Halloween has always been my favorite festival growing up. Childhood in Ireland in the countryside was mysterious and full of ghosts, tales, superstitions and traditions. Our family had many rituals on the night of the 31st of October. It started off after school playing games with apples. We hung them by a string in the doorway and tried to take a bite. Another game was dunking the apples. Our hands would stay behind our back and we would have our head over a basin of water with a few floating apples inside. The aim was to take a bite of the apple. Supper was usually Barm Brack bread, dried fruit, and a cup of strong tea.
Then it was time to dress up and go off ‘trick or treating’ for sweets and fruit. Then back home and off to bed after lighting a candle that we left in the window sale. Some food was left out for the dead and perhaps a Guinness. It was a scary night as I lay in bed wide eyed wondering would there be a knock on the door. The next morning it was off to the graveyard to pay our respects to the dead and put flowers on their graves.
Later when I joined a Wiccan Coven we did many of the same games as a child but we also welcomed the dead to visit us in a serious way. We asked for their guidance and we often did it with the Tarot or a Crystal Ball. The first time I ever picked up a Crystal ball and looked into it was a Halloween night. I sat beside the fire and I began to see images. As the night went on the images became stronger and by midnight I was seeing very clear faces. It was fascinating and terrifying to be only 22 years of age seeing all the imagery. My teacher told me I was seeing the ancestors. I was not so sure – I suspected the red wine. However Halloween continues to be the ONLY night of the year where I can see inside a crystal ball. The rest of the year it simply does not work. It is also a night where my Tarot cards seem extra ‘super charged’ and a great time for asking the big questions in life. So if you feel brave and you have deep respect for the ancestors you may consider doing the following ritual on the night of the 31st of October.
Set the Table
Decorate the table with the color of grief from your culture. In many Asian traditions the color for grief is white. For me and many in the West it is black. Find this color table cloth and the same color candles. Use your best cutlery, plates and glasses – a special guest will be arriving. Put flowers on the table. If you can find a black rose then it will create more atmosphere.
Light the candles
Light the candles saying a simple prayer as you do so. Invite in your lost loved ones or ancestors with the highest good and intention.
Pour drinks and serve the food
Add foods that are the color red to represent blood and life-force and beating heart – all of which the dead no longer have. I tend to use red wine, pomegranate juice or red grape juice. I keep food simple. Roasted vegetables. Bram Brack. Soul Cakes. Foods of the harvest – apples, berries…what ever is easy to find and makes you remember your ancestors.
Do not eat – but do sit at the table
It is the time for dinner with the dead but you should not eat. The food is for them right now. You do not actually put food on their plate, but it does sit in the serving bowls on the table. Eating grounds us and brings us quickly and strongly into our body and right now we want to be less grounded and more in touch with our other senses so we can hear any messages that might come through. So eating is for later.
Say a prayer
Set the intention that you are fully safe and you are ready to welcome your ancestors into the room or other deceased people who have a message for you. You might even decide to go to the front door and ‘invite’ someone in. All the time making sure you imagine white light around you and only invite in those whose energy is pure and clear.
Spread the cards
Now sit at the table. Go through your selected Tarot deck and take out the sixteen court cards from the deck. Go through the Court cards and pick one to represent someone who is now deceased. If you want to invite in a few ancestors, pick a Court card that you feel represents each one. Whatever court cards are left should NOT be put back in the deck.
Now shuffle the rest of the deck and say out loud, ‘Is there anything I need to know right now?‘ as you look at the first court card. It is as if you are asking the person that the court card represents. Pick three cards and lay them facing upwards. Look at them, connect to your feelings. Allow yourself to hear or feel the message this particular ancestor is trying to give you. Take notes in your journal if you need to.
Now put the three cards back in the deck and shuffle well. If you have chosen another court card do the same process again. Repeat until you have asked the question to all the court cards you picked to represent past loved ones / ancestors.
Celebrate / Dine and Wine
Now it is time to eat your meal and drink some good wine or beverage. Enjoy the energy of the ancestors that surround you. Feel free to gaze at a crystal ball, write in your journal or continue playing with your cards.
Say thank you when you are finished, close your eyes and put your hands on your heart. Give a prayer of thanks and tell the ancestors what you learned. Bid them farewell, then open your eyes and blow out the candles. Sit in the dark for a few moments before getting up, turning on the lights and coming back into the moment.