If you celebrate Samhain alone, the occasion will be more contemplative than if you go to a party. Group celebrations offer more energy and rowdy fun. But nothing can engage your belief in the magic of the season as strongly as your own solitary celebration with no distractions as you experience a sabbat that you have tailored exactly to your own tastes. Samhain is the doorway into winter, the end of the old year and the beginning of the new, and the third and final harvest at which the Lord sacrifices his life to ensure the abundance of next year’s harvest. Take your ritual bath and contemplate these things before your formal Samhain ritual. Allow your heart to open to the spirit world on Samhain night when the veil between the living and the beloved dead is as thin as mist.
The Samhain Ritual. Start at sundown with your formal Samhain ritual. (See the Rituals topic in the Related Links section below for specific ritual ideas.) Cast the circle, call the quarters, and honor the Lord and Lady.
The Feast. Serve roast fowl or pork, root vegetables and squash, roasted nuts, and pies and breads. Drink apple cider, hard cider, ale, mead, or mulled wine. Consider having a Mute Supper. This is a formal meal with black candles and linens, sometimes served at midnight, with place settings for you and each of the beloved dead whom you wish to honor. You can place a specific prayer or message for each dead person beneath his or her plate. Serve the meal to every plate and eat in silence while meditating on the dead and opening yourself to their presence. To start the event and mark the beginning of silence, ring a bell. Do the same to conclude the supper.
Solitary Activities: During a solitary sabbat, your formal ritual honors the Lord and Lady whereas the activities that you do afterward are for you – to make your sabbat fun, magical, and meaningful. Choose one or more options that resonate most strongly with you. Some Wiccans might be attracted to magical handiwork such as creating a special wand or making candles for the new year, which would imbue these projects with enhanced potency on so sacred a night as Samhain. Others might be drawn to mental activities such as spell casting, divination, or guided meditation. And others might want to luxuriate in the escapist experience of watching a DVD movie that is about witches or set in historical Britain.
*Handicrafts include carving, sanding, oiling, or painting a wand or runes. You can make candles, embroider an altar cloth, construct a besom (witch’s broom), build an altar, create a Book of Shadows, sew a poppet, or finish any of numerous magical crafts. Choose something that can be started and completed in less than two hours, or plan on finishing a project that you have already brought close to completion. The goal is to complete something during the most auspicious time of Samhain night to use during the year to come.
*Mental activities include spell casting, divination, and guided meditation. Because you are alone, consider trying a form of divination that relies less on intellectual comprehension (such as interpreting runes or Tarot cards) and more on letting your mind relax and drift free. Scrying is a good choice. When you scry, you look into a scrying medium, which could be a bowl of water with a few drops of oil or ink on its surface, a crystal ball, a glass plate painted black on its underside, or a flickering candle flame. Keep the room dimly lit with your light source behind you. Relax and blink when necessary. Look for images that appear. They may flash like pictures across your inner eye. Or, as in cloud-gazing, you may see the lines and swirls in the medium itself that suggest images to you. Write down what you see in a dated entry in your Book of Mirrors so you can check back later on the accuracy of any predictions.
*Possible DVD movies for Samhain include the following supernatural-themed or British historical films: Rosemary’s Baby (1968), The Wicker Man (1973), Excalibur (1981), The Witches of Eastwick (1987), The Craft (1996), Practical Magic (1998), King Arthur (2004), Robin Hood (2010), The Eagle (2011), and Red Riding Hood (2011).
*Banishing Ritual: Write on a scrap of paper anything bad – a habit, an experience, or a person – from last year that you wish to leave behind in the coming new year. Place it into a cauldron or a fire-proof bowl and light it on fire. As the paper burns, visualize the negative influence written within the poppet burning up on the threshold between the old year and the new year. As it burns down and turns to ash, chant, "Send this shadow far from me. As I speak, so mote it be."
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