If you’re looking for inspiration for celebrating this special Sabbat, you’re in the right place! Learn here 3 Samhain Ritual ideas for having a great celebration!
It’s Samhain again! That end of the year for witches, but also the beginning of a new one! Each Samhain celebration is done with the intention of leaving behind what was bad during the year and attracting good energy for the upcoming year.
The rituals presented here were taken from the book “Wicca, A Religião da Deusa” by Claudiney Prieto, with adaptations.
To understand more about the subject go to The Wheel of the Year and the Sabbats page.
- 1 What Samhain is and how to celebrate it
- 2 Samhain, Halloween, and the Dead
- 3 Death and Rebirth
- 4 Goddesses related to Samhain
- 5 Samhain Ritual: 3 rituals to empower your celebration
- 6 Samhain Ritual: Burning Wishes
- 7 Samhain Ritual: Braiding a Witch’s Ladder
- 8 How to make a full Samhain Ritual celebration
- 9 Celebrating The Wheel of the Year and the Sabbats with rituals
What Samhain is and how to celebrate it
Part of this article was originally published in the Eclectic Magick Magazine in 2021. October is a special month for witches, Pagans, and everyone else. A lot of people enjoy the last day of this month for celebrating Halloween with their spooky costumes and treats. Others may go for a deeper celebration, the one that originated Halloween. Here, I’ll explain what Samhain is, how Witches and Pagans celebrate it, and how to work with your ancestors during this date through some Samhain Ritual ideas.
If you’ve been following The Wheel of the Year and the 8 Sabbats, you know now it’s time to celebrate the last one – but also the first. For Witches and Pagans, Samhain is the end of the year, but also the beginning of a new cycle. For the ancient Celts, Samhain marks the beginning of winter, a dark and cold period where most of the cattle and other animals would probably die of starvation.
Death is all around Samhain.
- The Earth is dying;
- The Goddess is a crone;
- The God is dead.
Even so, the celebration of Samhain can be a joyous one. Different from other Sabbats with lots of bonfires and dance, Samhain is more introspective. It’s really a period to honor the dead, thank our ancestors, and reflect upon everything we did in the past year.
Samhain, Halloween, and the Dead
Samhain is thought to be the ancient origin of our modern Halloween. Traditionally, we have a celebration called Allhallowtide in Britain which lasts one night and two days. And these days are:
- October 31st for All Saints’ Eve (or Halloween);
- November 1st for All Saints’ Day;
- November 2nd for All Souls’ Day.
As the name suggests, the celebration on October 31st starts at night, and so does Samhain.
Around the world, we have another holiday commonly celebrated during these 3 dates which is “The day of the Dead” or “Día de los muertos”, more specifically on November 2nd.
So if we trace back the origins of these customs, we may end up in Samhain.
Samhain symbolizes the death of the Sun God. He’s no longer providing his energy to the Goddess (the Earth), so she’s slowly dying too. On the former Sabbat, known as Mabon, we did our last harvest of the year. From Samhain on, we’ll be facing darker days, no abundance of food, no sunlight, and the imminent chance of also dying because of the cold.
Even though we live in a globalized society and things have really changed, whenever winter approaches we may feel this “pressure”. Could it be our ancestors showing us what they felt back in time?
Samhain is the perfect time to work and honor our ancestors. It is said that the veil that separates our world from the spiritual world is thinner than ever. It means that spirits may roam free into our dimension and we can make contact with them easily.
Even in modern times we still see these motifs around these dates. On Halloween, people have fun while dressing like vampires, zombies, and other “dangerous” supernatural beings, all related to death; On November 2nd, people still honor their ancestors by visiting their graves or lighting up a candle at home, for example. These people may not work magically with their ancestors, but these dates are ultimately related to ancestrality.
Although we may find communication with spirits easy during Samhain, we must also be aware of the evil ones. They can cross the veil to this dimension too. To scare them away it’s common to light up candles, bonfires, and, of course, the famous jack-o’-lanterns. We know them today as pumpkins, but originally they were crafted of turnips. Maybe they were even scarier than they are now.
By having these lanterns, or candles, positioned in front of doors or through a path, it’s believed the evil spirits would keep at bay and wouldn’t try to cause harm. They became nice items for decoration today and most people don’t really imagine their purpose.
