On Halloween Day and even the whole week, it’s said that the veil between the living and dead is thinner.
Loved ones who have departed may now come to visit.
We’re also able to connect more easily with those who have passed over the threshold – our loved ones and our ancestors.
Maybe even those who challenged us in the living world.
We can trace the origin of Halloween back to 2,000 years ago and the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.
This festival marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darkness and cold of winter.
The Celts believed that on Oct. 31, the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. The Druids, or Celtic priests, built huge sacred bonfires for the celebration and costumes of animal heads and skins were typically worn. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming cold of winter.
By 43 AD, under the influence of Christianity that had spread into Celtic lands, All Saints’ Day was celebrated on November 1 and was believed to be an attempt to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a Christian holiday.
Then later, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils.
Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas, and eventually, the eve of the first day was called Halloween.
In Spanish-speaking countries, November 1 is known as Day of the Dead or El Día de los Muertos. The Day of the Dead is a day of connecting with the spirit world, but not mournful nor spooky. It’s a celebration.
On this day, families remember and pray for loved ones who have died. They may make an altar in their home, known as an ofrenda. It’s typically laden with offerings to help the dead on their journey. These may include items representing the four elements, such as water to quench thirst, fire in the form of candles to light the way, wind represented by incense and earth by food for sustenance on the journey. Other symbols that represent the holiday also are included on the altar. Skeletons on the altar are often depicted with a happy expression, as it’s believed life after death is happier than life on earth.
To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.
– Thomas Campbell
At this time of year, I invite you to find a way to connect with your loved ones and ancestors who have crossed the threshold. I offer the following suggestions to support you. Choose one that speaks to you, or if you are so inspired, try all of them!
1. Put out photos of your loved ones on your altar. Don’t have any photos? Choose something that seems to represent the loved one in some way. Maybe a leaf because that person loved nature. Or maybe a silly picture because of a sense of humor. Don’t have an altar at home? Make a simple and special place with a colorful cloth, candle, and an item or 2 from nature. Add your photos or items in honor of your loved ones.
2. Take a quiet moment each day to recall a warm and loving memory of your loved one in life. Express your love and warmth for your loved one in a song, poem, or story. Share it aloud or inwardly in silence in honor or your loved one.
3. In a quiet moment before bed or in meditation, ask your loved one a question that you are pondering in your life. Ask your loved one to help you find the answer. Watch and listen to what may come into your path as an answer over the next couple days. Maybe you have an intuition. Maybe you hear a song with the answer. Maybe a friend offers a few words that are the answer you are seeking.
4. Offer a prayer of forgiveness to your loved one or even ancestor lineage. Repeat it aloud 3-5 times each day. Here is one offered by Howard Wills (https://howardwills.com/new-page/):
Divine Spirit, for me, my family, our entire lineage and all of humanity
throughout all time, past, present and future, please help us all forgive each other, forgive ourselves, forgive all people, and all people forgive us
completely and totally, now and forever. Please and thank you, Divine Spirit. Please and thank you. Please and thank you. Amen
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I was born in London, England, educated in Switzerland, and am fluent in English, German, Spanish, and French. I hold a Doctorate in Ministry Degree and Masters Degrees in Counseling Psychology and Education. Also, I am an accomplished artist and educator. I use all of this and much more when helping others heal their souls.