When: October 31st – November 1st
What: Samhain / Halloween
Takeaway: Samhain (aka Halloween) is a day to honor the shifting season, the lives of our beloved who have passed on, and the lineages we serve and come from. Spend this day in reflection, or bring your inner freak out to play — or do both. This time of year is about acquainting ourselves with the dark, with death, so as to remind ourselves that such transitions are not endings. They’re simply doorways to something else.
Why October 31st is astrologically significant
In the Northern hemisphere, the days at the end of October and beginning of November have long signified celebration and reflection. Across cultures, traditions, and places, this is the time of year when the veil between worlds is believed to be thinned. When it becomes easier to contact and receive both messages and support from our loved ones who have passed on.
October 31st, itself, is an astrologically significant day because it marks the midpoint between the September Equinox and the December Solstice. Known as a “cross-quarter day,” this halfway mark brings our attention to how the light has shifted. How the temperature is changing. And how our lives are impacted as a result. Whether you are in the middle of fall or spring, this day offers a clear vantage point as we move deeper into the transitioning season.
Halloween vs. Samhain
North America celebrates October 31st with Halloween — a day of play, make-believe, and storytelling. Jack-o-lanterns glimmer in the night, and what’s otherwise spooky transforms into festivity and fun. Ghouls crowd the streets. Frankenstein hands out candy. And goblins walk hand-in-hand.
Celebrated on the same eve, Samhain is a Gaelic celebration that stretches from October 31st to November 1st — though similar festivals are held all across the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year. Traditionally, Samhain honored the end of the growing season. The harvest has now finished. The leaves are sloughing off the trees, and their decay nourishes the soil. The coming winter is a season when the natural world enters its own death journey, and we must welcome the healing powers of the dark.
Just as Halloween prods us to live our lives fully, without holding back, Samhain reminds us of the fragility of life. That the more we can embrace what spooks us, and even play with the notion of death and decay itself, the less likely we are to take ourselves too seriously. When we do this, we grow less afraid and are better able to appreciate that darkness and death are not ends — but transition points in a greater cycle.
Connecting with and honoring your ancestors this season
As the veil between worlds grows thin around October 31st, we are better able to commune with those who came before us. These could be the ancestors you follow in the path of, those related to you by blood, or people who have impacted you in some way — be they friends, leaders, artists, community members, or elders. They could even be spirits, guides that hold meaning for you, or a favorite animal from your childhood.
Whether you celebrate Halloween, Samhain, or another festival entirely, this time of year opens a space for you to dialogue with your beloveds, mark the seasonal change, and honor both the shadow and light that dwell within each of us. There’s no right or wrong way to do so, but there are some ideas for you below to get started. You can also try our Samhain ritual in the CHANI app, which will be available from 12:30 pm PT on October 30th.
9 Samhain rituals for a magical night
Here are a few suggestions on how to celebrate, honor, and reflect on October 31st.
- Spend time outdoors, gathering fallen branches, dried leaves, berries, grasses, gourds, etc. Later, arrange your finds on your altar or around your home to beckon in the changing season.
- Gather with friends and share stories about your ancestors or those you wish to honor.
- Create an altar to grieve, rejoice in, and acknowledge the creative, intellectual, spiritual, or familial lineages you come from. Decorate it with flowers, photos, tealights, or anything else that reminds you of who you’re remembering.*
- Cook a favorite meal for someone in your life who’s passed away. Leave a setting for them at your dining table. Alternatively, you could place a favorite treat of theirs on your altar, or a glass of water.
- Feel close to someone in your life who is no longer here. Listen to their favorite music. Watch their go-to films or TV shows. Read a poem they liked. Art can offer a timeless bridge between us and the people we love, even after they have passed on.
- Reflect on how you are showing up in your life now, as someone who too will become an eventual ancestor. Do you feel proud of the aspects of your lineage that you are passing on? If not, what can you let go of, compost, heal, or transform? Note that you can also use this time to reflect on what you have “harvested” or courageously pursued over the past few months.
- Check the CHANI app at 12:30 pm PT on October 30th to listen to Your Reading for the week of October 31st.
- Go to the app any time after 12:30 pm PT on October 31st to access our guided meditation, altar suggestions, and ritual for Samhain.
*For safety reasons, never leave a lit candle unattended.
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