Halloween is a festival shared in both the Northern and Southern
hemispheres as a way of honoring and welcoming our ancestors.
is very different from the concept of regarding deceased relatives
as ghosts to be contacted through mediums for messages. The real
essential personalities of the more recently deceased were still
regarded as part of the living family as recently as early Victorian
in the modern world is the idea of the family ghosts celebrating the
passing of the year with you perhaps strange. Yet what would seem
more natural in earlier times than as the herds were brought down
from the hills and the fields for the winter and the herdsmen and
women huddled close to the hearth that the family ancestors would
also move close to the fire for warmth. It would not be odd to our
forebears that at the birth of a new family member or a wedding that
deceased great grandparents would want to be present. Even in
today’s world a number of people have told me how a friend or
newcomer at a family christening or wedding has asked about an older
man or woman who was peeping into the infant’s cradle or watching
the bride throw her bouquet, with a proud smile. Then the figure
seemed to disappear into nowhere. Invariably the description matches
a deceased relative who has returned to share the occasion.
indigenous societies the ancestors are still regularly consulted in
divination about the growth of the crops, the welfare of the animals
and other matters of daily life. For example, among the Maoris of
New Zealand, it is believed ancestors appear in the form of animals
or particular birds, whose presence and behaviour indicates, for
example, that a new home is blessed or that it is unsafe to travel.
Indeed those societies where the ancestors still play a significant
role are usually those where the living elderly are well cared for
and respected by younger members of the family.
Halloween or Samhain from October 31 to November 2, the beginning of
the Celtic winter and the Celtic New Year.
Focus of the period:
Looking into the past and into the future, for protection, psychic
and physical, for overcoming fears, especially of ageing and
mortality, for valuing the wisdom of retired people, for marking the
natural transition between one stage of life and the next and for
laying down old ghosts, psychological as well as psychic.
Apples, pumpkins, nuts and autumn leaves, mingled with evergreens as
a promise that life continues, salt, scary masks, fantastic costumes
and lanterns, statues of fairies and magical animals like unicorns.
Incenses, flower and herbs:
Cypress, dittany, ferns, garlic, nutmeg, sage, thyme and pine; also
large white flowers; rose petals and rose fragrances and spices.
Lapis lazuli, sodalite, dark amethyst, smoky quartz, jet and
obsidian (apache tear).
Roasted beef, salted fish and pickles, pumpkin pie and soup, baked
and toffee apples with spices, baked potatoes, spiced or mulled
wine, candies and sweets of all kinds in dishes. Each family can
cook and eat the favourite foods of relatives that have died or old
Cassiel, Archangel of Compassion and Silence. He is pictured as
bearded, riding a dragon and wearing dark robes, with indigo flames
sparking from his halo. He rules over good luck and games of chance
so competitive games and divination are popular at this time
The God and Goddess of the Festival:
The Crone or Grandmother Goddess for example the Scottish and Irish
Goddess Callieach who rules the winter months. She cares for the
animals that live on open moorlands during the winter and older
people who may feel the cold but do not have enough money for
adequate heating. The God energy is divided between the slain Grain
lord in the Underworld awaiting rebirth and the Trickster twin
Goronwy. Goronwy takes advantage of the Goddess’ absence from the
world when she visits the Underworld to share the sorrows of death
with her man, to ascend the throne and cause misrule and chaos
through the world.
The Place on the Wheel:
Samhain means summer's end, the time when the herds were brought
down from the hills and family members returned to the homestead for
the winter. It was believed the ancestors would likewise return and
be welcomed to the family hearth.
animals were either slaughtered or cleansed ritually by the
Halloween fires and then kept in barns. Being the Celtic New Year
and the time when the Goddess leaves her creation for three days
(all the time that is allowed to her) the Otherworld releases
fairies and mischievous spirits not just the benign family
Christianised Halloween is called All Hallows Eve. This and the
following two days All Saints and All Souls days, November 1st and
2nd are especially in lands where Catholicism is strong, occasions
when the family dead are remembered and honoured. For example in
France families dress in their finest clothes and visit cemeteries
where graves are adorned with displays of flowers and photographs.
