What are the true origins of Halloween?
Halloween was said to have originated among the ancient Celtic people who referred to it as “Samhain.” To the Celts, Samhain represented the end of the agricultural cycle, the beginning of the winter months, and the day on which souls that had died the previous year traveled to the other side. The new year was then celebrated on November 1st which the Church of England later “christianized” as “All Saints Day” (to honor religious saints and martyrs). The Church also renamed Samhain to “All Hallows Eve,” which eventually came to be called “Halloween.”
Unfortunately due to early Christian influence, Samhain came to be perceived as an “evil pagan celebration” with many Celtic deities (such as the horned god Cernunnos) coming to be associated with the Christian hell. And finally, after traditional Samhain rituals evolved into a somber Christian holiday, Halloween has now become a highly commercialized celebration.
Now, this is not to say that I don’t love the tempting candy, vibrant costumes and spooky playfulness of the day. I actually love Halloween (it’s my favorite holiday), but I also know that it can be so much more meaningful. Having Celtic blood running deep through my veins and all the way through my ancestry tree, I honor Samhain as a time of the year to stop, ground myself, and reflect. I hope it can be for you as well.
Samhain: A Portal into the “Underworld” of Your Psyche
Carving pumpkins (originally potatoes and turnips), dressing up in costumes, and making delicious food on Halloween all has its origins in Samhain. It was said that the wearing of costumes in the ancient times was originally done to honor the dead that were allowed to rise from the Underworld to be sent to their new incarnations, and also to protect oneself against any malevolent spirits that were to appear. On Samhain it was also said that the veil between this world and the land of the dead was at its thinnest, so any communication between this world and the next was encouraged.
But Samhain also has a deeper spiritual meaning. In modern times, Samhain has taken on a more personal tone in which many people set it aside as a time of year to let old attachments, stories and beliefs die, paving a way for the new. Like the caterpillar that dissolves and “dies” in its cocoon, Samhain is a time to welcome the dissolution of illusions and paths that have no heart. While this may be scary and unknown territory, it is nevertheless part of the cycle of life that the ancient Celts observed, and that we can witness today.
As a portal into the Underworld of your Psyche, Samhain is also a time to burrow deep into the caverns of your unconscious mind and your Shadow Self. In fact, Halloween is as much a psychological exploration of the dark and unknown realms of life, as it is a fun spooky celebration. At this time you may like to call on the help of new or past Spirit Guides to support and enlighten you to “hidden” areas of your life which must be focused on.
Common Spirit Guides linked to Samhain include:
- The Morrigan
If you would like the assistance of any one of these Spirit Guides I recommend first being in a calm, open, inviting place. If you are in a closed place of fear you will not benefit from the messages any Spirit Guide has to give you, ever. Below we’ll explore 6 Samhain rituals, including how to contact one of these Spirit Guides.
6 Spiritual Samhain Rituals
Samhain is observed from the sunset of October 31st to the sunset of November 1st – however, you don’t need to reserve these rituals for Samhain exclusively. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere like me, Winter actually starts on June 1st. Also, if you are at a point in life where you feel that it’s necessary to explore the “dark and unknown” of who you are, or cut away old ties and burdens, these rituals can be practiced at any time.
Remember that these Samhain rituals are exclusively about you. Also, these rituals can be practiced by religious and non-religious people alike. They are non-faith based.
1. Power Stone Meditation
Certain rocks and gems such as black onyx, amethyst, obsidian, bloodstone and opal are linked with Samhain. In a quiet place, allow yourself to sit (or lie down) and relax. Hold your power stone of choice in your right hand and allow your mind to become quiet. Rotate the stone around in your hand if you wish and allow it to become a conduit of the unconscious mind. Breathe deeply and allow whatever images, thoughts, sounds or sensations emerge slowly. Acknowledge them, but allow them to pass away. This will help to release them from your mind.
2. Summon Your Spirit Guide
When you are in a confident, open and trusting place, set aside time to summon your Spirit Guide. In my experience, I recommend that you allow your Spirit Guide to reach out to you rather than you reaching out to it. This is because who or what we think our Spirit Guide is, is often not the most ideal fit for us. Our Soul knows best.
To summon your Spirit Guide by yourself I recommend that you either, (1) do closed-eye meditation, (2) use a mirror, or (3) pay attention to your dreams (this is a slower way). There are a few other effective ways, but I hope to explore these in the future.
