Everything Samhain & Halloween (Rituals, Histories, and More!)

The Samhain/Halloween Season is a busy one. There’s just so much to take in, and so many things to do! Costumes to put together, rituals to plan, pumpkins to carve . . . . it’s a bit overwhelming for many of us. With that in mind I thought I’d put together a list of Halloween/Samhain essentials to help you navigate through the Autumn Holiday Season.


Not surprisingly I’m going to list my own ritual first, but I’m fiercely proud of the Samhain Ritual I put together last year. Less great, but probably much easier to do is this Samhain Ritual I wrote several years ago. These two rituals from Compost Coven are worth checking out, and there’s a genuinely funny story introducing the first ritual there too.

If you are looking for some ritual ideas outside of the Wiccan realm ADF has a whole page of Druidic Samhain Rituals. That link will take you to ten different rituals, lots to pick and choose from there. I had difficulty finding an Asatru Winter Nights ritual, but I liked this solitary one from Grey’s Blog (and it’ll work for anyone searching for a solitary ritual). Not familiar with Winter-Nights, try this link.

I have a lot of trouble recommending a whole lot of online rituals because I think they are all far too short. A ritual needs to be more than 200 words.


There are a lot of good Halloween histories out there. I wrote one last year of course, but that’s only scratching the surface. If you are looking for a brief history this page hits some of the high points, and this one from the Huffington Post includes a few fun facts at the end along with some history. If you want a completely inaccurate history of Halloween along with a few laughs and a couple of scares this confused Christian has an interesting take, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t include my favorite Chick Tract for young people; the sad story of Stinky.


There’s always lots of great Samhain and Halloween material out there in the Blogosphere unrelated to rituals and history. We’ve had some good ones here at Patheos Pagan the last week or so, John Beckett put together a great piece on why he loves Halloween, and David Dashifen Kees writes about Halloween as an interfaith moment on The Wild Garden. For something with a little more meat on its bones check out Vivianne Crowley’s To Death and Beyond and Gus diZerega’s Samhain 2013. My favorite post on Halloween this year has been What in Sam Hain? by John Halstead over on The Allergic Pagan. I promise it’s not just because he linked to three of my articles in his piece. Samhain the Voodoo Way over on Lilith Dorsey’s Voodoo Universe is completely worth checking out too.

I was hoping to get some Patheos writers outside of Pagandom into a discussion about Halloween, so far I’ve only been joined by Ambaa over at The White Hindu (though her take is fascinating and miles away from my own). It’s early maybe I’ll get a few more writers to engage on the topic.

Last year I wrote a piece entitled Honoring the Ancestors (or Not) about my theological issues with ancestor worship/honor. This year Aine Llewellyn shared similar thoughts over on Dalliances With Deities. With so many rituals focused on reuniting with our beloved dead its all a conversation worth having. John Beckett added to the conversation a little later than Aine and I did, you can read his thoughts here.


Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Halloween-time is for both children and adults. Since I don’t have any kids I sometimes forget that first part, lucky for us Meg Yardley at Pagan Families hasn’t. I want to read some of those books. The amount of material out there in the form of crafts and activities for children is mind-boggling, luckily Pinterest can do all the work finding that stuff for us. What would Halloween be without some ghoulishly themed treats that look like a trick? You can find some right here. I’m also amazed at how fun some of these games thought up by Martha Stewart look. Me linking to a Martha Stewart article!? Now that’s scary!

Since originally putting this post together Patheos has added even more Halloween/Samhain Content. Click on the links below for even more perspectives on October’s best holiday. (What? You don’t think Columbus Day is better do you?)

The Metaphysics of Halloween by Chris Henrichsen from the Mormon Channel.
A Unitarian Universalist perspective by Carl Greg, at the Patheos Spirituality Channel, and one of his Pagan parishioners contributed to his blog too.

Have a Happy Halloween and a Blessed Samhain! It all starts for me this weekend and doesn’t let up until I’ve watched V For Vendetta on the 5th of November . . . .

About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.

  • Ken

    I dunno if my page is loading wrong, but there are a few links in this article that go to the wrong article in the Reflections on Samhain & Halloween paragraph.
    Otherwise, I enjoyed your post!

    • JasonMankey

      Apparently the cut and paste option on Google Chrome is absolutely in love with John Beckett . . . . all fixed up.

  • http://spinningofthewheel.wordpress.com/ Áine Órga

    Great post, all these links will keep me busy for a while – thanks! :)

  • SeanPatrick Zeitler

    Good post, and thanks for the links :)

    One tradition of Halloween/Samhain that I discovered recently is what goes on in Dublin Ireland today; a parade that ends with fireworks. Which I can imagine can be great for families if you were living in Dublin.

    • JasonMankey

      We sometimes get fireworks where I live in California on Halloween night, but they are actually for Diwali, a Hindu festival.

    • HermitTalker

      ANYTHING or the merchants to make some Euros. St ;Pat’s Day has become the same – big party and parade for spring.

  • HermitTalker

    A study of the Humanities shows that a natural desire for worship uses the natural rhythm of the Cycle of e year the growth and harvesting of crops is the basis for religious festivals and developed into and Christianity Forces of Evil were faced and in some mythologies and practices became real forces of Evil, devil worship and black magic. Halloween in nominally Christian cultures has taken over the dark and negative side and sometimes insensitive fundamentalist Christians see only Devils and Hell.

    • Victor

      (((Halloween in nominally Christian cultures has taken over the dark and negative side and sometimes insensitive fundamentalist Christians see only Devils and Hell.)))

      With all due respect HermitTalker,

      I don’t think that be true for all Christians especially for the ones who say that they respect “Jesus” in their own way unless YA prove them wrong now which are so many nowadays. For these new and/old Christians of this twenty first century where just about anything goes but I hate to say it, if they had a pole and all these so called Christians were asked as to who was more to our reality, “Jesus” and/or The “Easter Bunny” who do YA think would have the greatest odds?

      As for me, I’m going to keep believing that souls, spirits and angels do really exist and so do “The Dead”. Who’s to say that the stories that my mom and dad, God Bless their souls, told me as a child that on Halloween Day, GOD and His Angels allowed these invisible forces to come and pay U>S (usual sinners) a visit once a year and depending on our hearts and faith, GOD would send His Saints on the next day after Halloween to reorganize life and send these invisible forces to where they originally came from and leave His Faithful followers alone or else…..

      BOO! HOO! HOO! :(
      Now where’s The Devil and Hell in there? :)

      Happy Halloween

      • HermitTalker

        Thanks Victor. I may have not made my case clear.. I was born into the Samhain and Catholic culture. Several cultures honour the dead and their ancestors. Samhain bred the Feast of All Souls Nov 2, Halloween literally is the EVE OF ALL SAINTS, “hallow” is holy, een is e’ve/evening. It is Evangelicals whom I met who dismiss the entre event as devil worship since they confuse the ghouls and scary and skeletons with Evil. I taught the Humanities and explained the entire background factually without “taking sides” against or for. . I have no truck with extremist in Church or Politics.

        • Victor

          Forgive me for jumping the gun but you see I just got back from celebrating out of town and long story short, I missed Sunday Mass and still have not found time to go to confession.
          Thank You for the attention and God Bless

          • HermitTalker

            You dear devout man. IF it was accidental, as in not planned or a special event that took you away, you know you are excused.

          • Victor

            God Bless you too HermitTalker

  • http://celestialelfdanceoflife.blogspot.co.uk/ Celestial Elf

    Great Post, thought you might like Samhain Song,
    my machinima animation of this very special pagan festival xx ~
    Bright Blessings By Star & Stone ~