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Lifting the Veil

by Justine Haemmerli September 29, 2020


I love Halloween, and to be honest, for the longest time I couldn’t exactly tell you why.


I hate scary stuff (seriously, why do people enjoy feeling terror and seeing others in pain? I understand it not.)


Trick or treating irritates me on the receiving end (please stop scaring my dogs with knocking; our lights are off and there is no candy here) and it kind of skeeves me out on the pursuing-end (even pre-Covid, standing in line on a crowded city block to smile and nod at strangers sitting on lawn chairs drinking beer yelling BOOOOO at my 4yo wasn’t exactly my shining moment of the autumn).


The skankification of costumes bums me out, too (like, why do we need a sexy pizza rat? Sexy poop emoji? Who have we become?).


And yet, I have a supernatural adoration for this holiday, and look forward to it maybe above all others.


I love costumes - especially quirky conceptual ones (shock of shocks). I love autumnal decorations - cover every surface of my home in tiny pumpkins, surround me with all the fireplace cinnamon candle like we’re doing a seance in The Craft, shower me in hay, I’ll even take garlands of bats that remind me of cold October nights with icy stars and chilled black skies.

But more than that I love the mood of Halloween.


I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I sat down one morning with my coffee and started to do a little research on the actual history of the holiday.


Now I get it.

Halloween, at its heart, is about one thing: the thinning of the veil between this world, and the “beyond.” As we dissolve the boundary between our everyday reality and the mystical other-world that is ever-present but to which we are normally blind, we are able to connect more easily with spirit. Mischief makers come and tinker in our world. We share stories of the dead to honor and connect with them.


The idea of the “lifting of the veil,” or raising the thin curtain that separates our normal daily world from the magical, mystical "other" world beyond, is one that I have carried with me for most of my life.

It’s one of those things that I experienced as a child and didn’t have words for; I didn’t know what a thing in the world that other people experienced, too. Like I used to call depression “feeling sticky” because I didn’t know it was a thing, and my own child lexicon seemed to describe it to a T.


Lifting the Veil.


I felt this when I would get drunk as a teenager and walk up a deserted Park Avenue in Manhattan, lights blinking in high rise windows, the tittering conversations of parties floating down with cigarette ash from terraces above me, thinking about all these lives happening simultaneously, each person their own sun, with friends and lovers orbiting them like the earth and moon; each person the central character in their own story, each person moving forward in their life chapter in this same night, unaware that I exist down here, unaware of everybody else in this whole city who they can’t see who, for themselves, is just as central, important, unaware.


I felt this when I was standing in my college apartment, with the white and black checkered kitchen floor - like those retro 1950’s diners that were popular in the 1990s. While I stirred the basmati rice someone - I can’t even remember who had called - told me on my Blackberry that my friend Alex had passed away from cancer at 19.


Before the grief hit, before the sadness and the anger, a pause.


A moment of silence and no movement, of vibration and energy and stillness, where I could feel the veil lift.


It revealed to me in that moment how insignificant all the things I worried about all day were. The color of my shirt; the calories in that pasta; the way someone looked at me over the classroom table.


It revealed to me how close death and the other side are, every day; just brushing our sleeves with their cool translucent arms, passing in the hallway, gently bumping each other in the passageway between subway platforms.


I felt like this the first time I gave Reiki, and finally had a name for the healing waves that I used my hands to administer to my guts when I had yet another ulcerative colitis flare (which I've had since I was 12).


I had been doing Reiki for 18 years before I had a name for it. As I lay my hands on my classmate during my first training, I felt my head get heavy and my chin hit my chest. I could feel warmth and heaviness flowing from my shoulders down through the palms of my hands.


I had the pushing urge to move my hands to their calf, the same pressure that builds in your muscles when you have the urge to turn over in your sleep. I let my hands glide kindly and intuitively over this stranger’s body, realizing that this sixth sense was inside me all the time, rarely accessed, always bubbling close to the surface.

Realizing how close the “other side” is can be scary. Magical. Empowering. Confusing. Disorienting. Freeing.


What is that other side for you?


Maybe it’s your intuition?


Maybe it’s knowing the solution to problems that feel insurmountable?


Maybe it’s spirit, the presence of spiritual help, connection, love?


