Set Up an Ancestor Shrine – Ancestor Altar

Set Up an Ancestor Shrine – Ancestor Altar

In many Pagan and Wiccan traditions, the ancestors are honored, especially at Samhain. This Sabbat, after all, is the night when the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its most fragile. By setting up an ancestor shrine or altar, you can honor the people of your bloodline — your kinfolk and clansmen who have helped to shape the person you are. This altar or shrine can be set up just for the Samhain season, or you can leave it up all year long for meditation and rituals.

If you’ve got the room, it’s nice to use an entire table for this shrine, but if space is an issue, you can create it in a corner of your dresser top, on a shelf, or on the mantle over your fireplace. Regardless, put it in a place where it can be left undisturbed, so that the spirits of your ancestors may gather there, and you can take time to meditate and honor them without having to move stuff around every time someone needs to use the table.

Also, bear in mind that you can honor anyone you like in this shrine. If you have a deceased pet or friend, go ahead and include them. Someone doesn’t have to be a blood relative to be part of our spiritual ancestry.

Make the Space Special

First, do a physical cleaning of the space. After all, you wouldn’t invite Aunt Gertrude to sit in a dirty chair, would you? Dust the table top or shelf and clear it of any items that are not related to your shrine. If you like, you can consecrate the space as sacred, by saying something like:

I dedicate this space to those
whose blood runs through me.
My fathers and mothers,
my guides and guardians,
and those whose spirits
helped to shape me.

As you do this, smudge the area with sage or sweetgrass, or asperge with consecrated water. If your tradition requires it, you may wish to consecrate the space with all four elements.

Finally, add an altar cloth of some sort to help welcome the ancestors. In some Eastern religions, a red cloth is always used. In some Celtic-based paths, it is believed that a fringe on the altar cloth helps tie your spirit to those of your ancestors.

Welcome Your Fathers and Mothers

There are different types of ancestors, and which ones you choose to include are up to you. There are our blood ancestors, who are the people from whom we directly descend — parents, grandparents, etc. There are also archetypical ancestors, who represent the place that our clan and family came from. Some people also choose to honor the ancestors of the land — the spirits of the place you are now — as a way of thanking them. Finally, there are our spiritual ancestors — those who we may not be tied to by blood or marriage, but who we claim as family nonetheless.

Start by selecting photos of your ancestors. Choose pictures that have meaning for you — and if the photos happen to have the living in them as well as the dead, that’s okay. Arrange the photos on your altar so that you can see all of them at once.

If you don’t have a photo to represent an ancestor, you can use an item that belonged to him or her. If you’re placing someone on your altar who lived prior to the mid-1800s, chances are good there’s no photograph existing. Instead, use an item that may have been the person’s — a piece of jewelry, a dish that’s part of your family heirloom set, a family Bible, etc.

You can also use symbols of your ancestors. If your family is from Scotland, you can use a kilt pin or a length of plaid to represent your clan. If you come from a family of craftsmen, use an item designed or created to symbolize your family’s artisanship.

Finally, you can add a genealogy sheet or family tree to the shrine. If you have in your possesssion the ashes of a departed loved one, add those as well.

Tying It All Together

Once you have everything in your shrine that represents your ancestors, consider adding a few other items. Some people like to add votive candles, so they can light them while meditating. You may wish to add a cauldron or cup to symbolize the womb of the Earth Mother. You can also add a symbol of your spirituality — a pentagram, ankh, or some other representation of your beliefs.

Some people leave food offerings on their altars as well, so that their ancestors can partake of a meal with the family.

Use the altar when you perform a Samhain ancestor meditation or a ritual to honor the ancestors.

Prayer to the Deities of Death

Prayer to the Deities of Death

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.

