A powerful season! Ancestors and a healing Full Moon

A little about grief

When my mother died, I found myself clinging to the idea that the grief would lessen in intensity, bit by bit, and after some time would leave, or transmute to some less painful nostalgia, or memories. Instead this is what I found: Grief is a spiral.

“For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always occurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?” —C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

This is not bad news, far from it. It’s beautiful and welcome news. Because it means that our beloved dead are only as far away as our thoughts and love and memories. As I was taught in my spiritual tradition,

What is remembered, lives

Here we are, as the days continue to darken, in the season when the veils between the worlds get thinner. This is the time of the turning of the year when you may be more aware than usual of your beloved dead, when you may be feeling with unexpected poignancy that grief that you thought had diminished.

Our modern American celebration of Halloween has its roots in this season of awareness of and respect for our ancestors, most directly derived from Samhain (Celtic, pronounced sow-in). Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead, Mexican) also falls at the end of October/early November.

Make an ancestors altar

This upcoming week is prime time to do some ancestor devotion.

Gather photos of your departed, and things that were theirs, that are now cherished by you (I have my grandmother’s button box and my mother’s scissors and ancient thread collection), and any other images or totems that feel right. On my ancestors altar I have a ceramic skull and a whole slew of Day of the Dead figures (they represent my parents and grandparents). I also have a couple of raven images, and beautifully decorated candle holders (with skulls and bones, of course).

The altar is ever-changing. People I love continue to pass, which prompts me to add some token to my altar to represent them. And this year I’m adding a veil of black mesh to my altar, to slightly obscure the photos and artifacts, as well as a vial of graveyard dirt, just because.

I would say the ideal window for honoring your beloved dead is anytime between Monday the 29th (the day of the Full Moon, more on that below) and Friday the 2nd (when Day of the Dead is celebrated)—which is a five-day window straddling Halloween. In the darkness (of course) light a candle or two. You could leave a food offering (something you know the person loved, or some tasty seasonal tidbit) on a black or white plate (some like to use broken crockery). Or pour some of your ancestor’s favorite beverage and leave it in front their picture. Have some of the food and beverage yourself, share a meal.

Expressing love and gratitude in words, or song, or a poem is also powerful. Find a way to let your ancestors know you’re here and honoring them.

What’s your ancestors-honoring practice?

What makes you feel connected? Please share what works for you in the comments.


We also have the beautiful Taurus Full Moon

Monday 10/29 (12:40 pm PDT). What a powerful week!

The Taurus Moon represents healing, and manifestation and security. Taurus, the Bull, is the fixed earth sign, sensuous, tenacious and consistently seeking security. When you bring commitment and clear intention to your actions, whatever you begin will have a stable foundation and, while it may get off to a slow start, can certainly build momentum that will make it hard to stop.

The Taurus Moon opposes the Sun in Scorpio. Scorpio, the fixed water sign, keeps its magic and power well hidden, like a deeply buried treasure.

Scorpio and Taurus are strong and capable of huge commitment and passion. They both loved sensual and sexual pleasure, and both are powerful abundance signs.

Whatever you put your committed intention to during Monday’s Full Moon is going to have a lot of power and potential behind it. What’s your powerful intention for your business? For your life?

A suggestion for a Full Moon working

On Sunday night, put a pitcher of clear water and some rocks or crystals out under the sky, somewhere where the light of the Moon will shine upon them, and leave them all night long. This way the energy of the Full Moon will charge the rocks and water as you sleep.

As close to 12:40 pm Pacific on Monday as you can (or any time during the Full Moon window of Sunday to Tuesday), put the stones in a bowl and pour the charged water over them. Visualize yourself, your family, your community, and the whole world bathed in the purity of this water, and grounded in happiness, healing and abundance by the stones. With some of the water on your hands, anoint your forehead, your lips, your heart. Feel the peace and healing settling in you and radiating out to the entire planet. With your hands shaping a big moon above you, below you, in front and behind you, envision this peace and healing expanding and expanding with your prayer for transcendant purity and abundance.

What a perfect working to do the week before the U.S. elections!

I’d love to know how your Full Moon/ancestors week goes. Please let me know in the comments. Love!


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I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Join the conversation!

  1. Hi Sue:  I enjoyed reading your post, especially the part about grief being a spiral.  I am sure I will have many thoughts of those who have passed in the week ahead. xo Tanya

    • @Caperpoet I’m feeling that grief spiral this week, and my mother’s presence so strongly. It’s funny, this time around the spiral I’m really glad for the increase in intensity. It’s not always this way, and I find that the unpredictability of the grieving and memories makes it all even more precious.
      Love and blessings to you Tanya!

  2. Thank you for this post, I wish I’d have read it last week.  My life has been a series of losses and grief since March of 2011.  I think if i had created an altar several years ago, this would have been a visual and visceral reminder.  Just seeing an altar would have allowed me to check in more regularly with grief and allow the process.
    Thank you!


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