We are quickly approaching my absolute favorite holiday of the year….Samhain, or Halloween as it is more commonly known. Samhain is one of the cross quarter dates, falling directly between the Autumnal Equinox & the Winter Solstice. In the Celtic Wheel of the Year it is the beginning or New Year. It is a time of mystery and shadow, a time betwixt & between the worlds…when the veil separating the world of the living, the world of the dead is at its thinnest.
Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve is the name most commonly used to refer to the holiday that falls on October the 31st. In the culture of modern day United States it is celebrated with costumes, candy and everything a bit scary. I love Halloween…first of all I am a self confessed costume geek, so any chance to put on my finery I am there. I often have a series of costumes over the holiday, because one is just not enough. I also love candy, yes I truly do…But if I were to take away all the costumes and sugary delight I would still find this to be my favorite holiday of all. For Samhain (the original name for Halloween) is really about honoring our Beloved Dead. Giving thanks and remembrance to those who have entered the land of the Dead before us. It is a time when the spirits of the dead are know to be closest to us. To the Celts this was a time of reverence and homage as well as a time when the local folk tread lightly for fear of offending the spirits. Many of the traditions we celebrate to this day got their start in the rituals of Samhain & the Celtic people who gave honor and respect to their dead and the fae spirits at this time.
I love seeing how things have carried over, from one culture to another, the traditions of modern day Halloween & their origins in the Celtic Samhain. For example the jack o latern…got it’s start in Ireland where they were originally carved out of turnips & beets. They were carved with faces to honor the spirits and at the same time ward them away. They did not seek to ward away their own loved ones, but as the Veil is particularly thin at this time they wanted to make sure that lost spirits did not show up uninvited. The Irish brought this tradition with them when they came to the United States & with a little adaption of course to the pumpkin our Halloween Jack o Lantern was born. If you really want to dig into the juicy business of where things came from I recommend you read “Halloween” spells, recipes and customs by Silver Ravenwolf or hit the google search engine.
My personal celebration of Samhain & Halloween is a month long affair with costume parties, ritual celebration, personal ceremony of honoring and of course treats. I start my embrace of Halloween pretty much as soon as I see the calendar say October. This is a powerful time of year for the Dead and as a Medium that means a busy time of year for me. I do a lot of public events allowing people the opportunity to witness and experience personally the realness of the Spirit world. First and foremost this is a time of honoring for me. I start by setting up a family alter with pictures of my Beloved Dead…my Grammy Brown, my father Richard, my doorman Adam, and the rest of my spirit family. I place pictures & items of remembrance on the Alter so that I am thinking about them and honoring them every day. This is a simple tradition and one I encourage you to do. You will not only find it heartwarming, but it blends in with the traditional decorations of Halloween nicely.
CREATING A FAMILY ALTER FOR SAMHAIN
If you do not have an alter space in your home already, no worries its super simple. Find a shelf, counter, end table or top of a book case. Clean it of all debris, paperwork, odds and ends. Now go collect pictures, jewelry, and mementos that you have of your loved ones who have passed. This is easier done with small items, but not to worry…if you have a quilt made by your great grandmother, pull it out and put it on your bed or couch for the holiday season. Once you have collected your pictures and family items set them up on your shelf, arrange them so that you like looking at them. I like to add a candle to my alter. I light it each day for a few moments and give thanks for all who have walked before me, my ancestors and guides who have made my life easier or more full from knowing them. Some cultures will have you leave items of food as an offering for the dead, although I find that this has its purpose it is not necessary. What is necessary is the honor and love that you put into your alter. In seeking connection to ourselves it is important that we look at that which we came from.
I spend a lot of time in ceremony during the Samhain season. This year my sister Sandy & I will be offering an extended weekend of Spirit Communication @ the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, VT on the weekend of November 13th, 14th & 15th. For details check out the events page for the Resort at lakemoreyresort.com I spend a lot of time helping others make contact with their Beloved Dead and Ancestors during the Halloween season, as important as I find this, it is also important for me to honor my Beloved Dead, as well. That I save for Samhain/Halloween itself…
MAGIC AND PLAY
Costumes, revelry and a bit of indulgence also play a key part in this holiday. As I said earlier I am a serious costumer…I don’t just wear a costume, I become the character. Whether I head to a friends party or go celebrate with the natives of the Kingdom, I will most certainly be celebrating. I love to work manifestation into my Halloween happenings and often the field of play is where this happens. I like to take the opportunity to let loose of the norm and play with the possibilities that are abundant at this time for Samhain/Halloween is also a harvest holiday. It is the 3rd harvest holiday (Lughnassah, Mabon & Samhain) and is considered the New Years Eve of the Celtic Wheel of the Year. Like New Years eve in modern culture it is a time to make commitments to oneself, and propel our dreams into the betwixt & between, that which has not yet become. Weaving dreams into our world is easy to do when you have a dance floor and some good music. Just hold onto your thought and move to the rhythm. Know that dreams we weave at Samhain will have time to gestate over the long winter. Just like the Earth we are part of we will be moving into a time of dreaming, a time when our outward movements are subdued and our imaginations are ripe.