There are four sorts of magic that Halloween is especially good for:
- Contact and communion with the ancestors and "mighty dead". I'm relative new to ancestral work (I've been doing it for about 2 years now), but I've been getting a lot of value from it. Fro me, there really several sorts of ancestral work.
- Work with my immediate/named ancestors, like my parents and grandparents.
- Work with tribal ancestors, like Sarah, Abraham, Solomon, or Jesus, and "deep" ancestors, like First Human.
- Work with evolutionary ancestors, like Great Ape, and Primate, and Mammal, and Vertebrate, down, down, down to First Life.
- Work with non-related mighty dead: the saints, the bodhisatvas, any dead human who is willing to help out.
- Necromancy (compelling/binding the spirits of the dead). I don't do this, and I don't really think you should either. Not so much because it's dangerous and because it seems just as wrong to enslave dead people as it would be to enslave living people. That being said, it's not up to me what you do, and there's certainly a lot of grey area between categories 1 & 2.
- Work with Cthonic spirits and gods. Of these, Hekate and, occasionally, Ereshkigal, and Baphomet are what I mostly do. Baphomet I primarily work with as a sort of overseer of evolution, and so working with him/her is, for me, very closely related with deep and evolutionary ancestral work. I also work with the unnamed "Old Powers of the Earth", but I was introduced to that work by Ereshkigal. (Well, I suppose I was introduced to that work by Ursula LeGuin, but I was initiated into it by Ereshkigal.)
- Final harvest magic. This can be literal, bringing in the last of the crop, slaughtering this years' livestock, etc. It can also be figurative, closing out long-term work and settling in for winter. Because I live my life on an academic schedule, I mostly do this sort of work during the Jewish High Holy Days, about a month before, which more closely coincide with the beginning of my school year. That being said, Halloween is a great time for beginning quiet, contemplative, hermit-style work, or for renewing commitments to things like meditation and prayer.
It's also a really good time for death-related charity. One of the charitable causes very important to my family has always been helping to provide funerals and burial/cremation for people who could not otherwise afford it. While there are not that many organized charities that do this, I sometimes donate to the Hebrew Free Burial Association, but if anyone knows a non-religious charity that does this work, I'd prefer to donate there. When I know of individual families in need following a loss, I also like to donate directly to the family of funeral home. Other options are simply to go clean up a graveyard, especially if there is one within walking distance of your home. "Adopting" a graveyard (or even just an untended grave) is an easy way to make powerful pseudo-ancestral allies. Pick up the trash, perhaps rake some leaves, and then leave an offering of an egg and some honey within the graveyard, ideally either at a crossroads, or under a centrally-located tree.
So....Astute readers will have noticed that I've carefully skirted the issue of what I do. There are two reasons for that. First, I don't really like to write about magic I'm doing until after it's done. However, this year (for the second time), I'm also participating in a globally networked "Hallows of Hekate" ritual organized by Jason Miller, and the details of it are secret. However, below, I'll give some brief sketches of what I plan to do, and I can also make some recommendations for things beginners can try. next week, I'll write about what I actually did.
Friday afternoon, I'll clean and re-consecrate my ancestors altar. (some pics below from last week) I'll also build a Hekate/Ereshkigal altar across for it, for the Hallows rite. I'll put up some pics when that's done. (To be clear, I'm not saying that Hekate and Ereshkigal have any classical connection. I'm saying that I work with both of them, and they seem to get along just fine, and I only have so much space in my tiny apartment. That being said, the PGM sets a solid precedent that they have long been syncretized.)
After that, I'll call in shabbat with my ancestors, and sit for a while with them in quiet contemplation. I've realized that I have a tendency to work with my Jewish (ie, maternal) ancestors a lot more than my Greek (ie, paternal) ancestors. That's partly because I find Judaism more appealing than Greek religion, but it's mostly because, growing up, we were always closer to my mother's side of the family. I'm trying to change that, so I'll also be calling Mary Theotokus ("Mother of God") to help me connect with my Greek ancestors as well. We'll see how that goes.
If you want to try out some ancestral work, you might try this free guided ritual from Andrieh Vitimus. It's voodoo-style, hypnotic, and VERY easy.
I've got a pretty nasty cold, so that's probably all I'll do tonight.
Saturday, I've got the Hallows of Hekate. While I'm not permitted to give you all the details, I can explain the basic structure. Hekate is the Greek goddess of the underworld, and also of sorcery. Like almost every spirit I relate to, Hekate is also a crossroads guardian. Like most moon and underworld goddesses, she also has a special fondness for nursing children. In later writings (like the Chaldean Oracles) she starts to expand into a broader Binah-based role.
In the Hallows rite, we basically call Hekate using classical Greek methods (similar to those in the PGM). As I did during last year's Hallows, I'll be blessing some iron skeleton keys. This year, I'm also going to bless some red silk ribbons. If you'd like a Hekate key on a red ribbon, please let me know. Last year, almost half of them got lost in the mail; several people received empty, torn envelopes. I don't know what the story is with that. This year, I'll package them up more carefully in sturdy boxes. However, that dramatically ups the postage cost for me. So, if you can, I'd really like it if you could make a donation honoring the dead in exchange for one.
Immediately after the Hallows, I'll be calling Ereshkigal. You might remember I did a lot of work with her last winter. For me, Ereshkigal's primary role is as an initiatix; she the scourge that blasts away all limitations. (in fact, you'll see when I post pics that her altar contains a black leather flogger.) I'll be descending to her as Inanna-Ishtar, humbling myself before my elder sister, Death. This is an exhausting and difficult ordeal I cannot, in good conscience, recommend to anyone. However, for me, it's worth it. If you'd like to do something like this, I'd recommend a prayer to Sante Muerte, the Mexican Death Saint. I like this one.
Later Saturday, or possibly Sunday, depending on how tired I am after the Hallows, I'm going to do some Baphomet ancestral work. I find this work very inspiring and "good for what ails you". It's "easy access". While not exactly what I'm going to do, there's a video of the Baphomet rite I worked with Andrieh at Crucible, but it's kind of garbled and hard to follow. Here's another version of something similar.