This weekend is Halloween, the modern reinvention of All Soul’s Day, which happened to fall around Samhain, an ancient Celtic festival in celebration of the harvest and of the new year. Bonfires were traditionally lit to mark the occasion, and it’s with some degree of irony that Bonfire Night takes place around this time of year no less than five days later.
Although Guy Fawkes has little to do with Halloween, the association of bonfires is the one thing these holidays have in common. But for Samhain, bonfires were lit as both a purification rite and to offer up sacrifices of food for the gods into the flames.
It was also believed that this event marked the occasion when the veils between the worlds were thinnest, and thus people could be able to best communicate with the dead. The association of all things paranormal and hence creepy has stuck to this day and now lives on in costumes, folklore, and trick o’ treakers.
As a pagan, I celebrate Samhain and its varied associations both with the dead and with honoring that time of year when the veils are thinnest. I like to take the time to remember what is past, look ahead to the future, and give thanks to the blessings I’ve received while discarding the old and the unwanted elements in my life. It’s a mixed time of year, both in remembering losses and honoring gains. While some of us may gain candy and lose sleep over horror movies, others are thinking of other gains and losses.
What do you normally do around this time of year? Whether it’s Bonfire Night, Samhain, Halloween, or just “I like to watch scary movies and eat candy”, let me know. I’m always curious to hear how others are spending this time. 🙂
Love & Magic,