Understanding Your Daily Focus
Samhain is my favorite pagan holiday. Maybe it’s because it’s one of the few pagan holidays that bleeds (openly, at least) into the mainstream. Before I ever knew the word gaelic, or even witchcraft, spirit, or meditation, I knew the word Halloween. There is an energy to this holiday that is unlike anything else.
Samhain is celebrated on October 31, and it marks the end of the lighter half of the year as the wheel turns into darkness. Many cultures all over the world celebrate death in some way on this day. In Mexico and other parts of Latin America, the holiday has a decidedly lighter tone, more food, more flowers, more skeletons. In Catholicism around the world, people observe All Saint’s and all Souls Day, where they visit the tombstones of lost loved ones and honor the patron saints and martyrs of their faith; however, the baseline is the same. This is the day when the Veil between worlds is the thinnest, when the spirits can cross over and visit their loved ones. How we view that phenomenon is largely dependent on our cultural ideas surrounding death.
It makes sense that the idea of death lingered with our ancestors as the warm months ended and the crops began to die. It is impossible not to think of the cyclical nature of life, and to feel connected to the underworld. In this week’s Daily Focus, we will explore the idea of Samhain further, and the larger idea of ending that it encapsulates. Happy Halloween!
Saturday, October 31
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” –L.M. Montgomery
Tonight, is the last night of my favorite month, and it’s a Full Moon! Not only that, but it’s the second Full Moon this month. That makes tonight a Blue Moon, a rare and magical night, one where anything is possible. You know the saying; I don’t have to say it. Wherever you are right now, make magic happen.
Sunday, November 1
“The pagan Samhain is not, and never was, associated with evil or negativity. It has always been a time to reaffirm our belief in the oneness of all spirits, and in our firm resolution that physical death is not the final act of existence. Though death is very much a part of Samhain’s symbolism, this sabbat also celebrates the triumph of life over death.” –Edain McCoy
As we begin November, try to focus on the idea that this time allows us to connect to the spiritual and magical realm in ways we usually cannot. It’s important to look at the cyclical nature of something like Samhain, Dia de los Muertos, or All Saint’s Day, which all contain in them both life and death, but are ultimately a celebration of life.
Monday, November 2
“Samhain is the threshold to the Season of Death.
The fertile fields of summer give way to the bare forests of autumn. As crops slowly die and winter takes over, the cycle of life is once again approaching
a renewal.” –Dacha Avelin
Death is just as much a part of life as anything. Vital, integral, the shadow that is always with us, untouchable. As you focus on the elements of this cycle, don’t glaze over the darker aspects. They deserve to be celebrated as well.
Tuesday, November 3
“At Samhain, the circle of the year has come to its final spoke in the Wheel. At this time, the harvest has finished, the dying god interred, and the goddess has descended to the underworld to be with her beloved. Above, her people prepare for the Veil between the worlds to thin; dead ancestors will be visiting, and with the harvest tools put away. There’s a new year to think about, resources to manage, goodbyes to say, and plans to make. Meanwhile, the now barren land gives way to the rulership of the Crone.” –Diana Rajchel
The Veil between worlds is thinnest at Samhain, but what does this mean? It means that spirits of all kinds can cross over to visit the living. Long ago, the scary masks worn by children and adults on Halloween were said to trick evil spirits by concealing the wearer. For a night, humans could blend in with monsters, which meant monsters also walked among humans.
Wednesday, November 4
“Samhain translates prosaically as “summer’s end.” It marks the end of the light half of the Celtic year and the beginning of the dark half. The border between years is distinguished by the border between worlds.” –Judika Illes
The idea of the Veil becoming thin, of worlds colliding and changing is inextricably tied into our relationship with the harvest, and with the seasons. Make sure you’re taking time to look at what you’re gaining, and what you’re losing, as the year goes on.
Thursday, November 5
“Because of the Veil being thin and spirits wandering, ghosts and graves are woven into the culture and celebration of this sabbat. According to Druidic traditions, prayers, food, and offerings of burning candles to the dead and the Good People (the fae, or Sidhe) were left on doorsteps and on altars at Samhain.” –Ellen Dugan
This week is the perfect time to make an altar to honor those you’ve lost. If you’re looking to communicate with spirits or just feel the presence of someone you miss, this is the week to leave offerings.
Friday, November 6
“Samhain is considered by some to be the most important sabbat. This is because it represents the core experiences of the Craft: of traveling between the worlds, of experiencing death and rebirth, and of ultimately transcending both in the process; of not being afraid to face the darkness, or to think about that which we have lost; of not being afraid of the changes in our lives; of turning negative experiences into opportunities for learning.” –Jennifer Hunter
Winter is coming, and with it comes change. This year has been so trying for so many of us. I think it’s safe to say that we are all walking into winter so much older and wiser than we were in the spring. Don’t forget to bring your lessons with you.
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