From around early to mid August to appropriately Imbolc in February, my psychic senses and awareness go into overdrive. I’m up every night around 2-3am, sometimes for more than an hour or two. My dreams get more vivid and intense. I find myself hanging out in those dreams in the underworld, talking with the dead and seeing their world. In addition to all of this I am also more sensitive to other worlds in general: that of the worlds of various daemons, including that of the fae. It accelerates until around the time of Samhain, stays at peak intensity for about a month or so, then quiets down slightly until around February when things finally go to something approaching “normal”. This is the time of year I’m the most likely to be in touch with dead people, daimons, and deities–the “three Ds”, as I call them.
Ever since I was a teenager, I have found myself accidentally communicating with the dead. Most of the time, I have not initiated the contact but it occurred spontaneously. Sometimes it’s been family, other times friends who have passed. The first person I found myself in communication with the dead was with was my great-great grandmother, whom I barely knew in life because she died when I was six. She lived to be over a hundred, and was one of many people on my mother’s side of the family who settled and lived in New England. During this summer I got an Ancestry.com account along with a DNA test and started researching my family tree. When I saw that some of my ancestors had information pertaining to where they died and were buried, I wondered where my great-great grandmother might be located.
Out of curiosity I tried to find her grave site, but no luck. I kept hearing my great-great grandmother in my head saying that she was with her daughter–absolutely insisted–but newspaper clippings from Ancestry had placed her daughter’s death in upstate New York. And I live in Massachusetts, where I was pretty sure my great-great grandmother was at. So still, no go. Then I got in touch with a researcher who managed to find her grave located in a cemetery that’s all of an eight minute drive from me. And lo and behold, she is buried next to her daughter and her daughter’s husband, and it was through their names and information that she was able to locate my great-great grandmother.
But of course she was. After all, she told me so.
That is one of many stories I happen to have, and it’s why I have such a strong connection to Samhain, this time of year in general, and with various chthonic and underworld deities and daemons (including Hermes, Hekate, and Persephone) who have connections to the dead. And it’s why I will happily give out the following advice to anyone who has similar experiences to me: take good care of yourself around this time of year. Treat it like you’re on the verge of being perpetually worn out, because you probably are. Like any race, you’ll probably be like me and have the psychic equivalent of a “runner’s high” that gets you energized and through this season, but at the same time let’s face it, it can also be exhausting sometimes. I’ve blogged in the past on self care during intense practical magical work, and similar advice applies.
For some, the dead are silent and are associated with perpetual silence. But for people like me, the dead continue to speak. And they are loud, with some having more to say than others–and during this time of year, they are louder than ever. I have found that listening to them is very beneficial, and a few of my own ancestors (including my great-great grandmother) have been very helpful to me.
Working with your ancestors may not be as, shall I say, interactive as my own practice and experiences are, but it is in my opinion extremely viable and immensely rewarding. And Samhain is a fantastic time to pay homage. Some of us are more active with our work with the dead, especially those of us who have lost a lot of friends and family, or just have a personal connection with the underworld and the dead in general. Working with the dead can be and often is a separate practice than honoring and working with your ancestors, but the two can readily go hand in hand. Even if all you do is pay them respects at a shrine or drink a glass of your favorite beverage in your honor, it’s always a good thing to do, especially as a witch. Our power is deeply rooted in the underworld and we walk between worlds.