Set up a gorgeous Samhain Altar
How To Set Up A Gorgeous Samhain Altar

Samhain (pronounced SOW-in) is a Pagan holiday that honors the cycle of life and death. This Sabbat also celebrated as Halloween, All Hallows Eve and Dia de los Muertos primary focus is about honoring of the harvest season, transformation, regeneration, honoring the dead,  the calling of the spirits, divination, and the preparation for the approaching winter season. It is also said the the veils between the worlds (life and death) are the thinnest and communication with those that have crossed over is easier.
Try some or even all of these ideas — obviously, space may be a limiting factor for some, so use what calls to you most.
One of my core teachings is that magic is an art, create magic the way it speaks to you!

Colors of the Season:

The landscape is almost bare as most of the trees foliage has either died off or fallen to the the ground. This is a time when the earth is going dark, so reflect the colors of late autumn in your altar decorations. Use rich, deep colors like purples, burgundies and black, as well as harvest shades like gold and orange. Cover your altar with dark cloths, welcoming the darker nights that are rapidly approaching. Add candles in deep, rich colors, or consider adding an ethereal contrasting touch with white or silver and gold.

Samhain Honors the Cycle of Life and Death:

Samhain is the time of the dying of the crops and of life itself as Earth Mother begins to go dormant. Add skulls, skeletons or ghosts to your altar. Death (the Grim Reaper) is often portrayed carrying a sickle or scythe, so if you’ve got one of those handy, you can display that on your altar as well.
You can add photographs of your deceased ancestors to your Samhain altar… or you can create a separate ancestor altar filled with photos, mementos, candles and other sentimental items. Learn more about altars and altar creation here.

Samhain is the Third and Final Harvest:

In addition to symbols of death, cover your Samhain altar with the products of your final harvest. Add a basket of apples, pumpkins, squash, or root vegetables. Fill a cornucopia and add it to your table.

Samhain Altar Decoration Ideas:

  • Altar candles in orange, black, white, silver and gold
  • Myrrh or patchouli incense
  • Dried leaves, mums, marigolds small pumpkins and gourds, acorns, nuts, a cauldron, a goblet of mulled wine, dark breads, Indian corn or dried ears of corn, etc.
  • Tools of divination or spirit communication like tarot, obsidian sphere, pendulum, runes, Ouija boards, scrying mirror, etc.
  • Stones: Black obsidian, smoky quartz, jet, amber, pyrite, garnet, granite, clear quartz, marble, sandstone, gold, diamond, iron, steel, ruby, hematite, brass  (I have a large Labradorite gemstone skull that I use on my Samhain altar)
  • Offerings to the ancestors like their favorite food or drink, photos of ancestors, sentimental mementos, etc.
  • Animal horns, skeletons, skulls, candy skulls, feathers or talons as a power symbol
  • Statuary of deities symbolizing death: Demeter (Greek Goddess), Hades (Greek God of the Underworld), Freya (Norse Goddess), Hecate (Greek Goddess of the Cauldron), The Morrigan (Celtic Goddess), Hel (Norse Goddess), Yama (Hindu God), Anubis (Egyptian God)

 Ideas For A Magical Samhain:

  • Carve a Jack O Lantern and empower it with your intentions to repel negativity. Then put it in front of your front door.
  • Create a altar that honors your ancestors.
  • Fill a plastic pumpkin with gold wrapped candy to symbolize and sweet and prosperous new year.
  • Set a place at your dinner table for the recently deceased. If the deceased is a pet, place their favorite food in their bowl (if you still have it) or plate and put it where their bowls used to be.
  • Build your Samhain altars on top of hay bales.
  • Visit the cemetery, clean up and place flowers for your deceased loved ones.

Your Goddess Lifestyle Assignment:

Your Goddess Lifestyle Assignment is to set up a Samhain altar using the suggestions I gave in this article that feel good to you! If the skulls and other more grim suggestions don’t resonate with you, then don’t use them. Create an altar of flowers, stones, incense, candles and items from nature that speak to your soul. Magic is an art, create magic the way that it speaks to you!

silver-moon-divider Lisa Grantham

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