For me, this day holds a very different significance than most Americans.
I was raised in a family of ‘born again’ Pagans. If you aren’t familiar with Paganism — you may need to Wiki it! Pagans typically worship the earth, believe in multiple deities, and definitely do NOT believe in ‘Satan’, which is a figure from Christian folklore.
And pagans, during this holiday, see this day as a time to remember the dead and lost.
Have you lost someone?
Some pagans believe the veil between the worlds grows thin, and one can communicate with your lost loved ones. I don’t believe that so literally, but I do believe that tonight is a night for quiet reflection on those who have passed.
Not a day for spooks and screaming and candy….. a day of respect.
According to Celtic lore, Samhain is a time when the boundaries between the world of the living and the world of the dead become thinner, allowing spirits and other supernatural entities to pass between the worlds to socialize with humans. It is the time of the year when ancestors and other departed souls are especially honored. Though Celtic Reconstructionists make offerings to the spirits at all times of the year, Samhain in particular is a time when more elaborate offerings are made to specific ancestors. Often a meal will be prepared of favorite foods of the family’s and community’s beloved dead, a place set for them at the table, and traditional songs, poetry and dances performed to entertain them. A door or window may be opened to the west and the beloved dead specifically invited to attend. Many leave a candle or other light burning in a western window to guide the dead home. Divination for the coming year is often done, whether in all solemnity or as games for the children. The more mystically inclined may also see this as a time for deeply communing with the deities, especially those whom the lore mentions as being particularly connected with this festival
I have not been a PRACTICING pagan in a very long time. However, growing UP spending this day in prayer and reflection is what I am used to, and is what feels RIGHT to me. I don’t know if I am explaining or representing my religion eloquently or comprehensively. I just need to say something about what I feel.
Tonight, I will spend some time being quiet and remembering. I lost two friends this year. One was a Pagan as well, a friend who was just my age and that I had known since I was a teenager…. I wonder if I will be able to feel her presence somehow, or even if I just might come to some sort of closure within my own self about her passing at such a young age.
This time of year also marks the first frost. My annual vegetable garden has all blackened and died, too…. as we contemplate those who have passed, it is good to take some time to consider your life. Are you ready to go back to the Earth, if this coming year is your time? Have you lived your life with integrity, with no regrets? Say good bye to the last year…. the freeze is coming which means death for the insects and spiders. And once upon a time, it meant a dance with death for us humans too — did we preserve enough vegetables & meats to last through the winter? Did we save aside enough firewood to stay warm? Did we repair our homes sufficiently to fend off the cold & wet? ….. Just in case, think about your life and come to terms with the temporary nature of YOU.
And although it may seem morbid to reflect upon these topics to those who are unused to it… I don’t feel this is not a day for gross, macabre, or creepy things, but rather to feel warmth and love for those we have lost. It is necessarily somber, because we all miss our loved ones. But they have gone back to the Earth.
You put pumpkins & other gourds out because they are the harvest vegetables that may last you through the season when little can grow, the final crop that you will get from your bountiful gardens… Know that the cycle of life will come to an end for you, just like it does for the withered plants & the crisp golden/orange/brown leaves around you…. that you will rot and go back to the earth and become something new…. that you are part of an ancient, WHOLE cycle that just continues over and over and over….
Blessed be to all of you — if you are celebrating a fun holiday today, or a religious holiday, stay safe and please do not drink and drive!
Repost from 2011, amended slightly to reflect this year’s events and thoughts….
Later this day he returned and ate all the ribbons and we spent two days hovering over him hoping for them to pass through uneventfully. I can’t BELIEVE I forgot to put them up before I slept. Ugh.—
In this week “is he dead or asleep” we feature Rusty, 75lbs of lazy.—
Sometimes, I let my dogs tear up old boxes for me.—
It’s the old “as soon as you turn the camera on I will stop doing the thing” trick!—
Ryan loves this box filled with crinkly papers.—
Rusty sitting behind my chair wagging whenever I look at him.—