Samhain Spirit Incense

Samhain Spirit Incense

By Patti Wigington

By the time Samhain rolls around, your herb garden is probably looking pretty sad. Now’s the time to take all those goodies you harvested and dried in September, and put them to good use. This incense blend is perfect for a Samhain seance, divination session, or for any other autumn working.This recipe is for loose incense, but you can adapt it for stick or cone recipes. As you mix and blend your incense, focus on the goal of your work. Do you wish to contact the spirit of a long-dead ancestor? Are you hoping to bring some visions your way in a dream? Or are you maybe looking to enhance your own meditative abilities? Focus your intent as you blend your ingredients.

You’ll need:
  • 2 parts Cinnamon
  • 1 part ground cloves
  • 1 part Dragon’s Blood resin
  • 1 part Hyssop
  • 1 part Patchouli
  • 2 parts Rosemary
  • 1 part Sage
  • A dash of sea salt

Mixing the Magic

Add your ingredients to your mixing bowl one at a time. Measure carefully, and if the leaves or blossoms need to be crushed, use your mortar and pestle to do so. As you blend the herbs together, state your intent. You may find it helpful to charge your incense with an incantation. For example, if you were going to use your incense during a seance, you could use this:
The veil has thinned, the moon is bright
and I blend this magic on Samhain night.
Celebrating life and death and rebirth
with these herbs I’ve harvested from the earth.
I send my intent by smoke in the air
and call on those whose blood I share.
I ask my ancestors to guide and watch over me,
As I will, so it shall be.

Store your incense in a tightly sealed jar. Make sure you label it with its intent and name, as well as the date you created it. Use within three months, so that it remains charged and fresh.

Hold a Seance at Samhain

Hold a Seance at Samhain

By Patti Wigington, Guide

A séance is an event that can either be fantastic, or a real mess. Which one it is will depend on how much preparation goes into it. With a little bit of planning and thought ahead of time, you can pave the way for your séance to go smoothly. Certainly, it’s a good idea to expect the unexpected — after all, the dead are hardly predictable — but by setting yourself a few guidelines in advance, you can make sure that everyone has the best experience possible.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied
Here’s How:
  1. Plan your guest list: Figure out how many people you’re going to have — and make sure the space you’re using will allow them all. If your living room only seats eight people comfortably, don’t invite fifteen! Also, be sure that everyone attending is open-minded to the spirit world. People who are adamantly “non-believers” bring a certain amount of negative energy, and this can be disruptive. You may also find that it adversely effects your communication with the spirits during your séance.
  2. Create a Spirit-Friendly Atmosphere: Most people like to conduct a séance at a round or oval table, but if neither is available, don’t worry. Drape the table with fabric or sheets — some people prefer light colors to attract “friendly” spirits, but it’s a matter or personal preference. If you use incense, be sure that no one in your group is allergic to it. Place incense somewhere away from the table, rather than on the table itself. Candles are a nice addition as well — not only do they provide some visibility, but there’s a school of thought that believes spirits are attracted to heat and light sources.
  3. Common Sense: Help everyone get comfortable by offering refreshments before you begin. Make sure that guests will be respectful of the spirits, and of other guests. Turn off all cell phones. If anyone needs to go to the bathroom or have a smoke, do so before you begin. Set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature — remember that spirit activity can cause some fluctuation in levels of cold or heat. Once everyone is seated, you can help everyone relax by doing a short guided mediation, offering a prayer, or casting a protective circle, if your tradition requires you to do so.
  4. During the Seance: Although many people like to do this, you don’t have to hold hands to raise energy. In fact, if a séance goes on too long, it can get downright uncomfortable. Whoever is acting as the leader of the séance — the medium — should ask the spirits to join the group. If there is a specific spirit you are trying to contact, ask for them by name. For example, now would be the time to say, “Dear Auntie Gertrude, we respectfully ask that you honor us with your presence this evening.” In some séances, spirits are summoned by chanting — this will be up to your medium to decide on.
  5. As long as the spirits seem willing to reply, you can carry on a question and answer session with them. Bear in mind that spirits respond in many different ways. Sometimes there will be a tangible reaction — a tap, a thump, a soft breeze. Other times — particularly if you have a room full of very psychically gifted people — the spirit may choose to respond through another person. This may be the medium, or any other guest. The individual may simply “get a message” to pass along, which they would then share, such as, “Your Auntie Gertrude wants you to know she isn’t in pain any more.”
  6. Party Time: Sometimes, particularly if you have a group of psychically gifted individuals as guests, you may get several spirits arriving all at once, chattering away. This is not cause for alarm, but it does take some managing, because they’ve all got something to say. Treat it like you would any other conversation with a large group of people — let each spirit get their turn to deliver the message they came with, and then move on to the next one. Also, bear in mind that not all spirits are from departed humans — deceased pets may also have a message to pass along.
  7. Unwanted Entities: Just like at any other party, sometimes a séance will bring an uninvited guest. In this case, when you have a spirit that seems malevolent or mischievous, someone needs to let them know they’re unwelcome. Typically, this will be the medium who is leading the séance, who will usually say something like, “You are not wanted here, but we thank you for your presence. Now it is time for you to move on.”

