Witchy Tips for Celebrating Samhain

Samhain (pronounced SOW-en or SAHV-en) means, "Summer's end," and is the third/final harvest of the season. This was a time for bonfires, celebrating the harvest, and preparing for the winter to come, in the areas where Celts lived. Nowadays, we use this time to commune with our ancestors, tell ghost stories, and prepare ourselves for winter by cleaning our homes. We also prepare ourselves for the days of introspection, to come.

While many folks call this the "Witches' New Year," I do not. I call this the beginning of the "Time Between the Times." Yule is the new year for me, and this is simply the ending of the year, and the time of the dead. I honor my ancestors, do a lot of inner work/introspection, and take this time to reflect on what I've accomplished and learned over the past year, then look to the future- what do I want to do in the next year?

Some of you are new to Samhain celebrating, and would like some tips. I'm happy to help you. These are suggestions, not declarations. Feel free to use your own creativity.

  • Build a bonfire. Lighting a bonfire is one of the most honored Samhain traditions. The fire symbolizes the welcoming of a new season--winter. Choose a place that is far away from buildings and trees to light your fire. Make sure the area is free from debris and sheltered from gusts of wind. Alternative- light a fire in your fireplace, or simply light candles (be sure to practice candle safety if using wicked candles. Flameless candles will work)

  • Make resolutions, write them on a small piece of parchment, and burn in a candle flame (set the candle inside your cauldron to catch the ashes). Scatter the ashes in running water.
  • Wear costumes that reflect your wishes for the coming year.
  • Carve a jack-o-lantern. Place a candle in it to guide the loving dead through this world while they visit.
  • Drink apple cider spiced with cinnamon to honor the dead. Bury an apple or pomegranate in the garden as food for spirits passing by on their way to being reborn.
  • Perform divination for the next year using tarot, a crystal ball, a flame, a pendulum, a mirror, a black bowl, runes, Ouija board, ogham sticks, or a black cauldron filled with black ink or water.

  • Perform a “dumb” (mute) supper ritual. Create place-cards for your loved ones that you'd like to attend.

  • Make a mask of your shadow self, and hang it on the wall above your altar.
  • Make a besom, or witches broom.
  • Make a witch’s ladder for protection or as an expression of what you hope to manifest in the year ahead.
  • Find a magic wand of oak, holly, ash, rowan, birch, hazel, elm, hawthorn, or willow.
  • Let this be the traditional time that you make candles for the coming year, infusing them with color, power, herbs, and scent depending on the magical purpose.

How to make a Witch's Ladder:

Also known as "Knot Magic," the Witches’ Ladder is a technique for working a spell, and is quite simple to do. This one comes from my personal Book of Shadows. Feel free to copy it and modify it as you like.

What you will need: 

1 length of cord Silk cord is nice, but anything will do ie. a piece of string, a shoelace, scarf  or tie, etc...  see variations as well.

Before you make your Witches’ Ladder you must first be clear on what it is you wish to accomplish. The Witches’ Ladder can be used for any purpose, but it is best used to bring about something which is accomplished through an on-going process -such as increasing prosperity, learning a particular skill, losing weight, etc- rather than something which is accomplished in a single event. Start out with reasonable goals -skill is built through practice.

Here is an example. Feel free to modify and make it your own. First, consecrate your items. If you've never done this, here's a simple rite to follow. You should do this in a quiet place by yourself.

Begin by placing yourself in a comfortable position, then take three deep breaths and release each one very slowly.     

Ground yourself (use the technique at the top of the page, if you need help).

Now, take your cord (and any other items you may be using, if you are doing either of the variations given for this spell) and place it before you.

Say something to the effect of “ I cleanse and purify you, sending out for you any impurities which may lie within.”

Once consecrated, take the cord in your two hands, or hold your hands to either side of it (palms facing it).

Imagine a ball of white light between your hands, surrounding the cord. Concentrate on the goal you wish to bring about through this spell -focus as hard as you can on the goal for several minutes.

Imagine the goal inside the ball of light, or some image that represents the goal.  See the goal as you want it to be when it is already accomplished and complete -if your goal is to gain a skill for example, imagine yourself already proficient in it. 

As you imagine this, know that this goal is already accomplished and only needs to be drawn into physical manifestation. Now let the image of the goal and the ball of light fade, and take up your cord.  Continue to focus on your goal, seeing it already accomplished. Still concentrating on the goal, take the cord and tie a knot near one end of it. 

Say: “By Knot of One, the spell’s begun.”
Imagine yourself one step closer to having your goal. 

Now, tie a second knot a short distance from the first, and say:
“By knot of Two, no power undo.”
Focus even more strongly on the goal, knowing that each knot draws it closer.

Tie a third knot, and say:
“By knot of Three, so mote it be.”
With each knot know that your goal comes closer to you, imagine it more strongly and know that it is truly yours.       

Tie the fourth knot, saying:
 “By knot of four, open the door.”

Then, the fifth:     
“By knot of Five, it comes alive.”

The sixth:
“By knot of Six, the spell is fixed.”       

The seventh: 
“By knot of Seven, the boon is given.”

The eighth:
 “By knot of Eight, decreed by Fate.” 

And lastly, tie the ninth knot:
“By knot of Nine, now it is mine!”       

Once again, imagine white light all around the knotted cord, and place your hands above or beside the cord with palms facing it.  Keep the image of your goal very firmly ensconced in your mind. 

Then, release all of your focused energy and concentration directly into the cord - imagine the energy flowing out of you in the form of light or water.

When all of the energy has flowed from you into the knotted cord, take it and seal it in a safe place. It is best to bury it in the Earth, and especially good if you can bury it at the foot of a tree.  This symbolizes the physical manifestation of the goal. 

In some cases you may wish to keep the Witches’ Ladder in your house, rather than burying it outdoors.  You can do this by placing it in a pot filled with soil and kept on the altar or a special place. Or you could make a special box or bottle for it. 


The simple technique used to make the Witches’ Ladder has many variations.  These can add to the efficacy of the spell by deepening your connection to it.   

1. Make your Witches’ Ladder using not one but several cords of differing color.  For example, to do a prosperity spell you might combine a green cord, for fertility and abundance, with a yellow cord, for success.  Or for psychic development you might select a dark blue cord, for psychic ability, a pale blue cord, for communication and learning, and a violet cord, for spiritual guidance.

2.  Tie something into the knot.  You might use beads, or twigs, or feathers -to give just a few examples.  Then tie one into each knot as you work the spell. You can grab some skeleton keys off of Amazon, and tie one into each knot. This will help with unlocking "doors" to your goal. The use of feathers is a particularly ancient version of this spell, and examples have been found dating back hundreds of years.

Samhain Apple Divinations

These were said to only be done on Samhain (remember, days begin at night in Celtic tradition):

1. Peel an apple, keeping the peel in one long piece. When the peel comes off, drop it on the floor. The letter it forms is the first initial of your true love's name.

2. Wait until midnight and cut an apple into nine pieces. Take the pieces into a dark room with a mirror (either hanging on the wall or a hand-held one will do). At midnight, begin eating the pieces of apple while looking into the mirror. When you get to the ninth piece, throw it over your shoulder. The face of your lover should appear in the mirror.

Sweet Treats for Clairvoyant Dreams

In ancient Scotland,  a Halloween tradition  said that if a woman ate a dessert of sugary walnuts, hazelnuts, and nutmeg before going to sleep on Halloween, she'd dream of—what else?—her future husband.

What traditions do you follow? Any ideas for others? Post a comment here or on the Facebook page. Let's do this together!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this wonderful information, blessed be.


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