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Image: Jan ShepherdSamhain/Hallowe'en

Now here we can see the Christian tendency to overlay pagan festivals with their own – in the early days this was a quite common practise, for in reforming areas it was not unusual for the community to celebrate the Christian rites in public (by going to church) and then acknowledge the pagan rites more quietly.

Because, on Samhain, the veils are thin between the worlds, it becomes much easier to reach for the echoes of souls gone before.  This is not so much to say “Contact their ghosts” as it is to say “Touch their very essence.”   The natural defensive barriers begin to collapse in on themselves on this night, even for the least receptive.   At Samhain we can contact what many faiths call “the ancestors”.   We can also call to mind those loved ones who have gone on before us, walking the path into the light.  I do not see this so much as calling these souls back from their allotted journey in life and death (after all many of them may already have reincarnated) so much as I see it as a clear remembering, aided by the gods.

There are two aspects that our group observes here.   The first is that of descending, once and for all, into Winter.   Here, year on year we die, as does Nature.   Here we surrender to the inevitable cycle of abundance and lack; of light, and darkness; of warmth and chill.  Here we throw ourselves upon the mercy of the Lords and Ladies who move in shadows, those whose forms we can only barely perceive.

We make no reference here to the budding life which works in silence within the seed.   We recognise that now, more than at any other time, we are exposed.  Though all of us are ordinarily careful of our defences in life, from now on, we become extraordinarily watchful, aware of our vulnerability.  [More...]

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