Death and Rebirth
As Samhain symbolizes death and everything that is cyclical in life, of course, we have a rebirth. The Sun God is dead now, but he will be reborn on the Winter Solstice, also known as midwinter or Yule. The name midwinter refers to the middle of winter for the Celts. In our modern calendar, Yule marks the beginning of winter, while Samhain is the equivalent of the middle of autumn.
In some countries, it’s natural to really miss the Sun God’s presence from Samhain to Yule – or even a bit after! So the preparations for a really harsh time are huge. In ancient times, it was known that large numbers of animals, mainly the old ones, wouldn’t be able to survive this period.
That’s why it is common to hear about sacrifices during Samhain. Old animals would be killed, so their meat could be preserved. By doing so, the younger animal would be able to share the scarce food throughout winter.
The last harvest from Mabon would also play an important role during this time. All the food, fruits, and vegetables had to be safely stored, so everyone would be able to have a less difficult time.
On Yule, however, the difficult time is not over yet. But the God is reborn so he brings hope for a new fertile moment that is about to come in the following months.
My specialty is talking about Goddesses and the Sacred Feminine. So, which Goddesses are more related to this period?
During Samhain, as I mentioned before, the Goddess is a crone. It means she knows all the dark arts, she is able to fully judge a situation and, if she finds it necessary, she may simply destroy everything.
This aspect of the Goddess is found throughout many different cultures, even miles away from the Celts and the original Samhain.
To name some:
- Cailleach – The Irish crone who flies in the sky holding a hammer and destroys everything she sees. She is intimately related to Samhain.
- Hel – The Norse Goddess of the Underworld. She rules Helheim (the realm of Hel), a frozen world that welcomes the ones who died with no honor.
- Hekate – The Greek Triple Goddess of Witchcraft and Magick who has free access from and to the Underworld (Hades). As a crone, she is the one who guides lost souls to the Underworld and also punishes those who try to misuse her magick.
- Persephone – The Greek Goddess who is the Queen of the Underworld and Hekate’s pupil. Persephone can judge the dead and can also watch them being tortured by the Furies (according to the Orphic Hymns, the 3 Furies are Persephone’s daughters!).
- Tiamat – The Sumerian Primordial Dragon Goddess of Chaos and Creation. Tiamat is said to have created everything, but she is always ready to destroy everything too.
So if you feel the need, try forging a connection with one of these Goddesses for a Samhain ritual and you may have an intense and rewarding celebration.
Samhain Ritual: 3 rituals to empower your celebration
From now on I’ll present 3 Samhain Ritual ideas. Check these 3 ones and choose the best one(s) for your celebration. I highly suggest doing them all!
Samhain Ritual: Burning Wishes
The Burning Wishes ritual is a Samhain ritual that aims to banish everything that is negative and attract positive things for the year that is beginning. Being very simple to make, the necessary items are:
- 2 pieces of blank paper;
- 1 pencil;
- Some grain alcohol;
- 1 bay leaf;
- Your cauldron.
On one piece of paper, write everything that is negative and you want to get rid of in your life like problems, unwanted people, diseases, complications and so on. On the other piece of paper, write everything that is positive and you want to attract to your life like solutions, reliable people, health, wealth, prosperity, love and so on.
Write about your wishes in details on both papers, sign at the end of each and write the following sentence: May all of this be correct and for the good of all.
Pour some alcohol in your cauldron, light the fire and throw the paper that contains the negative points. As you watch it burning, focus on the flames and see evil being banished away from your life. Talk to the Goddess and the God and ask them these negative forces to be nullified and transmuted. When the fire is over, go to the second part of the ritual.
Put some more alcohol in the cauldron, light the fire and now throw the paper with the positive stuff written. As you watch it burning, place the bay leaves inside the fire, focus on the flame and see the positive energy being brought into your life. After the fire is over, focus on the smoke from the bay leaves. They are going towards the Goddess. Ask for positive energy to always be present in your life.
