Halloween – candy and costumes and parties and spooky movies and things that go bump in the night, right? For some folks, while this night is an occasion for parties, it also is a spiritual holiday, a day to honor those who have come before us – family members and others.
Pagans, Witches and Wiccans call this night Samhain (pronounced Sow-in), a Celtic word denoting a festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the dark half of the year. It is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, which is nearly halfway between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. This night became “All Hallows Eve” when the Catholic Church designated November 1 as All Saints Day and November 2 as All Souls Day. Both Christians and pagan traditions consider this night to be when the veil between earth and our deceased loved ones is thinnest, and it is easiest to communicate with them.
Here are some time-honored traditions you might like to incorporate into your celebrations on October 31.
Set up a table with fruits, nuts and vegetables of the season, maybe some acorns and pretty leaves. Add photos, jewelry, momentos, and keepsakes of your loved ones (including pets who have crossed over). Add white and dark candles. The dark candles, despite popular belief, are not to attract ghosts and evil spirits. Rather, they symbolize our honoring of our loved ones. Light some nice incense.
Sit in front of your table (or altar as it is rightly called), and meditate, pray, or simply remember your loved ones who have crossed over. You can certainly talk to them, and they will hear you (and may respond!) In my beliefs, they are aware of your good wishes for them, and are grateful.
Another way to remember your loved ones is to have a “dumb supper.” Dumb, here, means silent. Ideally, you set the table with black dishes and black candles. If this isn’t possible, at least use dark candles and no other lighting. Set an extra place (a Spirit place) at the table that invites your deceased loved one(s) to join you. Place a small piece of paper and pen at each place, allowing time before the meal begins for each guest to write a note to a loved one. Place a small fire-proof dish on the table in front of the Spirit place. When the guests arrive in the room, create a positive circle of energy around the dining room. Silently hold hands, bless the meal and each other, and serve the meal. A small portion of all food served should be placed on the Spirit plate. At the end of the meal, each guest rises and burns his/her paper, using the fire-proof dish to catch falling ashes. End the meal with all holding hands and giving thanks silently. The host should then take the Spirit plate outside and offer the food to the four-legged and winged people.
Happy planning for a lovely Samhain evening!