Previously: The Lord 13.
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The Halloween ritual game known as Jack O’Lantern has a lot in common with games like the Midnight Game and Dry Bones: The idea is to summon some sort of opponent, then outlast said opponent for a specific period of time. The period of time is shorter in Jack O’Lantern than it often is in these kinds of games, however; you need only last for an hour, rather than all night.
But that hour might prove to be… more difficult than you think.
There’s not a ton of information available on this one — I’ve only found it in a few places, and in a terribly incomplete form at that — so I’ve made an effort to complete it somewhat. That’s the version you’ll find here, ready and waiting for you to give it a shot on Halloween night.
A jack o’lantern, of course, is a pumpkin that’s been hollowed out, carved to resemble a face, and lit up by means of a candle placed inside the pumpkin. Although it’s used primarily as a decoration these days, it wasn’t always just something nice to look at; it was a means of warding off evil — a way to protect yourself from entities who might intend to do you harm at the time of year when the veil between this world and the next is at its most fragile.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
Traditionally, jack o’lanterns were actually carved from turnips — a throwback to an old folktale about a fellow named Stingy Jack. According to legend, Stingy Jack repeatedly bested the devil from claiming his soul; however, when Stingy Jack died, his activities on Earth were weighed and he was deemed ineligible for entrance into heaven. Nor, though, would the devil — understandably frustrated by Stingy Jack’s years of trickery — let him into Hell. Instead, the devil gave him one, single, burning coal and instructed him to “find his own hell.” Jack made a lantern out of the coal by placing it into a hollowed-out turnip — and he still wanders the Earth, stuck between worlds, to this very day.
He’s known as Jack of the Lantern — or, perhaps more commonly, Jack O’Lantern.
And he is very, very unhappy with his situation.
For more Halloween-centric ritual games, head here, here, and here. And in the meantime…
…Play at your own risk.
- One principal.
- A red candle.
- Matches or a lighter.
- A sheet of paper.
- A piece of black chalk.
- A hollowed-out pumpkin. Do NOT carve a face into the pumpkin; leave its surface unblemished.
- An alarm clock.
- A dark, quiet room where you are unlikely to be disturbed. This room MUST be located within your own home.
- Begin at 11pm on Oct. 31.
- Bring your supplies to your chosen room. Close the door behind you. Draw the curtains or otherwise block the windows as completely as possible.
- Set the clock’s alarm to go off at midnight.
- Draw a pentagram on the sheet of paper using the black chalk.
- Place the pumpkin in the center of the pentagram.
- Remove the top from the pumpkin and place it aside.
- Place the candle inside the pumpkin.
- Light the candle. Leave the top off the pumpkin.
- Turn out the lights.
- Position yourself near the piece of paper, pumpkin, and pumpkin top — near enough that you can reach all of these objects without needing to reach too far.
- When you are positioned correctly and settled comfortably, draw a circle of salt around yourself on the floor.
- Repeat the following chant aloud four times in total: “I invoke all demons, possess this object and bring life to Jack O ‘Lantern./ I pray, I wish!/ I pray, I wish!/ I pray, I wish!”
- If nothing in your environment has changed: The ritual has failed; your opponent has chosen not to come. Do NOT proceed. Extinguish the candle, place the top back on the pumpkin, turn on the lights, and depart from the room. Return after the sun has risen and remove the pumpkin from the premises. Dispose of it as far away from your home as possible. You may try again next year with a different pumpkin.
- If you feel the temperature drop: The ritual has succeeded; your opponent has arrived. You may proceed.
The Main Event:
- Sit quietly, but pay attention. Remain inside the salt circle.
- You may hear a rustling whisper rising up out of the darkness. Remain calm; do not move from the salt circle.
- You may feel a cold breath emerge from the darkness and dance across the back of your neck. Remain calm; do not move from the salt circle.
- You may see the faint outline of a figure in the darkness, just beyond the light of the candle. Remain calm; do not move from the salt circle.
- Your opponent will try as hard as he can to draw you out of the salt circle.
- Whatever you sense — whatever you feel — whatever you experience — remain calm.
- Do NOT move from the salt circle.
- Do not move from the salt circle under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES before the alarm clock has gone off.
- As soon as your alarm clock sounds, quickly grab the pumpkin top you previously set aside and place it securely back on the pumpkin.
- Wait until the whisper recedes.
- Wait until the temperature warms.
