5 Ways to Celebrate Samhain (Without Spending a Dime)

It's almost here! The day every Pagan, witch, and Practical Magic fan spends all year eagerly awaiting—Samhain!

In case you're new to this Pagan party, or you need a refresher, let me fill you in on some of the spectacular details of this spectacular Sabbat! 

Samhain (pronounced sow-in) is celebrated on October 31st and is often considered the most important Sabbat of the Pagan year. It's a revered time when we honor our transcended loved ones as the veil between the physical and spiritual planes thins. But it is also a time of reflection and sacrifice. The Goddess becomes a crone (seen as autumn in nature), the God has departed, and nature begins it's descent into winter, reminding us that death is an inevitable part of life. And yet, death is not a finality, merely a transition from one form to another. We confirm this on Yule when, as The Wheel continues to turn, the God (sun) is reborn, reminding us that every ending is accompanied by a new beginning. 

Samhain feasts are a wonderful way to celebrate the Sabbat! Remember to set an extra place setting as a simple yet powerful way to honor your transcended loved ones. Pumpkin, squash, and apples are tasty and appropriate for the Samhain menu, as are spiritually-enlightening herbs like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg! Feeling extra inspired to remember the souls of the departed? Place a plate outside with treats for the deceased. As their spirits roam the physical plane (due to the thinned veil), this serves as a sacrifice to their journey. For the safety of nature's critters, use animal-friendly foods, like carrots or cored pieces of apple. Never use chocolate or raisins, as these are very dangerous for dogs. You can check this list for dog-friendly foods. 

We all know orange and black are the colors of Samhain, representing the waning sun (God) and death respectively. But don't forget to turn to nature for your color palette inspiration! Rich crimson, earthy brown, and deep gold are all wonderful choices for decorations or designing your altar. 

Feeling conflicted about trick-or-treating with the kiddos? Don't! Handing out candy is a modern-day method of offering a sacrifice. Plus it's a fun tradition that encourages neighborhood camaraderie. Embrace the festiveness of the evening without stressing and overthinking! You're not pooh-poohing your Pagan roots; you're conjuring happy, positive, light-hearted energy on a night when spirits can utilize these buoyant vibrations to share messages with their loved ones! Remember, nature reminds us to keep life in balance! There's room to enjoy the merriment AND honor the Sabbat! =D

...and you can do it all without spending a dime! Here's how:

Go for a spiritual hike 
It's not unusual for me to recommend you take a hike...especially if you're on my lawn screaming profanities at me.

Bad joke? Sorry. My afternoon smoothie has me on a fruit-induced high.

Anywho, I recommend getting out into nature A LOT. I think the reason why is pretty obvious. But I also know how easy it is to not really BE somewhere. Sure, we're at the park. But we're checking our phones. We're thinking about the grocery list. We're wondering what the hell happened to Happy Endings. That show was great. Why did it get canceled???

None of the above is allowed on a spiritual hike. This hike is about you and nature. It's a time to turn off the cell phone (completely off...you deserve an hour of alone time!), push away the endless stream of thoughts, and to simply take in the world around you. Focus on the smell of the fallen leaves. Pause and let the cool wind caress your face. Place your hands against the tree bark and explore the knotty texture. This is a time to commune, to let the stress of modern life fall away so you can return to your roots. If you happen upon some pretty leaves or a cool stone, pick it up and take it home. Instant Samhain altar! 

Take a peek into your future
With the veil between the worlds thinning, now is a time of heightened psychic ability! Try your hand at tarot cards. Break out those runes. Experiement with reading tea leaves. Whatever your oracle vice, put it to good use on Samhain and see what the future holds! If you're looking for an autumn-themed spread, check this one out!

Leave a candle in the window
I must admit, this is my FAVORITE tradition of Samhain. Sure, I love garlic-laced pumpkin seeds, brightly-colored Halloween decorations, and a small indulgence of chocolate. (Small is all relative, okay?!) But the thing I most look forward to is leaving a candle in the window. 

