Note: This post appeared previously on Where the Spirited Women Gather which is sadly now defunct.
Halloween, also known as Samhain, is a time when the veil between our world and the spirit world thins. It is a time when the spirits can visit us or we can speak to them more easily than at any other time during the year. In modern times we associate the holiday with all things creepy and spooky, but in the past it was more about the spirit world, remembering our ancestors, and the quieting of the seasons as winter approached.
This Halloween, why not hearken back to the olden days and use the energy of the season to get in touch with your inner, creative spirit? Here are a few ideas to help get you started:
Tarot meditation: Tarot cards have long been considered a way to contact the other side, getting messages about your life and maybe even your future. For this exercise, pull out a deck of tarot cards or another oracle deck and pick a card. Spend some time gazing at the image . Note any people or creatures, any items that stand out for you, the colors and tones used in the image. Let yourself imagine sinking or stepping into the card, noting any feelings and sensations you may have. You can also look up card meanings—there are several online places you can find to get meanings for tarot cards. Use what you gather from your gazing and any research to inspire a piece of creative work. (An alternate version of this would be to pull out one of the cards associated with Halloween—the Death card, King of Cups, or 5 of Cups, and follow the same guidelines.)
Pumpkin gazing: Carving pumpkins into Jack-o-lanterns goes back hundreds of years to the ancient Celts. They believed that the spirits wandered the earth on Halloween night because the veil was so thin. They carved pumpkins and placed them outside with candles lit inside them toe help guide lost spirits home, making the carved faces scary in the belief that the frightening faces would help scare away any evil spirits. Carve a pumpkin and place a lighted candle inside. Put the pumpkin on a table, turn off the lights, and sit down in front of the jack-o-lantern. Breathe deeply a few times, letting yourself relax. Spend as long as you like gazing at the flames, letting your mind find images in the dancing fire and shadows. When you are finished, write down your impressions, any thoughts and images and ideas that came to you. Use these ideas to create something. (An alternate to this would be to gaze into a candle—pumpkin or jack-o-lantern shaped adds to the holiday spirit but isn't strictly necessary.)
Celebrate Dia de los Muertos: The Day of the Dead (typically celebrated on November 1-2) is a Mexican holiday remembering and celebrating our loved ones who have gone before us during this time of the thinning veil. Sit quietly and remember those important to you, people and pets, who have left us now. Make a list of names, and next to each one write a few words or phrases about that person. Use that list to make a piece of art—a painting, collage, art journal page, poem, song, whatever comes to you—celebrating your loved ones.
Leaf printing: One of the strongest symbols of Autumn is vibrant, colorful foliage changing from green to a parti-colored display of pre-winter glory. Take advantage of the crisp Autumn days and bright leaves and go outside to gather the most beautiful leaves you can find. Take them home and use them in place of rubber stamps—dip them in ink or paint and print onto paper or fabric with them. You could also include the leaves themselves in collages or art journal pages or make an Autumn leaf bouquet to put in a little bud vase.
Connect with the classics: Autumn and Halloween are associated with ghost stories and other scary tales, too, and it's a perfect time to get cozy and read yourself to sleep. Pull out a classic Halloween story (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and “The Raven” are my two favorites) and re-read it—maybe in a mostly darkened room with a few candles lit and a cup of hot cider at your side. Let yourself absorb the imagery and feelings of the piece. When you reach the end, make some notes on the images and emotions that stood out for you and use those to create something.
Samhain also marks the ending of the year in the Celtic calendar, so after your Halloween celebrations, take a few more minutes to ring in the new year. Light a candle and make a new year wish before you head to bed. Happy Halloween!
I'm a writer, professional muse, certified Kaizen-Muse ™ Creativity Coach, and all-around practitioner and lover of whimsy. I dabble in every sort of creative pursuit that looks interesting, spend too many nights staying up too late reading, and have dreams of building up an incredible stash of yarn for all the knitting patterns I keep saving. In November, almost all of these things go on the back burner while I participate in the particular madness that is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).