Samhain Ritual for Pagans

Samhain (October 31st)


Samhain to the Celts was their New Year's Eve even. That mysterious moment belonging to neither past nor present, or this world nor the other. It was a time when the herds were slaughtered and the meat salted, which also led to the use of salts in magic ritual as a disinfectant against psychic or spiritual evil. On this night also, the spirits of dead friends sought the warmth of the Samhain fire and communication with a living.

The divinatory aspect of Halloween is understandable for two reasons. First, the psychic climates of the season favored it, and second, the anxiety about the coming winter demanded it. The fertility ritual aspect was reflected in legends of gods and heroes. As such, it was a time of deliberate (and tribally purposeful) sexual freedom. That is primarily a Celtic tradition, as many other superstitions say to refrain from sex for fear that your former (dead) friends would take over your body and you might have A Change Child.

So, Halloween was on the one hand a time of propitiation, divination, and communication with the dead, and on the other, and uninhibited feast of eating, drinking, and defiant affirmation of life and fertility in the very face of the closing dark. (Witches Bible Complete page 122)

"The feast itself, in the banquet sends, the original food was of course a proportion of the newly slaughtered cattle, roasted in the purifying Halloween fire, and doubtless having the nature of ritually offered first fruits. The fact that the priesthood had first call on the board divinatory purposes and that what they did not use provided a feast for the tribe, points to this." (Witches Bible Complete page 126)


1. Decorate with apples, pomegranates, plug-ins (as he is or cut into jack-o'-lanterns. If using jack-o'-lanterns, let the mark the four corners), squashes, marigolds, and chrysanthemums. The altar cloth and candles should be our range, to symbolize the harvest.

2. Foods-peaches, turnips, apples, corn, nuts, gingerbread, pumpkin dishes, meat, pumpkin cookies, candy apples, popcorn, and candy corn. (See recipes)

3. Drinks-cider, the mulled wine

4. The cauldron should be in the north quarter, filled with firewood.


1. This is the time of reflection, of looking back over the past year and friends who have passed on. Honor them, but do not call them to you. Leave the plate of food outside the home for the souls of the dead. A candle placed in the window guides them to the afterlife, burying apples "feeds" them on their journey.

2. Write on a piece of paper and aspect of your life you wish to be free of. Such as anger, a baneful habits, disease, or misplaced feelings. Burn it in a ritual. (Solitary Practitioner page 142)

3. Past life regressions are sometimes done in CIRCLE.

4. Scry into the past or future in CIRCLE

5. Return the corn dollies of last year to the ground. (See Imbolg)

6. Bobbing for apples. There were many divination practices associated with Halloween, many of which dealt with marriage, health, and the weather. Ducking for apples was a marriage divination based on the belief that the first to bite into an Apple would be the first to marry in the coming year. This is similar to the wedding tradition of throwing the bride's bouquet for women and her garter for men. Apple peeling was another type of divination to determine how long one's life would be. The longer the unbroken peel the longer the life of the one peeling it.

7. Have the high priest dress in "Man in Black" costume and charcoal for his face. He leads a dance within the CIRCLE.

8. Divination using tarot cards in CIRCLE.

9. At the close of the Halloween CIRCLE, which will he extinguished the altar candles to symbolize the dark half of the year now beginning.

10. This is an invocation. Wise one of the waning moon, goddess of the starry night, I create this fire within your cauldron to transform that which is plaguing me. May the energies be reversed; from darkness, light! From bane, good! From death, birth!

11. Carved jack-o'-lanterns

12. Finish any incomplete projects and payoff lingering bills, if possible, to close out the old year and begin the new year fresh.

13. Leave food out for the birds and other wild animals. Make a donation of food or funding to an animal shelter or sue in honor of the spirit of animals who have died for your family's nourishment over the year.

14. Put pictures of ancestors who have passed on your altar for your Sabbat rite. Light a special candle for them, to show them away to return and celebrate with you. Visit the graves of your ancestors or if this is not possible, the nearest cemetery. Be still there and listen for the voices of those who have passed. Leave offerings of food and drink for them, and for the animals.

15. Have a mask making party in which you create masks to celebrate and represent your ancestry.


1. Farewell to the God. The God dies, and prepares to be reborn at Yule.

2. Time of sacrifice when animals were slaughtered to insure food throughout the winter.

3. The feast of the dead, when the veil between the worlds is thin.


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