Samhain is a celebration of our ancestors - those who have passed on before us - and is a time for conducting protection, banishing, blessing and cleansing rituals and to engage in any magick associated with death, rebirth, transition, spirit communication and divination.
It is important to understand the need to be grounded and protected before communicating with or connecting to the spirit world, along with practicing divination. This is not to say that there’s anything wrong with or dangerous about practicing divination, but it’s simply better to be safe than sorry when working with the other world. There are some easy, simple steps you can take to ensure your safety before, during and after divination and spirit work.
For one thing, it’s important to get grounded and centered. This can easily be done by standing either barefoot outside or indoors and imagining a column of energy leaving through the bottom of your feet and rooting you to the earth. Next, you’ll want to create a safe and sacred space around you. You can do this by imagining a bubble of white light forming around you and the area in which you’re working, by lighting incense, creating a ritual circle with salt, lighting candles, sprinkling (asperging) consecrated water or oil around your area, or cleansing with sound such as hand clapping, bell ringing or with a singing bowl. You can call in the Quarters or ask your spirit guides, higher self, Archangels, or any other protective force or being to watch over you. Just about anything you want to do to ground and shield yourself will work if done with intention. Once you’ve got yourself and your space ready, then you’re in a better position to contact and connect with the spirits.
Now that you're prepared, here are 5 ways you can get involved in this Sabbat.
1). Ancestor Worship
You can leave offerings for the ancestors, conduct a dumb supper, and/or set up an ancestor altar. Samhain is traditionally a time when the dead come to visit the living, so you can leave a candle burning in a window to welcome them, being aware that there may be vengeful, unhappy, or downright angry spirits who draw on the life-force energy of the living.
You can conduct a dumb supper, which is referred to as a dumb supper because you are to eat the entire meal in complete silence, being mindful of who you’re honouring and why. Leave an empty chair at your table and set a place for those who have passed on. Cider, red wine and mead are popular drinks to serve at a dumb supper along with stews, roast meats and vegetables or hearty pies like chicken pot pie. You can call in the quarters, asking for their help and protection during your meal and leave a door or window open a bit to let wandering sprits in and out. Serve your spirit guests first, then make a toast to those whom you are remembering, then remain silent for the duration of the meal. When finished, thank the spirits and/or ancestors for attending your meal and perhaps say a few words of thanks or peace for them.
2). Communicating with the spirit world and/or your chosen deity
Samhain is considered to be a liminal time – a time when the veil or space between worlds is thinnest and spirits have an easier time crossing into this world, and we can cross into theirs. This is a liminal time in the sense that it marks the transition from fall to winter, being the final harvest of the growing season. Other examples of liminal times include: midnight – the transition from one day to another; sunrise or sunset – transitions between day and night; and can include thresholds such as doorways and crossroads which demarcate a distinction between one area and another. Being associated with the Crone aspect of the moon, Samhain is a good time to connect with a dark Goddess such as Hecate, Persephone, Lilith, Hel or Kali or Gods associated with death and the underworld such as Anubis, Cerberus or Hermes.
3) Practice a divination technique
Get out your tarot deck or oracle cards, ask your pendulum some questions, practice scrying either with a crystal ball, mirror, or a bowl of water to see what images appear, or cast the runes or bones. You can ask specific questions about what the next year might hold for you, ask about what beneficial changes you could make and what direction to take moving forwards into the next year, and ask what the spirits can offer you by way of advice and practical words of wisdom.
4). Conduct rituals associated with protection, cleansing, purification and banishing.
Samhain is the perfect time to conduct any banishing, protection and cleansing spells and rituals. Do a home cleaning (physically) and a cleansing (energetically) for Samhain. Clear out things you no longer need to make room for something new. Prepare your home to welcome the ancestors. Conduct a house blessing by walking sunwise (clockwise) from East to West around the outside of your home sprinkling salt, consecrated water or oil, or chanting or clapping to create a protective bubble around your home. You can also have a ritual cleansing and blessing bath with salt, oils and/or herbs.
Samhain is a good time to practice banishing magick to get rid of and release what no longer serves you – this can include bad habits, addictions, negative thinking and the like - and to create and ensure that you have a safe space in which to contact the spirit world. Here is an example of how you can conduct the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram taken from taken from:
The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (also referred to as the LBRP) is a basic, but important magickal ritual, the purpose of which is to ground the magician and clear the magickal ritual space, creating a circle of protection around the magician within which they may be free to do their Work. The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram should typically precede any magickal working or exercise. It is the first thing that any aspiring magician should learn and use.
You should have an area or space where you will be doing this ritual, which is private, and the ritual will not be interrupted. You should light this area with only candle-light, if possible.
The Qabalistic Cross
- Touching thy forehead say Ateh ("unto thee")
- Touching thy breast say Malkuth("the Kingdom")
- Touching thy right shoulder, say ve-Geburah("and the Power")
- Touching thy left shoulder, say ve-Gedulah("and the Glory")
- Clasping thy hand upon thy breast, say le-Olahm, Amen("to the Ages, Amen")
Formulating the Pentagram
- To the East, trace the Earth pentagram with your wand or athame. Vibrate the name Yehovah
- To the South, trace the Earth pentagram and vibrate the name Adonai.
- To the West, trace the Earth pentagram and vibrate the name Eheieh.
- To the North, trace the Earth pentagram and vibrate the name AGLA
Evocation of the Archangels
- Extend your arms out in the form of a cross (As in the Sign of Osiris Slain).
- Facing East say: Before me, Raphael
- Say: Behind me Gabriel
- Say: On my right hand Michael.
- Say: On my left hand Auriel.
- Say: For about me flames the Pentagram.
- Say: And in the Column stands the six-rayed Star.
Repeat then the Qabalistic Cross.
5). Set up and decorate a Samhain altar
Your Samhain altar can include pictures of your ancestors, black, red and orange candles, apples, pumpkins, skulls, bats, acorns, leaves, black crystals for protection like tourmaline, obsidian or smoky quartz. Use your altar as a sacred space your ancestors can visit, leave offerings for the ancestors, sprits, or your chosen deity, or use it to conduct your spells and rituals for protection, blessings, banishing or cleansing. This is also a good time to do a dedication ritual to your chosen Deities and to consecrate your altar tools and to anoint yourself.
Here’s a simple recipe for Samhain cakes that you can serve at your dumb supper, leave as an offering on your altar and/or enjoy after completing your chosen Samhain ritual or celebration.
Samhain Cakes Recipe
1C butter, softened
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3T currants or raisins
2t malt vinegar
Icing sugar/powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the butter and flour until crumbly. Add the sugar, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to blend well. Stir in the lightly beaten eggs, raisins or currants and malt vinegar. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes and roll out to ¼-inch thickness. Cut into circles and bake for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with icing sugar while hot and let cakes cool on a wire rack.