Seeing as it’s Halloween in a week- and I just love this time of year, I couldn’t resist writing a post on this topic. From a spiritual standpoint this time of the year is celebrated widely and while it’s fun to dress up and wear crazy costumes there’s a reason we do this for Hallows’ eve.
So get cosy for the week running up to Halloween, put on the poltergeist, munch popcorn while you reminisce with the shinning and get ghoulish while you watch the latest horror movie release.
But first let me walk you through the spiritual plain. Halloween has long been associated with the spiritual realm, the idea of a spirit world co-existing while we go about our daily lives. Now you may not believe this and think ghosts are simply make believe but there’s no doubt that Halloween has a kind of cult following, so why is this?
In pagan times, Halloween symbolised the start of the darkness that transitioned into the winter time. Halloween or Samhain (pronounced “sow’inn”) was the Pagan festival know as the feast of the dead- and it was also their new year.
They believed that before something can be created there must be something in it’s place, so they looked at darkness as the start of creation. They saw time beginning in the darkness. From that came the creation of light and life.
I’ve always been interested in spirituality, religion and that aspect of things so I’ll try not to get to deep- but what I find really interesting from the history of religions is that they are always changing. The religions we know today are based on accounts, stories and tales from another time, myths of forgotten eras and lost knowledge that is constantly being updated.
What was relevant then isn’t now but all religions have a root, as do festivals.
It was a different time then, that’s for sure and who knows what stone circles were really for? The truth is however, we have kept certain traditions going through these times and while it may not be our new year any longer, is it still a holiday that we acknowledge.
Feast of the dead…
Samhain which was celebrated on the 1st of November, roughly translates to ‘summers- end‘. It was a festival to mark the end of the summer crops and the start of the coming winter.
As nature began to decay around them, the leaves were turning brown, the Ancient Celts viewed this time as the boundary, or veil between this world and the ‘other world’ at it’s thinnest.
It was thought the night before (the 31st October) souls that lived in the land of the dead were released and allowed to cross over to roam the earth again. It was believed that ghosts had to be appeased in order to survive he coming winter- whether they were feared or not.
Souls were called Aos Sí (pronounced ‘Ees Shee’).
A giant bonfire was lit and animals and crops were burnt as sacrifices for the dead souls. It was also the inspiration behind the film -The Wicker Man
People left food outside their houses for souls and ate a ‘dumb super’ -where dumb referred to silence, as family members prayed to their ancestors who now joined them at the table.
They also wore costumes to hide from spirits with a vendetta against them. Costumes were a way to hide from spirts you had crossed in the land of the living.
You can see then a lot of Halloween is directly linked to this pagan festival. Although, we don’t see it as religious anymore and more as a bit of fun.
Thoughts on Witches…
The Ancient Celts, came from the Druids (remember those stone circles I mentioned earlier?) The Druids were people that lived in Arya Land– which later became know as Ireland. Ireland has had a good history with Samhain, including some pretty vicious battles on the hill of Tara.
It was thought that you should be stood on the hill of Tara- an ancient burial site as the dawn rises on Samhain. There are certainly a lots of interesting tales and thoughts of Druid culture. Another one being the idea that people were transformed into cats for their bad deeds. If you practiced magic you’d be turned into a black cat.
There are also some pretty interesting folklore tales from the Celts. The Morrigan for example, a great warrior queen of the Tuatha de Danann – also known as the queen of darkness who was a shapeshifter, shapeshifting into various forms such as a wolf or raven.
No wonder we associate witches with Halloween.
As Catholicism took over and it started to covert Celts into Christians, the two religions merged and the ancient druid ways were lost. However, people that still practiced these traditions were viewed as practicing witchcraft and persecuted for doing so.
In the 1400s witch hysteria spread across Europe like wildfire, often hanging women, drowning them and eventually burning them at the stake for being believed to be witches.
I don’t know about you, but if I had been put on trial back then and there was a way to come back to the land of the living- I would haunt those people for sure.
A final thought
While I don’t believe in ghosts and witches exactly, I do think a lot of mysticism has been lost since the druid age. We have lost our sense of intuition and our roots to the idea of an ‘other world.’
With the lack of spiritualism has risen the ego. The ego of the technological age has engulfed us and with it the force of things like karma to keep our selfishness in check. While we focus on the ego, the idea of spiritual ascension has left our culture.
Now we are not concerned with the afterlife or the past from where we have evolved, but simply focused on the future instead.
Halloween symbolises many things but in particular the idea of the darkness we must all transition through to find the light in our lives once more. Perhaps I’m not being haunted by spirits but more by the darkness within. I am fighting inner demons.
Halloween should represent the death of the ego as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. If we can let go of it and get in touch with ourselves instead, we can surely achieve a heightened consciousness that aims to create instead of destroy.
So this Halloween, take time to say goodbye to the cosmic drama that were all surrounded by, dress up in costumes to protect yourselves from negativity and take the time to understand your shadow side, so you can step into the light again and leave your ego behind.
But most of all have fun -as we prepare for winter.
Thanks for reading,