Leaving a candle in the window is an old tradition to help guide the spirits of the departed to us, letting our loved ones know they are never forgotten. For safety, I use a battery-operated candle and leave it in the window all night, thus symbolizing the eternal-nature of our souls. Personally, I set my plate of sacrificial food beneath the same window. It's a small yet profound gesture that I look forward to all day!

Watch the sunset
There's little that's more grounding and spiritual than taking a moment to simply watch the sunset. It's a reminder that we are part of this beautiful cycle, that we ARE nature. This is especially poignant on a Sabbat like Samhain, because Samhain is the death of the God (represented by the sun). Watching that blazing orange glow fade beneath the horizon into a sea of purple and pink hues reminds us that this glorious life is not forever, that we must cherish the now because we don't know when our time on this majestic plane will end. But, all is not lost! Not only will the sun rise tomorrow morning, but the rebirth of the sun (Yule) is not far away, promising us that death is not an end, merely a transition.

Put down the phone. Forget whatever drama happened at work. Brew yourself a cup of tea or steal a piece of chocolate from the trick-or-treat stash, and take a precious moment to watch the sunset. 

Remember the forgotten
Growing up in New England, historical cemeteries are abundant and plentiful. And because modern life has crept in, you can find them in some strange places! The weirdest place I've seen one? In the parking lot of a Barnes and Noble. Like, literally IN the parking lot.

As a little girl, my father nurtured my love for reading with a trip to the bookstore every Friday night. Part of the routine was to scale a small, rocky hill atop which perched a historical cemetery. As I peered over the wrought-iron fence, admiring the illegible headstones, I wondered about the people whose bodies rested beneath the soft mossy earth. It was clearly a family cemetery, with no more than six or eight headstones nestled closely together, and I couldn't help but wonder what their time on this plane had been like.  Alone on this minuscule hilltop, the cool night air whispering against my skin, I would imagine the area stripped of streetlights and shopping plazas, the earth returned to its natural state of emerald grass, towering oak trees, and maybe a stream or two. The family, who were most-likely farmers, probably had a large vegetable garden, maybe a cow or some sheep. 

It was mesmerizing and wondrous to a fanciful child, but also a little sad. These people once had purpose on this Earth. They lived rich lives filled with children and family. They loved. They suffered heartbreak. They had favorite colors and disliked certain foods. They were real. They were alive. They stood on this very patch of soil and wept as their loved ones were returned to the earth. 

...And now they were simply an oddity surrounded by asphalt and strip malls, all but forgotten as people fussed over designer jeans and Egyptian cotton sheets. 

So every Friday night I would amble up that steep little hill as my dad, who has arthritic knees, waited patiently below. In hindsight, I think I felt like I was paying them some sort of homage, honoring their memory simply by recognizing that their Earthly bodies were there. That they weren't forgotten.  
Samhain is a fantastic time to remember these souls. As Pagans, I think we're innately drawn to cemeteries, so you probably know of a cool little haunt (see what I did there??) near you. Take a stroll, pick some wildflowers or find a pretty stone, and place it on an old grave. Or any grave that looks like it hasn't had visitors in a while. This is a powerful recognition that we are all bound by the same limitless energy. Like the spider's web, our lives are interwoven. Even if we do not live in the same time period, our current lives ARE shaped, formed, and affected by the lives that came before us. Connect with another soul. Take a moment to let their spirit know they are not forgotten. 

Bonus suggestion:

Let Loose!
You didn't think I was going to end on a somber note, did you?! While Samhain can be a solemn Sabbat, especially if you're missing someone that has departed, you shouldn't forget to have a little fun. After all, the biggest lesson we learn from death is that life is a gift—a gift that's meant to be enjoyed! So whether you want to watch a scary movie, binge on chocolate, roast pumpkin seeds, or harass the neighborhood children while dressed as Winifred from Hocus Pocus, remember to have some laughs and enjoy the night. After all, what better way to honor the dead than to live?!

Happy Samhain, everyone! 🎃

What's your favorite way to celebrate Samhain?

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