Spooky season is finally here, with its pumpkin spice lattes, haunted houses and hayrides! Everyone loves this time of year, but it holds a special place in the hearts of every Halloween lover.
Want to learn how to tap into your witchy roots and celebrate this season like a true blue witch?
Then look no further than these four simple tips and tricks for handling spooky season like the pros.
First off, it’s pronounced SOW-ann, not sam-HANE. This common mispronunciation likely stems from the fact that this a Celtic pagan holiday and the Celts pronounce their letters quite differently from the English.
Samhain is one of four lesser sabbats. For earth based religions, the four big sabbats align to the solstices and equinoxes, the lesser sabbats are the midway points between the solstices and equinoxes. For the northern hemisphere, Samhain falls between the Autumnal equinox in September and the Winter solstice in December (for the southern hemisphere it falls between the Summer solstice and Vernal equinox).
For the Celts this time of year, from sunset on October 31st to sunset on November 1st, marked the official end of Summer and harvest season. This celebration was also a sober welcoming of the season of death that lay ahead. It is believed that as October 31st draws near the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead becomes thinner. This is why it’s popular to associate this time of year with things like ghosts, ghouls and goblins!
Nothing says spooky season quite like a fall scented candle, but what if those candles had a bigger purpose than simply making your home smell delicious? Candles have long since been associated with this time of year since the days are progressively growing longer and the natural light of the sun is waning.
Candles are thought to not only light our way in the dark, but also to help guide the spirits who have gotten lost. With the veil between the worlds so thin this time of year, the use of candles is meant to create a path and guide the spirits who have wandered away from their loved ones. So, as you light your candles this year you can help out your local spirits by repeating this incantation, “candle, candle light the way for all the spirits who have gone astray” to help all the spirits around you find their way back home.
Candles also make for an excellent magickal tool if you’re looking to manifest or even clear away some energy from your life. My favorite way to practice candle magick is by using a pillar or a chime candle, anything that is free from a glass or metal container. Once I have my candle I dress it in some oil–any household oil will do, but it can be nice to use an oil made specifically for magickal purposes–by gently rubbing the oil into the candle. Then I grab a few herbs such as cinnamon, rosemary, or lavender and press or sprinkle them onto the dressed candle (the oil helps the herbs stick into place). You can even add on an extra step before you dress the candle and inscribe a phrase or sigil onto the candle to set in your intention.
Once the candle is dressed the way you’d like it, place it in a metal bowl or dish (metal is safest, especially for candles that will be burning for a long time) and light your candle. I like to spend some time watching the candle burn at the beginning and the end. You can ascertain a lot of information about how this intention will come to fruition by watching the flame dance and jump.
We have two eclipses this October! There is a Libra new moon solar eclipse on the 14th and a Taurus full moon lunar eclipse on the 28th. It’s important to refrain from any kind of manifesting during eclipse season since the energy tends to be more chaotic. It’s kinda like throwing a football into a tornado, you can try to aim as best as you can but it’s not likely to end up where you intended it to go.
Make an Ancestor Altar
Since spirits are far more likely to walk closer to this earthly plane, it’s a common practice to set up an ancestor altar during the month of October.
Ancestor altars are an easy, effective and nourishing way to celebrate Samhain like a true witch. All you need is a photo of your loved ones, something they owned or loved when they were alive, and some offerings to entice them to visit you. For example, I often set out a picture of my grandmother with some jewellery that belonged to her. Once a day I’ll fill up a cup with grape juice (her favorite), making sure to dump out the juice from the day before each time. On special occasions I will prepare an old family recipe and leave out a dish for my ancestors to enjoy while I eat my portion sitting by the altar, therefore inviting the spirits of my loved ones to share a meal with me.
Don’t set up your altars in your bedroom! The spirits of our loved ones who’ve passed tend to gather by the altar and this can make sleeping in the same room as your altar quite difficult. Our loved ones like to watch out for us, but sometimes they can accidentally wake you up by being near. If there is no other place for your altar than in your bedroom you can always ask your loved ones to give you space at night and return in the morning when you’ve woken up. Don’t forget to thank them before they go!
Talk to the Dead
This last and final step for celebrating spooky season like a seasoned witch should only be performed with extreme caution because, though the veil may be thin, it takes a pro to safely commune with spirits from the other side.
Repeat after me, protection is key when it comes to opening yourself up to communication with spirits! Amulets, like those made of pure iron, can help protect you from trickster spirits and fairies, but a simple and valuable spell for protection is that of casting a shield of light around yourself. To do this, first close your eyes and see yourself in your mind’s eye. Then imagine a bright light surrounding you like a dome. Hold that imagine in your mind as you open your eyes, and voila!
If you dare, tools like pendulums, ouija boards and even tarot cards can be used to speak directly with spirits who are wandering the earth this October. Aside from protection, practice and knowledge, you’ll need a strong intuition. Some spirits may claim to be someone they are not, and the best way to tell the difference between a ghost who wishes you well and one who doesn’t is to tune into your intuition. If something feels off, trust that it is off.
For extra protection, cleanse yourself of any energy that may be lingering after you use a ouija board or pendulum. Draw a bath and use epsom salt to neutralize any lingering ties that have formed between you and the spirit world.
And remember, if something goes bump in the night, you can always ask it to leave you be. Most spirits will listen…