By Deb Avery
The wheel turns once more as it brings the festival that has lived on throughout thousands of years.
No matter how you celebrate, it is all about gratitude, performing rituals and honoring the passing of the seasons, our ancestors and loved ones.
There is so much tradition in the festivals and celebration this time of year. They are numerous and varied from Samhain to Día de los Muertose. It reminds me a lot of the motto for the United States: E pluribus unum: Out of many; One.
As the leaves, in their glorious colors of Autumn, fall slowly and dance lazily in the wind, we feel a pull to celebrate the spiritual teachings of nature. The harvest has come and gone. Winter with its dark, cold days and nights, draws nigh.
It’s a perfect time of the year to gather close to the warmth of the bonfires perhaps dancing and singing for the joy of our harvest, be it from nature or from the fruits of our labor. It’s growing darker with each passing day and we feel the need to let go of things that no longer service us, our past, and all things that weigh down the heart. There is an almost universal knowledge of the thinning of the veil that separates this world from the world beyond—a thinning that allows us glimpses of those on the other side and brings about an aura of mysticism and magic.
The roots of all these rituals, festivals and celebrations stem from the ancient Pagan rituals of old. Just as the roots of Christmas are firmly planted in the ancient soil of our Pagan ancestors.
Our strong, fierce and brave ancestors lived on and for the land. They were the original environmentalists and nature lovers. They lived and moved with the rhythm of the changing seasons and were connected deeply with the Earth and all that dwelt upon her.
To me, this is sorely lacking in our modern world. We have technology to do so many wonderful and amazing things on a daily basis. But we are often lacking in the knowledge of how to enjoy the Earth we live on, the song of the birds, the lazy dance of a falling leaf, or the sound of the water as it trickles down a woodland stream.
We’ve forgotten a lot that came naturally to our ancestors.
Many of us no longer grow our own food. We’ve forgotten how to nurture the soil and feel the power of the Earth between our fingers—the magic—the potential of the simple earth beneath our hands and feet. Perhaps that is what we were missing when we created “Trick or Treat.” We knew that we needed to be celebrating, but we just forgot what it was we were supposed to celebrate.
There is nothing wrong with the modern ritual of going door to door in costumes asking for candy. Psychologists even say it’s therapeutic for children to wear mask of scary creatures for the night. It supposedly makes them feel less afraid and more secure.
I always took my son and let him enjoy to his fullest the modern Halloween activities. But afterward we would sit by the bonfire, leave out food and drink for our departed loved ones and invite them to visit as we talk about the coming new year.
For those of us who have Celtic roots, which is a lot of us who hail from Europe, this is seen as the time of the “new year.”
It’s also meant to be a time of rest and a slower pace of life. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and determine our path in the upcoming year as we bundle up and prepare for the darkness ahead while finding comfort in the warmth and harvest around us.
Samhain/Halloween has always been a very spiritual time for me. The lessons to be learned from nature this time of the year are many. It’s a time to learn to emulate the leaves on trees—and let go. It’s a time to understand the deep message of the trees as they bare themselves knowing the long, hard winter is ahead. Yet they stand unabashed and unashamed as they reveal themselves to all.
This Samhain, Halloween or All Hallows, may you too find the spiritual lessons that are manifesting all around us this beautiful season. May the children enjoy the festivities with their masks and candy. May we all enjoy the modern conveniences and rituals.
But may we all make room for deeply spiritual roots of the old ways.
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Editor: Dana Gornall
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