6 Ways to Feel Grounded this HalloweenWritten by Gavin Humphreys
On the unearthly night of ghosts and ghouls, it might be a surprise-in-the-dark that this is an opportunity to ground yourself, touch earth, and unite with friends and family.
Halloween was a moment of great relevance, and great meaning - which today we all too often replace with candies and plastic masks.
By approaching Halloween from a new (old) perspective, it might just be life-changing. It finds its roots in a celebration that raised energy levels and made us more conscious.
Consider the six ideas in this blog to make the annual spooky night a date for taking stock and revivifying oneself.
The circle of life
To give some context, it is worth taking a second to think about the meanings behind Halloween.
Halloween is, in effect, a Celtic ‘New Year’ (although that’s being a bit too simplistic).
The ancient Celts didn’t so much see years as beginning and ending on specific dates. It was a cycle - like the tide, which comes in and out but never starts and ends.
Halloween, called Samhain in Scottish Gaelic, was a nocturnal celebration during a period of change. The trees lose their leaves. Crops stop growing. Storms arrive. The frosts begin.
We know, however, that in six months it will be May Day, or Beltane. At the end of the dark period, the brightness will return.
In other words, we are entering a season of death, but come Spring there will be new life and rebirth.
We can enjoy the start of Winter in the knowledge that things, always, balance out.
6 Ways to bring Halloween back to earth
1. Get together with friends and family
One etymology of the Gaelic Samhain says it comes from an ancient root that literally means ‘together’ or ‘gathering’.
This is a time, first and foremost, to get together with friends and family and enjoy yourself. We sometimes need these special events to take us out of the day-to-day routine.
This moment, as winter approaches, should also remind you to be there for the people in your life in the months and years to come.
You could have a dinner party, with hearty autumn foods, a whisky evening, with a selection of warming Scotch malts, or why not a bonfire (if space and the law allows)?
2. Get round the fire
Burning away the old.
Scots who arrived in America often kept up this part of the tradition by burning bonfires in their townships. Fire is a fresh start. It clears the old away, and a opens path for the new.
All those things which have saddened you this year, all the hang-ups and worries, wipe them away and give yourself a blank slate.
Fire also brightens the night and gives you warmth. It reminds you that, no matter how dark it might get, you have the power to light it up.
Other than bonfires, the traditional jack-o’-lantern is an essential part of the celebration. Not only does it provide light but that ghoulish face can give a fright in the night. Carving it out is also an opportunity to spend quality time with your family!
Or simply turn down the lights and light some candles. This immediately gives a more intimate and focused environment. Why not turn off the television, and tell each other spooky stories?
3. Use Autumn fruits (not candies)
Autumn fruits and vegetables are a powerful part of this festival. Particularly apples, nuts (especially peanuts, because they are so abundant in America at this time of the year, but also walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts...), turnips, and pumpkins.
We bob for apples, or bite at apples on strings. We carve out pumpkins (originally turnips back in Scotland).
These fruits are great Autumn boons (and they keep well, so got us through the winter in the old days). Include them in your celebration.
This helps us remember our connection to the earth and helps us to root ourselves. It reminds us of good things that we receive and the fruits of our labor - and to be thankful.
Nowadays, we often replace these naturally sweet goodies with chocolates and candies. While these might fatten us up for the winter, I don’t feel they convey quite the same message!
Remember, never waste food - for example, use the meat from the pumpkin for a pie or a side-dish, and roast the pumpkin seeds with a little salt for a fantastic snack.
You could make a trip to a farm, with friends and family, to collect a pumpkin, or even go out to the spooky woods on Halloween morning, and see what wild crops you find. You might need to do your research first, which can be fascinating! There are so many wild foods you can eat.
This part of the celebration will be even more special if you grow the fruits and vegetables yourself. If you can, plant an apple tree, or sew some pumpkins - and the lantern (and pumpkin pie!) will have even more meaning to you and your family.
4. Dress up...
Yes, dressing up is still part of it - but you don’t have to buy the latest superhero costume.
It should be about breaking from your norm. The rules are in the air for one night, you are in charge, you can be who or what you want. Take this opportunity to come out of your shell.
It is also good for socialization and for your imagination. It is not often in this modern world we are able to let go and engage our wilder side.
Dressing up as a spooky creature, ironically, helps us conquer fears. It helps us go out into the world, talk, and laugh.
Records as far back as the 1500s tell us kids in Scotland were wearing costumes and trick-or-treating (well, there it’s called guising). They went house to house, with masked or painted faces, and recited rhymes in return for food or money. Anybody who didn’t offer a reward would be fair-game for a trick or some mischief!
5. ...and cause mischief!
This is fright-night after all.
This time of the year is a period of change. The ancient Celts told stories that, in this flux, spirits and otherworldly folk could pass into our dimension. So, say boo!
Getting a scare is a cathartic experience.
It reminds us that things we fear are often not as bad as we think. The darkness makes us scared because we don’t know what is out there. Once we understand what has happened and see clearly, it’s generally not all that bad.
It also makes your heart beat faster, and takes you away from the worries and stresses of everyday life. Studies have shown this can help combat depression!
Remember, keep it in good humor, be respectful, and have a good laugh. Most importantly, laugh at yourself when you jump.
6. Leave out milk for the Cat Sith
An ancient tradition and, ok, a little silly! But hear me out.
It is something similar to when kids leave out a brandy and carrots for Santa and his reindeer. The Cat Sith (pronounced Cat Shee) was a feline spirit that people said would protect you and your household through the hard months ahead if you left some milk out for her on Halloween.
This can be a fun thing to do with kids, to help them think about the approaching winter-time - and maybe ask themselves what they want to achieve in these coming months.
You don’t have to leave milk out literally, but it is worth taking a moment to yourself on this night to think about the future, muse on your plans, and reassure yourself that everything is going to be ok.
You can even make some ‘New Year’s resolutions’ for the coming months. What do you want to achieve before May Day comes around? You could even create a Samhain journal to log a challenge through the dark months.
If you do leave a saucer of milk out, however, I’m sure the neighbor’s cat will look upon you with positive eyes.
And enjoy yourself
This is a celebration. So celebrate.
It is all about enjoying yourself, and the company of others.
Halloween reminds you not to take (even big, scary) things too seriously. Go out into the dark night and get involved in a little mayhem and revelry.