Halloween was always my favorite childhood holiday. After all, you got to dress up and eat all the chocolate you wanted! But, as I got older and entered the work force, I often found myself treating Halloween as just another day – no costumes, no candy, nothing special. Or maybe, depending on where I lived and how many children lived close by, after work I would hand out candy to the children who knocked on my door dressed up like their favorite Superhero.
All of that changed for me when my father died a few days shy of Halloween eight years ago. My favorite holiday turned into too-close-to-the-anniversary-of-his-death to celebrate anything. It was too painful to even think about getting dressed up or handing out candy.
And yet, my father’s death offered me an opportunity to rethink my favorite childhood celebration. I became motivated to look into the history of Halloween and why we even celebrate it to begin with. What I found fascinated me. Before Halloween was Halloween, the Celtic peoples celebrated New Year on November 1st each year. This marked the end of Summer and the final harvest. The Celts believed that on the night before the New Year, the veils between the world of the dead and the living thinned. October 31st was called Samhain and people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. Pope Gregory III, in the 8th century, decided to make November 1st a day to honor all saints (All Saints Day, in some cultures this was called Day of the Dead and honored all ancestors who had passed over); the evening before was known as All Hallows Eve. This evolved into what we now know as Halloween, a combination of both ancient and modern traditions (http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween).
Regardless of whether you celebrate Halloween or All Saints Day, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you’ve likely noticed that the days are getting shorter. In addition to being a day to dress up and eat candy, Halloween marks an important turning of the wheel of the year. It is the halfway point between Fall and Winter in the Northern hemisphere and Spring and Summer in the Southern hemisphere. In addition, we’ve only got two months left in the year. Thus, this makes it a perfect time to reflect on where you’ve been, where you are going, and what you want to accomplish in the remainder of the year.
“We remain in the period of the year symbolized by the descent of the Goddess into the underworld. The light continues to decline… And darkness seems to come all too quickly each evening. Our foremothers would have completed most of the year’s outdoor tasks by this time. Today our tasks are rarely determined by the seasons or the weather. Rain or snow, winter or summer, we report to work, move papers, have meetings, sell products. We live differently than people did for most of human history. But our bodies have not altered. We still respond to the diminishing daylight by drawing inward, by changing our sleep patterns, by finding different things taking priority in our lives. It’s futile to fight against this annual cycle. Embracing it, living our lives by it, will ultimately make us happier.” – Patricia Monoghan
Today, if you are so inclined, I offer you a few Samhain-inspired questions for reflection as you move into the final two months of the year. I hope they serve you:
- What’s going on for you right now? How are you being asked to face your shadows or shadow side? What keeps coming up for you?
- What is your Intuition /Inner Goddess wanting you to know right now?
- What do you most need right now at a Soul level? How can you make sure you get this need met?
If you are struggling right now or things feel overwhelming/dark/not what you wish they were, know that you are not alone…
- What feels like an old story that might be coming forward again for you? How can you re-write this old story? What needs to change and how can you enact this change?
- How can you take more responsibility for your life and what is happening? How can you take back your power if you’ve been giving it away?
- What inner work are you being called to do right now? How can you embrace that journey without blaming/judging/criticizing yourself for not being “there” yet?
Wishing you a blessed Halloween/Samhain!