Samhain Ritual: Braiding a Witch’s Ladder
The Witch’s Ladder is used for different spells. However, as a Samhain ritual, it is traditionally braided for the same purposes as the previous ritual. The Witch’s Ladder symbolizes the cord that connects us to the other dimension and also symbolizes the umbilical cord, source of life.
To make a Witch’s Ladder you need coloured strings, for each colour will have a meaning. You can use up to three colours in yours! Some ladders, when made for certain spells, are made of strands of hair. Along the ladder attach symbols that represent your desires for the next year like hearts, coins, specific stones and so on. Feathering intensifies the power of the ladder.
The colours of the strings represent:
- White: Peace and harmony;
- Red: Removal of enemies, overcoming obstacles, attraction of strength and courage;
- Orange: Success and prosperity;
- Pink: Love attraction;
- Black: Protection and sending the bad luck away;
- Green: Abundance;
- Yellow: Attraction of health and luck in commerce.
After choosing the three colours, try to cut them to the extent of your height and then begin to braid them, always mentalizing everything you want to attract to your life, already symbolized by the colours.
In the end, attach the symbols and/or the feathers that can represent your desires, if you have them.
Put the rope on your altar on the night of the Samhain Sabbat and make your consecration during the ceremony. After the ceremony, hang the rope somewhere in the house, and every time you see it, remember the wishes you made when you created it.
How to make a full Samhain Ritual celebration
For this Samhain ritual you will need:
- 1 Cauldron;
- 1 black candle;
- 1 orange candle;
- 1 apple;
- 1 loaf of bread made by yourself;
- 1 pomegranate;
- 2 pieces of blank paper;
- 1 pencil;
- Some rosemary;
- 1 tablespoon;
- Some grain alcohol;
- 1 Goblet with wine.
- Cálice com vinho.
Place the cauldron on the altar the orange candle on the right side and the black candle on the left side of it. The apple is near the orange candle and the pomegranate is near the black candle. Draw the Magic Circle and say:
On this sacred night, in which the veil separating the worlds is thinner, we are visited by our Ancestors.
May the Elder Goddess and the Lord of Shadows bless all the beloved who come to share this Rite of Sabbat.
Light the candles, saying:
Sacred Ancestors, come to me.
Tonight I sing the magic and perform this ritual in honour to those who left for the Other World.
May this rite be pleasant to the eyes of those who are gone.
Blessed be all of them.
Raise the Cauldron, saying:
This is the womb of the Mother, the Cauldron of all ends and beginnings.
Put it back in place and get a piece of paper. Write down everything you want to keep away from your life in it. Burn it in the black candle and let it burn inside the Cauldron.
When the first piece of paper finishes burning, take the other piece and then write down everything you want to attract into your life in it. Light it on the orange candle and let it burn inside the Cauldron.
Place the rosemary in the Cauldron near the ashes and begin to stir the mixture with the wooden spoon clockwise saying:
May the old die and the new come.
By the power of Life and Death,
I greet the spirits tonight in Samhain.
Put some alcohol in the Cauldron and then set it on fire saying:
Through this light and the sea beyond,
I greet all the spirits on this night of Samhain.
Look at the flames of fire and mentalize all your desires.
With your Athame, open the pomegranate, eat some seeds while thinking about the negative things you want to keep away from your life. Put some seeds on the fire.
Break the apple in half, eat one of its pieces and throw a small piece in the cauldron’s flames. Now think of everything you want to attract. With your wooden spoon, stir the contents of the Cauldron and then say:
Let the negative become positive,
May evil become good,
May the disease become health,
and hatred become love.
Drink a sip of wine and pour a little into the Cauldron, making an offering to the Goddess and the God while saying:
I make this libation in honour to the Goddess and the God.
I also honour to all my Ancestors.
So mote it be!
Touch the bread with the Athame and say:
I consecrate you in the name of the Ancients.
May you bring me health, success, prosperity and love.
Eat a piece of the bread.
Sing, dance and celebrate in honour to the Goddess, the God and your ancestors. Thank the Ancestors and undo the circle.
Put the rest of the bread under a tree or in a garden as an offering to your Ancestors.
Celebrating The Wheel of the Year and the Sabbats with rituals
Now that you got ideas for your Samhain Ritual and celebration, you can also get ritual ideas for the other Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year: