Celebrating our ancestors: Samhain


It is that time of the year again. The pumpkins, candy, decorations, costumes that we’ve all come to expect. The parties, the drunkenness, the fun. It’s our favorite holiday. Halloween!


But that’s not what Halloween is really all about. On the time of the year when the veil between our world and the world of spirits is thinnest, we communicate with and celebrate our ancestors. Those who sacrificed so much, who did so much for us and our families. Those who paved the road for us, who lived and died working hard and working for what they believed in.

We should always try to educate others whenever the opportunity rises, about what this holiday is about. It helps to dispel all the doubts and lies that money making corporations and negative “religious” people feed to them. What I mean by “when the opportunity rises” is, when questions come up, when someone wants to know more or they show interest. Never trying to shove information down anyone’s throat.

A nice, simple way to celebrate our ancestors, which I do every year, although it does evolve as I learn, is as follows.

I begin by taking a purifying bath or shower. I sometimes bring a nice candle into the bathroom, play some relaxing or devotional music ( I like Snatam Kaur for example) and burn a seasonal blend of incense. I express my gratitude to the water for cleansing me and I make my intention to honor my ancestors  bringing perfect love, perfect trust, joy and harmony into my home. And of course expressing my gratitude to them.

I gather photos of  family and friends that have passed to the next life. It can be recent ones and not so recent ones. Decorate a table or altar with anything that is an expression of Autumn. The colors: orange, red, gold, brown, the symbols: pumpkins, apples, a witches broom, skulls, ghosts. If those sound creepy to you, make them cute! The idea is to feel the warmth within the cold of Autumn and to make the spirits feel welcome. Sure, there are naughty spirits out there, but I am only inviting and allowing the ones that are dear to me and those that guard me and guide me (this can be affirmed out loud). Once the altar or table is decorated, I place the photos on it. Add candles (being careful and safe about them) and incense like frankincense or a nice Samhain blend. I like to use orange and black candles, but any color is fine as long as it feels good. Next I place some offerings to the ancestors as well, like slices of apple, candy, or any other foods that feel appropriate and delightful.

Some wine is also good to have, to make a toast to the ancestors and leave some for them at the altar. And now I’m ready to honor my ancestors! I have a simple ritual that as I said before, changes as I learn and I feel appropriate to do so. There are many great rituals out there in books and online, but the best one is the one that comes from the heart. With that said, a lot of times in my solitary practice I just improvise what I want to say, and let my heart speak.

It feels so good to have my grandmothers show up, my great grandparents, and other loved ones. I feel very blessed.

So when you party this Halloween, never forget your ancestors. :-)