    If an entity arrives that seems angry or hostile and will not leave, no matter what you do, end the séance. Chances are good that it’s been attracted to someone in your group who is dysfunctional.

  8. Closing the Door: When you’re done with the séance, it’s important that guests thank the spirits for coming to visit. After all, you would do so if you had living guests drop in!

    If one of your attendees seems to have slipped into a trance or a sleep-like state during the séance, allow them to return gradually, on their own. Do NOT shake them awake. Chances are they’ll have a message for someone once they’re back among the group.

  9. Close the séance by telling the spirits farewell, thanking them, and asking them to move along. You may want to offer a small blessing or prayer as a way of ending the formal séance, but bear in mind that some spirits like to hang around after the séance has officially finished. If they do, it’s okay. They’re probably just curious, and they may return to visit you later in the evening during a dream sequence.
  1. Before you begin your seance, smudge the area with sage or sweetgrass for ritual cleansing.
  2. Make sure you’ve eliminated potential distractions, such as children or ringing telephones. Interestingly, many pets seem to come and go through spirit activity without causing any disruption. Cats in particular tend to be very curious about what’s going on.
  3. Your guests may wish to bring an object that belonged to a deceased person, as a way of strengthening the connection. Photographs are also good links to the dead.

Honoring Yourself

Honoring Yourself
By Artemisia

Most of us know that Samhain is the time of year to honor Mother
Earth with gratitude for the food she has provided us this harvest,
and many of us remember that at Samhain the veil between the worlds
is thin, and that we should honor our Ancestors and those who have
passed over. Many of us honor our loved ones during the holiday
season that follows Samhain, at Thanksgiving, Yule, and Christmas, by
cooking, throwing parties, buying or making gifts, and by attending
gatherings, but how many of us remember to honor ourselves this time
of year?

Just as the moon cycles through its phases thirteen times a year,
from waxing to full to waning to dark again, so do the sun and earth
cycle through their phases together in one year. Beginning at Fall
Equinox, for us here in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun enters the
waning phase in a noticeable way. The days begin to get shorter and
the nights get longer. There is a lot more darkness (and cold
depending on where you live). Samhain marks the point where the
darkness really takes hold and Yule, the winter solstice, is the dark
moon of the solar year.

What does this waning into dark phase mean to us and how can we use
this time to honor ourselves? Well let’s think about the waning moon
for a moment. This time of the month energetically corresponds to a
woman’s cycle just before her bleeding time begins. During this
period, we can become extra sensitive or angry because we are no
longer able to put up with things in our lives that make us unhappy.
We no longer hide our emotions. In fact, we can’t keep them from
coming out. This time of the month is about letting go of old,
negative thought forms or self-talk which hold us back and don’t do
us any good. It’s about speaking up for yourself and communicating
what you need from others around you and how they should treat you.
It’s also a time of letting go of emotional attachments to extraneous
material possessions, projects and people that drain our energy, and
of clearing space in our lives for the transformation and healing
that comes when we finish bleeding and/or the moon breaks from the
dark into the new.