It was once believed the dead returned to the Isle of Mont St Michel
in Brittany on November 1 as what is now the church on top of the
mount and the golden statue of Michael was once considered an
entrance to the Celtic Otherworld guarded by the wise Druidesses who
made their home on the island for hundreds of years.
Ways of Marking the Festival in the Modern world
traditional style hollow out a pumpkin and set it with a lighted
candle inside a window facing the road, for the three days till dusk
on November 2. This will protect you from all harm but will welcome
home the family ancestors and the light will connect you emotionally
with living relatives who are far away.
was believed that if you listened to the wind at a crossroads on
Halloween just before midnight, you would hear all you needed to
know for the year ahead. Spend time outdoors on Halloween Eve,
listening to the wind in the trees, the sound of the sea, water
running over stones or bird song. You may hear words in the leaves
or wind or in your mind that explain matters that have been
Alternatively indoors make eight holes instead of a face in the
sides of a second hollowed out pumpkin. Each window represents one
of the eight festivals. Place a lighted candle inside.
Revolve the pumpkin anti clockwise and stare hard into each window;
blink and an image will flash before you to reveal an opportunity or
unexpected assistance or strengths for the approximate six week
period ahead. Begin with the six weeks after Halloween.
you are seeking love, eat salted herring before bed and it is said
you will dream of your true love bringing you a drink of water in
Alternatively play the traditional Druid apple bobbing game of
picking an apple by its stalk with your teeth from a barrel of
water. Take the apple home and at midnight eat the apple while
brushing your hair by candlelight looking into a mirror. It is said
the image of your true love will appear in the glass at the first
stroke of midnight.
you are playing apple bobbing with others, the first to pick an
apple will be the first married.
can of course use your favourite form of divination to ask questions
about the twelve months ahead such as Tarot cards or runes. 10pm is
a very potent time.
out about a family ancestor with whom you feel a strong connection.
During the week before Halloween, try to visit the place where the
person lived, to connect with your historical roots. If not go to an
industrial or local history museum where you can see the kind of
implements and tools your chosen ancestor would have used and the
clothes and especially their shoes they would have worn.
Either in the place they came from or once lived or the museum sit
quietly and picture your ancestor in your mind. Focus especially on
an image of their feet and shoes and say softly or think, ‘May I
walk in your shoes for a while?’
up and begin to walk slowly and imagine your ancestor walking beside
you and gradually your footsteps and feet merging. You may
experience flashes of scenes from their life you never knew before
and share their emotions.
last you will feel the connection fading and your footsteps
separating. Say, ´Go in peace and with thanks and blessings.’
you have not already started, resolve to research your family tree
in the days after Halloween or find a family member who would enjoy
doing it. Then by next Halloween you will have a much fuller picture
of your roots.
Halloween Eve or one of the two evenings afterwards, cook favourite
family recipes passed down through the generations, get old
photographs out and tell or recall if you are alone family stories
and legends. If alone record some of them for the future, maybe even
as the basis for a short story or novel or the recipes and customs
as a cookery book.
you are quiet on November 1 during the evening, place a protective
clove of garlic on a west-facing window and light an orange candle,
saying: ‘May only goodness and love enter here’. Hold a favourite
possession of a beloved deceased relative and speak words of love.
Then ask him or her to give you a sign that they are with you. The
candle may flicker or you may feel their presence or a soft touch on
your shoulder or hair. Your relative will not frighten you by
appearing unless this is what you want but you may hear soft words
in your mind.
a few moments the connection will fade. Blow out the candle and say,
‘Go in peace and blessings and with my love.’ You may dream of the
person during the night or hear their favourite music or see their
favourite flowers somewhere unexpectedly the following day.
into a fire or candle flame and sprinkle sandalwood, cedar and
juniper berries on to the flames. Images of past worlds and maybe
past lives will emerge spontaneously in the embers or flame or in
your mind. These fragrances are ones used it was believed to bring
visions of the past from the Archangel Azrael.
Ancient Egyptians had altars where they left offerings for the Ka or
soul of their deceased relatives and sent those blessings that the
ancestor’s name might live on.
