A Samhain Tarot Spread for Spooky Season

pair of hands dealing black tarot cards on a black table covered with white candles

Before we delve into our sample Tarot reading to celebrate spooky season, we must learn about the celebrations at this time of year. Your first reaction is a common one: “Well, it’s Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve!” You’d be correct; however, there are other traditions at the root of this popular worldwide celebration.

Let’s break down the history and then dive into a spooky season Samhain Tarot reading.

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Pagan & Celtic Traditions

The Wheel of the Year is a series of eight holidays, originally assembled by the founders of Wicca and the Golden Dawn but with strong roots in Pagan and Celtic traditions.

Whether or not you honor these special celebrations, you may still be familiar with these names, as they are often conflated or tangled in secular holidays. All eight Sabbats are tied to the seasons, with four marking solstices and equinoxes, and the other four associated with Celtic fire festivals:

  • Samhain: Halloween / Pagan New Year / All Hallow’s Eve
  • Yule: Winter Solstice / Christmas
  • Imbolc: Saint Brigid’s Day / Candlemas
  • Ostara: Spring Equinox / Easter
  • Beltane: May Day
  • Litha: Summer Solstice / Midsummer
  • Lammas: Frey Fest / Lughnasagh
  • Mabon: Autumn Equinox / Pagan Thanksgiving

Many of these celebrations are connected to gratitude and explore the natural cycles of planting, nurturing, harvesting, and rest. And while each of these festivals has a history, tradition, and magic all its own, for many witches, Samhain is the most important Sabbat of the year.

The Roots of Samhain

After the transition into colder weather and the celebration of autumn with Mabon, Samhain marks the start of a new year. We say goodbye to an old cycle and step into another one.

Occurring during Scorpio season and at the mid-point between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice, this is a time when we speak of the “thinning of the veil” between the physical and spiritual worlds.

As a new year begins, we remember the dead, the people and places, and things that we have lost, and also celebrate the harvest of plants and livestock. Samhain marks the first festival of the dark half of the Wheel of the Year, transitioning from honoring cycles of birth, life, and growth into cycles of death, stillness, and recovery.

Connecting Samhain With the Tarot

In the Major Arcana, the archetype of Death rarely signals a physical death but instead marks a significant shift in our growth cycle.

Some endings we choose, others are forced upon us, but the result is an inevitable conclusion — a necessary goodbye that allows us to leave behind a dream, relationship, career, pattern, ambition, hope, wish, or situation that has gone stagnant.

And while this is something that is worth acknowledging, grieving, and spending time reflecting on, it also can bring a sense of relief, even freedom. If the concept of death makes you nervous, uncomfortable, or even angry, spend some time dwelling on the gifts that death can bring.

What does leaving something behind or acknowledging an ending make space for? How do we honor things that are gone and welcome new opportunities?

Samhain gives us a chance to note where we crave abundance and where we need release. We cannot only ever ask to receive things: there’s only so much we can carry, only room for so many plants in our garden. Sometimes we need to clear things out, acknowledge rot and decay, and make space for the new.

To that end, death does not have to be sad, scary, or painful. It can also be a celebration, a joyful time of remembrance, a recognition of the things that matter.


  • What have you lost, or are you in the process of losing?
  • How do subtle or substantial deaths eventually create opportunities for rebirth?
  • In giving ourselves time to process emotions and honor all that has passed, how do we show ourselves love, compassion, and grace?

A Tarot Spread for Samhain

Our spread for this season makes space for both sorrow and triumph, encouraging us to remember the past even as we dream of new futures. Darkness can bring gifts, and in periods of stillness, awareness, observation, and reflection, our intuition can speak to us in new and profound ways.

For this reading, consider:

  • What are your shadows trying to tell you?
  • What are you eager to release?
  • What are you still clinging to?
  • How can you anticipate the rebirth that is on its way instead of fighting for something already gone?

This sample reading with the Marigold Tarot is meant to inspire and demonstrate how to effectively use this spread. It was not drawn for anyone in particular, but you may still find inspiration or empowerment from it.

Card One: An Ending to Honor

5 of Rings

The 5 of Rings is a card traditionally associated with struggle, grief, or a lack of resources. It represents a moment when we need help but are afraid to accept it. There’s real sorrow, even desperation, in this card — yet the support that we need is available to us if we can simply take what is being extended.

