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You go trick-or-treating for Halloween, I summon the dead.

I love Halloween. Even as a child, it was my favorite holiday.

To me, there's something comforting and wholesome about ghosts, zombies, monsters, black cats, and of course, witches. Metaphorically, they represent our darker sides...our hidden sides...aspects of humanity and existence that make us uncomfortable because they're shrouded in darkness. But darkness doesn't always have to be frightening. The dark can hide us safely away from prying eyes or those who would do us harm. The dark of night lulls us gently to sleep.

I guess I knew early on that this is precisely what drew me to the occult and witchcraft. A safe space to explore our darker sides, to draw our power from them, and to own them instead of letting them own us.

For many witches, Halloween is considered the most important of nights. It is the last harvest festival in many pagan beliefs, a final nail in the coffin to a year of planting, reaping, and sowing. A time of letting old things go and concocting plans to set new things in motion. Halloween night is when the veil between our world and the next is said to be at its most permeable.

Divination and spirit communication are commonly utilized on Halloween night for precisely that reason. Whether through Tarot Cards, Ouija Boards, Scrying, or good ol' fashion ghost hunting - Halloween is the perfect time to reconnect with ancestors, spirits native to the land or home, and of course, anyone (or thing) that wants to pop in for a chat.

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How do I prepare for an encounter with the afterlife?

I get myself in the mood first, of course. And to be honest, the easiest way for me to do this is by binge-watching a ton of paranormal and ghost hunting related content on Netflix. Don't laugh, it keeps ghosts and hauntings on the brain, which is exactly what you need.

Then I cleanse my home - figuratively and literally. I like to start with a clean space so I'll dust and sweep and wipe down any surfaces. Then I like to burn incense (Dragon's Blood is a favorite) or a bundle of sage.

Do not call sage cleansing "smudging" - that is a native ritual and not to be appropriated by non-native witches for the ~aesthetic.

Photo by Syarafina Yusof on Unsplash

Once my home is ready and cleansed, I prepare myself for divination and communication - a ritual bath in which I let go of all stress and negative energy followed by donning a garment that is both flowing and comfortable.

Usually pajamas. No joke.

While I don't cast a proper circle like most witches, I do like to work within a ring of candles placed at five points like a pentagram. I plop down inside my circle, light my candles, and arrange my tools.

I'm not a strong enough medium to make Ouija boards work for me, so while I love the aesthetic of them they function better as an art piece than an actual tool - which leaves me with Tarot or Oracle cards. And my functioning senses.

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Ask five witches what words they use to invite the dead to visit them and you'll likely get five very different answers. I don't have a set phrase or incantation or prayer - I just speak out loud what feels right in the moment, inviting ancestor spirits, lost pets, and anyone who wants to visit and communicate.

I ask for a sign.

Usually, this comes in the form of an image I see in my mind, a disembodied voice, a sudden chill or...on very rare occasions, a loud knock. It takes a lot of energy for a spirit to interact with the real world, so I prefer to keep things low key.

When my grandma visits, I smell her perfume. (I think this year, if I invite her to visit with me I'll pour a cup of coffee for her as well.)

Photo by Soulful Stock on Unsplash

When using Tarot to communicate with an entity, I like a very free-form and intuitive approach. I pull the Death card from the deck and place it face up. The rest of the cards are spread out in an arc and as I ask questions, I hover over the cards until I feel a pull or "answer" - and select that card.

You can always consult your Tarot guide if a particular card stumps you, but I prefer to look at the symbolism of the card and the details of the image. If I ask the spirit's age and I'm drawn to the Five of Cups, I'm going to assume that corresponds to the age in some fashion. Trust your gut.

When I'm communicating with a dead loved one or ancestor, I first like to offer them something - a drink or food item for them to draw energy from. Then I close my eyes and simply talk, welcoming them to respond in any way they like - visions, words, feelings, etc. If you have a tangible connection to the spirit this is a lot easier to accomplish.

👻 👻 👻 👻 👻

I end these conversations by thanking them for talking with me, wishing them well on their way back across the veil, and blowing out my candles. Being in any kind of meditative trance or liminal space can be draining and it's important to refuel afterwards - so if I open up a bag of Doritos and stuff my face, don't judge me. 

One last pass over my apartment with the sage or incense clears away any lingering energy...and the deed is done. 

Would you consider your Halloween celebrations traditional or alternative? Have you ever had a conversation with a ghost? Do you believe everything I just wrote is a bunch of hocus pocus? Let me know in the comments! 


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