November 2 if you do not have one already, set up a small table
covered by a white cloth in your home where you can keep mementoes
of loved ones who have passed on. For example you could display a
piece of jewellery or watch belonging to the loved one and pictures
of your family ancestors. Keep fresh fragrant flowers there and on a
special family anniversary, at Halloween or if you wish once a week
on a Friday or Saturday light a white candle, send your deceased
relatives blessings, perhaps read aloud their favourite poem or
prayer or play their favourite music and ask for their blessings on
your life and family.
Halloween party Games
Taken from my Psychic Party Games (Piatkus)
following are three of my favourites
1: Love come to me
Four dishes or deep saucers, one filled with clean water, one with
dirty or dark water (add half a drop of dark food colouring), one
empty and one filled with small feathers or thin paper streamers
from used party poppers
How to play:
four dishes are arranged in a row on a table.
person is blindfold and the dishes rearranged several times.
player is turned round three times and must say three times:
Fortune, fortune tell me
I pretty or plain,
Or am I downright ugly
And ugly to remain?
Shall I marry a gentleman?
Shall I marry a clown?
Or shall I marry old pots and pans
Shouting through the town?
rhyme can be adapted for male players.
contestant reaches out with their left hand, if necessary with
guidance until they put their hand in one of the saucers.
blindfold is then taken off.
the person touches the dirty water their intended will be of a
similar age to the player, attractive and available (or in the case
of an older person maybe a charismatic toy boy or girl).
they touch the dirty water, he or she will be older or divorced.
they touch the empty plate, they will remain single until next
however they touch the feathers or streamers, they will meet an
entrepreneur or adventurer who will either become a millionaire/ess
in a short time or will whisk them off hotly pursued to an off shore
your fingers and let them be drawn to the correct dish-don’t try to
Game 2: What’s my future?
Four plain cups of the same size
ring, a silver coin, a sprig of heather or a small lucky horseshoe
an item under three of the cups and leave the fourth empty.
Invert the cups on a table and mix them round several times.
first volunteer is twirled around three times clockwise and three
times anticlockwise while the hostess further moves the cups round
volunteer touches each of the inverted cups in turn, saying three
times: ‘Three by three, so shall my fortune be’
then turn over one of the cups.
Return the item to the cup and re-mix .The game continues very fast,
repeating the same method till everyone who wishes to do so have
picked a cup.
item picked gives a fun 12 month forecast.
you pick the cup with the ring, you will marry within the year or
enjoy great love and admiration-or if you are already married a fun
you pick the cup with the heather, you will have unexpected good
luck. If you choose the cup with the coin, extra money or promotion
is coming very soon; if you pick the empty cup, you will need to
make your way in the world by hard work over the next year
decide in advance which fortune you would like. You may be
Game 3 The Mashed Potato Fortune
huge bowl of mashed potato
set of symbols, each large enough not to swallow, comprising two
rings, two silver coins, two round sea shells, two buttons, two
heart-shaped charms/lockets and two keys (wash the items well)
more than 10 people are playing have a second bowl of potato and
another set of symbols, two rings etc for each extra ten guests
fork, plate and spoon for each player
before people get too merry so they don’t swallow anything and warn
everyone to be careful. The game has been played for hundreds of
years without ill effect
out the dish/es of mashed potato containing the hidden symbols.
the lights and get everyone to take a big scoop of mash and put it
on their plate.
then sift through till they find the item(eating the mash is
they haven’t found a symbol first time they may try once more only.
may get more than one charm in the first attempt and so get a double
game also offers a prediction for the next twelve months. If you
find two symbols, the first refers to the first six months ahead.
you find a ring, you will be happily wed or devotedly admired within
you find the coin, you will acquire fame or wealth.
you find the button, you will settle down and maybe have a family
you find the heart charm, you will have a passionate love affair or
be tempted by an exciting flirtation
you find the shell, you will travel to far-off places
you find the key, you will have a new home.
you didn’t find anything, a secret will soon be revealed to your
delve around looking for a symbol; let your fate come to you