Darkness lingers as the nights grow longer and the season shifts towards winter. At this shadowy, spooky time of year, thoughts turn to the ghosts and ghouls associated with Halloween, which is on October 31.
Day of the Dead
Celebrate Halloween the spiritual way
Darkness lingers as the nights grow longer and the season shifts towards winter. At this shadowy, spooky time of year, thoughts turn to the ghosts and ghouls associated with Halloween, which is on October 31. This day can feel charged with energy; it is a time when the veil between our world and the spirit world is said to be at its thinnest. A day when supernatural creatures walk the earth and spirits return to the world: it is the day of the dead.
Halloween, which is a shortening of the phrase 'All Hallow's Eve', has become a popular festival across the world. In Spanish speaking nations it's called Dia de Muertos, which literally means 'the day of the dead'. In many countries Halloween has become very commercialised and its true meaning has become lost. But the fun of dressing up in a scary witch, werewolf or vampire costume conceals the deeper spiritual essence of this ancient feast day. Originally, Halloween replaced a pre-Christian celebration called Samhain - running from dusk of October 31st until dawn of November 1st. Today it remains one of the most important dates in the Pagan calendar.
The Celtic fire festival of Samhain marks the end of summer and the approach of winter. Hundreds of years ago, this date was the time of year to collect the harvest and preserve food for the cold months to come. Bonfires were lit across the country, perhaps as a focus for celebration and also as a sign of the land being cleansed, welcoming in the energy of the new season.
There's nothing sinister about Samhain, it is indeed a festival of the dead, but this merely means honouring and remembering people who were dear to you and who have now passed away. Rituals of remembrance were probably performed to remember the ancestors of a town or settlement. Families might set a place at their table so the spirit of a departed loved one could feel welcomed once again. This may sound strange to us but Pagans saw death as just another phase of existence, not necessarily the end of a person's journey.
What Are Witches?
The image of a cackling old crone casting spells is entwined with the modern idea of Halloween. But this pantomime version of witchcraft was spread about by the clergy of younger religions to discredit older beliefs. Witches were the healers and the psychics of the past. But the skill that some witches (also known as cunning women or wise women) had with plants and herbs for curing disease often saw them fall under suspicion, because their knowledge seemed like magical powers to the uninitiated. In the same way, people with psychic ability were also treated with suspicion as their gift was inexplicable. Just like psychics, the witches of the past were considered communicators between the physical and spiritual world.
Echo ancient traditions to make your Halloween meaningful
1) Remember loved ones
Sit quietly for half an hour during Halloween, calling to mind a person or people who were precious to you, but who have now passed into the next life. Share memories about them with friends and family, or just quietly remember in your mind. Think of the positive impact they made upon your life. What was the most important thing this person taught you? Look at photos of the person and remember the happy times you enjoyed together.
2) Call on Elemental Spirits
The power of nature spirits, also known as elemental beings, such as dwarves, brownies, elves and fairies is thought to be at its peak at this magical time of year.
Ask for their blessings on your home, the world around you and your life for the year ahead. Light a candle as you make your wish. Always ensure what you wish for is positive, not selfish, and will harm none.
3) Release the past
Samhain is the Pagan New Year. A time for you to think about your successes and failures of the past months so you can build upon the good things and change the bad. Once you have thought about how you can improve, you should let go of any past hurts and disappointments. The only way to move into the future is to release the past.
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