In the bigger, solar picture, during the waning and dark parts of the
year, we can honor ourselves by taking time out of our hectic
schedules just for us. Make time and space to be alone and reflect
upon the past year. What is no longer of use to you? What needs to
change? Get in touch with your heart and find out how you truly feel
and what is really important to you. Once you are clear about what
is holding you back and what needs to be cleaned out, make the time
to release it. You can do this through physical acts like a thorough
housecleaning or a new haircut or symbolically through ritual or
meditation. Whatever it is you need to release, honor yourself by
taking the steps necessary to clear away the excess baggage. After
you have let it all go, take time to enjoy, celebrate, accept and
love the new, lighter you.

I’d also like to encourage you to honor yourself during this busy
season by tending to your body in addition to your spirit. The
fresh, seasonal foods this time of year are very tempting: bright
orange pumpkins, multi-colored squashes, red and yellow apples,
purple and green grapes, yellow and golden pears, pink pomegranates,
dark leafy greens, brown nuts of all shapes and sizes, red juicy
cranberries. Nourish yourself by taking part of Mother Earth’s
harvest and celebrating the mystery and magic of the growth cycle.
As it gets colder and darker, keep yourself warm with bright,
cheerful, herbs and spices in your drinks and cooking such as ginger,
cayenne, curry, garlic, cinnamon and pepper. This time of year,
especially when we are so busy, it is easy to neglect our bodies.
Take time for yourself to stretch and move around joyfully to keep
your inner healing fire burning. Perhaps even consider learning tai
chi, yoga, pilates or meditation to access the healing power of your
breath and bring yourself peace and calm in the midst of the most
hectic season of the year.

Whatever you do, make sure that it feels good to you. The easiest
way to honor yourself is to live a joyful life.

Many Blessings for a Loving Holiday Season!
About The Author: Artemisia is studying to become a Priestess of the Order of the White
Moon. She is a graduate student in Natural Health and a Holistic Lifestyle Counselor

Lady of the Crossroads

Lady of the Crossroads
by Heathwitch

One on three
which way to go
a second stood still
faces outcast
Darkness about clasped
with snake and lion and hound
thin veins under leather
untouched by time
outstretched a touch
with eyes of heaven.
One on three
take a step
make a choice
I will be with you
silent when needed
A fury when you fear
Face the Moon
I will be here.
At Samhain, our thoughts turn toward the memory of our ancestors, the mysteries of death and rebirth, the practice of divination. We decorate our altars with blacks and oranges, photographs of those who have passed on, and we commune with the Lords and Ladies of the Underworld such as the Greek Goddess Hecate.

Hecate is the Thracian Goddess of the moon, absorbed as a Titan by the Greeks and worshipped at crossroads, for She has the ability to see past, present and future pathways. Though most commonly perceived as a Crone Goddess, Hecate can also appear as a Maiden, terrible and beautiful to behold.

She is the dark Goddess, the Lady of the Wild Hunt and keeper of occult knowledge and wisdom. Known as the “Goddess of Witches” and the “Patroness of Priestesses”, Hecate stands at the gateway between life and death, such is Her role as Queen of the Underworld and the Lady of Spirits. She is also the changer, the one who destroys in order to cause rebirth and regeneration.

Hecate’s roles are not solely tied to the “darker” aspects of life however. She is also the midwife who blesses new life in the world, the teacher who guides seekers and the witness who aides with decision-making and determining truth, the giver of courage and strength. She is intuition and psychic ability, the Lady of dreams and nightmares who helps us see the deeper, shadow-side of our psyches. She is the Wise Woman who sees all and knows all, and who will willingly share Her knowledge and wisdom with you, if you but ask.

