My mum absolutely hated Halloween when we were growing up. Although it wasnt as saturated as it is now she still disliked people coming to our door or seeing them walk the streets dressed in their costumes. As you do with many belief systems I just followed suit. No disrespect to any american friends or those that do like to join in the festivities but I took on the attitude of my mum basically. I am not partaking in any of that rubbish as she would say.
Over the years I hadn’t altered that view too much until last year when Halloween actually got me thinking. I love tradition and ceremony and wanted to know the history of it. Whether it was something that I chose to do with my family if it was relevant to our beliefs.
Well did researching give me the answers.
Halloween has a few origins. The American version well that’s ah down the line for early adopters that’s for sure. I would politely say they have hijacked it.
What makes this tradition difficult to acknowledge from a pagan perspective or cycle of nature is that in the northern hemisphere this all matches. Us down south are in the opposite cycle so technically Halloween is our Beltane/Baltaine and not the northern hemisphere Samhain (here ours is May 1st)
Beltane is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, the others being Imbolc and Ostara. Celebrated approximately halfway between Vernal (spring) equinox and the midsummer (Summer Solstice). Beltane traditionally marked the arrival of summer in ancient times.
Back to Halloween, well the original Halloween ceremonies.
Celtics and druids introduced the concept of Samhain. A tradition that believes that the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead, not to mention the world of spirits was at its thinnest and it was more possible to commune with the dead. Samhain is described as the celtic new year celebrating with bonfires, feasting and divination.
Over time Scotland and Ireland moved it into a folk themed festival and Christianity embraced aspects and adjusted it to fit in with their All saints/souls day making it “all hallows eve”
In Mexico their ritual is called the Day of the dead. Traditionally, people go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages as well as photos and memorabilia of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. A common symbol of the holiday is the skull (colloquially called calavera), which celebrants represent in masks, called calacas (colloquial term for “skeleton”), and foods such as sugar or chocolate skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the deceased on the forehead.
Unlike Halloween; Day of the dead and even All Saints/souls day are about celebrating the lives of those who have passed and trying to reconnect.
Personally for me I still do not want to associate any festivities with door knocking, trick or treating or dressing up in Halloween type costumes.
Down here in Australia I try to incorporate both the northern and southern hemispheres whenever there is ceremony relating to a particular event. If it is seasonal I am more likely to follow traditional customs.
So what can you do to celebrate this occasion in the “age old traditional” sense:
For Samhain/Day of the Dead/All hallows eve:
* Light candles for those that are deceased.
* Make an alter with pictures of your loved ones that have passed away. As with a usual alters have a nice cloth, seasonal flowers, orange and yellow for eve of hallows
* Colours: Orange and blacks and fire colours but also some green interspersed.
* Apples are also a major symbol and historically used as a form of divination.
* Essential Oils: cinnamon, clove, ginger, or nutmeg
* Samhain Goddesses include Hecate, Macha, Ishtar, Lilith and Rhiannon.
*Focus upon during this time in the Wheel of the Year include return, change, reflection, endings and beginnings, and honoring the Dead. Other meanings behind this celebration include the Wisdom of the Crone (The eldest woman role in our culture)
* People like to write down his/her weaknesses on a piece of paper and toss it into the bonfire/burn it.
* It is also a time to connect with Past-Life Recall, Spirit Contact, Meditation and the drying of Winter herbs.
* Gems/stones: Turquoise for infinity, Sodalite (3) for life and form – past, present, future, Citrine for the golden ray of sun and Moonstone for the light of the moon
As we are in the southern hemisphere we are actually celebrating Baltane as I previously mentioned therefore we can:
* light pink candles
* Gather flowers and make wreaths
* Essential oils: Rose oil or patchouli incense.
* Gods and Goddesses: Flower Goddesses, Aphrodite, Artemis, Bast, Diana, Maia, Pan, Venus, and all Gods and Goddesses who preside over fertility
* Stones/Gems: emerald, malachite, amber, orange carnelian, sapphire, rose quartz
* Colors: green, soft pink, blue, yellow, red, brown
* Food: dairy, bread, cereals, oatmeal cakes, cherries, strawberries, wine, green salads.
* Focus on : nurturing and boost existing goals, planting seeds, walking one’s property, feasting. It is also a celebration of purification
or really combine the two! =) Who makes the rules anyway.
Wishing you many blessings for this evening. Enjoy your celebrations whichever way it is that you choose. May you make connections with those loved ones that have passed over and celebrate their life and the connections you had with them. May you reflect on that which you have achieved and nurture that which is still to come and most of all honour those beautiful crones in your life. The matriarchs of your family. And so it is. Blessed Be.