- Wait until the figure fades.
- When you sense the room has returned to normal, remove the top from the pumpkin.
- If the candle has gone out: Your opponent has departed. You may proceed.
- If the candle is still lit: Your opponent has NOT departed. Place the pumpkin top back on the pumpkin IMMEDIATELY. Do NOT move from the salt circle. Wait a few moments more, then remove the top from the pumpkin and check the candle again. Repeat this process until, when you remove the top from the pumpkin, you find the candle has gone out. Once this occurs, you may proceed.
- When the candle has gone out, you may safely step outside the salt circle. Turn on the lights and open the door to the room. Remove the pumpkin from the room and dispose of it immediately — ideally by taking it as far away from your home as possible and destroying it.
- But if the candle never goes out…
- I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
This ritual must be performed in your own home.
Although it is not required that you clear the space of any other people or pets before beginning, it is recommended that you do so. Should you choose not to clear the space of others before beginning, do NOT open the door to the game room before completing the ritual in its entirety. To do so would put anyone else in your home in terrible danger.
Once the Main Event has begun, be wary of what you see and experience. You may not necessarily be able to trust your own senses; your opponent is clever and capable of a great deal of manipulation.
Do not rely on the time displayed on the alarm clock’s face as an accurate reading of what time it is.
The only reliable measure of time you will have is the alarm itself.
Do NOT step outside the salt circle before the alarm sounds.
Concerning The Halloweens Yet To Come:
After successfully completing this ritual, do NOT allow a Halloween to go by without lighting a jack o’lantern — a proper jack o’lantern, with a hollowed-out inside and a face carved into its sides — in or near your home.
Always light the jack o’lantern.
Do not forget.
For if you should, your opponent may invite himself back inside.
And this time, you might not be able to get him to leave.
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Follow The Ghost In My Machine on Twitter @GhostMachine13 and on Facebook @TheGhostInMyMachine. And don’t forget to check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available now from Chronicle Books!
[Photo via darf_nicht_mehr_hochladen/Pixabay]
What happens if the candle goes out before the farewell?
I am reading this at Halloween lol but i will try this. Wish me luck!!
The questioner says
Would it be considered cheating if I blew out the candle?
Couldn’t the opponent make you think the alarm went off, or is that against the rules for them?
Similar to someone else’s comment…
Are we allowed to hum/sing/talk aloud whilst the figure tries to lure us? Example, if I were to hum a song to keep me calm, could I be allowed to do that?
Is it considered cheating if we tie our eyes with a blindfold, wear headphones that block the sound, etc. ?
I’m not seeing the previous story title where it should be
Fixed. Thanks for the heads up!
A good theme for a good Halloween.
Well, i won’t play this thing, but, it’s fun to imagine what would happen. Anyways.. What do you mean with “If the candle won’t go out” “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry”
Can we still try to end the game? Even if it’s need more.. I mean more more time?
Does the jack-o’-lantern that you have to light be homemade, aka you made the jack-o’-lantern yourself, or can it be store bought?
Wow another spooky Ritual for the Holiday coming up! As good as ever Lucia. But you know, Halloween is a time for spooky things to happen. Be careful out there.
Nico Rovito says
Is there any reward for playing this game? Or is the challenge the point of playing it.
oh Lucia! It scared the crap out of me! As scary as always! I can’t wait for more!
hey lucia! great post as always!
can people who don’t celebrate halloween play this game? for instance, i’m a muslim and we usually don’t celebrate, we don’t do trick or treat and stuff like that. will the game work for us too?
It specifies a place where we’re unlikely to be disturbed. Does a cat scratching or meowing at the door count as being disturbed? Most other rituals specify that there be no other people or pets. Would it be ok as long as it doesn’t distract me?
Would this game still pose a potential danger for the next year, if you’re renting and end up moving before the next Halloween?
Also, if the candle stays lit until the sun rises and/or a housemate comes to check on you, would you still be in danger, or would the presence of either chase off the opponent?
A turnip instead of a pumpkin is better. It is more traditional
Wow, this is such a fantastic website, I’ve been on a couple day reading binge! For this ritual, would the jack o’lantern for the subsequent years have to be a candle, or would any light do? For example, would a tea light be just as effective, and just the fact there is light be important, or does it have to be a candle, and the fire is what is important?
so if the candle doesn’t go out, does that means your trap forever, or is it possible that the candle goes out?