Every October 31st, children don costumes while parents dole out candy, spooky films play on TV, and scary stories are shared between friends. Halloween spirit comes in all forms, but there is a deeper meaning to this holiday that is often forgotten.
2,000 years ago, The Celts celebrated the festival of Samhain which marked the end of harvest season and the beginning of darker, colder months. Because this time of year was often associated with death, the Celts believed that on October 31st the veil between realms became thinner, allowing ghosts and spirits to return to the earthly plain. The Celts also believed that this spiritual presence allowed Druids (Celtic priests) to prophesize and make more accurate predictions about the future. These prophecies provided great comfort to the Celtic people throughout the long, harsh winter months.
Centuries have passed since the ancient Celtic roots of Halloween took hold. Commemorations and celebrations have shifted and changed from great bonfires and feasts, to bobbing for apples and carving pumpkins. This Halloween, we offer you a truly Vosgien ritual to honor this enduring holiday, no matter how you celebrate.
A Halloween Ritual
Start with a Nature Walk
Taking a meditative walk in a natural area near your home will help center your mind for the evening. If you don’t live in a wooded or more natural area, focus on the task of observation in any space available to you. Simply walking, taking in, an observing your surroundings is a great way to connect with the world around you, the circle of life, death and rebirth.
Create an Altar of Honor
An altar does not have to be permanent, nor grandiose. More than anything, it is truly the thought and the heart that counts. Set up an altar in a quiet space in your home, or outdoors in your yard. A small table, wooden box, or even a tree stump will suffice.
Gather items that reflect the season, the holiday itself, and the presence of your ancestors. Family photos, heirlooms, harvest foods, dried leaves and acorns, mulled cider or wine, and candles are all wonderful additions to an All Hallow’s Eve altar. Feel free to bless this space with incense, palo santo, or the method of your choice.
Speak & Offer Guidance
Once you have set up your altar or honorary space, spend time and speak – out loud – to your ancestors, the spirit of the season, and Mother Nature herself. Light candles in their name, offer well wishes, safe passage, and share memories of the past. Sharing gratitude for the time you had together, as well as the offerings of this Earth, is integral to the acceptance of the cycle of life. The point of this day is to honor death and rebirth, not to fear it.
Light a Fire
Fire is the ultimate tool in casting out what no longer serves you. Light a bonfire, fireplace, or even additional candles if the latter is not available. Write down what you would like to change. Take these habits, ideas, or wishes and cast them into the flames. As you watch them smolder, imagine the release. Out of you, out of the mind, and into nothing- far and away, as they no longer serve you. Picture yourself being born again from the fire, a new version of you, as you walk clockwise around the flame. Let the fire burn out naturally and let the smoke carry your intentions to the sky.