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Wiccan Wheel of the Year: Samhain Activities
Let Me Paint You A Picture
Now, imagine for just a minute what that must have been like when people didn’t have electric lights and heaters, cars or snowmobiles, refrigerators, phones, antibiotics, radios, the internet, etc.—the things we take for granted today. The very world around them—the world on which they depended for survival—seemed to be dying, growing more and more barren by the day under its frosty shroud. The days grew ever darker, the nights longer, and it continued to get colder. At wintertime, many families were shut in with little to do but wait and pray.
What happens if we run out of food? Or firewood? If a spark from the hearth or a candle flame catches the bed on fire? What if someone gets the flu? Will we live to see the summer again? Talk about facing your mortality—it’s no small wonder why this time of year was one that people couldn’t help but note.
They were surrounded by death—the howling winds, the bare scraping branches, the cracking ice— and with little to really do but huddle for warmth and wait. They comforted each other. They partook of the harvest, feasting on the foods with a short shelf life.
With all that, it’s not surprising that people were spooked and their imaginations ran wild. This is probably where all the folklore and myths came from about ghosts and evil creatures coming to get them. With the thought of death weighing heavy on their minds, it’s probably why their thoughts turned to their deceased ancestors.
At the same time, it’s cause for celebration. The hard work all year has paid off; the harvest is in and food is—at least for now—plentiful. It’s time to go indoors, to rest. It’s also time to go inward, to reflect and make plans. There’s a long night ahead, but at the dawn of Spring life itself will renew, bringing us a fresh start.
Samhain is a time for great joy, and great sorrow. We mourn those who’ve gone before, we contemplate our own mortality, we watch the land around us die—yet we still are grateful for life. We look ahead, forward to the future, while embracing the cycles of life and death as part of nature.
If you’re looking for some Samhain activities to help you and your family get into the spirit of the season, try some of these.
Walk Down Memory Lane
Take out your scrapbook. Look through your old letters and mementos of the people who’ve touched your life, but have passed or moved on. Talk about them to others—tell their stories, speak their names, share the experiences you’ve had with them.
Don’t just reflect on the dead; reflect on your own life. Look through your own old journals. Think about how you’ve changed, what your experiences have done to you, what you’ve learned.
Make a Memorial Candle!
Make a memorial candle for your altar!
Memorial candles are a great way to commemorate your loved ones for the holiday season, and they're so easy to make-- all you need is your computer, a printer and the right kind of paper.
Give it a go!
Take a Trip
Sabbats are great times to plan a short hike or day trip to a natural area, so you can fully experience the season in nature. Take a walk through a natural landscape or go have a picnic in a park.
A trip through a cemetery is also a good idea. If you have ancestors buried near you, go visit their graves. Even if you live somewhere now and aren’t near your own family’s burial sites, you can still take a trip to the local graveyard and walk through. If you find a grave that interests you, one that looks lonely and neglected, brush it off and leave some flowers.
A Walk to Ponder Life and Death
This was such a scary time for our ancestors, but we just don’t feel it anymore with our modern securities and conveniences. Tell scary stories, read a horror novel or watch some horror movies one night. Even if only temporarily, and even if only superficially, allow yourself to feel that fear that was once a hallmark of the season. Alternatively, take a trip through a local haunted house set up for Halloween or visit one of those Halloween corn mazes and let your imagination run wild.
Carve Some Pagan Pumpkins!
I love Samhain Music!
Pay Attention to your Dreams
During the time when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, this is a prime time for any spirit to try to contact you. It may be a spirit guide, or the spirit of a lost loved one, perhaps someone you knew in a past life—a dream is their best chance of coming through.
This is also a time when you are most likely to have premonitions or prophetic dreams, even if you don’t think of yourself as very psychic. You need only be open to the experience.
Keep a dream diary or a recording device by your bed so that if you do wake with any memories or feelings, you can record them right away before you forget.