Previously: The Halloween Mirror Ritual.
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In 2012, a Redditor going by the name u/contributingfactors posted a Halloween summoning ritual to the r/ThreeKings subreddit. They didn’t give the ritual a name; the title of the post was simply, “Something I Was Taught Growing Up.” The goal of the ritual was to contact a loved one who has passed on — although of course, there was a warning that you might end up with uninvited guests, too.
Redditor u/contributingfactors noted that they had learned the ritual from their mother when they were young. That (assuming it’s true and not part of a fictional framework), combined with the fact that another commenter also noted that they’d been taught something similar as a child, suggested to me that it might be folkloric in origin — and, indeed, a little digging confirmed this to be the case: It’s a tradition that’s long been practiced during Samhain.
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You’re probably at least passingly familiar with Samhain; it’s usually cited as an ancient precursor to Halloween as we know it today — there are references to it in Old Irish literature dating back to the 10th century. A Celtic pagan festival, it marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. As the BBC puts it, it’s also “the time of year when the veils between this world and the Otherworld were believed to be at their thinnest: when the spirits of the dead could most readily mingle with the living once again.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though; indeed, today, the holiday is considered to be quite death-positive. (Sounds a bit like Mexico’s Dia de Muertos celebration, no?)
During Samhain, it’s traditional to set lit candles by the doors and windows of your home. The idea is that you’re helping guide the spirits of your deceased loved ones home. Other traditions include setting a place for these spirits at your table and/or whipping up something which had been one of their favorite foods in life. For those who have no earthly loved ones left to care for them, some kind folks often leave an apple or two by the side of the road.
Bear in mind that although you’re reaching out to loved ones in this ritual, there’s still always the danger that you might end up getting in touch with someone… else. Or something else.
As always, play at your own risk.
- At least one principal.
- One candle.
- Matches or a lighter.
- A quiet room with at least one window. The window must be capable of opening and closing.
- A loved one who has passed on whom you wish to contact.
- A means of communicating with the person you wish to contact. Suggested materials include a pen or pencil and piece of paper, a fogged-up mirror, a voice recorder, and/or a planchette/talking board.
- A bowl or basin, enough water to fill it, and the means with which to warm the water. Optional, but highly recommended. (See: Concerning Uninvited Guests.)
- Wait until Oct. 31. (Optional; see: Additional Notes.)
- Either clear the building in which you plan to perform the ritual of all other people, or inform them of your intention to perform the ritual. Give them time to leave, if they choose to do so. If any people present in the building do NOT wish to leave, and do NOT wish you to perform the ritual while they are there, DO NOT PROCEED.
- If you have succeeded in either clearing the building or receiving the consent of those present to perform the ritual, you may proceed. When darkness has fallen completely, bring your supplies to the quiet room with the window.
- Confirm that the window is closed. Then place the unlit candle near the window, but not so close that a breeze could cause it to go out when lit.
- Think of the loved one you wish to contact. Hold their name in your mind. Recall their face, appearance, and manner — every detail about them you can remember. What color was their hair? Their eyes? Their skin tone? Were they tall? Short? Or somewhere in between? What did they like to wear? Did they have a signature scent? How did they carry themself? What expression most frequently flitted across their face? What did their voice sound like? How did they react whenever they saw you? Bring them to life — or as close to life as you can — in your own memory.
- Keep thinking of this person. With the memory of them clear in your mind, light the candle.
- Open the window.
- Briefly leave the room.
- Observe the state of any other room in the building than the room in which you performed The Invitation.
- If the room remains unchanged: The ritual has failed; do not proceed. Return to the Invitation room, extinguish the candle and close the window. You may try again another time.
- If you observe any unusual phenomena: The ritual has succeeded; you may proceed. Possible indications of success include the sudden presence of a scent associated with your loved one, a drop in temperature, and/or the sense that your loved one is nearby.
- Return to the Invitation room.
- If you like, you may attempt to communicate with your loved one. How you do so is up to you; possible methods include:
- Automatic writing. Sit at a table with a piece of paper before you and a pen or pencil held loosely but comfortably in your non-dominant hand. Relax and clear your mind. Speak out loud to your loved one — ask them questions, or simply tell them anything you wish them to know. If your non-dominant hand begins writing of its own accord, let it. Read what’s there.
- A fogged mirror. Fog up a mirror by any means you desire. Speak aloud to your loved one. Then watch the mirror’s surface. If any words appear, read them. If any images appear, examine them.
- Voice recorder. Turn on the recorder. Speak aloud to your loved one. Leave at least 15 or 20 seconds of silence between each question or sentence. When you are finished, turn off the device and play the recording back. Listen closely, especially during moments of silence.
- A planchette. If your planchette is designed to facilitate automatic writing, fit it with a pen or pencil, place it on a piece of paper, rest your fingers lightly on its surface, and follow the procedure for automatic writing laid out above. If your planchette is designed for use with a talking board, place it on the board, rest you fingers lightly on its surface, speak aloud to your loved one, and watch for movement. If the planchette moves, track where it goes to read your response. NOTE: Use of a talking board is NOT RECOMMENDED. Should you choose to use this method, proceed with caution. (See: Additional Notes.)
- Continue conversing until either you or you loved one are ready to finish.
- Say your goodbyes. Thank your loved one for speaking with you. Then let them be. They will know to leave when the night is over.
- When the sun has risen, extinguish the candle and close the window.
It is NOT required that the ritual be performed on Oct. 31; however, performing it on this date increases the chances of success. Note, though, that performing it on Oct. 31 also increases the risk of uninvited guests.
To further improve the ritual’s chances of success, use a window that faces west when performing The Invitation. You may also lay out a small token associated with your loved one or an offering of their favorite food, if you wish. Taking these actions does not guarantee success, but it may help.
You do not necessarily have to communicate with your loved one once they have been summoned. You may choose simply to sit quietly and enjoy their presence.
The use of a planchette in conjunction with a talking board is NOT recommended as a means of communication. Although using this method will facilitate communication with you loved one, it also increases the risk that an uninvited guest may tag along for the ride.
Concerning Uninvited Guests:
If The Invitation is successful, but, at any point, you sense that whomever you have summoned is NOT who you intended to contact, DO NOT PROCEED.
Indications that you have an uninvited guest include, but are not limited to: The presence of strange scents, physical sensations, or sounds not associated with your loved one; styles of communication — sentence structure, vocabulary, tone, etc. — not consistent with the communication style of your loved one; and/or a general feeling of oppression or unsettlement.
Should these or any other similar red flags occur, cease speaking with your correspondent immediately. Enact the following procedure:
- Extinguish the candle, but do not close the window. Fill a bowl or basin with warm water and place it in the Invitation room. Leave it there overnight.
- In the morning, once the sun has risen, take the bowl outside and empty it onto a patch of earth or dirt. Make sure the water soaks into the ground completely.
- Return to the Invitation room. Pick up the candle and remove it from the building. Destroy it, if possible. Dispose of the remains as far away as you can.
- Return to the Invitation room. Close the window.
If the procedure above does not work:
You’ll need more help than I can provide.
It might be best to leave the building for a while.
Or for longer.
It’s not safe anymore.
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[Photo via scholty1970/Pixabay]