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Autumn Equinox ritual – Honouring the Forgotten Dead

Image – Beata Banach Photography

Every Autumn Equinox I perform a small ritual which I call honouring the forgotten dead, in which I travel to the local graveyards and leave apple slices on the decrepit graves, those that have fallen into disrepair, or have been neglected or vandalised.

Initially, it was an intuitive practice, being solitary I had not been ‘taught’ by another to do so, but it felt like being a caretaker for the forgotten; those who had lived, loved, had adventures and perhaps even families once, and yet their memory had faded over time. There is a sadness and a heaviness to that thought, and so each Autumn Equinox I would stride down between the graves, leaving offerings and say a few words.

The apple is featured frequently within Celtic mythology being associated with prophecy and the fae (Otherworld) and is also associated with Death and Rebirth. The Celts buried apple slices with their dead, a practice said to date back over 7,000 years in Europe with petrified apple slices being found in tombs.

And so I present for your consideration:

The Ritual for the Forgotten Dead.

  1. Prior to the ritual it is best to become accustom to a local graveyard if possible, so that you have already honoured the spirits that preside over this space, and know the layout.

  2. It is also easier to slice up the apples prior to the visit and place the slices in a sealed bag so that you do not make a mess when transporting them.

  3. Depending on your custom, it can be traditional to leave a silver coin at the entrance to a graveyard for those spirits who protect and watch over the graveyard. This is almost a miniature ritual within itself.

  4. Open the graveyard gate (if it has one) or stand on the side of the threshold and place the silver coin nearby, out of sight if possible so that it will not be disturbed, and request permission to enter the graveyard from the protective spirits or wights.

  5. Whilst you can ask silently if necessary, if the opportunity arises you may wish to be vocal in your request: “Guardians who protect all those who enter here, I offer you this coin as a sign of good faith. I seek to enter here and honour the forgotten dead.”

  6. If you feel that the energies permit you to enter, draw a line across the threshold. This can be done simply with a finger or if you wish to engage your ritual Athame, then do so. This will act as a barrier both when ‘entering’ the spirit space, and when leaving it.

  7. Place the apple slices on the graves of the forgotten dead. If you are placing many apple slices you may wish to say something brief such as “gone but not forgotten, I honour you.” If you worry about being overheard, you can simply nod your head or place your hand lightly on the gravestone.

  8. Usually after this point I will walk through the graveyard and listen, being hyper aware of any spiritual messages that are passed on, or unusual occurrences that can be considered a spiritual synchronicity. On multiple occasions, cats have appeared at this stage in the ritual.

  9. Once you have completed this, head back towards the entrance, and thank the guardians (either vocally or silently).

  10. As you are ready to leave, make note of the barrier line that you drew before, and make the conscious knowing decision that when you step over it, you are leaving one realm (that of the dead) behind for that of the living, and nothing may follow you.

  11. At this point, some people prefer to take an alternative route home, or take a longer walk home, just incase an energy sought to follow them home. You can also take a ritual bath and cleanse and ground yourself once home.

Many blessings starlets,


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