By Danu Forest
Samhain, the Gaelic name for Halloween, is on the 31st of October. Known as Nos Galan Gaeaf in Wales – literally meaning ‘the night before the beginning of winter’ – this is a special time, where spirits abound to wreak havoc or visit their loved ones, for solace or revenge; where the spirits of nature remind us of their wild and untamed ways and for a while the ordinary way of things in the mortal world is upended.
Now is a perfect time to honour our ancestors and do some ancestral healing. This frees us up from the patterns of the past, ways of being handed down from parents to children going back generations that are often unconscious and overlooked, to say what we didn’t say or to resolve and forgive any misdeeds.
Try setting up an ancestral altar. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just a clear shelf with photos and maybe some flowers will do – and it can be a permanent fixture in the home or just up for a few days as you feel. Just making a space in our home for something helps to hold it in our awareness and allows a consciousness change to occur gently and gradually. An ancestral altar can be a place where we make a prayer for those who have passed over, or where we may ask for help and support, holding those who have come before us in respect and gratitude, and asking higher assistance to support those who we may feel needed more healing in their lives when they were here. Sometimes people leave us with uncomfortable or difficult feelings and this is a place where these can be addressed as well – where we may ask other ancestors for support or say things we need to get of our chest.
On the 31st, or on its older date November 7th light a candle for remembrance, and spend a few minutes remembering your mother’s and father’s ancestral lines, sending them your gratitude and asking that they be blessed and healed. See yourself free of their burdens, and be strengthened by their support for your life ahead.
May there be a blessing upon your bloodlines!
About the author: Danu Forest, author of The Magical Year, has been a practising druid witch and Celtic shaman for over twenty years, and teaching Celtic shamanism and witchcraft for over a decade, as well as running a shamanic consultation and healing practice. She is the author of Nature Spirits: wyrd lore and wild fey magic (Wooden Books), The Druid Shaman (Moon Books) and Celtic Tree Magic (Llewellyn), creates and teaches email correspondence courses, writes a “Danu’s Cauldron” blog for witchesandpagans.com, and has been published in magazines such as Kindred Spirit, Soul and Spirit, and Pagan Dawn. She is also an Ard BanDrui in the Irish Druid Clan of Dana, an ordained priestess, a druid grade member of OBOD (Order of Bards, Ovates (healers/seers) and Druids) and a member of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners.