 1st and is known to be the end of Summer. Samhain quite literally means, ‘Summer’s End’.
During this time of year the veil is thin making it the best time to honor your loved ones who have passed. When it comes to honoring a loved one, we all have different ways of grieving and connecting so don’t feel any pressure about doing it ‘the right way’. There is no right way! Just do a little white light protection before, during, and after you create your altar. White light protection is free, effective and easy to do!
This tradition of honoring the departed by offering them food, drinks and other offerings is done in more than just the Pagan tradition – known as Dia de los Muertos in other cultures. Originating from Aztec traditions, Dia de los Muertos is widely practiced in Latin America today.
Once you’ve erected your altar, you’ll have a sacred and blessed place to practice your Shadow Work, one of my favorite parts of Samhain. This conquest of delving deeper into our Shadow Selves is something we are able to do, but something few of us dare.
But first, let’s get into tips for creating our own altar!
Setting up an altar is a big part of many spiritual practices, especially within the Pagan, Witch, Spiritual communities. Setting up a Samhain Altar is extra special. Samhain always brings a hint of magic to the air.
So what is an altar?
It’s a dedicated space that is used for spells, prayers, and other spiritual practices.
As Samhain is the time of a thinning veil and connecting with loved ones who have passed on, it is important to include them and bless them through your altar. The 4 ways listed below are a few of several ways to honor the dead. Just know that it’s okay if you are not comfortable with including that tradition in your celebration. You don’t have to! You can still create a beautiful, abundant, and magical altar that helps further your connection with the divine.
1. Use Photos
In many traditions people use photos of those who have passed on their altars, and in some cultures it is even required.
2. Use Candles
Light a candle on an altar, in windows facing graveyards, and in graveyards upon the graves themselves.
Food offerings and drink offerings are the most common. Soul cakes are an easy and traditional recipe, or recipes of their favorite things are always a great idea!
*Note: Food offerings left for the dead are forbidden to eat by the living
Put intention into your altar while you create it. Pray and manifest while you assemble it. Intention is always the most important part of whatever we do.
3 Easy Steps to Create Your Own Altar
Select the Tools of Your Choice
Common tools include candles, incense, smudge sticks, cauldrons, crystals, chalices, an offering bowl. Cannabis and other botanicals are another tool which can connect you to your intention. Bring what you feel called to use as a tool or even bring as a decoration and adornment for your altar. This process is about making it uniquely yours.
Design and Decorate Your Altar
Do so in whatever way feels best, there are no rules! Just make sure if you are pulling tarot on your altar to leave space (or cast your circle around your altar and leave space on the ground for tarot).
Cleanse Your Space + Put Some Intention Into It
Intention is the most powerful thing when it comes to spells, tarot, altars, and most things spiritual. So if you don’t have fancy tools don’t worry! It is the intention behind your actions that count.
Now, Let’s Meet Our Shadow
Shadow work refers to working with the ‘darker’ side of yourself, the parts we try to tuck away and hide. Many think of our shadow selves as a ‘negative’ part of us but that is not true. Just like everything in life, there is duality and we need to exist. Like light and dark, yin, and yang, without our shadow self, we would not know what light is.
It is when we ignore and neglect our shadow self that the darkest side of it can bubble out. But when we acknowledge and work with this side of ourselves, we can love and appreciate it to see its beauty for exactly what it is.
It’s just a matter of going within and doing the work. It is important to know, shadow work is not easy. It can be uncomfortable, it can hurt, but above all it will heal. Samhain brings abundant opportunities for us to look within ourselves and face our shadow self.
Journaling is always a great exercise, especially with Shadow Work. Start with a free-write and allow what needs to flow, flow. Then, when you feel ready, ask yourself the following questions.
– What is your least favorite aspect about yourself? – Why?
– Name 5 reasons why that aspect is actually a blessing and a strength.
2. Find Where You Hold Guilt and Negativity
- When do you feel nervous and anxious?
- What is your most reoccurring fear?
- Do you feel guilty often? If so, about what?
- Where does that emotion sit in your body?
[ex: your chest gets tight, you get nauseous or have gut issues.]
Many times the guilt and fear we hold is due to trauma and out of ‘survival’. We suppress parts of ourselves to cope with these traumas. Whether it be to follow along with society’s standards, or whether it be out of self-preservation, these notions cause us to suppress our authentic selves and shadow selves.
In order to fully accept our Shadow Selves, we must dig in and release those toxic thought patterns, habits, and even relationships. Release and let go. It is the only way to fully heal.
My favorite Barbari blend for Spiritual work is Airplane Mode because of it’s Blue Lotus – a botanical commonly used in ancient rituals. Roll your own Herbal Spliff of Airplane Mode with a Tangie cannabis strain at the top of your ritual to relax and open your mind and soul.
You can also use your Barbari herbal blend as incense on your altar or to make tea as an offering to your ancestors if you want to incorporate herbs more deeply into your practice
This blog post is a sample from The Samhain workbook from High Vibe Curator which includes:
– Divination Ritual
– Samhain Tarot Spread
– Shadow Work Guide
– Guide for Honoring Loved Ones
– Mini Recipe Book
– AND SO MUCH MORE
Get the full workbook HERE.
About Leighana Lynn
Leighana Lynn is a modern mystic and the curator behind High Vibe Curator. Here on a mission to inspire, empower, and uplift others, Leighana strives to do just that with her work. Through creating free and accessible resources for those looking to align with their highest self, Leighana’s work has only just begun and she plans to grow the platform so she can continue to empower and uplift those who view her work.