Halloween has become vastly commercialised and commodified, something which it shares with many other holidays which were adopted by Christianity, but its roots go deep into Pagan, Celtic and Wiccan beginnings.
Halloween, or Samhain, is an important date in the Pagan calendar. October 31st signals a time of change, of winter laying over us, of the leaves falling, of the earth hardening and closing for the next portion of the year. Samhain (literally meaning "summer's end") celebrates the changing earth, the dying summer, acknowledging the cyclical nature of things.
It's a time to honor our own dead, too, and remember our ancestors who have lived before us. They are what brought us here, in some way or another; we’re all connected and it’s important to remember this, to feel cyclical, like the earth, and cast an eye to your bloodlines.
Death is not to be feared and so, neither are the dead. We cannot have life without death, or death without life; we walk beside our death always, and should feel safe knowing that to die is just as precious as it is to live. And I think honoring the dead automatically shines a light on our condition as alive, breathing, functioning human beings - that our time here is limited, and so we should always be true to ourselves, making the best of life that we can.
I believe in this fully.
Death is symbolic of endings too, and Samhain gives us a marked chance in the calendar to look back and draw things to a close, as well as prepare for the new. With summer's end as the sun goes down, nightfall on Samhain signifies the lighting of lights and wrapping up warm; midnight is known to some as the witch’s new year, and I seem to connect with this innately. The feelings of reflection I get at this time of year are incredibly strong. There are things I want to resolve and things I want to change, and every year I feel like now is always the time to do it. Endings and beginnings, cycles, life and death.
What with the interweaving of Pagan, Celtic, Wiccan and Christian traditions, Halloween has become a real witch's brew of influences. It's veiled and mysterious. You are free to celebrate it how you wish. My Samhain is darkening and lightening, and I'm a witch, and there is strength coming from somewhere, and life is all we have. It's change, growth and inner fire for the winter months. It's casting spells and shaking free from the old to look ahead, facing the new. It's dressing up in black and gold, lighting candles and incense, carving a pumpkin lantern and eating chocolates to keep warm.