You don’t have to be someone who grew up watching all the programming included in ABC Family’s “13 Nights of Halloween” to know that a glowing full moon is basically a required backdrop for any spooky, Halloween-themed film. What you don’t learn from the movies, though, is that a full moon on Halloween is rare, only occurring about every 19 years. When it does come along—as it does this year—its bright light is said to force what has been hidden in the shadows to reveal itself. And that unveiling isn’t just limited to Halloween usual suspects, like ghosts and goblins; experts say the energy it brings can drudge up your own personal demons, too.
Whether it falls on Halloween or not, the full moon has a powerful pull on our subconscious, says Angus Gillespie, PhD, a folklorist and professor of American Studies at Rutgers University. “The moon has a strong connection to the water and the tides,” he says. “There’s an analogy: If you look at the ocean, oftentimes it seems like it’s pretty quiet and stable [on the surface]. There are just normal wave patterns. What we know, though, is that because of the gravitational pull of the moon, there are strong undercurrents.”
Oftentimes, the changes of the moon are associated with the subconscious mind because of how the moon creates those undercurrents within human beings. Those behavioral currents become especially strong under a full moon, which occurs roughly every 30 days, and has been noted throughout the course of history to affect human behavior by, for a couple of examples, disrupting sleep cycles and social harmony. While the small studies conducted on the subject don’t add up to compelling evidence that the full moon causes changes in human behavior, they do convey that “something wicked this way comes” when the moon’s full form becomes visible in the sky.
To be sure, the full moon data is spooky on any day, but particularly on Halloween, when legend says the veil between the living and the dead (and, metaphorically speaking, you and your demons) is the thinnest of all. Halloween dates back to the ancient annual Gaelic harvest festival called Samhain. Then, in the 700s, Pope Gregory III officially deemed November 1 as “All Saints Day”—or a time to honor the Catholic saints—and adopted certain traditions from Samhain, like having a feast. Eventually, people began to celebrate not only the day itself, but the night before. “Halloween literally means ‘All Hallows’ Eve.’ It’s the evening before All Saints Day,” says Dr. Gillespie.
Over a thousand years later, sometime in the late 1800s, the Irish and Scottish immigrants brought a version of Halloween to the United States, and while All Saints Day remained a Catholic holiday, Halloween became more secular and commercialized. The connection between the 31st and honoring the dead still stands, and Samhain roots of Halloween have influenced the modern practice of wearing costumes. “There’s was a widespread belief [for Samhain] that the souls of the departed would wander around on the Earth, and they might seek revenge on people who had done them misdeeds during their lifetimes, and therefore people would wear masks and disguises so these evil spirits couldn’t find them,” says Dr. Gillespie.
With the full moon on Halloween plus happening during Scorpio season, everything is illuminated, so expect a light to shine on your personal underworld.
But costume or not, when the full moon lights up Halloween night every 18 or 19 years, it provides the ideal set and setting for all of the dead to be not only present but seen. The full moon is the brightest moon phase, after all, and when you combine the full moon’s power with Halloween’s thin-veil Scorpio vibes, astrologer Adama Sesay says you wind up with ominous energy.
Scorpio season stretches from October 23 to November 22, and during these dates, previously closed emotional and spiritual wounds may open. “[Scorpio season is] asking us to take a look at the shadows in our lives that need to be removed. What are the things that essentially need to change in order for us to progress and grow in our lives? [Answering that question] can be an extremely challenging process,” says Sesay.
With the full moon on Halloween plus happening during Scorpio season, everything is illuminated—the demons, the undercurrents, or whatever metaphor makes the most sense to you. Knowing this, expect a light to shine on your personal underworld where you hide things. “We’re going to reveal the things that we must shift or change,” Sesay says.
The shadow work that could follow confronting your inner underworld might be painful because it includes anything you try to not give thought to: an ex, a hurtful memory, or a toxic thought you left behind long ago. But both Sesay and Dr. Gillespie note that a time of intense cathartic healing could come following the full moon on Halloween. First though, we do have to confront these demons—luckily, Sesay has a few ideas for how to go about doing so.
“It can be so easy to first react and ask, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ But if you turn the situation more in your favor, you can ask what this is trying to teach you, or what it’s trying to heal for you,” she says. That may mean understanding the value in meditating, journaling, or doing anything that allows you to be introspective on October 31st. While in the process, you may feel as if you’re entered a haunted house of memories, emotions, and truths you weren’t keen on revisiting, on the other side, you may just find closure. After all: At the end of every Halloween movie, the sun always comes up to banish the full moon.
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