The front steps are covered in orange and brown leaves. Evening air is brisk. Neighbor children try on their ghoulish outfits in preparation for the coming evening of tricks and treats. While Halloween has become a moment to celebrate indulgence in buckets full of candy and to masquerade, the holiday has ancient roots. It’s origins are in a Celtic harvest festival, Samhain, that marked the moment of souls who had passed during the year made passage to the next life. Celebrated on November 1st, Samhain was time when ancestors were present on earth, amongst the living. October 31st is the eve of dissolution of the boundary of this world and another.
This sacred past invites us to recognize the spirits no longer with us that have touched our lives. Those spirits may be ancestors, relatives, or even animals that have shaped our lived experience. This October 31st, create an altar to honor those who have passed from this world.
Take time to reflect upon a being that has significance. Perhaps write down a memory, or ponder in your heart the image of this spirit. Gather a few items that evoke that being—a letter or note written in their hand, a small object that was once in their hands, a color that calls their energy to mind. Place that object with an herbal bundle of sage and rosemary to invite clarity and remembrance. If you have quartz available, add a clear point to your altar to call forth energetic connection. Or, place a bit of moonstone to open to spirit and welcome kinship from the past into the present. Light a simple candle to cleanse negativity, and allow the glow of the flame to illuminate potent connection of energy. Make an offering to the being you honor with an altar. This offering can be as simple as an intention you hold with you, or a flower or small token.
Sometimes when we connect with the sacred energies of those who have passed, difficulty or challenge arises. Altars may be made not only to those who have had a solely positive impact, but those with whom we have had complex relationships. We maybe confronted with overwhelming emotion, or encountering negative energy that may be uncomfortable, or even intensely painful. Carry with you a bit of agate or onyx if these strong energies burgeon with the creation of an altar. Know that encountering and sitting with these kinds of intensities can be very healing, though often thorny and unwieldy in the moment.
Creating an altar honors those passed who touch our present, and opens spiritual connection. Whether or not you choose to shift shapes or feast on treats this Halloween, take time to remember, and invite in the mysterious sacred.
More on the history of Halloween: