It’s finally happened: October is in the chair, and the spooky season is official here. To celebrate — and to give you enough time to plan — here’s a collection of 14 different ritual games to play on Halloween. I know how much y’all love these sorts of games, and since this is the ideal time of year for many of them… well, it seemed like the thing to do.
A note before we begin: By “ritual games to play on Halloween,” I mean it literally. The games seen here either achieve best results when performed on Halloween, or must necessarily be performed on Halloween. Obviously these are not the only kinds of ritual games you can play on Halloween—pretty much any ritual game can be played on this spookiest of days, unless the rules specify that it shouldn’t be—but because of the timing involved, they’re what I might call extra Halloween-y. In some cases, you only get this one shot at them for the year; if you don’t pull it off, you’ll have to wait until the following Halloween to give it another try.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
If you’re in search of ritual games to play more generally — that is, games which can be played on Halloween, but which don’t have to be played on Halloween — try this collection of ritual games you can play with friends. Or this one, of ritual games to play for luck and good fortune. Or this collection of games that only require minimal supplies. Or these games, which can all be played alone — without the aid of other people. Or, ii you’re feeling truly daring, this collection of ritual games that claim to transport you to another world entirely.
And if that’s not enough for you, for a portable collection of 24 ritual games of all sorts, there’s always my book, Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark — and our full Most Dangerous Games archive, too.
Time to get planning. You… won’t want to leave your preparations until the last minute.
Six Short Halloween Divination Games
If you want to start simple, these six games might be the way to go. None of them are particularly risky (comparatively speaking, of course); they can all be performed with minimal supplies — mirrors, apples, nuts, and the like; and there are options here for both groups and solo players. What’s more, they each are meant to do something different, although admittedly, many of them have to do with matters of the heart. In order, they claim to:
- Show you an image of the person you’re destined to be with;
- Reveal your future to you;
- Test whether or not your love is true;
- Help you choose between two suitors (lucky you);
- Test your luck;
- And — allegedly, at least— allow you to speak to the dead.
Most of these games are old folk traditions from Western cultures, so they’ve been around for a while — that is, they’re not born from the internet, as many of the ritual games commonly encountered these days tend to be. Remember as you play that you’re dealing with something old — much older than you. The danger may not be as great as it is with some other ritual games… but that doesn’t mean they’re 100 percent safe. Find them here.
Halloween Summoning Ritual
Although this Halloween Summoning Ritual, which is intended to summon the spirit of a departed loved one, was posted to the r/ThreeKings subreddit in 2012 under the name “Something I Was Taught Growing Up,” it does appear to have its roots in folklore. It’s traditional, you see, to set candles by the doors and windows of your home at Samhain — the Celtic observance that’s often cited as one of the many sources of our modern-day Halloween traditions — as a way of helping the souls of the dead find their way home. This is a key element of the r/ThreeKings ritual — although there’s more to it than just lighting a candle and opening a window.
Here, once you’ve performed the summoning, you can actually carry out a conversation with whomever you’ve summoned; what’s more, you can do it by whatever means you like: Automatic writing, an EVP session, and so on and so forth. Just beware of party crashers — it’s not unheard of for the ritual to summon someone… other than who meant to.
Also: This game doesn’t have to be played on Halloween. You are, however, more likely to achieve best results if you do play it on Halloween. So, there’s no time like the present, right?
Dream Of The Dead
If you’re curious about communicating with the dead, but would rather do it in a dream than in your conscious reality, the Dream Of The Dead ritual might be of interest to you. All you need to perform is candles and the means to light them, salt, an alarm clock, your preferred method of space purification, a photograph of the deceased person you’d like to see, and a safe place to sleep. All of those things should be simple to acquire; furthermore, this game is one of the type that can easily be played in your own home.
Note, though: This ritual is not for holding a conversation. They talk; you listen. Keep your own mouth shut.
This is important.
Alas, I can’t tell you much about the origins for this one. The only English source I’ve found for it, Whispering Dark, noted in 2013 only that they had found it in “a book on rituals” located within “the Occult section of [their] University library” — and although I’ve located it on a few other sites, those versions are all just translations of the Whispering Dark post into other languages.
Halloween Mirror Ritual
The Halloween Mirror Ritual is… a challenge. And I mean that in more ways than one: It actually does see you challenging an opponent for the chance to win a fabulous prize — but it’s also quite difficult to win.
To play it, you have to use a mirror to summon some kind of… shadow creature, you see. Then you have to evade the creature for half an hour. Then you have to present it with an offering.
And then you have to hope it accepts it. If it does, you can ask for anything you like. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to keep running.
And running, and running, and running.
