October, the time of the year that enthuses witches and magical practitioners like no other and which many cultures around the world celebrate or recognize with their own distinct traditions, beliefs, and superstitions.
Today, whether it’s the horror and spooky genre that strikes the fancy of some or the aesthetic mix of creepy and cute that charms others, there’s a lot of love and nostalgia tied to Halloween, also known as Samhain, for all sorts of people and for very diverse reasons.
But it is also equally as common for people to have grown up in a community or household that forbade many if not all of the practices and events associated with Halloween. This held true for me in my childhood as I was never allowed to trick or treat and decorating our home with anything more than a pumpkin or two outside was unthinkable.
Of course, I have changed the minds of my parents on a number of things since then but not all are so lucky. So, this list is yet again dedicated to those trying their best from within the broom closet, as well as, those already with a full plate of responsibilities and little time left over for elaborate festivities.
Decorate with Fresh Flowers
Different varieties of fresh flowers are important to many cultures all around the world for various reasons, but a common purpose that links them with this time of the year is their use as offerings and embellishments at funerals and graves.
Roses are a flower customarily presented at such events, especially in red, white, and occasionally black, but any color that you associate with the Samhain holiday or a death tradition of significance to you will work perfectly.
In my Mexican culture, for instance, we use Aztec Marigolds to decorate our home altars and cemeteries because we believe their golden-sunlight color will guide our loved ones to us so that they may visit while the veil is thin. This comes from an ancient Mesoamerican myth, wherein a woman was turned into an Aztec Marigold (cempasúchil) so that her lover, who was killed in battle, could reunite with her as a hummingbird.
Carve / Draw on a Gourd
This may or may not be possible for certain broom closeted witches but if you are at the very least allowed to engage in jack-o-lantern crafting then there’s no better time of the year to do it than now.
Carving a pumpkin can be messy and take a whole evening but I still highly suggest giving yourself at least that much time in the month of October to do something that gets you into the spirit of Samhain.
You can have traditional Samhain music or more contemporary Halloween music playing in the background, and a cup of autumnal tea or pumpkin spice drink to sip while you decorate the outside of your gourd with paint, glitter, paper, and other crafts if gutting and carving a pumpkin is too laborious or time consuming for your schedule.
Pray / Talk to Spirit or Ancestors
Just talk. You really don’t need anything else.
The witchy community, as wonderful and wondrous as it is, can definitely give off the impression that lavishness and copious amounts of materials are needed to be spiritual and to connect with our past and Spirit in particular.
In reality, the best thing you can do to contact and strengthen your relationship with Spirit and your ancestors – is talk to them. Spend time with them, tell them stories, recount the events of your days, express your gratitude and love… you don’t need anything to pray or to speak other than to set aside the time to do so and the willingness to share your thoughts.
Wear Black Protection Stones
If you wear jewelry, then wearing your favorite black protection stones through to the end of Samhain will be an easy activity to sneak away with (if sneaking is required).
It will take but a few seconds each morning to clip a necklace around your neck, slide a ring onto your finger, fasten an earring into your ear, or slip a bracelet onto your wrist with an onyx, jet, black tourmaline, or other black stone attached.
Black is probably one of the most misunderstood colors due to a variety of ill-conceived notions (to put it all too kindly), but it is perhaps the best color to use for protection and since the veil between the material and the spiritual is thinnest during this time of year it is all the more important to safeguard your energy and person.
The jewelry can be detailed with bats, pumpkins, skulls and other figures associated with Samhain to celebrate the holiday which has no shortage of symbolism linked to it.
Use Black, Orange, & Gold
Color magic can always be personalized to suit the colors you associate with Samhain, but generally speaking the usual correspondences are black, orange, and gold along with brown, purple and scarlet.
The reason I say that these all can be ultimately personalized is because if you search for color correspondences for Samhain you’ll find not only the colors I have already mentioned but others as well. Colors and their meanings are as subjective in magic as they are in art, so feel free to use what resonates with you and if something, such as a candle spell, doesn’t seem to be working the way you though it would then try a different color.
These colors can be applied to the clothing you wear, the shades of makeup you use, the items you choose for room decor, the colors of your candles, and anywhere else it makes sense to apply color magic.
Honoring the Dead
For centuries, this season has been associated with death.
Whether it be due to spiritual experiences had by ancient peoples during the corresponding holiday or festival of their culture or because darker, cooler days during which trees shed their leaves, vegetation shrivels and decays, and certain animals vanish from sight simply evoke death as an unavoidable reality… we may never truly know but perhaps both can be true.
What we do know for certain is that honoring the dead is a practice that has permeated Samhain, other similar pagan holidays, and many other traditions across the globe thanks to the work of anthropologists, archaeologist, ethnographic researchers and many more.
These practices can be incredibly complex depending on the festival, celebration or ritual they originate from but for the sake of simplicity and subtlety I recommend placing a photo (or photos) of the deceased you wish to honor in a special area with fresh flowers.
If you can do more, then you’ll definitely want to add the items and food they enjoyed in life, light a candle in their name, poor a glass of water or appropriate libation for them, recite a poem, prayer or story to them, and spend time in front of the altar you’ve now created. Doing all this at the physical grave sight of the dead you are honoring is also a beautiful and common practice.
Samhain is a time representative of darkness and death but also of gratitude and celebration of life meant to give us the strength needed for the coming months. It is a reminder that though the coming of darkness is an inevitable force of nature, so too is the coming of the light.
Have a Blessed Samhain.