Happy Samhain, Happy Halloween and an Ancestor Ritual for the Full Hunter's Blue Moon
This Saturday's Full Moon is a very special one indeed. The moon cycles every 29.5 days, and so most calendar years have 12 moons, each with its own cultural name. Approximately every 2.5 years there will be a 13th Full Moon that does not fit with the naming tradition, a Blue Moon. The October Full Moon is known as the Hunter's Moon. Like the Harvest Moon, the Hunter's Moon is also particularly bright and long in the sky, giving hunters the opportunity to stalk summer-fattened deer and fox at night.
Blue Moons have been mistakenly attributed to any month that has two Full Moons, but by that definition, not everywhere in the world experienced the same number of Blue Moons in a year, due to the different time zones. Even more remarkable, a Full Moon on Halloween occurs roughly once every 19 years, known as the Metonic Cycle. The last full Halloween Full Moon was in 2001 and the next will not take place until 2039. No matter what ritual you follow, make time to gaze and be amazed by the Moon, because tonight will be the first Halloween Full Moon that will be visible across the whole world since 1944!
Whether you celebrate Samhain, Halloween, Dia de Los Muertos, or just stay in, on this remarkable night the veil between the material and the spirit world will be at its thinnest! For this reason, I encourage you all to make an offering to the spirit world. These offerings are both for the guides we choose to work with and those that we would rather not invite to stay. Offerings can include wine and spirits, rye bread, marigolds, pomegranate, sweets, and candles in autumn colors like black, deep red, and orange.
The ritual celebration of Samhain is different than the tradition of Halloween, but they are closely tied. Halloween offers the opportunity to transform into the forbidden shadow identity on without consequence. Children become superheroes, hobos, princesses, and goblins. Adults become political figure spoofs, villains, and "sexy" versions of heroines, animals, and legends. Though the young woman wearing a "sexy" nurse or goddess costume may not have consciously articulated that she is repossessing the full power of goddess energy, she is. What could possibly be more radical than a woman unafraid of her own sexuality in the uniform of a healer?
If your Full Moon looks more like a traditional Halloween celebration (please stay safe, masked, and socially distanced) I invite you to open the door to becoming some element of yourself that you might normally be afraid to embody. What would the superpower version of your inner life be? What fear of your own can you embody for one night, and what can it teach you?
If you have already selected a costume, ask yourself if some part of your wise unconscious mind had a say in that choice of expression? How can you now add potency to the mascaraed with the intention to reveal and embrace some part of your shadow work?
Offer your fears and magical thinking up to the Full Moon and, if you dare - give up a primal howl!
SAMHAIN ANCESTRY RITUAL
There are many ways to celebrate have a pagan Samhain, I am offering a ritual to honor your ancestors. For many of us, probably most, possibly all, ancestor work is complicated and messy. If you are not connected to your biological lineage due to diaspora, adoption, or your unique circumstances, it can feel daunting just to begin. If you do know some or much of your lineage, then you likely know that those who came before were not saints.
Many Americans are unpacking for the first time what a lineage of whiteness means, its costs, and what making reparations can mean. I challenge that only venerating the dead is insufficient and noninclusive.
Ironically, when we call upon our ancestors to "fix" something in our lives, it is actually our job to do the work of "fixing" things here for our ancestors. The very things that would drag us down - alcoholism, patterns of abuse, religious extremism, racism, sexism, wounds related to money and poverty, and a thousand other poisons are included in our inheritance from family ancestors.
The work that we do to become more ethical, balanced and open-hearted people is the most powerful and sincere offering we can make to our ancestors. With that in mind, this ancestry ritual is designed for healing those who have passed beyond the material world. Gather photos, and mementos of your deceased family and loved ones. It’s important to remember that our blood ancestors know who we are, even if we don’t know who they are, and who we consider our family isn’t always by blood. If a physical object of remembrance is not available to you, it can easily be created with a stone, a drawing, or a figure that embodies the archetype of the ancestors you wish to work with. If you have additional objects that are grounded in the big D divine, Buddha, Jesus, Q'ran, Hectate, Torah, gather those as well. Arrange your objects in a space that you can dedicate as sacred for the course of this ritual. This can be as short as one night or year-round.
Note: Only perform candle work in this ritual is it is safe to do so!
Place several candles surrounding your ancestors. Light the candles in their memory and as you do, name them aloud. Express gratitude to them for being a part of your life or ancestral lineage. If you are so called, write a letter and express your forgiveness to them for all their trespasses. Use this meditative sacred space to ask them to communicate with you and direct you. Ask how you can work on their behalf? This might involve helping a living family member, planting a tree, donating to a charity, or some other amends. Commit to your ancestors and to yourself to execute work their here on Earth. When your peaceful communication and contemplation is complete, offer your letter up by burning it from one of the candles (safely!). Allow your candles to burn down overnight. As you close, dedicate your practice to your ancestors healing here on Earth. Direct them to follow the light from the your big D deities and, of course, the Full Hunter's Blue Moon.