Samhain is coming to the northern hemisphere! Diminished and celebrated as Halloween by non-pagans, for many neopagans it’s one of the most important holy days of the year. Or not of the year, since technically it’s the day between the end of one year and the beginning of the next. At any rate, it’s the day when the veil between this world and the other worlds is known to be thin, and so we honor our dead ancestors.
Like all important events, getting the full spiritual experience of Samhain is easier if you do some preparation. And the more preparation you do, the better/fuller/more intense the experience.
So, Samhain being a Celtic based holy day, and the Celts being into triads, I posit that a great approach to Samhain is to take 9 days, a triad of triads, to prepare. What preparations to do on those 9 days? Take each day to open a dialog between yourself and one group of ancestors.
Day 1 – physical ancestors that you knew who have passed over. Those whose familial genes you carry. If adopted, add the family that made you one of their own.
Day 2 – physical/adoptive ancestors that you didn’t know who have passed over. They could well come forth at Samhain wit messages for you.
Day 3 – those who you knew that influenced you as you grew up who have passed over. Neighbors, pre-college school teachers, friends and their parents, clergy, etc.
Day 4 – Those who influenced your mind who have passed over. Authors, thinkers, statesmen, etc
Day 5 – those who influenced your spiritual path, who you knew and have passed over. Clergy, individuals, speakers, etc.
Day 6 – those who influenced your spiritual path but you did not know, and have passed over. Writers, tradition starters, those who you have learned about whose lives you try to emulate, etc.
Day 7 – Nature Spirits – because not only the ancestors might show up with messages at Samhain.
Day 8 – The Gods and Goddesses – again, because not only the ancestors might show up at your Samhain ritual.
Day 9 – Your Higher Self/Holy Guardian Angel/Spirit Guide/Patron Divinity – Well, you KNOW this one’s going to be there with you!
But, I hear someone asking, what do you DO on each of those days? Well, I’m not one for big Witchy set up. Make them a small offering – a tablespoon of barley maybe. Announce your intention – that you are because Samhain is coming, and you are there to open yourself to their inspiration. If it’s a day for folks you knew in life, maybe update them. Then listen. Take about 5 to 15 minutes. Then thank them, say you’re looking forward to anything they wish to tell you at Samhain. Leave the offering until the next day if you can. They will take whatever spiritual essence they want from it.
Now, don’t be surprised if one of the things you are told, either during one of these sessions or on Samhain, is that you should be honoring them more than once a year. But we’ll discuss Ancestor Altars some other day!