Honoring the dead during the month of Samhain is a special way to reach through the Veil Between Worlds.
Whether you design an elaborate ritual, or simply display momentos on your altar to recognize them, embracing death as an aspect of life embodies the spirit of the season.
Take advantage of this time to heal, mourn and rejoice in the souls of those beyond the Veil.
Honoring the Dead & Samhain
Do you ever wonder why people dress up for Samhain (aka Halloween)?
No one knows for sure, but many Celtic historians theorize that the practice comes from a time when people commonly believed spirits roamed the earth. Some think that the Celts wore costumes to scare off malevolent ghosts or accept gifts on their behalf.
Either way, many modern witches believe honoring the dead at this time keeps them close to the Veil and heightens their powers of communication with those beyond it for the coming year.
Make a Batch of Ancestor Oil
Ancestor oil is a lovely ritual ingredient and a seasonally-appropriate craft during the weeks between Mabon and Samhain.
As a bonus, it also smells pretty awesome. 🙂
Interview the Eldest Living Member of Your Family
Perhaps one of the most fascinating, mysterious things about our existence lies in the unbroken lineage of our ancestors.
You came from somewhere.
And the truth is, no one knows how far back the chain goes, or where and how exactly it began.
Reach as far as possible into this mystery by interviewing the eldest member of your family. Ask them about the oldest family member they remember in their lifetime.
Trust me, you’ll be glad you did. Because some day, they’ll be gone, too.
Make a Graveside Offering
If you live close to the grave (or scattering site) of a deceased loved one, take the time to visit.
Consider leaving something behind as an offering for their aid and protection.
Appropriate offerings include pouring a liquor or wine they liked on the grave, tobacco leaves, a piece of hematite or coffee grounds.
While you’re there, gather some graveyard dirt for magical workings later in the year.
Host a Dumb Supper
Go super traditional and host a dumb supper to honor the dead.
If you’ve never done it before, I admit to you, it sounds a little weird. The experience itself can be even weirder.
But it’s also strangely magical, and worth doing at least once.
Visit a Spiritualist church.
Spiritualists, for those of you unfamiliar with them, believe that the dead communicate with the living.
During worship services, mediums stand in place of the pulpit and claim to pass messages to the living.
It makes for a fascinating church service.
They welcome visitors. Find out if they meet near you here.
Do a Seance
I know, I know.
The seance is a controversial matter, both inside witchcraft circles and outside.
You have to do what you’re comfortable with, and if the idea of sitting around a spirit board in candlelight gives you the willies, by all means, abstain.
But for those of you who find the idea intriguing, Samhain is the night out of the whole year with the best odds.
Connect with Tarot
If the above idea of a seance is just too much, try this tarot spread to connect to the dead.
It’s a little less intimidating than a full on Ouiji board situation, and it’s more appropriate for a solitary practitioner.
My favorite deck for darker matters like this is (affiliate link—->) The Ceccoli Tarot.
Display Photos of the Dead
Okay, so I tried this for the first time this year, and I learned so much.
I’m fortunate in that my mother took an interest in our family history long before Ancestry.com was ever a thing.
(Which meant, among other eccentric activities, I spent many long weekends in graveyards as a child, where I honed my grave-rubbing technique to a high art form).
Anyways, this year, my mom had all these old photos printed of the women in our family tree.
Setting aside the characteristically stern fashions of the day, I get the feeling this family’s been stirring the old cauldron long before I came along.
End a mourning period (officially, anyway).
We all know that after the death of a loved one, you never quite get over it. You just learn to live with it.
However, some people find emotional healing in a ceremony to end a mourning period.
If, at any point during the 12 months before this Samhain, you marked the one-year anniversary of someone’s death, consider finding some closure in an end-of-mourning ceremony.
This can be as simple as inviting some friends over to share your loved ones favorite meal.
Or, if you’re ready, it may be time to donate less cherished items you inherited from them to Goodwill.
Whatever works for you.
In the end, honoring the dead really means honoring the way they impacted your life. Hang on to the best parts of that, and let go of the rest.