Lydia is a solitary witch who has been active in the occult community for 15 years. She is a published writer and visual artist.
Rekindle a Sacred Connection
At Samhain, the days get shorter. Vegetation is gradually dying. Death is a reality. The veils thin as Earth becomes sympathetic to visits from the spirits, ghosts, ghouls, and the fae. It is time to rekindle a sacred connection to those who have passed before us and other spiritual forces living a parallel existence to our own.
Acknowledging death at Samhain is a healthy way of coming to terms with the impermanence of this material realm. We are all mortals. Eventually, we all must croak. We all need to reflect upon the afterlife and ancestors who have passed before us.
The spark of life passes from person to person. It is like a flame passed from candle to candle. Our dead live on through us, their descendants. When we connect with our ancestors, we are connecting with parts of ourselves. This gives us a deeper sense of who we are. It allows us to become a more integrated part of the whole.
Connect Through Genealogy
Samhain is a good time to do some genealogy. Sign up for a genealogy website and use the information to piece together a family tree. Get creative and make a project of it. Draw out a beautiful family tree to hang on your wall.
Visiting towns once inhabited by your family lineage is an adventurous way of forging a connection. Use these localities in ritual work. Or simply visit them to understand where you came from. Plan a field trip and make a day of it.
Figure out the story of someone in your family tree. Explore a new line of the family. Connect to their culture and customs. Look at what their life was like in a historical context. Prepare a recipe by a departed grandmother or from a region your family came from. You could even hold a traditional Celtic "Dumb Supper" with these recipes where you invite the spirits of your dearly departed.
Create an Ancestor Altar
An ancestor altar can be a visual reminder of who you wish to connect with. It can be a fun and creative endeavor. Dig back into history and reach out to elderly relatives. They can remember further back and may have terrific old photographs and colorful stories to share.
Purchase candles for those you wish to remember. Use your memory. Add objects, aromas, and colors you associate with them.
You could go even further back with your ancestor altar. Print photographs of relatives from the distant past. You might not have much first-hand knowledge of them, but they were an integral part of shaping who you are. The events of their lives still ripple through our own. Many of us still hear about family controversies from more than a hundred years ago. Take this time to explore them.
We can find photographs online of relatives we know very little about. Focus on those who are intriguing. Add mementos to your altar reflective of the information you dredge up. Add objects from the time period in which they lived or things associated with their profession.
Invite the Past Into Your Life to Heal
Welcome your ancestors back into your life. Slow down and take the time to connect with them on a deeper level. You could write a letter to someone who has passed on.
At Samhain, you can use ancestor work to explore your shadow side. Our ancestors were human just as we are. They made their fair share of mistakes. Some of us have relatives who we haven't forgiven for some kind of abuse or mistreatment. Perhaps we had someone who was merely emotionally unavailable. Samhain can be a time to sort out intergenerational trauma.
You can write a letter about a difficulty in your life related to an ancestor. Think about the way our difficult relationships have perhaps contributed to our dark side.
Petition the Gods to Mend a Breach
Sometimes we have relationships that we would rather distance ourselves from. Some of our ancestors have done some horrible things. It can make sense to ignore the dead and call upon something more powerful like a deity. You can call upon a God or Goddess relevant to the sorts of family issues you are working through.
Pick Some Honorary Ancestors
If you don't take pride in your own ancestors you can pick some honorary ones. I have done this in previous years and it worked like a charm. One year I picked artists like Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo as my honorary ancestors. These two artists had qualities about themselves that I wished to embrace in my own life. I was living in an environment where my identity felt suppressed and everyone seemed critical of my eccentricities. I picked some honorary ancestors who rocked their eccentricities and made it into a trade mark.