Halloween – A Spiritual Approach

It’s that time of the year again! I can’t help it and must write about it, for it is the time of the year I love the most and it just feels so magical and wonderful (more due to childhood memories). Halloween is nigh! And since I write about it every year, 2016 is no exception.

This particular festivity is probably one of the most celebrated dates in our modern culture. It seems to be admired, immortalized and aproved each year, and its popularity is considerably growing across the Western world; I dare say all over the globe. In modern times it is the beginning of an holiday season and the opportunity to go out at night, dressed in a notably weird costime and, as if it was a ritual, going arround the neighborhood playing “Trick or Treat”. Children do love this (and so their parents), for it is an opportunity to be part of the community and a cheerful way, and it’s an escape from the average daily life. It’s party for everyone. The decorations are also part of this celebration to enhance the atmosphere; nature of course does its part and brings the cold, rain, mists and very vibrant fiery colours.

It is interesting to see that this is a season of insobriety. Oh yes, the lack of moderation when eating treats (for children) and of course intemperance in drinking alcohol (for adults). But it’s just one time of the year, right? We all need to celebrate once in a while and have a little freedom, as long as we do not disturb others.

Now, to the main subject, let us leave behind our whimsical behaviours and delve into the historical and spiritual path of this season. If you are here reading this, you most certainly know that Halloween is the glimpse of what remains of our ancient traditions during this time of the year. The roots into paganism are very deep and strong, although we can’t possibly know the ancient name for this celebration. Some neo-pagans call it Samhain (which is the most common term when refering to this season), others call it Winternaucht or Ancestor’s Blót and so on. Suffice to say, this season is closely connected with the end of Summer in our world (and the beginning of it in the world of the spirits), the last harvests, the preparation for the coming winter (“Winter is Coming!”) and of course, a time to be connected with our ancestors. However, and I’ve said this a hundred times by now, the Catholic Church appropriated this occasion claiming the 1st of November to be the christian celebration of “All Saints’ Day” and the eve before to be Hallows’ Eve, which in time became shortened into Halloween. Still, the importance of honoring our ancestors was there, even if cloaked by a new faith.

For those of you who still practice the old pagan ways, Samhain (let’s refer to it like this) this is yet another important celebration of the year and one of the major ones. For most, this is the season to honor our ancestors, to be in contact with them since the connection between this world and the next comes closer and in mythological references this is the time of the year when the gap between worlds is opened and the spirits might come easily into our world. For the northern pagans for instance, this is also the time to be in contact with the spirits in general; the landvaettir (the spirits of the land), Elves, ancestors and the gods. It’s also the time for the Wild Hunt that many pagans have in common in their lore. The time when the spirits of the gods and ancestors travel the skies to hunt for souls. In some cases they take the dying, in other accounts they take those who are worthy, or those who want to take part in it, or sometimes they simply take who they wish. What is important to see here, beyond the myth and metaphors, is that once again this is the time when we are closely connected to the supernatural in a spiritual way.

But since every year I talk about this subject and show the historical background of this season, as well as the purpose of it, I would like to go a little astray from that (and you might read the other posts about this for a better information on the subject) and go into a more spiritual approach.

As I’ve said, this is the time when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest and spirits from other realms can easily engage with humanity. There is a good possibility that we can achieve connectivity with the spirits and undergo a spiritual experience that might change us completly (often for better). For this same reason and to assuage any malevolent behavior from the spirits, gifts of food and drink were left for them, and people would wear masks to fit in with the ghosts. Into our modern days somehow this managed to survive and gave us the new tradition of “Trick-or-Treat” and putting on costumes.

But, it’s not only about our connection with the spirits and the knowledge we might gain during that process. This is indeed the time of the year that we also change our behaviours, our moods, and our personalities have to adapt to a new reality. This is the time when darkness conquers the natural world, and the light and warmth of the sun is gone, such as the flowers and the green meadows and everything that is beautiful in nature. There is a huge change in nature, a transfiguration, a metamorphosis. The cicle of life comes to an end, or at least this is the beginning of that end. It gets colder, the leaves fall, the trees are naked and nature dies out in general. Wild creatures either hibernate or seldom come out. This is just a part of nature that we must accept, the same way we must accept ourselves and our own changes. Our moods darken, there is a sence of melancoly and sadness. Death is in the air, that’s what it is. But death is a part of nature and with death also comes life. Nature is giving the possibility of new life to be created, so you too must give yourself that opportunity. This is the perfect time to make your inner spiritual journey and find yourself and understand your place in this world. Darkness can be a friend, when you spend more time indoors, getting to know what really makes you happy. The trick is not knowing what defines us during happy times, but to understand who we truly are and what we truly want in the most desperate moments.

You shelter yourself from the cold and storm. You tend to find a cosier atmosphere at home, maybe beside the hearth. This will be the beginning of your spiritual journey, the beginning of inner reflection. In nature life ended and death began to give way to more life. Your natural cicle also ended and now you must create a new one. The problem is that darkness isn’t a cheerful companion and it brings a sense of dread and loneliness. But maybe that’s because we were thought to avoid it and walk towards the light and get distracted with beauty. Darkness means being aware, confronting our inner problems, get to know negativity so we might balance it with positivity, to appreciate and feel the other face of nature and the energies of the world. Don’t try to avoid the coming darkness, because there is no escape; it’s just natural. Darkness will come and you can either embrace it or live the rest of the year feeling miserable and lonely until spring comes again and you start to avoid your problems again, running away from yourself and be dumbfounded with light and the illusion that you can actually escape what is less pleasant. Do not avoit it, just accept it the way it is. If you accept it, you will see that there is happiness to be found even in the darkest moments of life. This is the perfect time to think about your own projects, remake your life, rethink the choices you made and start preparing for another journey in your life. Be ready for changes and walk towards them; walk towards the things and the people that make you happy.

We all have shadows in ourselves that we tend to hide. The wounds will never fully heal if you deny them. This time of the year is to be in contact with our ancestors and that also means being in contact with your past. Understand it; it helped shape who you are today and you must know how to let go of the past just as you must let go of those you loved, or, make a new approach with what really made you happy and with the things and people that you are certain that there is a chance to rekindle the light that now seems so dim and faint.

Halloween, Samhain, All Saints’ Day, whatever you call it, is the time to embrace the other side of nature and your own other side. You can’t live apart from one side and try to run your life with the other. You can’t break your heart in half and throw it away and live with the other. That will keep you out of balance. It keeps you away from your own essence, and out of touch with the other aspects of your own desires and wishes. Self-awareness is what will actually help you to live life and not just survive in it. This is the period in your life to find a rebalance and restoration of your own being.

I wish you all happy Holidays and that you might find balance in life and within yourself.

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