I’m seeing a lot of ancestor-related posts as Samhain approaches. If it weren’t for our ancestors we quite literally wouldn’t be here – honoring them is right and good. But I honor my ancestors as part of my daily prayers – it’s the first prayer in my afternoon cycle. Virtually all our group rituals include at least an invitation for the ancestors to join us and offerings to welcome them. So for me, Samhain isn’t ancestor time – that’s every day.
When I think of Samhain I think of the thinning of the veil between the worlds.
In my grand model of the Universe – the constantly revised mental map I use to orient myself and make sense of my experiences – the veil is less a thing and more a condition. It’s possible to travel from this world to the Otherworld at any time. Drumming, dancing, and ritual can facilitate a meditative journey, as can skilled guides. But at certain times and places these journeys are easier than at others.
Traditionally, in-between times and places are most auspicious: twilight, seashores, doorways – neither day nor night, neither land nor sea, neither within nor without. Samhain, which literally means “Summer’s end,” is neither Summer nor Winter. This is an ideal time to journey to the Otherworld to visit with our ancestors, to gather knowledge and wisdom, and to perform divinations.
But if it’s easier for us to cross the veil from this world to the Otherworld at Samhain, then it stands to reason it’s also easier for beings who live in the Otherworld to cross the veil into this world. That idea is supported by lore and tradition – much of which has evolved into our Halloween.
I’ve written before about meeting the spirits of the land and last year I reviewed The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries – and I experienced the fae first hand. If beings that spend most of their time in the Otherworld (or Underhill, assuming those aren’t two names for the same place) find it easier to visit our world, what might they do? What might they tell us? What might they ask – or demand – of us?
I’m always reluctant to assume that supernatural beings take a great interest in human affairs, and I completely reject the idea that they’re here “for us.” The gods are not our parents or our therapists and the fae are not waiting around for some human to give treasure to. If you’ve actually read their stories, you know the fae are more likely to take treasure than to give it.
But we humans dominate this world, and to the extent that the spirits of Nature are connected to it, our actions affect them. What might they say to us, or at least to those of us inclined to hear with more than physical ears?
Come away from your antiseptic bubbles and dig in the dirt.
Come away from your high tech glamours and make your own art.
Come away from your isolation and greet your neighbors – all your neighbors.
Come away from your masters and follow your heart.
Come away from your arrogance and revere our Mother.
Come away from your greed and embrace enough.
Away, come away.
May you have a blessed Samhain and may your journeys beyond the veil be safe and prosperous.