Do a closed-eye meditation like any other meditation. Sit or lie down, relax your body, and allow your mind to be emptied of thoughts. Ensure that you close your eyes – or even better do this at night in a pitch black room – and hold one single intention in mind: to meet your Spirit Guide. Make sure that you stay on track with your intention, constantly holding it in mind. This could take anywhere between 10 minutes to 1 hour, so be patient. Allow images to roll across the darkness and stay alert. Look for patterns, but also keep your mind open.
Using a mirror is the next interesting technique. Position yourself in front of a mirror (perhaps in your bathroom or bedroom) in private. Get comfortable because you will be sitting/standing there for a while! Once you are ready allow your eyes to relax into the mirror. I like to focus on my own eyes, and I recommend that you start that way as well. After a few minutes of non-stop gazing, you will find that the edges of your vision get blurry and start to transform. Continue staring at one point (your eyes) as your entire face begins to morph through time. This could take anywhere between 5 minutes to 15. You may find that your face begins to morph into an animal’s face, or the face of another being. Keep your intention in mind and see what happens.
Finally, dreams are a slower process, but they are also very accurate. It may take you a single night’s sleep or an entire month to discover your Spirit Guide. Always keep your intention (of meeting your Guide) in mind before falling asleep. When waking up it helps to immediately reflect on what you dreamed, and any unusual symbolism. Meetings with our Spirit Guides on the unconscious plane are often extremely vivid and “life-like.” They set themselves apart.
3. Herb Smudging Ceremony
Sage, mugwort, bay leaf and lavender are all herbs that are linked with Samhain. You may like to pick some of these herbs from the garden, tie them with yarn, and create a smudge stick which can be burned to “banish” old energy from your house and life. If you would prefer not to smudge, you may like to burn a simple candle instead and walk around your house with the same intention.
4. Black Candle, White Candle
This simple ritual requires two candles; one black and one white. The black candle represents your life, decisions and experiences in the past year. First, light your black candle and reflect on all that was. Think about how your experiences have helped you to become the person you are today, what lessons you could have learned (if any), and what ways you have grown. When you are done, blow out the black candle’s flame with gratitude, bidding farewell to what was. Next, light your white candle. This candle represents the present moment and year to come. Reflect on ways you can experience more joy and wholeness each day. When you’re ready, blow out the flame with hope.
5. Shadow Self Visualization
This visualization requires you to be in a calm, open, accepting frame of mind. Our shadow selves are the forgotten, shunned, repressed parts of ourselves that we hide away from the light of the world. (You can read more about the shadow self here.) I recommend that you only do this visualization if you are ready to make peace with the darkness within you. Please don’t force anything.
When you are ready, sit in a silent space and relax. Allow your mind to empty and focus on your breathing. When you are ready, visualize a doorway, this doorway will lead you back to your grounded self. With each breath allow yourself to travel through the doorway, deeper and deeper into your mind. As you travel deeper and deeper into your mind, call softly to your Shadow. Be gentle and encouraging. You may like to say for instance, “Shadow, I’m here to meet you, I’m here to accept you, come out and reveal yourself.” Eventually, you will sense your Shadow and possibly even see it. What does he/she/it look like? Is your Shadow shy, threatened, lonely, or maybe even hostile? Perhaps it is large, small, fat, skinny, or not even human? Ensure that you remain open and loving: this is a neglected part of yourself after all. When your Shadow is comfortable enough with you, invite it into an embrace. Send it unconditional love. When you are done, look up. See the doorway glowing in the distant. Grab the rope that is dangling right in front of you and say goodbye. Climb up the rope towards the doorway and step through. Your visualization is complete.
6. Tie Up Loose Ends – Draw a Mandala
Alternatively, you can download one here for free. Mandalas are immensely healing forms of art as they help us to express ourselves, and encourage emotional balance. Carl Jung, the famous psychotherapist, utilized mandalas in his own personal healing and would encourage his patients to draw them. Mandalas are so powerful because they reflect perfect balance, and the circle itself represents wholeness. So try your hand at drawing your own Mandala and witness the benefits!
Share With Me Below …
Have you ever tried any of these samhain rituals? Leave a comment and let me know how you spend Halloween!