Hecate’s colours are deep reds, purples and black, and She rules over all wild animals in particular dragons, dogs, frogs, horses, reptiles, toads and snakes. Her trees are willow and yew, most commonly seen in graveyards, and She can be found in the tarot cards the Hermit, the Moon and the High Priestess.

You can invite Hecate into your life by mixing an oil for Her (add 10 drops cypress oil, 6 drops patchouli oil and 4 drops sandalwood oil to 20ml of base oil) and including it in a ritual or meditation dedicated to Hecate. Alternatively you could make an incense blend to honour this Goddess try the following recipe:

½ part crushed garlic
½ part mandrake root
½ part mugwort
2 parts willow bark
1 part lavender
4 parts myrrh
A few drops of cypress oil
A few drops of myrrh oil

You can also work with Hecate in ritual; She can be invoked to aid in inner exploration, dream-work, divination, healing, spells of all kinds, banishings and the release of negativity, communicating with the dead, and meditations and journeys to your inner self.

At Samhain, Hecate can be called upon to focus your intuition when practicing divination on this night when the veils between the world are thin. She can be invoked for help in spell workings and the making of charms, or to help in soul-searching meditations.

Most often, though, Hecate is invoked at Samhain to aid in honouring and contacting our Beloved Dead, those who have passed from this physical life before us:

Decorate the altar with blacks and oranges. Use flowers of the same colours, and fruits of the season (pumpkins, root vegetables). Light orange and black candles if possible and use a mixture of cedarwood and sweetgrass incense — cedarwood for purification, sweetgrass for your ancestors.

Assemble on your altar pictures of your ancestors and mementos you may have received from them.

Cast circle in your usual way. Invoke Hecate:

“Hecate, Goddess of the Realm of Spirits,
She who stands at the crossroads,
Seer of past, present and future,
Guardian of all Witches and Lady of the Dark,
I ask you to come forth into my circle
And stand with me this night
Hail and welcome!”

Feel Hecate come into your circle. Sit with your altar and slowly focus on each of your ancestors. Speak aloud of their life and their impact on you. Ask Hecate to acknowledge your reverence of those who have gone before, and ask that your ancestors know of your love and thoughts.

Take your time and do not be afraid of the emotions which may come to you; embrace them and welcome them into your circle. As you speak of your ancestors you may feel them draw near from the Summerlands; do not be afraid — instead, feel touched by their presence and thank them for all they mean to you.

Thank Hecate and your ancestors for their presence and say goodbye. Blow out the candles and take up circle.

Have a Blessed Samhain!

Ann, Martha, and Dorothy Myers Imel. Goddesses in World Mythology: A Biographical Dictionary. Oxford University Press: New York (1995).
Ardinger, Barbara. Goddess Meditations. Llewellyn: Minnesota (1998).
Conway, D. J. The Ancient and Shining Ones. Llewellyn: Minnesota (1993).
Franklin, Anna. Magical Incenses and Oils. Capall Bann: Berkshire (2000).
Marashinsky, Amy Sophia. The Goddess Oracle: A Way to Wholeness through the Goddess and Ritual. Element: Boston (1997).
Sjöö, Monica & Mor, Barbara. The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering The Religion of the Earth. HarperCollins: San Francisco (1991).
Zell, Morning Glory. “Manifesting Hecate”, SageWoman # 60 (Winter 2003). Blessed Bee: California (2003).
About The Author: Heathwitch is a Witch, teacher and author. She runs courses and workshops on energy work, healing, Witchcraft and magic. High Priestess of the Circle of the Moon coven, Heathwitch lives in Cheshire, England.

How To Hold a Samhain Rite to Honor Animals

How To Hold a Samhain Rite to Honor Animals

By Patti Wigington, Guide

Celebrate Samhain and honor the animals in your life.

