Samhain (pronounced sah-win), is a sabbat marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. The veil between worlds is at its thinnest and we begin our descent into the darkest part of the year. The theme of this sabbat in the Wheel of the Year involves honouring the cycle of death and rebirth, honouring nature and honouring those who have passed on.
You can harness the power of Samhain in 2023 with your very own unique Samhain altar!
Where to set up your Samhain Altar
It is recommended to set up your Samhain altar in a spot where it's least likely to be messed with by others or pets and where you aren't likely to be interrupted during your Samhain rituals. This may be in a separate room such as your bedroom, home office or even your living room.
Setting up your Samhain Altar
Your Samhain altar will be a sacred and meaningful space to help you reflect on your intentions for the rest of the season, and also act as a powerful space for performing your Samhain Rituals.
Celebrating Samhain can be a very creative endeavour and we have lots of altar ideas and decorations we recommend. First, let's look at symbols that correspond with Samhain:
Samhain symbols & ritual essentials
Samhain decorations: Cauldrons, bats, skulls, skeletons, cats, scythe, crows, ravens, straw man.
Samhain colours & candle colours: Black, red, orange, yellow, brown, gold, silver.
Samhain foods: Pumpkins, apples, pears, root vegetables, cider, dark wine.
Samhain crystals: Carnelian, pyrite, smoky quartz, obsidian, labradorite, amethyst.
Samhain herbs: Calendula, wormwood, rosemary, mugwort.
Samhain deities: Persephone, The Horned God, Aradia, Loki, Ishtar, Dionysus.
Start with the perfect altar cloth
Altar cloths not only nicely decorate your space, but they can also help protect your altar from burning incense, resins, hot cauldrons and candles. You can keep it simple with plain coloured altar cloths that correspond with Samhain such as black, or choose an altar cloth with more detailed designs associated with Samhain.
Honour spirits with photographs
Samhain is the perfect occassion for remembering and honouring the spirits of those who have passed. These can include family, friends or others you wish to give remembrance to.
Adorn your altar with candles
Your Samhain altar would be incomplete without candles! You can easily decorate your Samhain altar with corresponding candle colours and to utilise their correspondences during spellwork. For example, black represents acceptance, the afterlife, death, endings, release, rebirth, spirituality and strength. Our Simple Guide to Candle Magic can help you with deciding on which candle colours you would like to utilise. To aid in your Samhain celebrations, we are gifting a free intention candle with all $75+ orders, while stocks last.
Use a cauldron for mixing & more
Aside from being a symbolic symbol for witches, cauldrons possess many uses such as mixing herbs and ingredients, burning loose incense or resins on a charcoal tablet, making black salt or burning petitions. You can keep it nice and simple with just the one cauldron if you don't plan on conducting extensive rituals. Don't forget to grab a pair tongs to keep your magickal fingers safe when placing a lit petition into your cauldron or lighting a charcoal tablet to burn incense!
Decorate & utilise Samhain herbs
Herbs are essential tools for honouring nature and also to help the success of any spells you perform. You can simply decorate your altar with corresponding Samhain herbs, indulge in their aroma by burning them or use as ingredients in your Samhain rituals. Calendula assists with protection, removing malicious energy and divination. Wormwood helps increase psychic abilities and offers protection, Rosemary aids with cleansing and protection, and Mugwort helps with divination, wisdom, psychic ability and protection.
Boost spellwork effects with Samhain crystals
Samhain crystals are powerful tools to not only hold space on your Samhain altar, but also to boost the effects of any spellwork you may be conducting. Crystals such as carnelian, pyrite, smoky quartz, obsidian, labradorite and amethyst are perfect additions to your Samhain altar. Obsidian would be the perfect addition and is the ultimate go-to for energy protection, finding insight and clarity.
Use divination tools to connect with your ancestors
As mentioned earlier, the veil between the physical and spiritual realm is at its thinnest at Samhain, making this the perfect opportunity for connecting with your ancestors and spirit guides! There are a range of divination tools available to use including tarot cards, oracle cards and runes to name a few. You can use divination tools for general guidance or even reserve specific divination tools for particular ancestors.
If you've ever been curious and would like to learn more about tarot reading, our Beginner's Guide to Reading Tarot Cards can help you get started.
Celebrate with food & drink
Samhain food and drinks are fantastic offerings to the dead as well as symbols for honouring nature. Set up pumpkins, apples, pears, root vegetables or even favourite foods your ancestors had. Moreover, pour drinks of cider, dark wine or your ancestors favourite alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage!
Add Samhain symbols to complete your altar
Samhain symbols and decor involving bats, skulls, skeletons, cats, scythe, crows, ravens and the straw man are excellent additions to give your altar that magickal and creative touch. You could use skull planters for your herbs or decorate your Samhain altar with crystal skulls. Whatever you decide, make sure they are what you feel drawn to and will help you with celebrating the dead.
It is best to cleanse your altar and tools before beginning any ritual work to ensure you are preparing everything from a fresh slate. This can be done with smoke cleansing or sound such as ringing an altar bell.
Samhain is just one of the many Sabbats from the Wheel of the Year that pagans celebrate. To ensure you're getting the most out of celebrating Samhain, check out our guide on How to Celebrate Samhain in the Southern Hemisphere.
Safe witches are clever witches, never leave a flame unattended and always be prepared to safely put out a fire if needed.
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