In Britain, the time of Halloween at the end of October is closely followed by Remembrance Sunday in which the dead of the bankers’ wars are commemorated. In this way, for many generations we have remained ignorant of this vital stage along the Wheel of the Year, and its importance to our spiritual progress. It used to be the time when the Celts marked Samhain, when the constellation of the Pleiades began to rise in the night skies. Samhain was a time when we honoured all our ‘dead’ – in other words, we remembered all our ancestors now living in the Other Worlds… not just those who fought in wars.
We’re now starting to shamanically celebrate Samhain again, especially in Avalon. We light candles in sacred ceremony and say our family names out loud, so that their existence can honoured by all the beings, in all dimensions, and then they’re able to pass on in peace.
I personally find that taking part in these kinds of ceremonies to be enormously moving, and it seems to facilitate a huge leap forward in my spiritual understanding and progress. By lighting a candle and saying the names of my family ‘dead’ out loud, giving thanks for their lives, and in such a sacred space, seems to have opened up gates that had been previously closed, and pathways that had become blocked with tangled overgrowth over hundreds of years.
Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, was so named because it was, and still is, the time that the spiritual adept faces their own death by going down into the Underworld in pursuit of the ‘hallows’, which are the accoutrements of individual sovereignty.
Halloween or Samhaim is the counterpart fire festival to Beltane which we celebrate on May Day when the Pleiades are setting. Both Beltane and Samhain are fire festivals, however, Samhain is its polar opposite because it is one which is about restriction rather than opening up, and renunciation rather than fertility and growth, as we cast into the cauldron all that no longer serves our progress as a spirit passing along the human journey.
In lighting a candle and naming our ‘dead’, we are in effect allowing our ancestors to pass through, and on to the next stage of their journeys. It’s a form of renunciation … in a way, of cognitively giving them back to the Source by the power of our intention.
Renunciation can often seem a difficult concept to get our heads around. Also, the idea of ‘restriction’ can appear to be the exact opposite of what our freedom-searching natures are trying to achieve. However, as anyone who has ever thrown away their old books or clothes or lipsticks in an effort to follow the feng shui practice of ‘space clearing’ will tell you, it is only in letting go of old stuff that we can “make room” for the new.
It is just like in the natural world, when flowers and plants die off and the soil becomes barren and cold. This “downtime” is a necessary part of Mother Nature’s cycles, so that She can rest and regenerate and then bloom again in the Spring.
As we are part of Nature, and not separate to it, it is an opportunity for us too, to withdraw into ourselves and remain in contemplation by our flaming hearths, examining and discarding that which we longer need and which is holding back our spiritual growth. In releasing our ancestors, we also release their ‘baggage’ which has been weighing us down.
For me, Samhain has always been a time of enormous power and potential precisely because of the opportunity it provides for renunciation. I’ve seen shamanic work that I’ve done at Samhain move mountains over many years. I hope you find that too!