Contemplating Halloween or Samhain and The Celtic New Year

samhain CollageLook.  Maybe it’s because our family has experienced a recent death and a few close calls or maybe it’s the leaves blowing off the trees this time of year…. evidence of death and transition everywhere.

And today being All Hallows Eve as I write this,  it seems to me more-so this year than any previous, that what we’re really doing by dressing up our kids and making pumpkin faces and putting pictures of ghouls in library windows (a recent experience of mine) is really all about this subconscious cry into the darkness, “Death we do not fear you!”  We make fun of you and laugh at you and gorge on sweets to help ourselves feel better about it all!  

The more serious minded and religious will call this time All Saints [Souls] Day time and honor those who have… well, all the ‘faithful departed’.

‘…. may the faithful departed, through the mercy of god rest in peace. amen’ –– part of the religious liturgy.

And then on the other hand, and I’m knowingly repeating myself now, without the liturgical point-of-view we use humor and ridicule to confront the power of death and subconsciously teach our children to do the same.  Its just fun holiday we may say and that’s most of us–we do things just because the neighbors do and without really looking more deeply into the reason why.

I’ll never forget the irony of seeing all these Baptist Christian mom’s out walking the town streets in the dark dressed up for trick or treating in the attire of the costumed Halloween witch. “Give their kids some candy and maybe the scary Christian witches will go away!”  LOL

I think Halloween might just be the twisted joke of some who refocused the holiday to  make light of the Gaelic festival Samhain in which cleansing and protection rituals were/are performed as well as divination. The word Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”) comes from the Gaelic “Samhuin”.  It is said that at sunset on Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The meaning being that the old year has passed, the harvest has been gathered, cattle and sheep have been brought in from the fields, and the leaves have fallen from the trees. The earth slowly begins to die around us.

If you’ve had a loved one die in the past year, this is the perfect night to celebrate their memory and/or to do divination or message work.

Anyway, my point is that it feels so much like a time to go within and be quiet this time of year and all the noise and chaos of trick or treating and the partying is such like a disassociation.  Sort of like people watching TV or texting on exercise equipment.  We’re so good at that–denying what is really happening by unplugging from it and doing something else entirely and completely.

“I’m not really going to pay attention to my body when I exercise, I’m going to try to forget that and text.”  And, “I’m not going to honor the ancestors or contemplate the ending of the year and look squarely at death and the transitional nature of life, I’m doing to dress up in a costume, go to a party and pretend death doesn’t happen.”

Right?  You see the point that I am making?  Oh, I didn’t give it a 2nd thought either when I was a young mother with little ones–you are in Rome in a way and do as the Romans.  But when the noise of the world and the chaos of the kids quiet in the reflective years of maturity, you contemplate these things. And even blog about them!

Yeah, unfortunately,  I live in proverbial Rome and if I have to, will hand out candy;  but would prefer to spend the evening very quietly as have been my Halloweens of the past.

It was such that in the mountains the kids and parents trick or treated in the main street of town.  Homes there were few and far between.

And here where I reside now, until this summer, my back facing apartment location didn’t entice kids to knock on the door. And I could meditate and do divination in quiet.

This year may be different because the apartment that I rent with my sister is front-facing and the kids will definitely come around.

HalloweenCollageBakersvilleI am remembering the mountains today as I often do and in doing so must say that in the ole mountain town where I used to live,  the effigies of departed ancestors hanging from the street poles were awesome!   If that didn’t have ya’ contemplating the transitions of life, nothing else would!

Hanging on the poles that way would remind me of “the burning days”–all kids of stuff those effigies trigger within.

BOTTOM LINE:  I say, eat candy, dress up, have fun but don’t fully disassociate from the old Celtic/Gaelic meanings in favor of a more commercialized and secularized celebration.

That’s all I’m sayen’. Meditate on the meaning; be aware of what you’re really doing! Death is not to be feared, it’s a part of life.  And as I said to my daughter earlier this week, quoting the Jedi Code, “There is no death.  There is the Force.”  And to the Celtic among us, “Happy New Year!”

 

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