The eve of the old festival of Samhain or Summer’s end, in the modern world celebrated with pointy hats, spooky skeleton costumes and trick or treating. Time however, too on All Hallows Eve, to honour the night of the ancestors, preceding wherever we live in the world, on November 1 and 2 the days of recalling departed loved ones.
On Halloween, when in tradition dimensions open between past, present and future, we can celebrate our departed loved ones by cooking their recipes, buying their favourite flowers to set next to their photos, getting out the old photo albums and embellishing the family legends.
Light a huge orange candle and place it in a safe place facing a window to show the way home spiritually for those you love who may be far away, estranged or departed this life. Burn it from dusk until midnight on Halloween and maybe phone those realtives with whom you have lost touch or there is ill will, even if deserved.
Create eight holes instead of a face around a pumpkin and place a candle inside. Peer through each hole to see into other dimensions and receive the wisdom of the ancestors.
Gaze into a fire or candle and allow images of past worlds and maybe past lives to emerge spontaneously and possibilities for the future. If you visit a crossroads on Halloween night, it is promised you will hear all you need know for the coming year.
Remember too to story of Jack o’lantern, the original source of the pumpkin, whom the loveliest of Morrigu Fate sisters three times in his life asked to go with her across the river of death to immortality, but was too afraid; he walks between worlds with his small light, recalled as the Samhain or Halloween pumpkin. But six months later he is reborn as the wild Beltane Jack ‘o’ Green, who seizes life, free as the burgeoning woodland greenery and crowns the maiden goddess with wildflowers, the mirror festival in the southern hemisphere.
Let us on the following Days of the Ancestors, November 1 and 2, commemorated from Europe to Mexico, recall the quiet wise women and sometimes men of the past, called witches or devil-worshippers by their persecutors, who suffered and died over hundreds of years and in many lands. Their crime, was often that of carrying on the ancient herbal wisdom and healing of their ancestors; acting as midwives relieving pain and suffering in labour while the Church said women must sorrow in childbirth for the sins of Eve. Many older women were persecuted for some physical disability, because they lived alone and their minds wandered a little, because they had a cat to keep the rats away, identified by the persecutors as a familiar, because the landlord or a relative wanted their cottage and bit of land and accused them under systems where if you were deemed innocent you still died or if after torture and abuse by the inquisitors, died even more horribly. These wise souls helped friends and neighbours with kind advice, lotions and potions for body, healing for troubled minds and celebrated the passing of the seasons and the moons.
Theirs is the reverence due as we pack away laughing on November 3 the ugly witch garb until next year’s Halloween festivities. If we can live authentically in bad times as well as good, in our words, our kindnesses, in those we try to help or influence for the better, in our unique foot and blueprint we can rejoice and build upon small pleasures that are our treasures.