Honoring your ancestors at Samhain

Merry Meet All,

Ghost Lights

Today we are going to look at the true meaning of Samhain. Halloween is fun, to be sure, but it was a Celtic fire festival and the third harvest Sabbat before the advent of Christianity. It was also a time to honor those who have gone before you.

First of all, I want to talk about ghost lights. Ghost lights are a phenomenon that defy logical explanation. They occur in remote areas of the United States, Britain, Japan, and other countries and appear high or low to the ground. The ghost lights appear in every color of the rainbow. Sometimes the ghost lights appear in only one or two colors. The ghost lights are sometimes joined by musical sounds such as a humming or buzzing. Ghost lights are sometimes referred to as will’o- the wisps. They are reported to be able to move against the wind.

Ghost lights are sometimes connected to a haunting folklore due to a tragedy that occured where they are seen. The Ghost Research Society owns an impressive collection of research. Many logical explanations for the ghost lights have been proposed, but there are some ghost lights that resisted being defined by reason, such as the Brown Mountain Lights in Carolina and the Hornet Spook light in Missouri. Those ghost lights remain unexplained. For more information on ghosts and ghost lights, read The Element Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Hauntings by Theresa Cheung. The photo above is of the ghost lights at Brown Mountain.

Ritual to Honor your Ancestors at Samhain

Here is a ritual to honor your ancestors this Samhain. The first step is to decorate your altar with photos of your family, a family tree, or even a grave rubbing if you live nearby a graveyard. Set the table with care. You could use a special tablecloth. Set up a dumb plate for those who have gone before you to avoid offending them. Set candles on your altar and at your dinner table. Light some appropriate incense and if you are celebrating with your family, gather them around to join you in the ritual.

Once all of the candles are lit, gather the family around the altar. Use black and orange candles, set the family photos on the altar, and concentrate. The eldest adult present should say:

“Tonight the gateway between the worlds is thin.
Tonight we call out to those who came before us.
Tonight we honor our ancestors.
Spirits of our ancestors, we call to you
and implore you to join us.
Watch over us always,
protect and guide us.
We invite you to share our meal
and thank you for your presence.
Blessed Be.”

If you want to, you are welcome to vary the words to suit your preferences. Return to the dinner table and then begin the meal by having the eldest serve a helping of what was prepared. Serve the ancestors food before you serve the family. If you are a solitary, serve your ancestors before you serve yourself and if you are a Wiccan or Pagan, or what have you, and your family does not understand how you choose to honor your ancestors, explain to them why you feel it is so important to you or perform the ritual alone. If you can celebrate with your family, after you have dined, then share stories around the table about your memories of your relatives or grandparents.

Clear the dishes away, except for the ancestors’ plates. Pour the wine or cider and end at the ancestors’ plate/s. As each person receives their cup, they can recite their genealogy if they are aware of it. After the cup has been passed around, place it in front of the ancestors’ plate. The youngest person says aloud:

“This is a cup of remembrance.
We remember all of you.
You are passed but not forgotten.
May you live on within us.”

Pause now to reflect on the value of family and on your relatives who have passed before you. Let the candles burn down overnight in a safe spot and leave the dumb plate and the cup overnight on the table. You can do a seperate ritual for pets. If you prefer, you may choose to perform a seance after the ritual.

Lady Spiderwitch



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