Sage has been celebrating the Wheel of the Year for 25+ years. Being a holiday junkie, she just can't get enough of the sabbats!
It’s said that the “veil between the worlds” is thin on Samhain night. For me, there’s unusual energy in the house on the night of Samhain. It’s so thick it seems to embrace me. The place feels very crowded—even if there’s more than enough space for the bodies wandering around. When everyone else goes to bed, I sit there quietly winding down after the hustle and bustle of the sabbat activities, the flickering candles on the altar piled up with offerings. I can close my eyes and sense the spirits of those I’ve loved and lost, and it’s as though they’re sitting next to me, standing behind me, surrounding me. I feel the occasional caress on my hair or the slight pressure on the shoulder as if a gentle hand is on it. I’ve found Samhain a time when I can spiritually reconnect with those who are supposed to be gone forever.
Now, I do pray to my ancestors and my deceased loved ones occasionally when I can use their assistance with something, but I don’t usually like to spend Samhain plaguing them with requests. After all, the sabbat is about celebrating their memory and honoring them, not trying to get something from them. But there is one thing that I feel it’s appropriate to ask them for—their wisdom. After all, this is probably their most important legacy.
Here’s a little spell I designed a few years ago for that very purpose.
Supplies and Ingredients
I realize I’m lucky in some respects in that much of my family is openly Pagan, including my husband and our children. Most of those who are not Pagan are at least open to Paganism, and all of our friends are either Pagan or completely Pagan accepting. So I’ve never actually been “in the broom closet.” Being able to build up a big Samhain ancestor’s altar out in the open in our home is a luxury I’ve always been able to enjoy.
For this ritual, it’s good to be able to have such an altar. If you live with people or in a place where a prominent altar isn’t possible, then make one that’s not obvious. Size doesn’t matter, though. A single white candle on a table, a photo of a deceased loved one on a bedside table, or just writing a name on a piece of paper and tacking it up on the wall will suffice. It’s the intent here that counts—you’ll know that it’s your altar.
- If you can, get mint or catnip oil. If you can’t get essential oils, get mint or catnip herbs, and make an infusion. Let them steep in warm (not boiling) olive oil, then let the oil cool and strain it. This is for anointing the candle, as these herbs are useful for attracting benevolent spirits.
- A cup of mugwort or vervain tea is also ideal, but if you can’t get these teas, use a cup of water.
- You’ll also need a pumpkin—it can be a small pumpkin. Carve open the pumpkin ahead of time and remove the seeds. You can roast them or leave them raw—the choice is yours, but reserve them for the ritual.
- A white candle to place in the pumpkin.
Note: You can carve out the pumpkin into a decorative jack-o-lantern if you like, but don’t make it anything frightening. No scary faces—something warm and welcoming will do. One great option is to carve the names of those you are honoring into the flesh.
Casting the Spell
On Samhain night, as the sun is setting, honor your ancestors in whatever way is usual. Make your offerings and perform whatever ceremonies or meditations that you wish.
- When you’re ready, put the pumpkin on the altar. Take the white candle and dress it with the oil by envisioning your intent, and you rub the oil onto the candle, hand over hand, from tip to end, repeatedly. Envision pouring your intent into the candle as you do it to charge it. When you feel the candle is ready, place it in a holder inside the pumpkin.
- Lay out seven of the pumpkin seeds in front of the pumpkin and set your tea or water aside.
- Light the candle.
- Say this or something like it: Spirits of my ancestors who wish me well, I venerate you this evening ceremonially at this altar with offerings and praises in your honor. I try to honor you in my life as well daily; all of my accomplishments and successes are a testament to your influences, no matter how direct or indirect. If you please, I ask you to open me to your wisdom so that I can go forward from here this year and make you proud. Please help me understand what I need to know to make better choices and to continue to evolve and progress.
- Hold your hands over the seeds.
- Say: Fill these seeds with the power of your wisdom so that it may flourish within my heart and soul, so that I may draw from it as is necessary and use it for the benefit of myself and all I love, so mote it be.
- When you feel ready, eat the seeds, slowly, one by one. You may eat the whole seed with a shell or crack them open if you can’t chew the shell. As you take in each seed, take a sip of the tea or water. When you’re finished with the seeds, finish the water.
- Thank the ancestors. You may extinguish the candle, or leave it burning and continue with the rest of the festivities. Offer the rest of the pumpkin seeds and some tea or water as a sign of thanks.
What to Expect
The results of this spell can vary. Sometimes, you will have prophetic dreams that very night or meet with a deceased loved one who is dispensing advice in your dreams. Sometimes the effects are more subtle, unfolding over the next few days or weeks. For example, you may find that clarity washes over you when making decisions, or that your "gut feelings" and instincts become sharper. Be open to the unique way it may manifest for you.
© 2013 Mackenzie Sage Wright