How to make Halloween a more spiritual experience, and honour the tradition of Samhain.
Halloween is one of the most popular festivals in the calendar. Last year, UK consumers spent more than £300 million celebrating this spooky date. So it seems that both adults and children can't resist dressing up in a scary costume to mark this most haunting of festivals. But there's a much deeper meaning to this ancient feast day than trick or treating, or partying until dawn in a zombie costume.
Halloween is probably derived from the Celtic fire festival of Samhain. It is a Pagan sacred day, celebrated from sundown on October 31st until dawn on November 1st. It is one of the most important dates in the Pagan calendar. Samhain marks the end of summer. It signifies the coming of winter, when the final harvest was celebrated and supplies were preserved for the cold months ahead.
Samhain is said to be a particularly mystical time of year, when the power of gods and elemental beings, such as elves and fairies, is thought to be at its height. The link between the spirit world and our own world is considered to be at its strongest.
Ancestors are remembered, and places are set at the table to welcome the spirits of departed loved ones back to their families. While this might sound a bit creepy, death considered a transition to another phase of existence, rather than an ending, in Paganism. So spirits of deceased family members were expected to bring blessings rather than provoke shocked shrieks at the dinner table!
Bring a touch of spirituality to your Halloween celebrations
Remember your loved ones
Halloween is the time for remembering friends and family who have passed away. People who were precious to you in life deserve to be remembered everyday. But Halloween is the day of the year when you make an especial point of celebrating the lives of deceased loved ones. Either by yourself, or with other people, light a candle and remember the good things your deceased relative or friend brought to you life. Flick through some old photos of the person you are remembering and share a thought or two about their personality and the memory of happy times together.
A meal with family
Gather your loved ones around you on Halloween and enjoy a family meal together. Now is the time to appreciate those people who are living and are a force for good in your life. Set place at the table for deceased loved ones to let those in spirit know that they are honoured and remembered. Or you can be more discreet about this by just lighting a candle on the table for each deceased loved one. Think about the person for a moment or two as you light the candle.
Trick or Treat?
People who dislike Halloween will usually mention this tradition as their number one bugbear. With continual knocks on the door at night plus annoying or even frightening demands for treats, and the worry that your property might be damaged - it's easy to see why trick or treating is resented. It's a shame this tradition has lost its spiritual edge as it was originally intended to be an exchange of gifts or an exchange of positive energy. Trick or treating probably derives from the medieval custom of 'souling'. This is where wealthy families gave food to poorer people in exchange for prayers. The food offered was often 'soul cakes', made with spices such as cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. People receiving the cakes would pray for the souls of the family's departed relatives. In later years, children would sing or recite a poem in exchange for sweets. Now it's more likely that a gift will be expected in exchange for nothing - the original good intent of the custom has been lost.
*If you go trick or treating with your children this year, offer something in return for the treats. Perhaps the children could offer to wash the neighbour's car the following day, or get some shopping for an elderly neighbour next week.
Review of the Year
Halloween marks the end of the year in the Pagan calendar. So now is a good time to take stock of the events in your life from this year. Set aside half an hour on Halloween to review your year and think about how you can make next year even better. Write down your thoughts.
*What good things have happened for you this year?
*What negative events have occurred?
*How can you build on the good and ensure the bad do not repeat?
*What would you like to have achieved by next Halloween?
-Release the past: let go of any anger or negativity you are holding onto from the events of this year. Visualise it floating away from you, becoming smaller and smaller until it disappears. By releasing your hurt you will free yourself to face the future.
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