Hallowe’en By Any Other Name
It would seem remiss to be walking a Pagan spiritual path without making a post about Hallowe’en.
All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain, Harvest Home, Shadowfest, Ancestor Night… the Wheel of the Year turns, and the day after Hallowe’en, we celebrate Dia de los Muertos, All Soul’s Day, Day of the Dead… It is the time of year where The Wild Hunt races across the sky, and the veil between the worlds of the living and the deceased is at it’s thinnest. In the Wiccan and Celtic spiritual traditions, November 1st marks New Year’s Day -aka- the Witch’s New Year. Clearly there are many cultures across the globe who observe this seasonal shift into winter with similar reverence. As most of the northern hemisphere experiences an energetic shift with the drawing-in of resources and life, it makes sense that we reflect back and take time to honour those who have slipped from this realm.
As my spiritual awareness and understanding grows, so my appreciation for what makes this time of year sacred evolves along with it. In the past few years, I have grown tired of the customary costumed gathering, and have been searching for a deeper personal connection to the energies of Hallowe’en. While I do not celebrate November 1st as the turning of the New Year, the idea of honouring our ancestors at this time of year has found deep resonance within my soul. Remembering those who have already risen from the Spiral Path of this existence to travel the next can be a simple yet deeply moving form of ritual. I have come to appreciate the idea of inviting our ancestors to once again sit with us at our table, and enjoy this physical realm, as explained in this passage by Z. Budapest:
Allow your candles burn down to the stub,
Open the door slightly after sundown for ten minutes or so.
Put your milk and honey on the table and lay out the pictures of your ancestors.
Meditate on their faces.
Feel their presence.
Then eat something they loved,
Invite them to taste with your tastebuds,
And drink deeply from a chalice of red wine.
Mediate and channel.
Say aloud thoughts that pop into your mind.
After your ritual, pour the rest of the wine out on the holy dirt.
Give the food left overs to your animals.
Light white candles anew for gratitude.
Blessed be the night, and blessed be the new year.
May we enjoy our bodies without illness,
May we be protected against natural calamities,
And against the rage of men.
Rest your eyes on this image, The Tree of Life twisting, dancing.
I am deeply moved by this simple and honourable ritual. Carving out the space to connect with those who inhabit the spirit world as part of an annual tradition when the energies are drawing inward not only feels right, but supported by the turning of the Wheel. I may even end up addressing October 31st by one of its more ancient monikers – Ancestor Night seems has a nice ring to it.
Whatever you call it, and however you celebrate it, I wish you all the joy and reverence you seek this Hallowe’ekend!