Maybe it’s realizing that everything is kind of made up: we see circumstances as facts, we see the temporary as permanent, we build everything around ideas created by people we don't even know who have never heard of us, don't care about us. Realizing that there is no one way to do anything, and that most of the rules we follow are breakable and totally made up anyway?

So today, as we prepare for Halloween and settle into the cool twinkling mysticism of autumn, I have designed an activity for you to help you “lift the veil,” and connect with your own intuition in a fresh way.


For each of us, there are different ways that we can lift the veil and connect with the “other side.”


For some people, it’s meditating. For others, it’s using a substance to alter their consciousness.


For me, I find that writing puts me in touch with a slightly non-normal version of reality, a world of imagination and intuition, channeling and creativity that feels slightly removed from my everyday existence. Reiki puts me in this place. Giving birth put me in this place. Sadly, the death of someone I know puts me in this place.


For this activity, I’ve created a somatic experience for you. What is this, and why?


A somatic activity is one that involves your body, and helps you to access information held in your body that you might not be otherwise aware of on a regular basis.


Here’s my favorite definition of the moment from Andrea Bell:

“I define somatic mindfulness as the ability to step back from what your nervous system is telling you. You step back, observe it, feel every bit of it. Then you consciously decide what you want to do instead of automatically falling into long-standing patterns and the behavior they dictate.”


When you are given guidance for how to tune into different parts of your body and ask questions, and listen to what comes up, you will start to learn that there is a ton of information stored in your body that can be helpful in being more intentional on a day to day basis.


I’m not talking about memories being stored in your hips (although some folks do feel this is true for them). Let me give you a more concrete example:

  • close your eyes,
  • put one hand one your chest, and
  • one hand on your belly

Now, focus your attention on those spots. Then, think about having a conversation with someone you really dislike.


Did you notice anything in your body? In those two spots?


Now, imagine having a conversation with someone you love. Did you notice any sensation in your body? Was it different?


This is a simple example, but it shows how our bodies react to the world around us, how they embody our instincts, our emotions, our preferences and dislikes - if we start to notice the language of our body and learn to listen to what it’s telling us as we move through the day, it can be like a friend whispering in your ear telling you more about yourself - how you feel, what you want, what you dislike, what you need, what you know.


So, for this activity, I will have you doing something simple and physical that gets you to enact, with your body, being within the veil, and then having the veil lifted - or, living everyday life with our natural blinders on, then removing those blinders to see more clearly the magic that is always around us.


Going through these motions - and physically changing the posture and shape of your body - will help you to more deeply understand what “lifting the veil” means for you, what you are getting out of living with the veil drawn closed, and what might lie on the other side, should you wish to access it.


You can do this activity by yourself, or with a partner. I filmed this little video guiding you through the activity so you can do it along with me. You can also find the instructions written out below.


I made this free printable, which is an Activity Guide and Reflection Notebook, to help you record all your answers, so it’s easier to focus on what comes up and not worry about where to write it down.


If you’d like to do it with a partner, I created this free printable activity guide, which is for Partners & Groups, so you can have all the steps laid out for you.

Lifting the Veil Activity: Directions


Get a scarf, blanket, or coat. Find a comfortable place to sit. Block out 10 minutes where you will be uninterrupted.


First, close your eyes and ground yourself. Take a few big breaths in and out to help you leave whatever tasks you were doing behind, just for a moment, and center into this activity and be present with it.


Put your printable (or a blank sheet of paper) next to you. I would suggest recording your answers to the questions rather than trying to write them down immediately. I would speak them aloud, and then play back your recording and write it down once you’ve gone through all three questions. But, you could also go ahead and write them down after each stage.


Wrap the blanket around your shoulders, and then pull it over your head so you are completely covered, like a child inside a little fort or playing hide and seek. Give yourself a moment to acclimate to being inside here.


If you'd like to see me do this as an example, head over to the video guide of this activity and fast forward to 3:43 to see me do it.


Now ask yourself:

  • What do you notice about how your body feels?
  • What thoughts and feelings pop up?

Say the answers out loud, or write them down.






Now, lift the blanket and come back out into the light, uncovered.
As soon as you come out, ask yourself:

  • What’s the first thing that comes to mind?
  • How does your body feel?

