Getting Real About Samhain: Dealing With Zombies

Getting Real About Samhain: Dealing With Zombies October 20, 2018

If there was ever a sabbat for realness, it’s got to be Samhain. The emotional intensity of this time of the year brings forward so many things from the other side, including those zombies in my head. These zombies reach out from across the veil, hungry for parts of my soul. No, Samhain, is not all fun and games, it’s the time when many of us have to deal with the dead and incredible emotional intensity. Samhain can suck for those with zombies to deal with, bringing distress, grief, anxiety and depression. 

Canstock photo. All my zombies live in my own head. What about yours?

When I look around at what other writers have to say about Samhain and the general vibe on the internet, it’s like we’ve all got collective avoidance about the intensity of death magick. I’ve written about necromancy and honoring ancestors. There’s Samhain love spell articles to be found. So much about the lighter aspects of this dark time of the year. Yes, calling forth the dead for our personal use, from acting as our servitors to giving us advice, is a lighter shade of the dark emotional power of this sabbat. Putting a spirit into a box to do our beckoning is a bit of parlor-trick witchcraft, although it is often useful. It’s like we’re all avoiding the absolute realness of the sabbat, myself included. I got hit with a big zombie attack this week, reminding me that Samhain is not just a cutesy sabbat.

What I’ve been hearing from many others is that Samhain is far from the rather light and fluffy version that gets so much attention. Everyone wants to summon the dead, but who really wants to deal with them? Those zombies in our heads.

The spirits of Samhain, including Hekate, Persephone and Demeter, call us to get real about the energy of the end of the Witch’s Year. Autumn is the season of death. Ruled by the element of water, it’s the most emotional season. While that thin veil lets us cross over for lighter forms of death witchery, the true magick is to be found in dealing with the things that give us nightmares. Samhain has gotten too cozy. Too much pumpkin spice latte and not enough facing our fears.

Traditionally, this final harvest could make or break survival during the months ahead. While there was celebration, there was also the very real threat of the dark months coming. Another tradition we’ve seemed to forget about is that of women divining their future husband on Samhain. Again, this was about survival. Women needed a successful husband to live. The zombie coming for our ancestors was starvation.

Most of us today don’t deal with this type of  hungry zombie. Ours are hungry monsters of the past wanting to eat away at our sanity. It’s the tenth anniversary of the end of my marriage right before Samhain. The zombie that ate my marriage started out by consuming my ability to trust someone after I had been brutally traumatized early in life.

I’ve been especially emotional the past few weeks. The dead seem to be everywhere, from the specter at the end of my driveway to the dead mouse in the shed. What’s really been causing me grief are the zombies in my head. My familial ancestors wouldn’t have approved of my lifestyle let alone me being a witch. Then there’s the Mighty Dead – venerable departed witches, occultists, poets and so on – whose spirits I connect with. While I enjoy the company of most of them, some I don’t welcome. Aleister Crowley, complex genius and complete deviant, ignores my attempts to push him away. We’ve made peace. I’ve agreed to let him participate in the Samhain Séance that I’m leading next Saturday.

To participate in this free live online event, apply to join my group, The Witches’ Realm.

Dealing with the pain associated with the dead is a part of Samhain that we don’t talk enough about. Summoning nasty spirits, zombies, that can eat away at our souls if we don’t know what we are doing with death magick. The family that rejected us. The partners that abused us. My long-ago ancestors that colonized North America. Then there’s the pain of our previous incarnations leaking into this life. If you, like me, were a witch in several lives, you may be experiencing traumatic flashbacks right now. These dead are like zombies, eating away at parts of us that we need to survive. The zombies of my past selves in this life reach out to consume who I am today. Beguiling me with their lies about no longer being desirable. Pure shadow energy coming forward that can destroy us or provide an opportunity for greater understanding and healing. Which will it be?

While Delores O’Riordan’s  song Zombie is overtly about the troubles in Ireland, the brilliance of this song is that it also talks about her personal struggle with mental illness. Sadly, she succumbed to her zombies last winter.

“In your head

In your head
Zombie, zombie, zombie, ei, ei
What’s in your head?
In your head”

from “Zombie” by Delores O’Riordan


About Cyndi
Cyndi Brannen is a witch and spiritual teacher, a trained energetic healer, psychic and herbalist. Merging together her training in shamanism, Tarot, past life work, meditation and psychology, she teaches and writes about better living through witchcraft. Keeping Her Keys: An Introduction to Hekate’s Modern Witchcraft explores Hekate from her ancient origins to modern understanding through magic and personal development is available now for pre-order from Moon Books. True Magic: Unleashing Your Inner Witch uses the magic of the elements and the three realms to activate your true witch powers and will be available later in 2019 from Moon as well. Connect with her on Facebook or at to learn more about her teaching and writing. Cyndi lives in rural coastal Nova Scotia with her two sons where she can often be found wandering the cliffs or wild foraging plants. She lives what she teaches: fierce love, emotional courage and true magic. You can read more about the author here.

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  • Maria Noah

    This is hard for me, too. I’m frankly not wanting to grapple with the ancestors who did so much evil. I’m just tired. But I dive into it, just the same. And I find that they were broken children. Which excuses nothing. But teaches me everything.

    Scary. Exhausting. And know I get where you’re coming from, Cyndi. Though my words don’t address it. Not in this context. Never in this context.

  • Chelle Thomas

    Another excellent article. I’ve always been able to see both sides of the coin for this holiday coming up… and I have plenty of “zombies” eating away at me. I may do a giant cord cutting ritual the night of Samhain… or something along those lines. Thank you 🙂