This ceremony is designed to honor the spirits of the animals – both wild and domestic. Man’s relationship with animals goes back thousands and thousands of years. They have been a source of food and clothing. They have protected us from the things that lurk in the darkness. They have provided comfort and warmth. In some cases, they have even raised and nurtured our discarded children, as in the case of Romulus and Remus. If you have animals in your home — pets or livestock — this is their night. Feed them before you feed the humans in your family. Put some food out for any wild animals that may happen by as well.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied
Here’s How:
  1. If you have a pet that has passed away during this last year, you may want to include a photo or keepsake of them on your table during this rite.

    Prepare a stew for your family that includes small amounts of as many different meats as you may have available — beef, pork, game, chicken, etc. If your family is vegetarian or vegan, designate a non-meat ingredient to represent each animal and adapt the ritual as needed, eliminating lines that reference the eating of animals. When your stew is ready, gather the family around the altar table you prepared during the previous night’s Harvest End Ritual.

  2. Place the stew pot in the center of the table, with a large serving spoon or ladle. Make sure you have some good dark bread to eat as well. Each member of the family should have a bowl and spoon handy. Say:

    Samhain has come, and it is the end of the Harvest.
    The crops are in from the fields,
    And the animals are preparing for the coming winter.
    Tonight, we honor the animals in our lives.
    Some have died that we may eat.
    Some have provided us with love.
    Some have protected us from that which would do us harm.
    Tonight, we thank them all.

  3. Go around the family in a circle. Each person should take a scoop of stew from the pot and place it in their bowl. Younger children may need an adult’s help with this. As each person gets their helping, say:

    Blessed are the animals,
    Those who die that we may eat.
    Blessed are the animals,
    Those we love and who love us in return.

    When every family member has their stew, each takes a piece of bread. As they do, say:

    As the Wheel of the Year continues to turn,
    The harvest has ended, and the grain has been threshed.
    The animals sleep for the winter.
    We thank them for their gifts.

  4. Take your time finishing your meal. If you have pets, don’t be surprised if they come visit while you’re eating your stew tonight — animals tend to be very aware of the spiritual plane! If there is any stew left over, leave some out for the spirits. Any extra bread can be thrown outside for the wild animals and birds.
  1. If you want to mix a bit of stew in with your pet’s everyday food, it’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian first.
What You Need:
  • An altar table
  • A pot of stew
  • Some hearty dark bread

How To Honor the Harvest’s End – A Samhain Ritual for Wiccans and Pagans

How To Honor the Harvest’s End – A Samhain Ritual for Wiccans and Pagans

By Patti Wigington

Samhain represents, among other things, the end of the harvest season. If you haven’t picked it by Samhain, you probably won’t be eating it! The gardens have died off by now, and where we once saw lush green plants, there is nothing left but dry and dead stalks. The perennials have shut down for the season too, going dormant so that they may return to us in the spring. Animals are brought in from the fields for the winter — and if you’ve ever had a spider come wandering into your living room one chilly October night, you know that even the insects are trying to find a place to stay warm.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied
Here’s How:

If we had lived a few hundreds of years ago, we would not only have brought our cows and sheep in from the pastures. Most likely we’d slaughter a few of them, as well as some pigs and goats, smoking the meat so it would last through the cold months. Our grain that we picked back at Lughnasadh has been baked into bread, and all of our herbs have been gathered, and hang from the rafters in the kitchen. The harvest is over, and now it’s time to settle in for winter with the coziness of a warm fireplace, heavy blankets, and big pots of comfort food on the stovetop.

If you want to celebrate Samhain as the time of harvest’s end, you can do so as a single ritual, or as the first of three days of ceremony. If you don’t have a permanent altar in place, set up a table to leave in place for the three days prior to Samhain. This will act as a your family’s temporary altar for the Sabbat. Decorate the altar with symbols of late fall, such as:

  • Skulls, skeletons, grave rubbings, ghosts
  • Harvest food such as pumpkins, squash, root vegetables
  • Nuts and berries, dark breads
  • Dried leaves and acorns
  • A cornucopia filled with an abundance of fruit and veggies
  • Mulled cider, wine, or mead


To begin your ceremony, prepare a meal for the family — and this is something that everyone can get involved in. Put emphasis on fruits and vegetables, and wild game meat if available. Also make sure you have a loaf of a dark bread like rye or pumpernickel and a cup of apple cider or wine. Set the dinner table with candles and a fall centerpiece, and put all the food on the table at once. Consider the dinner table a sacred space.

