Celebrating Halloween -- The Samhain Tradition

Halloween and Samhain 2022

Blessed Be This Samhain! Happy Halloween!

This is the season of Scorpionic holidays, celebrating the time of yearly transformation when the veil between the worlds thins and all things normally repressed or hidden from sight erupt into the everyday world. Scorpio traditionally rules the process of transformation, and the evolutionary processes of death and rebirth.

This is the time of year when inhabitants of farming societies in the Northern Hemisphere traditionally measure the state of their stores against the projected winter need of animals and community members.

Farmers and gardeners traditionally place harvest figures, aka scarecrows, in their fields to ward off marauding birds and repel malicious spirits who may interfere with the harvest.

Harvest Goddess, digital painting by Jane Sherry, 
taken from photo of  her Harvest figure 

The Scorpio season is the traditional time for alchemical transformation of foods, when canning, freezing, and processing for winter food storage must be completed. Prior to the industrialization of agriculture, the ability of a farmer or householder to “put by” foods for the cold season could spell the difference between winter abundance or eventual famine. When a farmer had an overabundance of a particular crop, such as cabbage, cucumbers, Swiss chard, turnips, or squash, it was vitally important to preserve the surplus for consumption in the dead of winter.
Natural fermentation processes of various kinds have been utilized by farmers around the world for thousands of years for this purpose. Successful fermentation of vegetables depends upon the vitality of the soil in which they are grown. Vegetables that have been chemically fertilized or treated with chemical insecticides do not have the same capacity to produce the beneficial bacteria required for proper fermentation.

saurkraut satyacenter.com

Betsy Cashen's Homemade Sauerkraut, photo by Jane Sherry

When we lived in upstate New York, on Roxbury Road, neighbors gathered at the off-the-grid Solar powered home of Betsy Cashen and Chris Stearn to make sauerkraut through an ancient, artisanal process called lacto-fermentation.
Here’s our good friends and neighbor’s recipe for sauerkraut for production of Sauerkraut, and a pictorial essay of Sauerkraut Production. For more on this Scorpionic time in the seasonal wheel of life, read our article entitled Lactofermentation, Putrefaction and Scorpionic Transformation.

Halloween, known as Samhain in the Celtic and pagan traditions, is one of the high and holy cross quarter days marking the seasonal turning points in our earth's journey around the sun. Samhain is the point in the year between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice and is an excellent occasion to honor the young and the old. Samhain is the traditional Celtic New Year festival, a time of endings and beginnings. At this sacred time of transition, the most powerful, numinous twilight of the year marks the opening of a portal between the earthly and spiritual worlds.

Ancient Celtic people contacted deities and ancestors at this highly charged moment of enhanced clairvoyance, and out of this evolved the Anglo-Saxon Halloween tradition of ghosts, goblins, witches and other shape shifting beings.

Spiraling with Starhawk at the Goddess Conference, Glastonbury 2014

According to Starhawk, in her ground breaking book The Spiral Dance, medieval Celtic witch covens preserved the "knowledge of the subtle forces" inherited from earlier, pagan Goddess-worshiping cultures extending far back into pre-history. The covens "were called Wicca or Wicce, from the Anglo-Saxon root word meaning 'to bend or shape'. Wise Women were those who could shape the unseen to their will. Healers, teachers, poets and midwives, they were central figures in every community."

Pagan, earth-centered religions see the Divine manifest in Nature and all of Creation, believe in the concept of immanence (the Goddess/God within), believe in the spirit which resides in all things seen and unseen and in unending cycles of birth, growth, death and renewal.

According to Z. Budapest, the custom of going trick or treating, collecting sweet cakes, comes from a British tradition of begging by the poor on Halloween. She says that giving poison or bad gifts to children on this night will bring bad luck. Z. Budapest also says Samhain is the time to honor our Grandparents. We bring good luck to the future by honoring our ancestors, the spirits of the past, who provided us with the culture we enjoy today. We honor our ancestors and our community by giving to the poor on this festival day.

Día de los muertos, Tlaquepaque, México
Bala Manivasagam, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

We see this tradition in the ancient celebration of the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 1 in Mexico, where families honor the children and the dead with the offering of sweet treats. This holiday can be traced back to many Mesoamerican traditions such as the Aztec month of Miccailhuitontli, which means ”Little Feast of The Dead”, a holiday also honoring both small children and the dead.

This is a good time to connect with inner guidance, to honor your ancestors and the children in your lives and communities and to open to the invisible world. If ever you thought perhaps there are fairies, devas, and nature spirits, now would be the time to welcome them into your life and your home, offering gifts and your love.

Now would be an excellent time to approach the tempestuous elementals with offerings of love and honor for the power of Nature in all of her forms. Ask the Divine Mother to show us our mistaken ways and help us to live in partnership with the earth. Ask Her to show us better ways to work in harmony with the elemental forces for all of our highest good, and not just for the benefit of the few. 

Many Christian holidays closely follow the pagan celebrations which marked seasonal changes, agricultural festivals and ancestor worship as well as appropriate times for visions and divination.

In the Christian tradition, November 1 marks All Saints Day, honoring those who martyred themselves for the faith. The night before was called "Holy Evening" or " All Hallows Even", or "Halloween". 

On All Saints Day we commune with those who have gone beyond the veil, and who have bequeathed their visions, blessings and writings for their children and all who follow in their footsteps, over the centuries.

On November 2, All Souls Day, Christian tradition honored all the dead, and in some Catholic churches the names of each family's dead were placed on altars for one month of prayerful remembrances during Daily Mass. On that day, we also honor our ancestors and all the dead who have crossed the threshold.

It is our sincerest wish that we will each light up the skies, in each home, in our own way with hope and new visions for the new year as we enter the last quarter of the seasonal cycle and begin to close out the old. It is our hope that on Festival Day, and in the days to come, we can look within, find the light inside of each of us and illuminate our place in this world.

We give thanks for the young and for the old, for the living and the dead, we give thanks for the way in which our loved ones have helped to shape us. We honor humanity's only home, our blue green planet, Mother Earth.

Curtis and Jane at the Tin Coffeepot in Old Salem, 
built by the Mickey Brothers in 1858 to promote their Tin Shop, photo by Jane Sherry

Wishing you all a peaceful and blessed time in the days ahead. With sincerest condolences for those lost this year, and wishes that their souls may be brought to the light, and that we may be granted wisdom, peace and inspiration in our celebration and honoring of all who have come before us.

Old Salem Tin Coffee Pot, Forsyth County Library Photographs Collection

Meditation Moment: Talk with the Night

“I said to the night,
“If you are in love with the moon,
it is because you never stay for long.”

The night turned to me and said,
“It is not my fault. I never see the Sun,
how can I know that love is endless?”

--Jalaluddin Rumi
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