Here we are again, facing the end of another year. It’s time for us to once again do our best to keep the Celtic traditions alive as we celebrate Samhain.  As the nights grow subtly longer and the days shorter, we put behind us the madness of summer activities in the blistering heat and we welcome Autumn, with its bursts of reds, golds, and oranges (for those of us who have any fall colors to enjoy at all this year). Now we put into motion the plans which we have made for honoring our ancestors as well as the wise Crone and her aged Consort.

We feel the veil growing thinner.

Many are already familiar with the customary practices that we engage in as we celebrate Samhain. We are very attuned to the changes in the air. We feel the veil growing thinner. We also feel our psychic senses growing ever more keen. We ready ourselves to say goodbye to the old and hello to what’s new.

Our ancestral altars have been set up for some time now. Old photographs, jewelry, or other trinkets that held significance to our loved ones have already been put into place. Alongside those items of sentimental value, we’ve placed the customary Autumnal symbols: pumpkins, pomegranates, acorns, apples, along with any herbs appropriate for the season that will be used to celebrate this sacred day. Plans to visit grave sites have already been carried out- or soon will be- and as we depart, small tokens will be left in our places to remind our loved ones that they are far from forgotten.

Two more items that are important to place upon our altar (or at least, next to them) are pen and paper. After we’ve taken care of everyone else and we are fortunate enough to have some alone time, we sit and contemplate ourselves.  We face the dark half of the year by looking at those darker parts of ourselves which we wish to be rid of. As those parts are brought to the surface, we write them down on the petitions that we will soon bring before the Goddess and offer them to the Samhain flames, to purge them from ourselves. Once we stand before the flames, for those who are able to build a bonfire (or cauldrons, if a bonfire is not practical) we envision those attributes which serve us well and ask the Goddess to help us to make those parts of ourselves shine brightly in the coming year. With our petitions ready, we then take the time to lovingly remember our ancestors, before giving thanks to the Crone for the lessons we have learned and also thank the Horned God for the blessings which we have received, believing that the new year will be just as bountiful (or even more so if we lacked anything which we needed during this waning year).

The arrival of Samhain ushers in the cold, dark months which lie before us. Although the manner in which we keep this tradition alive has varied considerably throughout the years, we welcome All Hallows Eve with some of the same customs which the Celts observed: with divination, a respect for the departed, gratitude for what we’ve reaped during this third and final harvest of the year and with hope that the year to come will be fruitful for us all.