This is the last of the three day Pagan holiday called Samhuinn. Most of you know it as Halloween. I’m sure you at least acknowledged Halloween even if you didn’t participate in it. The sad thing is, most of what this holiday is really about has been lost. Whether it is lost through ignorance or design, I don’t know, but it is lost.
Putting the meaning back into Halloween.
Samhuinn is where Halloween came from. When the Christian church began to take over from Paganism, they had a difficult time getting the people to let go of certain holidays. The answer to this problem was to keep the holiday, but change the names (to protect the innocent?) and the focus. The three days of Samhuinn became All Hallowed Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day. Now about the only thing left is All Hallowed Eve, or Halloween.
Very simply, one of the main ideas behind Samhuinn is that it is a thin time. A thin time is when the veil between this word and the world of the dead “thins” and those on either side can walk in the other world. This is what is behind the whole dead rising and spirits walking on Halloween night. It is the dead who have crossed from their world to ours.
Now most people would be a bit concerned about this and people were back in the old days as well. Wearing masks was to keep the dead from recognizing you and taking you away. The fear, however, was not the focus. The focus was on remembering those who have gone before and their part in our lives.
My wife and I celebrated the rite of Samhuinn on Halloween night. After all the trick or treaters were done, we cast our circle and did our ritual. The part that was most meaningful was taking the time to sit and remember out loud our mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. We remembered who they were, good and bad, and how they helped to shape our lives.
At one point we talked about how both of us no doubt had relatives in the past that celebrated Samhuinn in this same way. To think that hundreds of years ago, someone sat with the same signs and offerings, saying much the same things, made us feel connected.
Like Christmas, Halloween has lost much of what it was really about. Instead of spending time remembering our loved ones, and not so loved, that have gone before and how they impacted our lives, we have commercialized it and turned into something that really has no meaning.
Perhaps this coming Thanksgiving, at least for those living in the US, you can take some time to remember those who have gone before. What is it you have to give thanks for?
For us Pagans, the next big holiday is winter solstice. Again, it has been taken over by another holiday, I already mentioned, that has lost nearly all its meaning. I urge you to do some investigating and see if you can find a reason to celebrate midwinter night, with us.