Every year, for the last six or seven years, I have dressed up as a Witch for Halloween. I figure… I already have the well done and expensive pieces at home so why not? It is always amazing to me that most of the children and teachers at the school site just assume I spend a lot of money on Halloween costumes. I had a coworker ask me on Friday what we Wiccans celebrate on Samhain and this challenged me in an unexpected way.
It isn’t that I don’t know the answer, and it isn’t that I was unsure of what to say. Instead I found myself speaking a little bit about my beliefs (a little bit because I was at work) and the priorities in which I expressed my beliefs are much different than they use to be. All the normal (normal to us) stuff came up in our conversation; thinning veil, ancestor reverence, communicating with those who have crossed over, celebration of death and the turning of the wheel. What did not make the priority grid was the stories known to us Wiccans about the death of the God or the crone….. Some things were seriously missing from my short description.
I could write that off as the condensing of a whole practice and theology into a four minute conversation, but I actually think that is says something about my practice and the transition I have continued to endure over the last several years. My connection to my ancestors and the part of my practice that connects to the stories of their lives has taken a bigger role in the last two years than ever before. If someone had asked me prior to this about the meaning of Samhain, I am pretty sure I would have started with the death of the God.
It is interesting how spiritual connection evolves. The transition that we go through as spiritual beings, and as practitioners, can take on a unique pattern that leads to unknown places. Talk about the mysteries!! What sometimes feels like the most important piece to our story can become less important as the mystery of our understanding stretches. This leads me to really look at the changes that have happened in the way I connect to my practice and what things feel genuine today compared to before.
Samhain is a time of year that I celebrate the transition of life to death in many forms. It is a time when the observance of this natural cycle of the journey to death and we seek closure to the many different things we need to release or let go of. Samhain reinforces to me that death is not the end but yet a part of a cycle that allows us to open to what has yet to come. Samhain also gives an opportunity to connect with those who have passed before since the veil between the worlds are at their thinnest.
This time of year breaths opportunity into the overwhelming feelings of loss that deaths leave behind. While Samhain turns the wheel once more towards the darkest time of the year, it is a reminder that the wheel continues to turn and the practice of release allows for healing and growth.
From the very personal world that shapes my spiritual experience, it is important for me to acknowledge that October 31st is also my mother’s birthday and a celebration of her life and her death. Her stories and practices have become a part of my spiritual story. I honor her on this day, as I honor my other ancestors that have gone before. I clean, bless and light the ancestor altar throughout the week before Samhain, and I keep it lit throughout the day. I decorate outside and give candy out to the children that come to my door; This use to be one of my mother’s favorite activities on her birthday. It is a very spiritual practice for me now and allows me to feel closer to her on this day.
Part of my discovery this coming year will include some introspection about the changing levels of importance about elements of my practice, how that fits into the way I see myself as a practitioner, and the road it might take me.
Many blessings to all who celebrated Samhain this weekend, and to those who will celebrate it on the astrological day. May you honor your ancestors, connect to the turning of the wheel as we approach the longest night, and release those things that hold you back. And hopefully we all had a little fun doing it; I know I did.