Ways of Marking the Festival in the Modern world
is a festival shared in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres as a
way of honoring and welcoming our ancestors. This 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 times.
Only 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.
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.
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
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 family
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
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.
Place on the Wheel:
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
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 ancestors.
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
once considered an entrance to the Celtic Otherworld guarded by the wise Druidesses who made their home on the island for hundreds of years.
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.
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 troubling you.
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.
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.
If 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 your dream.
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.
If you are
playing apple bobbing with others, the first to pick an apple will be the
You 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
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.
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
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.
At last you
will feel the connection fading and your footsteps separating. Say, ´Go in
peace and with thanks and blessings.’
If 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.
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.
After 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.
Gaze 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
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
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
from my Psychic Party Games (Piatkus)
following are three of my favourites
Love come to me
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
dishes are arranged in a row on a table.
is blindfold and the dishes rearranged several times.
is turned round three times and must say three times:
fortune tell me
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?
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.
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).
touch the dirty water, he or she will be older or divorced.
touch the empty plate, they will remain single until next Halloween
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 haven
fingers and let them be drawn to the correct dish-don’t try to guess
Game 2: What’s my future?
plain cups of the same size
2 A ring, a
silver coin, a sprig of heather or a small lucky horseshoe
How to play
item under three of the cups and leave the fourth empty.
cups on a table and mix them round several times.
volunteer is twirled around three times clockwise and three times
anticlockwise while the hostess further moves the cups round the table.
volunteer touches each of the inverted cups in turn, saying three times:
‘Three by three, so shall my fortune be’
turn over one of the cups.
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.
picked gives a fun 12 month forecast.
If 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 flirtation.
If 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 pleasantly
Game 3 The Mashed Potato Fortune Telling
1 A huge
bowl of mashed potato
2 A 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)
than 10 people are playing have a second bowl of potato and another set of
symbols, two rings etc for each extra ten guests
3 A fork,
plate and spoon for each player
How to play
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
Set out the
dish/es of mashed potato containing the hidden symbols.
lights and get everyone to take a big scoop of mash and put it on their
sift through till they find the item(eating the mash is optional)
haven’t found a symbol first time they may try once more only.
get more than one charm in the first attempt and so get a double fortune.
also offers a prediction for the next twelve months. If you find two
symbols, the first refers to the first six months ahead.
If you find
a ring, you will be happily wed or devotedly admired within twelve months.
If you find
the coin, you will acquire fame or wealth.
If you find
the button, you will settle down and maybe have a family
If you find
the heart charm, you will have a passionate love affair or be tempted by
an exciting flirtation
If you find
the shell, you will travel to far-off places
If you find
the key, you will have a new home.
didn’t find anything, a secret will soon be revealed to your advantage
around looking for a symbol; let your fate come to you