Samhain is just around the corner which means it’s time to get your Samhain blessing and ritual ideas in order. You don’t have to be a practicing witch to indulge in Samhain traditions. Samhain is one of the eight Pagan holidays you see on the wheel of the year. So if you’re wanting to live a little more seasonally and dip your toes into this spooky season holiday – this one’s for you!
Samhain is an annual holiday of Pagan (Gaelic) origin. Samhain is celebrated annually on October 31. Samhain is a Celtic festival that traditionally marks the harvest season, the closure of the lighter time of year (Summer), and the entrance of the darker time of year (the shorter days of Winter). It’s for this reason that Samhain makes for an amazing spooky season holiday.
The Celts believed Samhain was a time when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. According to Irish mythology, the doors to the “Otherworld” opened, allowing spirits of the dead to walk the Earth and communicate with the living. Samhain isn’t a time to be afraid of ghosts and ghouls, but rather to acknowledge the change of season, remember our loved ones who have passed on, give thanks for what we have – and yes, eat, drink, and be merry.
NO. You do not need to be any kind of culture or religion to celebrate Samhain. Samhain, like the other holidays found on the Wheel of the Year, isn’t exclusive. In fact, I’m pretty sure exclusivity would go against everything the Pagans ever stood for.
What I love about Pagan holidays is that they’re not rooted in religion so much as they’re rooted in the Earth, the universe, the changing of the seasons, and the lunar cycles. Pagan holidays like Samhain acknowledge a turning of the season – which is something we all experience regardless of our religion or beliefs.
Altars are a very witchy sort of thing to do – I must admit. But like, an altar doesn’t have to be reminiscent of an ancient, gothic, altar you’d find at a sacrificial ritual or graveyard. Altars can actually be very simple, small, and modern!
An altar is a fun, small space to celebrate the seasons. I like to think of altar set up and decoration as a little seasonal decor space that I can make my own. I also see it as a way to give thanks and have gratitude for whatever stage of the year we’re in. Similar to a daily tarot card reading or morning journaling, having an altar allows you a space to check in with yourself and the seasons each day.
Again, altars don’t have to be large or expansive. Altars can be simple and small! I’ve got a very small makeshift altar set up on a nightstand in our guest room. It’s on this nightstand that I keep all my tarot supplies, my notebook where I take notes about seasonal living, and also have candles or other seasonal items for any rituals I may do (like a Samhain blessing!).
Altars are a personal space to “practice” whatever you believe in. For me, I like to include a few items of decor that, honestly, I just enjoy looking at. I’m a huge fan of tarot in general, so have several tarot decks and oracle decks at my altar. I also have a few Harry Potter themed items…because I love Harry Potter. LOL!
For Samhain specifically, it’s SO fun to add some spooky season touches to your altar. You can lay down a spooky season or Fall season themed napkin or dish towel. You can add textures, colors, and smells with scented pinecones or pumpkins. Seasonal candles are also incredibly fun to place on an altar! If you’re really into the witchy vibe, a spell candle is a traditional altar item. But me? I just love a good ol’ Fall scented candle to get me in the mood.
Samhain’s main focus is communing with our ancestors, given the veil between worlds is so thin. This is a great time to add some items from or photos of passed loved ones to your altar. I’m incredibly blessed to have the majority of my immediate family with me. If you’ve lost a close family member or friend, consider adding their photo to your altar for Samhain to remember them and let their legacy live on.
With your altar all set up, you can actually start to line up some Samhain blessing ideas! I really want to stress: there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate Samhain or do a Samhain blessing. Blessings can be personalized and be whatever means something to you. The purpose of a Samhain blessing is really just to acknowledge the holiday, the changing of the seasons, and take a moment to pause and reflect.
If you’re looking for some inspiration for a Samhain blessing poem to recite (or to send to friends and family!), I’ve got you covered:
An Irish Halloween blessing poem:
Samhain blessing ideas to use this year.
At all Hallow’s Tide, may God keep you safe
From goblin and pooka and black-hearted stranger,
From harm of the water and hurt of the fire,
From thorns of the bramble, from all other danger,
From Will O’ The Wisp haunting the mire;
From stumbles and tumbles and tricksters to vex you,
May God in His mercy, this week protect you.
A harvest blessing prayer:
Corn has been shucked, grain has been threshed, herbs have been hung to dry.
Grapes have been pressed, potatoes have been dug, beans have been shelled and canned.
It is the harvest season, and food is ready for winter.
We will eat, and we will live, and we will be grateful.
