Before You Celebrate Halloween, Celebrate October with These Fun Ideas
So many of us love October. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s a time when magic is celebrated and mystery is relished, as the veil thins between the worlds of form and spirit, seen and unseen, known and unknown.
Each day of this most magical month, this veil fades just a little bit more, until Halloween (and the ancient harvest holiday of Samhain) when it is at its most tenuous and threadbare.
Of course, if you’re afraid of the dark or you don’t like endings, it’s probably not your favorite time. This is, after all, the traditional end of the bright, expansive harvest portion of the year, as well as the dawn of the year’s final months – which is why we associate it with death in general.
Personally, I highly recommend not being afraid and choosing to love this liminal time. Bravely embrace the sweet, magical, mysterious dark. Remember that death, after all, is not a final ending: it’s simply a transition from one form to another.
When you think about it, what we call death is actually the most precious of gifts. Without knowing that this life is uncertain and impermanent, how could it possibly be so precious, or so profound, or so thrilling?
Whether or not you love this time of year as much as I do, here are some October activities to help you make this your most magical October yet.
1. Place a Pot of Marigolds Near Your Front Door
In both India and South America, marigolds are associated with the transition from this realm to the next. They make the heart smile by reminding us of the deep and profound love we feel for our loved ones who are no longer with us on this side of the veil. Their bright optimism shines light into the darkness, harmonizes the spirit, and fills the soul with joyful sweetness.
Place a pot near your front door to uplift the energy, protect your home from negativity, and welcome in sweet and beneficent spirits from the other side.
2. Create an Ancestor Altar
One of the many mind blowing things to think about is how many ancestors you have, and how each and every one of those ancestors had a unique and multi-faceted life. Each of them had strengths, challenges, passions, and experiences all their own, and yet not so different than yours. And all these ancestors have joined forces to create the unique and multi-faceted person you see in the mirror! Even though your ancestors may not still be here in the physical world, they are still here: in your DNA, in the earth, and in the universal energy that surrounds, guides, and motivates you.
October is the perfect time to honor them by creating an altar with old photos, candles, flowers, and anything else that feels right. When you strike up and nourish a relationship with your ancestors in this way, you’ll likely discover they still have a lot of wonderful support to offer you, and they’re happy to do it.
3. Read Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr
If you like thick novels, crows, western mythology, and thinking about the afterlife, there couldn’t be a better book for you to read in October than Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr. This book has everything: an immortal crow, the ancient Celts, the medieval version of Hell, Native American shamanism, Civil War-era spiritualism, a talking coyote, and a dystopian future. Like I said: everything.
Plus, John Crowley’s award-winning writing is transcendent.
4. Go for a Walk in a Cemetery
Put your cemetery walking shoes on: it’s the absolute best time of year to go for a stroll through one of these serene, luminous, and shockingly under-appreciated park-scape-portals-between-the-worlds.
(This is a picture of my cousin Em of Survival Guide walking through Green-Wood Cemetery when we were on tour in 2016.)
5. Decorate a Ceramic Skull
What could be better than adorning your house with festive ceramic skulls? Adorning your house with festive ceramic skulls that you decorated yourself! Get yourself some vibrant craft paint, of course, but also consider sequins, pressed herbs and flowers, sticky jewels, and sparkles.
6. Eat Local (or at least fresh crop) Apples
Apples are magical things: they grow in abundance on the sacred Isle of Avalon, they are beloved by unicorns, and they are blessed by the goddesses Venus and Aphrodite. And while apples are often good, apples in October are a whole other thing – provided you make sure they are from a fresh crop, and preferably picked from an orchard just down the road. (Or at least an adjacent region, so check your farmers’ market.) I’d estimate that they are at least 100 times better than your average supermarket apple during the other 11 months of the year.
Eat them mindfully, with an awareness that you are internalizing the sweetness and wonderment of the season.
7. Sweep and Adorn Your Ancestors’ Graves
Aimlessly walking through a cemetery for the sake of doing it is a wonderful thing to do (see above). But it can also be wonderful to go to a cemetery with a purpose! Bring a broom to sweep, as well as a pot of flowers and anything else you’d like to give as a gift to your ancestors and/or deceased loved ones. It can be especially fun to seek out graves you haven’t seen yet to pay a visit to forefathers and foremothers from centuries past.
And it’s a win-win: your ancestors will love it too.
8. Revamp Your Black Wardrobe
Black is a powerful color. It neutralizes negativity, grounds excess energy and anxiety, and aligns us with the vast power of the Great Holy Mystery. And it looks so good in October! Visit thrift or consignment stores or throw a clothes swap party for sustainable fashion that is also easy on your bank account.
9. Wear or Meditate with an Opal
Opal is the October birthstone, and it’s also known as the stone of souls. Like October itself, Opal helps sensitize us to the unseen realm and the spirits on the other side. Wearing or meditating with an opal will help you see beyond the veil while attuning you to the magical frequencies of this powerful time.
Did you try any of these activities, or do you plan to?
Do you have your own favorite go-to activities for this time of year?
Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
Red hen says
I have pictures of my parents who passed recently. I decorated a small black table with their sutra and incense bowl they used to pray with. There are flowers and purple beads and my mom’s pearls decorating it. My dad adored my mom and I decorated the area with a pair of red birds lovingly resting on a red rose bush. My mom loved purples and red and flowers. I light the incense and thank them and the universe for all that made me who I am. My relatives and ancestors photos are also stored nearby. I also go to visit their grave and clean and adorn with flowers. I love them so much, I miss them so much, I always tell them that I’ll never forget them, they’re right here in my heart forever.🙏
Thank you! I love October! I had already ordered Ka and it should arrive today. We turned on the fireplace for the first time and brought the plants in. Life is perfect.
Tess Whitehurst says
Woohoo! I hope you enjoy. Happy Fall. 🙂
Planning a cemetery walk on the 31st at one of our cemeteries that dates to the early 1800s and will be buying your book recommendation shortly! I adore your book recommendations, by the way, Tess – please keep them coming! I had a lovely patch of marigolds in my garden (they smelled amazing and protected my tomato plants) but the marigolds were sadly blown over by a large wind storm – planning on planting container marigolds in 2019 to protect them!
Am also pondering buying Day of the Dead skull cookies from Williams-Sonoma because they’re so cute 🙂
Tess Whitehurst says
Amy, awesome! Thank you for connecting – I hope you thoroughly enjoy the magic of the season.