Ancient traditions of various names and cultures record that the three days of October 31, November 1st and 2nd have long been celebrated as a festival for honoring the Dead, especially our relatives and ancestors, but also all who dwell in that world. The veil is felt to be thin between this world and the Otherworld during these days. This allows us to offer and also receive blessings from our beloved ancestors.
In the Celtic tradition, the season is known as Samhain. In many early observances, invoking and honoring the dead began on October 31st with masks and parades. For Christians, these celebrations prepared for November 1st, known as All Saint’s Day and November 2nd, all Soul’s Day. Beliefs and rituals regarding the Season of the Dead have changed over the ages, but a consistent underlying sense that these days are a time for the living to be more actively involved with the departed have persisted. Some folks prepare and leave food for their ancestors, believing that the dead know that these are days they can come home and expect to be fed.
I definitely feel it at this time each year. In the last several years as the time approaches Imake a special altar. Out come photographs of departed loved ones. Articles of remembrance, flowers, various items arrive on the altar through the days. And I leave food from a special meal.
Also at this time, the realm of shadows seems to erupt into consciousness, I notice. Those parts of ourselves and of life often not always so clear to our waking awareness make themselves known. It may create a time for reckoning, or reconciliation.
I decided to share these thoughts hoping they might offer something to you. Maybe they will add to your experience of Halloween and the days ahead. I send love and blessings to you and those you love in all provinces of existence.
Soon I am planning 40 days of ritual preparation for Christmas, a practice I have often observed. A friend suggested that I invite others to join me, so that many of us can build the energy together. 40-day ritual practices have been observed widely in most every religion and culture; there seems to be some power in that number of days for setting an intention and creating a shift. Christmas is a festival of Light, the birth to the Light that casts out darkness, and has been celebrated in many forms long before Christianity. So, what I will be offering is not just a Christian thing, it’s a human thing.
Shortly I will be sending out a more detailed discussion with ideas for how to create your own 40 day ritual as well as for how to do it together. You can look to see if it strikes a chord for you and might help you with some of your innermost hopes, efforts and intentions. I will develop a list of those who want to do this together, and in the meantime would love to hear of any interest or thoughts about this idea. November 15th is 40 days before Christmas, that is the day we will begin.
Seasonal blessings to each of you.