Samhain is the time of jack-o-lanterns, bonfires, Fae, Spirits, Familiars, and Guardians. The time of divination, ancestral connection, and remembrance. And, as the original Pagan New Year, it is also the time for reflections. Can you feel those Otherworld energies riding the wind, as it blows in the colder months? They call us to create, to dream, and to transform!
Samhain begins at dusk on October 31st in the Northern Hemisphere (April 30th in the Southern Hemisphere). The ancient Celtic communities of Europe celebrated it as a fire festival that likely lasted three days. Of course, not much can be known about the peoples we now call the Celts, nor the many other Indigenous European tribes of ancient times. This is due to the historical erasure of their cultures from colonization and conversion to Catholicism/Christianity. This erasure is what later created the term Halloween (from the phrase All Hallows’ Eve).
When the Catholic church was desperate to convert the Celts, they designated November 1st as All Hallows’ Day/All Saints’ Day. They did this so that the continuing Pagan celebrations could be attributed to the Catholic religion instead. The Catholic church also used this scheme to convert other Indigenous cultures in the world, who felt and celebrated the spiritual changes of this time of year as well, such as the Aztecs in Mexico. This lead to the current celebration of Día De Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead).
Reconnecting with our Ancestors has been difficult for both Cristophe and me. So much of our family histories have been lost or purposefully erased. The violence of American colonization destroyed my mother’s family history. We can trace back my father’s family history further in European records. But, the Indigenous traditions and knowledge of those ancestors were buried even longer ago. Few truths survived hidden in code throughout the many generations of witch hunts. Times of extreme persecution that turned the knowledge into twisted superstition. Much like the stereotypical Halloween image of a “witch” with disheveled hair, overgrown nails, a hoarse scraggly voice, bumpy discolored skin, and crooked fingers, nose, back, and legs. Imagery that is rooted in the physical harm done to those who were accused of witchcraft through inhumane incarceration and many forms of torture.
It’s hard when your more recent ancestors chose to not only give-up, but entirely erase their roots in favor of creating their own empirical colonizing culture. This is true for all of Cristophe’s family. But, thanks to the unearthing research of many traditional medicine workers, spiritual practitioners, and environmental anthropologists/historians, some of our ancestral knowledge about connecting with the life forces of Nature, such as food, water, and energy, have been returned to us. It is a most welcomed time of progression through reconnection in the World today.
Cristophe and I continue to celebrate this Holy Day as Samhain in honor of our shared Celtic heritage. We decorate our seasonal altar with pictures and remembrance items of our passed loved ones, humans and non-human animals alike. I made one of my art projects in high school into a collage of pictures of all of my family members and pets that had passed on before that time in my life, including back to all of my great grandparents on both sides of my family. That’s the furthest back I could go, but I was happy to at least have access to pictures of them. That artwork has remained the center piece of my yearly Remembrance Altar ever since.
Once Cristophe entered into my life, we added what pictures and items we could find from his family. And over the years, we added pictures of our fur-babies that have now passed on as well. This may sound like a solemn tradition, but I actually look forward to seeing the beautiful faces of my passed loved ones every year at this time. Each one brings back the happy memories I shared with them. In this way, we celebrate the joy they each brought into this world. We get to feel their love again, as the memories reconnect their souls to ours through the veil between their world and ours, which is at its thinnest during Samhain. Not to mention reconnecting with their souls by preparing super tasty traditional foods and drinks to share with them as offerings on the altar.
May the transformative energies of this season ignite your inner flame to grow, create, and manifest! Let the voices and lessons of your Ancestors, Guardians, and Familiars guide you. May you feel the strength of their love, as they feel the warmth of yours. Let their support revitalize your courage to be and do what is right for your true self. Share that love with the World to nurture healthy community, as we all grow together. Let your inner child remind you of the joys of play, bringing peace and banishing fears. Regain that magical connection to Nature and to the love of those that never truly left us. Be Blessed.