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A Deeper Look at Samhain

In many ways I feel that the festival of Samhain has been written about to death. Though it is my favorite holiday marking my favorite time of year, and though it carries much symbolism and has great energetic significance, this year I can’t help but feel that there must be something different to explore. 

I honor the dead every day, especially my ancestors. On Samhain I do a special celebration in honor of them, and I also honor Hekate. From my Celtic roots I recognize the importance of liminal spaces. You may have heard that this is the time of year when the veil between worlds thins. This veil was often recognized as a mist that floats over the sea and land. The meeting of the land and the sea is a liminal space and when the veil thins, it becomes easier to see and interact with what is on the other side. 

Every “in between” area is truly a liminal space, be it a doorway or a crossroads, or the place where light and shadow meet, as liminal spaces are all thresholds. We can easily cross these thresholds in a spiritual dimension at this time, as can the many spirits that abound. 

My fiancé and I are preparing to move homes and this preparation alone is liminal. We are at the threshold of something new- a new space with new potentials and opportunities. We are going through our things and donating/discarding what we no longer need with us. This is a spiritual phenomenon as well as a physical undertaking of release that harmonizes with the harvest season and with the spiritual truth that not all things can come with when it’s time to cross into something new. 

Because we are moving we did not decorate this year even though it is my favorite holiday. There has been an uncommon heaviness attached to this magical month and a bone-weariness. A turning inward, just as the plants in the ground are retreating to their own source of energy and provision. 

I could easily write about traditional ways to celebrate Samhain, but this is not a typical or traditional year. All I can think is “let them come” regarding the spirits that roam. I will put out an offering (outside my home) for the ravaging spirits as well as the lonely, the twisted. And I will strengthen the warding on our current space so that these spirits don’t enter, and I will light a candle to guide our passed loved ones to their meal within our current walls. 

The exploration of what it means to bless the spaces in between seems to be what the spirits are trying to teach to me about this holiday season, with an emphasis on what it means to be rooted and what it means to live through and be sustained by my roots. 

I would love to know what this season is teaching you, and whatever is happening, may you all have a blessed Halloween and Samhain, whatever you do. And remember that despite the rampant belief among many that Halloween or Samhain is a “demonic” holiday, the varied traditions of this time (carving and putting out jack-o-lanterns, dressing up in costume, etc) are actually meant to guard against and confuse harmful and evil spirits to keep them away. So do your warding, whatever that entails, and stay safe.

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