Sage has been celebrating the Wheel of the Year for 25+ years, and being a holiday junkie, she just can't get enough of the sabbats!
Safe Group Samhain Celebrations During the Pandemic
Many of us in the Pagan and Witch communities look forward to this time of year—particularly Samhain. This popular sabbat is a time when so many people look forward to fun festivals, moving rituals, and interesting activities with our religious community. Unfortunately for us, 2020 had other plans.
This year, we've been faced with a pandemic unlike anything we've seen in our lifetime, and the results have been devastating. Sadly, it's not over yet, so it is necessary to continue to take precautions to avoid spreading the dangerous disease. You may have to cancel your usual activities, but that doesn't mean that you can't celebrate at all.
Here are some ways you can have safer celebrations amid the pandemic. Some of these things can be so much fun that your group might wish to continue them even when it's safe to come out and gather again.
Stay Safe Out There!
- Don't plan or attend any in-person events if your local government prohibits it.
- Gather only in only safe, open, well-ventilated places where and when permitted.
- Maintain a social distance of at least six feet away from other people and groups.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water.
- Carry hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol for when hand washing is not possible.
- Wear masks.
- Obey any authorities that may intervene.
- Stay home if you suspect you may be sick, or if you have come into contact with a sick person.
An Extra-Large Drum Circle
Who doesn't love a drum circle? If going to parks is allowed in your area, then you and your fellow local Pagans can have a great time together, while separate. Plan to meet with your group at a large park, but instead of mingling with each other, let your music mingle and bring you closer in spirit.
What to Bring
Bring your picnic blanket, food and drink, and your favorite instruments. Drums seem to be the favorite of many Pagans, and thankfully they are nice and loud! You can also bring tambourines, rattles, rain sticks, or any other items you might enjoy playing.
Space Out and Enjoy the Beat
Every individual or small family group should lay out their blankets at least six feet away from each other. When someone starts playing, others can join in. Once a few people are joining in, that sound will really carry through the area. If you prefer, just kick back on your blanket, relax and meditate to the pulsating, earthy beat. You'll feel a boost as your energies—but not your germs—as you mingle in warm fellowship.
Skip the pot luck this year; don't share food, drinks, or utensils—everyone should come equipped with their own personal picnic. Toast each other from a distance.
If you do decide to walk around and visit each other's blankets to say "hi" to old friends, remember to wear a mask and stay back at least six feet. Let the music you make draw you together even as you are spaced apart.
Drumming Can Be a Meditative Experience
A Witchy Trunk or Treat
Trunk-or-treat is a family Halloween activity that has been catching on over the past few years. If your annual festival or camping trip has been canceled, it can be a fun and safer alternative to help you get into the spirit of the season.
What Is "Trunk-or-Treating?"
A general trunk-or-treat consists of a group of people meeting in a parking lot at an appointed time. Each family will have the trunk of their car decorated for Halloween; they'll also have treats on hand. Children will then go from car to car to see the decorations and get a little treat—hence the name "trunk or treating."
This is a great activity for Pagan families (you might even want to wear costumes and bring snacks), but it can also be designed for an adult group or coven.
Give it a Pagan Twist
Instead of decorating your cars for Halloween, plan with your group to decorate your trunks for Samhain specifically.
- Set up your own Samhain altars in your car, or a memorial shrine to your lost love ones, so your friends can come by to offer respects or a prayer.
- Set up an easy little spell table, such as some paper and pens where people can write what they want to "banish" in their lives. Place a small bowl next to it where they can put these papers so you can burn them safely later. Just make sure you post a sign by your trunk with clear instructions if you want your friends to do something.
- Fan out an assortment of tarot cards so your friends can draw one as they gather to see what they need to work on this year. Also place a box there for people to deposit the cards after they look at them (you can allow these to stay in the box a couple of days before you collect them again to ensure any virus may die off).
- If you have speakers, play a playlist of Pagan music or chants for your friends to enjoy as they go by your trunk.
- Prepare a plastic cauldron full of little goodies, such as charm bags, beaded bracelets, Witch's ladders, tiny vials of blended oils, or baggies of incense. Make it things your friends can take as they go by and wipe with disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizers for safety reasons.
As long as everyone maintains social distancing, wears masks, and meets in a spacious parking lot (make sure it's open to the public, such as one at a park), this can be a safe alternative to that Samhain ritual, festival, parties or trick-or-treating.
Keeping Spirits up at Samhain
Card and Gift Exchange
If you can't get together in person, but you still want to feel more physically connected, exchange something physical. Members of your group can make little care packages for each other to exchange by mail, or by dropping off on each other's doorstep if you live in the same area. Each member can make a package for every other member, or you can pick names randomly and exchange them in the style of a secret Santa gift exchange.
Keep the exchange simple by stuffing a small envelope with cards, prayers, or pictures. If you want to go big and exchange boxes stuffed with goodies, some options include incense, candles, charm bags, potions, oil blends, salts, powders, trinkets, herbs, spices, flowers, small figurines, seasonal altar decorations, baked goods, candies, or other treats.
Home-made items are always a nice option because they give a special touch. If you prefer you can choose store-bought goods or things you have collected from nature. Say some prayers over the items and imbue them with seasonal energies or special intents for your friends.
- If you or anyone in your household is sick or has recently been exposed to someone who is sick, delay sending your packages until your quarantine period is finished.
- When you get a package, you will ensure your household's safety if you wipe it down with disinfectant and put it aside for a couple of days before opening it to ensure any potential viruses die off.
Stay Together While Apart
If you really can't meet in person, there is no reason you can't meet online for your ritual. Look for video conferencing software like Zoom, Go to Meeting, or Join.me to hold your ritual.
Planning an Online Ritual
Plan the ritual ahead by scripting it. Have one individual lead the ritual, or split up the parts and hand them off to different group members. Everyone else can follow along at home on their own little altars with their device in front of them.
Alert all participants in advance if they will need anything for their own personal altars. This may be components for a spell, special colored candles, or a snack for a simple feast. If there are any special chants, prayers, etc. you would like everyone to say, you might pass them out in advance as well so that group members can familiarize themselves with these.
Group meditation to start the event is a good way to help bring everyone together in ritual consciousness. You might have each member cast their own circle, or suspend with circle casting altogether. People can light candles on cue at their own altars when invocations or incantations are read.
It's a good idea to ask participants to stay muted at parts when they are not talking so that there won't be any distractions. People can unmute when they have a speaking part, or during the simple feast when everyone is snacking and relaxing.
Community plays such an important role in the lives of many Pagans, and we shouldn't have to go without that just because times are tough. Even just a decade ago, online rituals might have not been possible. Thankfully, in our time of greatest need, we have the technology, so we might as well use it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Mackenzie Sage Wright
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 04, 2020:
I was surprised to see your pen name pop up. It's good to see you again, and I hope you are well.