My sexual accessibility has never been up to me, and this was a crucial and painful epiphany to have. Content Warning: this essay mentions depression and instances of sexual coercion. It’s not that I haven’t been celibate before. As someone who lives in the gray area of the asexual and aromantic spectrums, I’ve gone long […]
A Witch’s Ancestral Feast for an Afro-Diasporic Hallowed Season
Spend some time with your ancestors at your altar or in your sacred space, sharing in the joy of a good meal, good drink, fresh aesthetic and copious amounts of laughter.
We pay homage to our ancestors. We recognize and give thanks to the ancestors whose names we know and those we don’t. We pay gratitude for their belief in us, even as we are unsure of our belief in them. We make the commitment to honour and remember our ancestors the way they honour and care for us. We are grateful. We are listening. We are remembering. Ase.
The veil is thinning. And we are now ripe with the fruits of ancestral access. We have come to the harvest and are collecting our abundant stock for the winter. Our team is relishing in the chance to bring us further into ourselves. Our spirit body is accessing a memory base that holds lifetimes. This is the time that we dance with Our Dead and we remember those whom this dimension has tried to forget.
The origins of the Halloween/Samhain holiday are European and Pagan, marked for celebration of a new year and the relationship to our dead. However, it’s necessary to recognize that the remembering of our ancestors during this thinly veiled season is deeply Indigenous (Abya Yala & Turtle Island) and African in its tradition; it’s practice confused by the interruption of colonization and its introduction of binary thinking.
Ritualized in a multitude of ways (then and now), the diaspora has managed to hold on to these practices of celebrating Our Dead, and carrying them in our rememberings as we collectively awaken. An example of this remembering is found in the (now highly Western-appropriated) Mexicano celebration, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Much like its afro-diaspora, it is a celebration that may carry colonial construction, but holds true to its Indigenous roots, steadfastly preserving the stories of the land it’s on.
As folks who are connected to the ‘other side,’ connecting to our ancestral roots and re-documenting our stories, we want to mark and spend this precious time with those who literally always have our backs; who put their all into properly guiding and growing us. We want to recognize the sacrifices and successes of those who came before us; we want our lineage to know that we will never forgot them. Not again.
Spend some time with your ancestors at your altar or in your sacred space, sharing in the joy of a good meal, good drink, fresh aesthetic and copious amounts of laughter. Bathe in salt and your favourite oils. This is a celebration! Throw on whatever you feel like! Be it a costume, an all white garment, a onesie or your favourite set of threads; get into your styled element. Feel the energy of your communion in colour, smell and taste. Cleanse your space. Clean your altar. Lay fresh offerings of your ancestors’ favourite treats. This is your time together.
Below are a couple of activities to commemorate this hallowed night in a way that allows us to honour and commune with our spirit team and our lineage. Show up for them the way they so ardently show up for you. And remember, the veil is thin through the autumn season and into winter, so you have many opportunities to make this celebration night happen!
- At your altar, sit quietly and comfortably; call on your team and with lowered eyes, watch the dance of the flame of a candle. How is it moving? What direction is it leaning? Is it popping or smoking? What shapes is it taking? As you speak to your ancestors, is it responding?
- Go into a room that can be made dark and has a mirror; wash the mirror with a mixture of salt and florida water or bay rum; stand before that mirror with joy in your heart and the candle in your hand. Call on your team.
- As you gaze at your reflection in the mirror, pull the candle, side to side, across your body. Hold it just below your chest. Who do you see? Is it you? Is it really? How many faces do you hold? Which of the faces are those of your ancestors? Ask yourself. Which parts of you are being revealed?
- Invite some friends by who will respectfully and joyfully share with you in this communion. Make a communal altar together and each lay out your offerings. Lay a small, cleansed (with salt and sage) mirror on your altar, facing upward, to charge it as a continued passageway for you and your team to commune. Be sure to thoroughly clean it (with salt & sage) before and after each use.
- Set your table or eating area with a nice cloth or clean it up to your liking. Have fun filling the aesthetic of the dining table with pieces around your home that remind you of your spirit team.
- Put out and light candles to welcome your team and light their way. White candles to honour your team, purple candles to connect to their divine wisdom, black candles for protection and orange candles to open the roadways. Dress them with florida water or bay rum and roll them in salt and black pepper to keep those ancestors who may not be of the highest good, at bay.
- Select flowers for your dining table that you’re first attracted to (and can comfortably afford) at your local shop or from your garden. Marigolds (calendula) have often been used in afro-diasporic communities, especially Mexico, as offerings and connectors to Our Dead. White carnations have often been used in black folk magick as offerings for angelic and divine blessings. Chrysanthemums are also full, gorgeous and in-season at this time of year.
- Set a single place for your team. If your friends are by, have them set a place for their team also.
- Cook a meal contained of the favourite foods of your ancestors and/or foods that contain plant medicine from your mother’s land. Bless the meal while you cook it; send the energy of the love and gratitude you feel for your ancestors into the food while it prepares.
- If having friends by, ask them to bring a dish they made for their ancestors (of their ancestors’ favourite food or with ingredients from their mother’s land) and adornments they would like to put at the community altar.
- Give thanks through prayer before you eat, serve a full plate and good drink to your team at dinner and put it at your altar when the meal is done. Divide the leftovers up with your friends. Wash the dishes together (use salt with your dish soap). Share up the flowers placed at the table to take to your home altars.
- Know that your ancestors will be so pleased and ever grateful.
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