Samhain

The first Sabbat of the cycle known as the Wheel of the Year, this holiday is celebrated by Witches, Wiccans, and Pagans in many cultures, under many different names. Pronounced sow-een, it is celebrated on the first day of November. Samhain is considered the third harvest festival, or the “meat-harvest.” During this time, animals were slaughtered for the year’s meat supply and much of the hunting was done.

Samhain is also the Celtic festival of the dead. It is the time when the veil that separates the spirit world from that of mortals is at its thinnest. It is a time to remember our ancestors and to toast the dead. It is a celebration that is introspective and, usually, somber.

Guidelines for Use

This meditation is appropriate for use either during a Samhain ritual or proceeding it. I recommend incorporating it into a ritual.

Because of the active nature of this meditation, the guide should read through it several times. Before the meditation is presented, the guide should clarify to the group that there will be guided dancing in the middle of the meditation, and that when the dancing is over the participants should return to their original positions. These active periods are noted in the text of the meditation.

Because this meditation involves dancing, you should have music ready to play. It also involves the use of a drumbeat, which you might want to have pre-recorded. If you are using this in a group setting, the guide can work together with a drummer before the actual meditation to coordinate the words and the beat. Again, I recommend the music of Gabrielle Roth or Dead Can Dance or similar music for the dancing. As one precaution, if you are using a battery-operated cassette player, make sure your batteries are in good working order.

Each person should bring a pumpkin to the meditation, carved to match the totem animal with which they intend to work. These pumpkins should have candles lit within them during the meditation. If you are practicing this meditation during a time when pumpkins are out of season, or in an area where they don’t grow, you can use any round root vegetable as a substitute. Or you can procure an orange or brown pumpkin- or ball-shaped candle and carve your totem animal on that, then light the candle itself instead.

Flowers:

  • Dried Statice
  • Chrysanthemums
  • White Roses

Incense:

  • Copal
  • Musk
  • Spice
  • Patchouli
  • Kyphi

Oils:

  • Musk
  • Sandalwood
  • Patchouli

Crystals:

  • Carnelian
  • Bloodstone
  • Jasper

Candles:

  • Black
  • White
  • Orange
  • Brown
  • Skull candles
  • Pumpkin-shaped candles

Samhain Totem Animal Meditation

Relax and get comfortable.

Arrange your pumpkin so that it is facing you.

Take three breaths. Let the tensions of the week pass out of your body and drain away into the void where they will be transformed and cleansed.

~ Long Pause ~

Now, focus your attention on the stem of your pumpkin. See the light emanating from the face you’ve carved in the pumpkin. Spend a few moments letting the animal essence you’ve carved come to the surface, look at it, get to know it, let it enter your psyche.

~ Long Pause ~

Know that it is Samhain Eve and we are here, as so many have come before, with the dead walking beside us and the Gods standing at our shoulders.

We gather to pay our respects to those we’ve loved and lost, knowing they are gone but not forgotten. We gather to remember the journey the Horned Lord makes into the halls of the Underworld to meet the Crone who sacrificed Him at Lughnasadh.

We gather to acknowledge the unalterable power of death, to respect

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