here we are at another halloween. another october coming to an end. target has fucking christmastime decorations up. already. seriously. i was kind of shocked/pissed when i saw them today. i mean IT'S NOT EVEN HALLOWEEN YET technically.
so anyway, while i think halloween is pretty neat, because i like candy as much as the next person (except for awesome husband, he really doesn't like candy at all. he doesn't cry at 'the lion king' either, and these are two examples of why i think he may be an android) and dressing up is kind of fun. but it's not just a hallmark holiday full of candy and overpriced polyester costumes for the kids. it's also one of our (re: neo-pagans) high holidays - samhain. i could give you a long, interesting description of what it is and why we celebrate it, but i'm sure most of you don't care.
oh, you do? really?
well, then, that's a different story.
neo-pagans have eight holidays spaced throughout the year. four are at the equinoxes and the solstices, four are at right in between those. we refer to the holidays as the wheel of the year. each holiday that passes is like the wheel turning. samhain is kind of like the end of our year - it's often called the witch's new year. at samhain, we mark the death of the god. and, yes, we have gods and goddesses, and a lot of it is kind of figurative to many neo-pagans. the sun is very symbolic of the god (the moon of the goddess) and the days are shorter now, the sun shines less. at samhain, the god dies and passes on - only to be reborn again at yule (the winter solstice).
i bet you'll end up hearing a bit about that as we get closer, due to my irrational dislike of people saying 'it's merry christmas NOT happy holidays' because the majority of this country is christian.
ANYWAY. history tells us that at this time of year, before the winter frosts moved in but after the harvests were done, many farmers would make sure they paid up all their debts - by october 31st. so neo-pagans tend to make sure we are paid up karmically - that we don't owe anyone anything, physically or otherwise. and of course it deals with the death of the god. us pagans love death - because with every death there is a new beginning. so at samhain, it's common to want to rid ourselves of things we don't want to bring into the new year. writing bad habits on paper and tossing them into a cauldron of fire (or a barbecue pit, if you prefer) happens more often than you'd think. many witches will work magick on samhain to help themselves overcome shit like that in the new year. it's a time for cutting away that which is temporary and looking to the future.
actually, most of our holidays are like that. huh.
another common tradition among pagans at samhain is to set an extra place at the table for those we've lost this year. this is because at samhain and beltaine (may 1st - six months from now) we believe the veil between this world and the other are the thinnest - which is probably where the idea of dressing up came from. what better way to hide them from the witches and ghosts than to dress your children up as witches and ghosts! which means that halloween is more of a christian invention, really. pagans didn't dress up for halloween. personally, i actually find it a bit distasteful, but i'm a super annoying pagan rights lunatic.
so while i will probably be handing out a few kit kats and hershey bars tomorrow, i'll also be meditating on the coming year, and the things that i will leave behind in this year. i will look forward to the new seeds i will sow this coming spring. we may even light up the ol' cauldron (yes, i do have one. it's small though) and do some banishing work. all acts of love and pleasure are her ritual - and i will know that i am of the goddess, and she keeps me as the wheel turns, and turns, and turns again.
brightest blessings for love and light in the coming year. namaste.