Gather everyone around the table, and say:


Tonight is the first of three nights,
on which we celebrate Samhain.
It is the end of the harvest, the last days of summer,
and the cold nights wait on the other side for us.
The bounty of our labor, the abundance of the harvest,
the success of the hunt, all lies before us.
We thank the earth for all it has given us this season,
and yet we look forward to winter,
a time of sacred darkness.

Take the cup of cider or wine, and lead everyone outside. Make this a ceremonial and formal occasion. If you have a vegetable garden, great! Go there now — otherwise, just find a nice grassy spot in your yard. Each person in the family takes the cup in turn and sprinkles a little bit of cider onto the earth, saying:

Summer is gone, winter is coming.
We have planted and
we have watched the garden grow,
we have weeded,
and we have gathered the harvest.
Now it is at its end.


If you have any late-fall plants still waiting to be picked, gather them up now. Collect a bundle of dead plants and use them to make a straw man or woman. If you follow a more masculine path, he may be your King of Winter, and rule your home until spring returns. If you follow the Goddess in her many forms, make a female figure to represent the Goddess as hag or crone in winter.

Once that is done, go back inside and bring your King of Winter into your home with much pomp and circumstance. Place him on your table and prop him up with a plate of his own, and when you sit down to eat, serve him first.

Begin your meal with the breaking of the dark bread, and make sure you toss a few crumbs outside for the birds afterwards. Keep the King of Winter in a place of honor all season long — you can put him back outside in your garden on a pole to watch over next spring’s seedlings, and eventually burn him at your Beltane celebration.

When you are finished with your meal, put the leftovers out in the garden. Wrap up the evening by playing games, such as bobbing for apples or telling spooky stories before a bonfire.

What You Need:
  • A table to use as your Samhain altar
  • Decorations that represent the late autumn season
  • A meal with lots of veggies, fruit, and bread
  • A cup of wine or cider

Samhain History

Samhain History

By Patti Wigington, Guide

What is Samhain?:

Samhain is known by most folks as Halloween, but for Wiccans and Pagans it’s considered a Sabbat to honor the ancestors who came before us. It’s a good time to contact the spirit world with a seance, because it’s the time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.

Myths and Misconceptions:

Contrary to a popular Internet-based (and Chick Tract-encouraged) rumor, Samhain was not the name of some ancient Celtic god of death, or of anything else, for that matter. Religious scholars agree that the word Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”) comes from the Gaelic “Samhuin,” but they’re divided on whether it means the end or beginning of summer. After all, when summer is ending here on earth, it’s just beginning in the Underworld. Samhain actually refers to the daylight portion of the holiday, on November 1st.

All Hallow Mass:

Around the eighth century or so, the Catholic Church decided to use November 1st as All Saints Day. This was actually a pretty smart move on their part – the local pagans were already celebrating that day anyway, so it made sense to use it as a church holiday. All Saints’ became the festival to honor any saint who didn’t already have a day of his or her own. The mass which was said on All Saints’ was called Allhallowmas – the mass of all those who are hallowed. The night before naturally became known as All Hallows Eve, and eventually morphed into what we call Halloween.

The Witch’s New Year:

Sunset on Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The old year has passed, the harvest has been gathered, cattle and sheep have been brought in from the fields, and the leaves have fallen from the trees. The earth slowly begins to die around us.

This is a good time for us to look at wrapping up the old and preparing for the new in our lives. Think about the things you did in the last twelve months. Have you left anything unresolved? If so, now is the time to wrap things up. Once you’ve gotten all that unfinished stuff cleared away, and out of your life, then you can begin looking towards the next year.

