I consider all of October-November the Season of the Witch. The entire span of Autumn is really a very liminal time when we can connect with Ancestors more readily, dive into Shadow work and enjoy the harvest bounty of our efforts and labor put forth through the year to date.
Many of us celebrate something on or near to All Hallow’s Eve, specifically October 31st - November 2nd. We may call it Samhain, Hallowmas, Day of the Dead, or something else. No matter what name you use, it’s clear that around the world in the Northern hemisphere, this is an eventful season full of gratitude and connection to what is no longer.
If you’re finding it difficult to conjure up ideas or get into the Spirit of the holiday, here are some suggestions that might give you some inspiration.
Decorations & Altar Attire
Many of us decorate our homes and yards for Halloween. Have you considered doing the same for your altar? Think about what’s in season… pumpkins, gourds, corn, seeds, apples, pomegranates, and other Harvest foods. Leaves of gold, orange and red are strewn everywhere right now. Collect a few and bring them inside to add to your home and altar.
Other non-traditional items to connect you to the season could include things that remind you of the Underworld, Death and liminal spaces. Consider adding a mirror or even a black scrying mirror, bones, soil, graveyard dirt (ritually collected), ash, skulls, roots (I always keep a large piece of Dandelion root on my altar), well water, and dried twigs.
Around your home, think about adding elements that bring the outdoors inside. A vase of Willow branches, a fallen Rowan branch with berries on the hearth, grapevines woven into talismans and wreaths, colorful Autumn leaves strung up on a garland and hung across windows, doors and fireplaces, and other found objects from Nature.
Now is an excellent time to break out those old family photos and momentos. Place those of deceased loved ones on or around your altar or your home.
The Death card is relevant right now and can be displayed on an altar, framed and hung on a wall or used in a daily meditation.
Use a black mirror or bowl of water to scry.
Burn mugwort and wormwood or drink mugwort tea just before bed to have prophetic dreams or dream about your Ancestors.
Do a Tarot spread and ask what message your Ancestors have for you.
Herbs I like that align with the season include Clove, Mugwort, Yarrow, Rosemary, Mullein, Wormwood, and Bay Leaves. I also like Roses, Dittany of Crete, Poplar Buds, Hawthorn, Thuja (White Cedar), and resins like Copal.
Candle colors that suit the season well include black, and deep shades of purple, red, and orange.
Offering for your Ancestors, Beloved Dead and Mighty Dead
On your main altar, dining table or other special place you've designated, you can leave offerings for Spirits. For food and drink, I like to leave some Blessed Water, tea, whisky and red wine along with a loaf of handmade bread, some seasonal berries, a piece of chocolate, and meats, like roasted or fried chicken, roast beef, and deli meats like sausage, salami, and cheese. I also like to add fresh flowers, oils, candles and dimes or pennies as offerings.
Other lovely offering ideas… mulled wine, apple cider, bread, harvest foods like pumpkin pie or pumpkin seeds, cranberries, apples, zucchini, squash, tea, pomegranates, corn, seeds and berries, and other libations.
Writing a letter to deceased loved ones is also a form of offering. Write it out and leave at their grave, leave it on your altar for a few days or burn it in your sabbat fire.
Visit a Cemetery
Ideally you will visit your loved ones who are buried in your local cemetery. But if you are cut off from them you can still visit a cemetery and pay respects to the Dead.
Bring some blessed water, dimes and/or fresh flowers to leave as offerings.
Take some time to walk around outside and pay attention to the beauty of the season. Notice the trees, the ground, the air, the sounds and the wildlife. Take in the scents all around you. What is the Earth doing? Tune in to the voices in the wind and the elementals of Nature.
Take a blanket with you and find a quiet spot in a field, woods or park where you can sit and just take it all in. Spend some time just observing.
Bring a notebook or journal and draw trees and plants you like or simply express your thoughts, feelings or observations. If you're prone to poetry or art use this time to create something.
The Season of the Witch invites us to slow down, go inward and reflect. Pick up those old journals, photo albums, texts, social media posts, and calendar from the past year and look at how much you've grown and all you've accomplished. Take note of what you’re grateful for.
What lessons did you learn well? What lessons did you repeat? And what lessons do you feel you're still learning?
This is a perfect time to build a fire. Outdoors is always best but if indoors, consider creating a fire in your fireplace or simply use candles. You can perform a small releasing ritual by writing down something you want to say good-bye to- maybe a habit, a person who has passed or someone in your life you no longer want to spend time with, unhealthy or harmful thought patterns, etc., then burn it in the fire (safely). Visualize it floating away or disappearing as it burns.
Simple Ancestor Ritual
Light a candle (any size) for each loved one who has passed this year or who you want to remember. You can carve their name into the candle beforehand if you wish. You can include friends, pets and anyone for whom you feel a loss. As you light each candle, say their name out loud and share a fond memory you have with them. With each candle, invite them to join you for a bit. Before moving on to the next candle, take some time to chat with them and catch them up on your life. Treat it like an old friend visiting. When you are done, thank them for visiting and release them.
I hope however you celebrate the holiday, that you enjoy the season and feel the love and support of your Ancestors with you always.
Sending you all Sacred Blessings this Season,