A prayer to ancestors:
This is the night when the gateway between our world and the spirit world is thinnest.
Tonight is a night to call out those who came before.
Tonight I honor my ancestors.
Spirits of my fathers and mothers, I call to you, and welcome you to join me for this night.
You watch over me always, protecting and guiding me, and tonight I thank you.
Your blood runs in my veins, your spirit is in my heart, your memories are in my soul.
With the gift of remembrance, I remember all of you.
You are dead but never forgotten, and you live on within me, and within those who are yet to come.
A prayer to the ancient Celts gods (gods of the Otherworld):
The harvest has ended, and the fields are bare.
The earth has grown cold, and the land is empty.
The gods of the death are lingering over us,
keeping a watchful eye upon the living.
They wait, patiently, for eternity is theirs.
Hail to you, Anubis! O jackal headed one,
guardian of the realm of the dead.
When my time comes, I hope
you may deem me worthy.
Hail to you, Demeter! O mother of darkness,
May your grief be abated
when your daughter returns once more.
Hail to you, Hecate! O keeper of the gate,
between this world and the underworld.
I ask that when I cross over,
you may guide me with wisdom.
Hail to you, Freya! O mistress of Folkvangr,
guardian of those who fall in battle.
Keep the souls of my ancestors with you.
Hail to you, O gods and goddesses,
those of you who guard the underworld
and guide the dead on their final journey.
At this time of cold and dark,
I honor you, and ask that you watch over me,
and protect me when the day arrives
that I take my final journey.
A Samhain prayer for kids:
Samhain is here, cold is the earth,
as we celebrate the cycle of death and rebirth.
Tonight we speak to those through the veil,
the lines between worlds are thin and frail.
Ghosts and spirits in the night,
magical beings rising in flight,
owls hooting up in a moonlit tree,
I don’t fear you and you don’t fear me.
As the sun goes down, far to the west,
my ancestors watch over me as I rest.
They keep me safe and without fear,
on the night of Samhain, the Witches’ New Year.
In Celtic mythology, apples are commonly associated with both the Otherworld and immortality. This explains why bobbing for apples became a regular Samhain ritual and game to play! You can get into the Samhain spirit by setting up your own little game of bobbing for apples.
“Dumb supper” was another Hallows Eve tradition of Samhain. Dinner was served – after inviting ancestors to the table to enjoy as well. Feel free to leave a few seats at the table empty for those passed to join in. After inviting ancestors to partake, I recommend digging into seasonal dishes made with local produce if possible – to give extra appreciation to the change of the season!
It’s also loads of fun to decorate your table for Halloween. I threw an intimate outdoor Halloween dinner party several years back and we had such a blast dining by candlelight surrounded by pumpkins.
Because the spirit of Samhain really is all about communing with our ancestors, it’s a very Celtic Halloween tradition to leave windows and doors open so that spirits may easily enter your home.
I do want to say: you don’t really have to “believe” in magic or ghosts to partake in some of these Celtic blessings and traditions. It’s okay to think ghosts aren’t real, but still leave your windows open as a sign of love, respect, and remembrance to your passed ancestors.
Samhain is the perfect time to visit the cemetery and leave flowers or other gifts at the graves of loved ones. Gather your family and plan a trip to pay your respects.
Make it that much easier for your ancestors to find their way home by lighting candles to lead the way! This one is as simple as eating your Samhain dinner by candlelight. If you’re feeling extra festive, you can recite a simple prayer as you light the candles:
“O little flame that burns so bright, be a beacon on this night. Light the path for all the dead, that they may see now what’s ahead. And lead them to the Summerland and shine until Pan takes their hands. And with Your light, please bring them peace, that they may rest and sleep with ease.”
Halloween may now be a holiday packed with candy, kids, and more treats than tricks. But Halloween has overtly Pagan origins rooted in many of the original Samhain traditions. For example, Samhain season was seen as the season of the dead. Winter signals the dying of the Earth so that things can be reborn again in the Spring. With so many potential spirits out and about, the Pagans took up the habit of “mumming and guising.” Mumming and guising involved the basic principles of modern day trick or treating: going around your neighborhood chanting things in exchange for food. This act of impersonating the spirits has been transformed over the centuries into what we now call regular ol’ Halloween dress up today.
So, really, dressing up for Halloween night this year is a very Samhain thing to do!
Are you celebrating Samhain this year? Share your Samhain blessing and ritual ideas below!
*Blondes & Bagels uses affiliate links. Please read the disclaimer for more info.