That’s assuming you believe it’s real. My sense is that it’s made-up — more a story than anything else. But then again, I wouldn’t recommend playing it if you don’t think it’s real.
These things are best taken seriously.
Jack O’ Lantern
In their original forms, jack o’ lanterns weren’t pumpkins; they were turnips. Gaining their name from an Irish folktale about a fella named Stingy Jack, they were meant to ward off evil — hence why they’re traditionally lit on Halloween night: When the veil between this world and the next is thinner than usual, it’s worth putting up a few more extra layers of protection.
In this Jack O’ Lantern game, however — which is probably a product of the internet era, rather than something older — the lantern acts more like a beacon, summoning a supernatural opponent for you to face off against. But rather than running and hiding, your goal is to sit yourself down in a circle of salt and not move from it for an extended period of time.
It sounds simple. But it isn’t, of course. Your opponent will do whatever they can to get you to step outside your protective ring.
Don’t do it — no matter what.
And if you win, don’t forget to light a jack o’ lantern on Halloween every year thereafter. You’ll regret it otherwise.
Dinner For The Dead
The tradition of the “dumb supper” has existed for quite some time; in its most recognizable form, it dates back to early 20th century folklore in Appalachia, the Ozarks, and Southern regions of the United States, although elements of it can be found in a pretty impressive number of cultures and locations. The name of the tradition as it stands is kind of problematic, though, so let’s call it what it is: Making dinner for the dead.
This one is very forgiving. You can perform it with a wide variety of end goals in mind, and you can adapt it to suit your needs and situation in numerous ways. The most important thing to remember is that respect is key — and here, that means not speaking or making any additional noise once the meal has begun.
Dinner For The Dead works wonderfully with large groups, by the way, as long as everyone is on board with it and able to keep quiet.
A Small Radio
If you’re in search of a way to improve your luck substantially and don’t mind paying a… rather high price for it, there’s A Small Radio — a game originally posted to the Creepypasta Wikia in 2013. (It’s therefore more a piece of fiction than an actual, playable game, but let’s just roll with it, shall we?) You acquire the radio by performing a few simple actions with your mobile phone; if you do it all correctly, the radio will appear in a box on your doorstep a few nights later.
Once you put the batteries in and start listening, you’ll have nothing but good luck for an entire year. The trouble, once that year is up, and the batteries run out, you’ll have to spend the rest of your life running from all the bad luck you managed to avoid for that single year.
Does that sound like it’s worth it to you? It doesn’t to me, but then again, I am very risk averse.
Something worth noting: The game begins during the last minute of Oct. 30. That means that, if you want to play it, you’ll have to remember to start it the night before Halloween night — not Halloween night itself. Just, y’know, FYI.
The Devil Game
These last two games are the most dangerous of the bunch; it is therefore not recommended that you attempt to play them, no matter how brave you’re feeling. Fortunately, the Devil Game isn’t really playable in the first place: According to its creator, it’s fictional. So, once you complete the elaborate summoning part of the ritual — which doesn’t have to be performed on Halloween, but which features Halloween as a recommended date — you likely won’t actually end up playing a game of questions and answers with the devil.
This one is also… kind of sacrilege. This game must be played in a place of religious worship, and involves performing some sort of blasphemous action as a key step in the process. If you’re offended by things that challenge religion — or which are outright defiant of religion — you might want to move along.
And lastly, we have the Void. Like the Devil Game, it’s also (probably) a made-up ritual; the earliest version of it on the internet I’ve been able to track down is at a creepypasta website, where it was posted in 2008. But even putting that aside, it’s not recommended that you play this one, either — because this one? Its goal is to hurt someone else, and obviously I do not condone or recommend performing rituals intended to cause harm to other people, directly or indirectly. (I mean, I don’t recommend you perform rituals that might cause harm to yourself, either, but at least there, you’re the one that’s choosing to do so to yourself. It’s… a little different.)
Anyway, the Void is — like many other Halloween-centric games — a mirror ritual. Once you use the mirror to open the void, you’re asked a series of questions. You must answer them truthfully and correctly. If you’re successful, whatever the heck is in the void will allow you to present to it the name of a person who has wronged you. After you close the void, you’re meant to watch the obituaries for a few days.
You can probably guess what’s supposed to appear there.
As I noted at the time I originally covered the game: Do not answer the questions incorrectly. And DO NOT PLAY THIS GAME.
Welcome to the Halloween season, friends.
How daring do you feel this year?
Follow The Ghost In My Machine on Twitter @GhostMachine13 and on Facebook @TheGhostInMyMachine. And for more games, don’t forget to check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available now from Chronicle Books!