Over the centuries the Christian church has replaced many of the pagan customs and gods with their own Rituals and saints. Samhuin (pronounced Sow-win) was replaced by All Hallows or all saints day which was then shortened to Halloween. At this time in Australia, we celebrate Beltane.
As the winter months approached in days of old, our ancestors would look forward to this season with some trepidation as it was never really known if everyone in their community would survive the cold of the northern hemisphere – or whether there would be sufficient food to last the distance. The very young and old were at the highest risk.
Cattle was slaughtered and the meat salted and stored to feed the community over winter. Only the best breeders were bedded in barns with sufficient provisions for them to last. Crops were harvested and seed stored in readiness for planting in spring.
Herbs were collected and stored for food and medicine and everything was in readiness for the upcoming ceremony where it was said the veil between this world and that was thinnest. A time when communicating with the dead and departed relatives was considered most congenial.
They were a superstitious lot. The Elders, in their wisdom, designated three days leading up to Samhuin for people to let off a little steam before they would be confined to the indoors for up the three months in some places.
This period of disorganized chaos is where the custom of Halloween probably began. The youth would dance in the streets, knocking on doors for gifts of food and generally run a muck around town. Lanterns were placed in windows and doorways to ward off evil spirits.
People would play practical jokes on Halloween such as moving signposts and gates and animals, and sometimes people I dare say, all in good humor, but mostly to confuse the devas who could be up to some kind if mischief themselves at this time of the year This eventually became the trick or treating which it has developed into today.
Samhain and is one of the fire festivals of the Celtic wheel and after the ritual had been performed a log from the ceremonial fire would be taken inside to light the hearth fire. The ceremonies and rituals they performed were to honour the dead and to communicate with their ancestors to ask advice for the coming season.
The other time of the pagan year when the veil is considered to be thin is at Beltane – the festival which heralds in the Summer on the opposite side of the wheel Beltane is a time of celebrating the fullness of life and love and union; of dancing and making love. Couples would dance around the may poll (symbolic of the world tree reaching for the wisdom of the higher realms, ) before stepping through the twin fires to be blessed.
These Sabbaths were observed for people to align their energies with the natural flow of the seasons and most importantly their own inner rhythms. Cycles within cycles. This Halloween, at this turning point in our evolution, as the madness surrounds you and your neighbourhood is filled with children running amuck with sugar overload spend some time reflecting on your ancestors and what it would have meant to them.
Light a candle and call upon the wisdom of your ancestors, who have existed and contributed to your personal and the global consciousness of our time, and ask yourself what it is that you need to let go of this winters eve. Ask them what seeds you need to prepare for planting when spring rolls around next season and how and what preparation is needed for these new beginnings to take root. by © Druid Priestess Jyoti Eagles