While Halloween has every opportunity to be a treat: dressing in costumes, teen slasher movies, and pumpkin-flavored sweets — the celestial bodies of the nearby cosmos have, in fact, joined forces to throw an astrological wrench the plans of many. And that wrench comes in the form of Mercury retrograde fall 2019.
Since the universe clearly has some tricks in store for us, as a witch, I'm going to suggest we dip our toes into some rituals for Mercury retrograde on Halloween. It's fitting, after all: this astrological transit literally begins its reign of terror on Halloween day. That's Oct. 31, 2019, at 11:41 a.m. ET, for those of you keeping track. During this time, Mercury, the planet of technology, communication, intellect, timing, and transportation will appear to move backwards in the sky — and according to astrology, will subsequently affect all those very areas of our lives. Mercury retrograde periods are notorious for causing tech failures, major miscommunications, confusion, unclear plans, scheduling mishaps, travel snags, and more.
Moreover, Mercury is retrograding in the intense, brooding, and transformation-focused sign of Scorpio, which will bring our most private, intimate, and even painful matters to the surface. Slowing down and doing some major personal reflection during a retrograde — especially one as emotional as this one — is imperative. By doing so, we can clear out old baggage, prepare ourselves for any secrets that could bubble up during the backspin, and more clearly see what needs to be cut from our lives in order to move forward effectively when the retrograde ends.
The fact that this cycle begins on Halloween day is also significant and powerful, and shouldn't be overlooked as mere coincidence. Halloween actually shares its roots with the Pagan sabat known as Samhain, which takes place on the same day and is considered one of the most spiritual days of the year by practioners. "Possibly the biggest festival of the Witches’ year, Samhain is a time to remember those who have passed on, celebrate the Summer's end and prepare for Winter months ahead," wrote Wicca.com on its site. During Samhain, it's believed that the "veil" between the world of the living and the world of the dead is at its thinnest, meaning that communication with spirits of the past is most effective and encouraged. Known as the "Witches New Year," it's also a time to acknowledge the darker aspects of life — literally, in the form of the dark winter months to come, and figuratively, in the form of our shadow selves and our relationship to death/the dead.
So, ready to get witchy? If there's ever a time to do so, I'd say Halloween is the time. Here are three rituals for Mercury retrograde Halloween 2019 that will help you work with this season's Scorpio Mercury retrograde energy while simultaneously honoring the dark, transformation energy of Halloween and Samhain.
Samhain Shadow Self Meditation
There's some major thematic overlap that can take place during Samhain and Mercury retrograde. "I honor Samhain as a time of the year to stop, ground myself, and reflect," shared spiritual writer Alethia Luna on Lonerwolf. "[M]any people set it aside as a time of year to let old attachments, stories and beliefs die, paving a way for the new." This is also a major theme when it comes to aligning yourself to the energy of a retrograde. Retrogrades don't happen to screw up our lives — if we work with them, they can serve us by forcing us to slow ourselves down, re-evaluate where we're at, and re-align ourselves to face the path we truly want to take before we move forward again. Dealing with our shadow self is an important step in dealing with reality and choosing how to move forward. "Our shadow selves are the forgotten, shunned, repressed parts of ourselves that we hide away from the light of the world," wrote Lonerwolf on its site, so here's a ritual inspired by one of their visualizations that can help you connect with your darker aspects.
What you'll need: A selenite crystal (for cleansing energy) and a black tourmaline crystal (for protection).
What to do: Begin by choosing a quiet setting where you won't be interrupted and can concentrate. Then, use sage or another cleansing tool to clear the energy of the space. Then sit down in a comfortable position, either holding your selenite and black tourmaline crystals or placing them in front of you. Clear your mind and get yourself into a comfortable and focused place mentally.
"When you are ready, visualize a doorway," advised Lonerwolf. "[T]his doorway will lead you back to your grounded self. With each breath allow yourself to travel through the doorway, deeper and deeper into your mind." As you journey inward, start calling out to your shadow self through your mind. Remember to be compassionate, warm, and gentle, as our shadow selves are often full of fear. "Eventually, you will sense your Shadow and possibly even see it," wrote Lonerwolf, noting that your shadow self may look nothing like you. "Ensure that you remain open and loving: this is a neglected part of yourself after all."
