The Halloween season for children and adults alike is a very sensory time of year. With costume parades, haunted hay rides, the thrill of wearing big comfy sweat shirts, the scuffing of feet on the way to school or work, the smell of autumn fires and my favorite the pumpkin spice coffee and treats popping up everywhere: all these things mean autumn and activate our senses in amazing ways. This time of year not only activates our muggle senses but our spiritual ones as well. We all know that this time of the year the veil becomes thinner, and it seems to be thinning earlier and earlier every year. I really believe this is due to ourselves, the Witch and non Witch collectively putting out it into the universe. With the department stores putting out decorations and supplies as early as Labor Day and with more and more emphasis on parties, costumes, and decorations growing each year we are bringing the underworld ever more closer. If you haven’t noticed, this holiday has become enormously popular, and even other related holidays, such as Mexico’s Dios de la Muerte (“The Day of the Dead”) are receiving more notice too. Television networks are showing horror films and Halloween sitcoms all month-long. All this unintentional intent is being put out in to the universe causing us to open the gates earlier for our beloved dead and wandering spirits to cross. If we are as adults experiencing this hyper-activity of spirits and spiritual occurrences, than children are definitely as well.
Since Samhain is the time when our ancestors may find it easiest to visit us, you can have your children ask for dreams about people they know who have passed on. If you think this will frighten your child, by all means don’t do it. But if your child has fond memories of a grandparent or other relative who has died, you can have them ask to be visited in their dreams. Tell them that their relative loves them very much and would like to see them and maybe give them advice. Suggest that they can tell their relative about any accomplishments or big events that have happened recently. As they lie in bed to fall asleep, help them say aloud that they would like to dream about a certain person. Have them focus on their memories of that person as they fall asleep.
If this is something that you or your child is uncomfortable with, there are many ways to celebrate the season. Remember that children often will not fully understand how you view this time of year especially when there is so much going on around them. I have found it best to separate the concepts of Halloween and Samhain. Although they are tied together in history and practice for children Halloween is Halloween; let them dress up and trick-or-treat. However, after they’ve collected all their candy, be sure that they leave a few pieces for the ancestors, as an offering.
Holding a family ritual is another great way for children to understand the spiritual aspects of the holiday. Keep it simple by doing the prep work ahead of time. You might want to create rituals about whatever you and your children might want to lett go of, be that a loved one, warm days, or a beloved summer shirt.
If your family doesn’t have an altar for Samhain, set one up before you begin. Better yet, let the kids help you put things on it. Feel free to raid your Halloween decorations for ghosts, Witches, skulls, and bats. Have fun with it.
One thing I have done in the past for a family Samhain ritual was to create a strand of dried apple slices to decorate an altar. We included a slice for all of our family or friends who have past. This became a great opportunity to talk about offerings.
Other seasonal activities that can provide “teachable moments:
Make a besom, or Witch’s broom.
Make resolutions, write them on a small piece of paper and bury them. This is similar to New Year’s resolutions; as for many Samhain is seen as the Witches New Year.
Have a family dinner setting a chair and meal for the dead, a less complex dumb supper.
Pumpkin carving is a traditional good activity to do on Samhain with children, as carved gourds originated with our Celtic ancestors.
Samhain is a great time to spend time with our loved ones who are still alive, too. Visiting your elderly relatives is an especially good way to celebrate, as they can probably tell you all sorts of fun stories about their childhood and what their parents and grandparents were like. If you don’t have any family close by, consider visiting a nursing home, perhaps in costume. Most nursing home residents love seeing children, and would probably get a kick out of seeing their Halloween costumes.
Make a Witches’ cord as an expression of what you hope to manifest in the year ahead.
Introduce different forms of divination. Samhain is seen as the beginning of the Pagan year; divination was usually done to see the future of the coming year. One practice that was always done in my family was to give the gift of tarot. I received my first deck on Samhain 30 years ago.
The point is don’t just create seasonal memories but lay the foundation for spiritual growth as well. Happy Samhain!!
Don’t forget to check out The Hierophant – Opening This Samhain.