Say the answers out loud, or write it down.


You will now go under the “veil” for a second time.
Once you're settled, ask yourself:

How does your creativity feel in here?

Say the answer out loud, or write it down.






Now, lift the blanket and come back out into the light, uncovered.
As soon as you come out, ask yourself:

How does your creativity feel out here?

Say it out loud, or write it down.


You will now go under the “veil” for a third time.
Once you're settled inside the veil, ask yourself a question you want to know the answer to, about your future:

What answer do you hear, if any?

Say it out loud, or write it down.






Now, lift the blanket and come back out into the light, uncovered.
As soon as you come out, ask yourself the same question:

What answer do you hear?

Say it out loud, or write it down.


Amazing - now, before we move into some work with our Clarity Deck, I want to ask you a few reflection questions, while this experience is still fresh for you. (These are next on your free printable too, if you want to just follow along there.)


Ask yourself:

  • What do you notice about how you feel inside the veil? And outside the veil?

  • What are some of the big differences in your thoughts, and how you feel?

  • Anything surprising, or interesting to you?


Alright friends - now, on to the juicy work with our Clarity Deck!


If you have your own deck, I invite you to spread them out, close your eyes, and pull two at random. It’s always amazing to see which cards find you - even though I created them I still don’t know how this magic works, it’s always uncanny how the cards you draw are the exact ones you need at this moment!


If you don’t have your own
Clarity Deck, you can use mine :). I chose two cards for you and will reveal them below.


So, for this portion I’d like you to set a timer for one minute, and write whatever comes to mind when you read the prompt.

Then, I’ll show you the card I chose.
Write for another minute in response to the question on the card.

Ready? Great, let's do it!


Prompt #1:
What are you getting out of staying inside the veil?


Write for one minute without stopping.


Now, if you have your own Clarity Deck, take one of the cards you drew and write your response to the Question you chose.

Again, write for one minute, whatever comes to your mind, without stopping - there are no right answers.



If you don't have your own Clarity Deck, you can either head to the video of this activity and fast forward to 9:23 to see me reveal the card I chose for you, or scroll down to see it here.


Alright - time to move on to the next question!

Prompt #2:
What would you have to let go in order to live with your veil lifted?


Write for one minute without stopping.


If you have your own Clarity Deck, take the other card you drew and write your response to the Question you chose.

Again, write for one minute, whatever comes to your mind, without stopping - there are no right answers.

If you don't have your own Clarity Deck, you can either head to the video of this activity and fast forward to 10:09 to see me reveal the second card I chose for you - or, scroll down to see it here.


OK my friends - whew!


You did a ton here; you explored the ways you live on either side of “the veil” and how these experiences manifest in your body, impact your intuition, and affect your creativity.


You listened deeply to your body, and to your own inner knowing.


You questioned what purpose is served by keeping your veil drawn around you.


You probed the possibility of life with a veil lifted, what that would feel like and what it would create for you.

After all this, what stands out to you the most as your biggest take-away? I’d love to hear it in the comments. And don’t forget, you can also do this activity again with a friend, as I modified it for partner or group work and put it in this free friend activity printable.


Thanks for getting spooky with me today, and I look forward to hearing how this resonated with you!

BLOG POST SUMMARY:

  • Halloween, at its heart, is about one thing: the thinning of the veil between this world, and the “beyond.” As we dissolve the boundary between our everyday reality and the mystical other-world that is ever-present but to which we are normally blind, we are able to connect more easily with spirit. Mischief makers come and tinker in our world. We share stories of the dead to honor and connect with them.
  • Realizing how close the “other side” is can be scary. Magical. Empowering. Confusing. Disorienting. Freeing.
  • “I define somatic mindfulness as the ability to step back from what your nervous system is telling you. You step back, observe it, feel every bit of it. Then you consciously decide what you want to do instead of automatically falling into long-standing patterns and the behavior they dictate.” - Andrea Bell
  • Follow the activity using this free printable,which is an Activity Guide and Reflection Notebook for an individual, or
  • Use this free printable activity guide, which is for Partners & Groups, so you can have all the steps laid out for you.
Justine Haemmerli
Justine Haemmerli

Educator, Consultant, Founder of Girls Gone Happy


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