As an ending, this card offers hope for the future, indicating that a period of hardship or difficult circumstances may be coming to a close. Yet this card also offers advice, telling us to set aside our pride and take the help that is being offered. While things are going to get better, we still need to act in order to improve our circumstances.

There is real strength and comfort within arm’s reach — and this card wants us to accept it.

Card Two: A Way to Grieve

8 of Cups

Tied to release and moving on, the 8 of Cups is a deliberate decision to end something.

Whether it’s a toxic relationship, an old dream, or a harmful situation, we reach this point when we’ve done everything that we can to repair a challenging issue and have not made progress in some time. Instead of continuing to spin our wheels, this card is the moment when we decide to leave our old ways behind to start down a new path.

In this position of grieving, the 8 of Cups wants us to remember what we are moving towards, to take ownership of our choices, and to recognize that we are now reaching for something brighter and healthier.

Card Three: A Way to Celebrate

4 of Cups

Usually associated with selfishness, isolation, or stagnation in relationships, the 4 of Cups is a closed heart and a closed mind. Echoing themes from the 5 of Rings that appeared earlier in this reading, this card wants us to be more aware of the opportunities and possibilities that are within reach and to celebrate the communities and connections that we have.

Sometimes when we are facing obstacles, we retreat into ourselves, believing that no one else could possibly understand what we are enduring. Yet this card reminds us that there is happiness to find, people who love us, and beautiful joys to celebrate. We are not as alone as we believe that we are, and there are so many new ways to find hope — we simply have to be willing to look for them.

Card Four: A Gift From Your Shadows

6 of Swords

We all have things that we’re afraid of and avoid confronting — but these shadows often remind us of our strength, our courage, and the things that we have overcome and conquered. The 6 of Swords is a card of movement and regained clarity, of leaving behind a situation that was harmful to us and instead choosing something new. It’s trusting in ourselves and our instincts, believing that something better is possible, and taking actionable steps to put ourselves in a better situation.

Just like with the 8 of Cups, there may still be grief present, a period of mourning and sorrow as we say goodbye to something that we once deliberately pursued. But our shadows want us to recognize the strength that it takes to choose ourselves and to be open to whatever may be around the next corner.

Card Five: A Rebirth to Anticipate

8 of Swords

A card that indicates a mental trap or lack of perspective, the 8 of Swords can be challenging energy to see in a reading. This often comes up when we aren’t certain of our options, when it feels like we are completely powerless, or when we find ourselves beginning to despair that we’ll ever find the things that we’ve been looking for.

But as a rebirth to anticipate, this card suggests that we may be breaking free of these traps, that in taking action and making changes, this is something that we can avoid or escape.

The 8 of Swords is not a sign that the Universe is working against us or that we aren’t smart or capable of solving our own problems — instead, it’s a reminder that our perspective may be flawed and that we may be limiting our choices because of our own beliefs. By opening our eyes fully, in recognizing where help and support are available, we can be reborn anew.

Use the Tarot to Celebrate Samhain This Year

This reading tells a beautifully clear story: while it may feel like we’re alone, lost, trapped, and without the resources that we need to thrive, in fact, we simply need to leave behind self-limiting narratives and take action to change our circumstances.

The stories that we tell ourselves have power — but by acknowledging situations and relationships that are harmful, being willing to accept help, in seeking truth and objectivity, we can enter a new stage of growth, awareness, and self-love.

We deserve compassion, honesty, and safety, and in recognizing what we are walking away from, in making space for new dreams, those gifts are all within reach.

How do you celebrate Samhain? What does the Death card have to teach us about saying goodbye? When has an ending that felt painful in the moment but resulted in something new and beautiful?

This deck features cards from the Marigold Tarot deck.

Related article: What Tarot Deck You Should Buy, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

About The Author

Meg Jones Wall

Meg Jones Wall (she/her) is a queer photographer, writer, and tarot reader based in NYC. She is a columnist and contributor at Autostraddle, shares daily card studies and original tarot spreads as 3am.tarot on Instagram and recently launched a tarot newsletter, devils & fools. She is currently working on her first book and is available for personal readings and writing opportunities through her website.
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