Saturday, October 27, 2012

Samhain--lifting veils

November marks a time of transition and turning inward. The veil between the worlds thins, dry leaves rustle, cool darkness falls early and we turn inwards as well.   It is a time of leave-taking. Fall migrants ("snow bird" humans and other species) depart for warmer spots on the globe, and trees and animals prepare and slow down.  While acknowledging and taking leave of warmth & light, Samhain is also a time of remembering and welcoming our ancestors and seeing to  "shadow work" as we examine, come to terms with, and/or heal the  darker aspects of our natures.

The "Feast of the Dead"  is also a part of my Celtic heritage. My ancestors left food offerings for the "wandering dead". Today,  we might light  a votive candle, put in in a safe container, and place it in a window to help guide the spirits of ancestors and loved ones home. We might also place an extra chair and place setting, a glass of wine, or even some Halloween candy, for the unseen guest.  Apples, candied and otherwise, have always had a strong association with Samhain/Halloween.

Wonder about wearing costumes,  bobbing for apples or pumpkin carving? My Celtic ancestors buried apples along roadsides and paths for wandering spirits who had no descendants to provide for them. On this night of magic when the veils between the worlds grew thin, people hollowed out turnips and carved them to look like protective spirits, dressed in white (like ghosts), wore disguises made of straw, or dressed as the opposite gender in order to fool the Nature spirits. Crops unharvested by Samhain were left as offerings to the Nature spirits. 

My ancestors built bone-fires (bonfires).  After slaughtering the livestock that would be their food for the winter, they feasted and threw the bones into the fire as offerings for healthy  livestock in the New Year. Hearth fires were also lit from the village bonfire to ensure unity, and the ashes were spread over the harvested fields to protect and bless the land.   It is a time for us as well to do necessary shadow work, and cast aside all the hurts and burdens that we no longer need to carry with us into the future.

Wishing you all a blessed  Third Harvest.

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