Honoring the Ancestors:

For some of us, Samhain is when we honor our ancestors who came before us. If you’ve ever done genealogy research, or if you’ve had a loved one die in the past year, this is the perfect night to celebrate their memory. If we’re fortunate, they will return to communicate with us from beyond the veil, and offer advice, protection and guidance for the upcoming year.

If you want to celebrate Samhain in the Celtic tradition, spread the festivities out over three consecutive days. You can hold a ritual and feast each night. Be flexible, though, so you can work around trick-or-treating schedules!

Samhain Rituals:

Try one — or all — of these rituals to celebrate Samhain and welcome the new year.

  • Celebrating the End of the Harvest
  • Samhain Ritual for Animals
  • Honoring the Ancestors
  • Hold a Seance at Samhain
  • Host a Dumb Supper
  • Honor the God and Goddess at Samhain
  • Celebrating the Cycle of Life and Death
  • Ancestor Meditation

Halloween Traditions:

Even if you’re celebrating Samhain as a Pagan holiday, you may want to read up on some of the traditions of the secular celebration of Halloween:

  • Black Cats
  • Jack O’Lanterns
  • Trick or Treating

Samhain – Crone Spell

To Produce, Psychic Dreams

PURPOSE:  To aid all around psychic development

BACKGROUND:  Samhain is the season of the Crone – the “Old Woman” aspect of the Goddess, the divine midwife who brings us into life and helps us cross over into death. A guardian of sacred thresholds, she also spins, weaves and cuts our life threads. Because of this, she is sometimes depicted as a spider or represented by a web. Sometimes known as the “Hag” or Cailleach, the crone is strongly connected with psychic abilities and the ability to walk between the worlds–the capacity to traverse the borderland between everyday reality and other realities such as Faerie or the Land of the Dead.

Items you will need:

  • Two teaspoons of dried mugwort
  • One teaspoon of powdered elder leaves
  • Six drops of  cypress essential oil
  • Mortar and pestle
  • One charcoal disk in a fireproof dish
  • One black candle
  • Matches or lighter

Casting the Spell:

  • Blend the mugwort, elder leaves and cypress oil in the mortar and pestle.
  • Light the charcoal, then the black candle, saying:
Hecate, Goddess of the Crossroads,
Direct me.
Weaver, guide my thread into
The spaces between.
  • Sprinkle the incense onto the charcoal, and inhale the scent.
  • Close your eyes. Visualize yourself walking from the East to a Crossroads at sunset and stopping to face North. From this direction, a dark figure approaches. This is the Crone. When She stops, She will beckon you to follow her. She will lead you to a gateway: don not pass through this time, but note what it looks like and any symbols that are written on it. This is the gateway through which you must pass before you can walk between the worlds–and you will need to look out for it, or its symbols, in lucid dreams during this winter.
  • Keep careful note of your dreams between now and Imbolc.


The Spells Bible
Ann-Marie Gallagher

Welcome To The WOTC’s Special Samhain Edition (Part 1)

Samhain Comments & Graphics
 Good afternoon and Merry Meet, Dear Friends! I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend. I also hope you are gearing up for Samhain. I believe this is my favorite time of the year. The trees are absolutely beautiful, there is a crisps breeze in the air, it is marvelous.  

Today I decided to do a Samhain Special for you. It will be Part 1 and then tomorrow Part 2 will follow. I can never understand why people wait to the last day to hand out spells, rituals and other info associated with the Sabbats. I am one of these people who likes to have everything in advance. No running around like a chicken with my head chopped off trying to find an ingredient or item needed. So I figured I would give you, my dear friends, the start of our Samhain Special. That way you can figure out if you would like to try something new or perhaps you need to pick up something. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.  And…….

Blessed Samhain to you and yours,

Lady A 

~Magickal Graphics~