Halloween Cookies for our Ancestors
October is my favorite month hands down. I know I shouldn’t choose favorites, but it’s just so lovely with the carpet of golden leaves in the forest, the rainy windy days, the excitement of the harvest season, and the turning inward that comes with the lengthening nights.
I also love Halloween! It’s always been a favorite holiday of mine, since it seems to be the only one we celebrate in the West that reveres chaos and the spirit realms. We dress up and take on different personas. We revel in the frightening and different. We venerate the creatures normally scorned; snakes, crows, bats, and spiders. It is a time of year when we recall that we are mortal, and we gather to celebrate.
Halloween, or All Hallows, also known by its Celtic name Samhain, falls on the last day of October.
Hopman in her book A Druid’s Herbal says of this old holiday,
“The Samhain (pronounced sow-ain) festival falls at the end of the harvest and marks the conclusion of the agricultural cycle. At Samhain, the dark winter half of the year commences. It is the Celtic new year, the time when the walls between the worlds are thin, and communication is easy with those who have ‘passed over’ –the wandering dead. It is a magical interval when the laws of time and space are suspended. Humans engage in strange and unpredictable behaviors that mirror the activities of the spirit world.
Samhain is the time to bring honor and hospitality to dead ancestors. Prayers and food offerings are left on doorsteps and altars. Even if they are untouched by morning, the essence of the food is said to be transferred to the spirits.”
Indeed, in some traditions the food is considered to be ‘blessed’ once the spirits have partaken of the offering and consuming it is auspicious.
I enjoy creating a little feast for my ancestors on this night when they seem very near. This year I wanted to make little thumbprint cookies to set out for them as thanks and thought I might share the recipe.
Baking is always an adventure when trying to avoid Dairy and Eggs, but I’ve found ground flax works well as a substitute.
-¾ cup wheat flour (or gluten free substitute)
-1 cup ground flax seed
-¼ cup sugar (I used coconut sugar)
-2 tsp baking powder
-2/3 cup milk (I used soy, but any will do. Water also works)
-Jam of some kind for the filling (I used strawberry)
Mix flour, flax seed, sugar, baking powder, and milk together. Next, grease a baking sheet. I prefer to use sesame oil or coconut oil as a substitute for butter.
Then, roll the dough into whatever size balls you like. I enjoy creating little cookies, so I got 16 out of this recipe. Line them all up on the baking sheet.
Now comes the best part: smooshing your thumb in the middle! Make a nice little bowl to hold your jam!
Once that’s accomplished, add however much jam you like to the thumbprints.
Now bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes at 400F.
Once cooled you can serve them on a nice dish to your ancestors. I recommend creating a temporary altar with photos (if you have some but it’s not necessarily) and decorations somewhere near the hearth or center of your home. Light a candle if you wish and send them your appreciation.
Once the night draws to a close or in the morning, you can eat the cookies depending on what feels right. You can also crumble them up and put them outside in the yard for the creatures or throw them away if you feel they shouldn’t be eaten. No way is wrong, just find your own.
Let me know if you try this recipe and how it works for you!