Once you've encountered your shadow self, visualize yourself surrounded in white light and send that light to your shadow. You may even want to embrace your shadow, and visualize a stream of unconditional love flowing through you toward them. Take note of how you feel: This is you embracing the dark, neglected, fearful, and unaccepted parts of yourself.
"When you are done, look up. See the doorway glowing in the distant. Grab the rope that is dangling right in front of you and say goodbye," directed Lonerwolf. "Climb up the rope towards the doorway and step through." Take a few minutes to reorient yourself to your waking world before opening your eyes, and close the circle.
Create A Samhain Altar For Retrograde Reflection
According to Sage Goddess, "altar creation (even just the process, not the product) is one of the most impactful ways to work with ritual and intention," — and I would agree. As we embark on yet another Mercury retrograde course, taking time out to reflect, focus inward, and create a sacred space is incredibly important. And because it kicks off on Halloween, creating a Samhain altar is a beautiful way to connect with your past, strengthen your spiritual energy, and get a little more inward-focused as you embark on this astrological transit.
What you'll need: Two black or orange candles; a black crystal (for protection) or a red crystal (for vitality); a chalice of wine or cider; feathers; any other symbolic and seasonal objects or talismans (think bones, autumn leaves, pumpkins, etc.); photos or objects representing people or situations revered from your past; a dark-colored cloth (optional).
What to do: Firstly, choose a space in your home where you'll set up your seasonal altar, to be created ahead of Samhain and left up through the duration of the following retrograde period to honor the shifting energy. This could be a small side table, the top of a shelf or dresser, or even an upside-down wooden crate. Wherever you establish the altar, be sure to cleanse the space, both literally (by dusting and surface-cleaning) and energetically (by cleansing with sage or some other tool). If you choose, lay out a cloth to "dress up" your altar space before laying out your elements.
Begin by putting one working candle at the center of the altar — you'll use that as the sun in your altar's little solar system. If you'd like, you may carve the sigil for planet Mercury (☿) into your candle in order to evoke the energy of this planet that's being sucked away by the retrograde.
Then, using your phone's compass, determine the directions north, south, east, and west. Surrounding the candle, place your crystal to the north, your wine to the west, your feathers to the east, and your second candle to the south (these represents the four elements).
Now comes the fun part: Make your altar your own! Add photos of loved ones who have past and who you'd like to honor, or perhaps pieces of jewelry or other inheritances. Bring in natural elements that reflect the changing seasons, like leaves, acorns, or pumpkins. Anything that reminds you of the shifting seasons, the thinning veil of Samhain, and the need to reflect thoughtfully on your past during the retrograde.
Light your candles and spend time adding to and tending to your altar over the coming weeks, until Mercury goes direct on Nov. 20.
Spirit-Guiding Retrograde Candle Ritual
"Samhain is ... a time to celebrate life in contrast to death, which makes it a great moment to stop and introspect," wrote Gaia on its site. Introspection is obviously going to be a big theme for fall's Mercury retrograde as well, so it'll behoove you to earn some good karma from the spirit world, especially with the retrograde taking place in the death and rebirth oriented sign of Scorpio. This simple ritual will help you "guide" the spirits to their home in the spirit world, while also offering you a meditative opportunity to reflect on your life since the past retrograde.
What you'll need: One white seven-day candle; a journal.
What to do: This ritual is quite simple. Place a white seven-day-burning candle in your front window (or on your altar space, if your windowsill is unsafe for a flame). If possible to do safely, keep the candle lit for the full seven days. The intention here is to help guide those who have passed (who are present during Samhain) to the world of the spirits.
Each evening as the candle burns, beginning on the first day of the retrograde, concentrate on the flame and say the following incantation aloud, as instructed by Gaia.com:
"O little flame that burns so bright, be a beacon on this night. Light the path for all the dead, that they may see now what’s ahead. And lead them to the Summerland and shine until Pan takes their hands. And with Your light, please bring them peace, that they may rest and sleep with ease."
Following this incantation, take some time in the presence of the flame each evening to journey through your past few months. If necessary, look through your phone's photo reel, your social media posts, e-mails, journals, anything that will give you a sense of what you've been doing, where your current passions lie, and whether your goals are being accomplished. Once you've done so, give yourself time to write things out as you work through your current situation. Practice this for seven days to give yourself a solid start on the work that this retrograde will ask of us.