It is hard to believe we are in the last week of October. At the end of the week, we celebrate Halloween or Samhain. Samhain is the midpoint between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. The ancient Celts, who originated the holiday, believed this was the time of year when the veil between the worlds was the thinnest: encouraging souls left on the earth plane to move into the spirit realm.
Many of our current Halloween traditions stem from the practices of the Celts.
Did you know…
- The end of October meant the end of the growing season. The Celts celebrated the third and final harvest with a feast and a big bonfire. While families were collecting the last of the harvest, they let the fires in their hearths extinguish. As part of the Samhain celebration, families would help build a communal bonfire. Each family then was invited to take an ember from the celebratory fire and place it in their own hearth.
- Beginning in the middle ages, the Irish started the tradition of carving a turnip, and later a pumpkin, on Samhain. One story which explains the origins of this tradition centers on a man named Jack. According to the legend, Jack outwitted the devil on three separate occasions. When Jack died, he was refused admittance into heaven, and consequently, was left to wander the world in perpetuity. Folks carved turnips/pumpkins and placed them in their windows to keep Jack’s spirit from entering their home. Jack of the Lantern later was shortened to jack-o-lantern.
- On the evening of Samhain, the ancient Celts dressed as animals or monsters to confuse spirits who may try to kidnap them and take them into the spirit realm before they were ready. In the middle ages, the Scots and the Irish would go “mumming” on All Hallows Eve. Mumming involved traveling in small bands and knocking on the doors of wealthier community members to ask for food. The mummers would sing for “soul cakes.” Sometimes tricks were played and then blamed on the faeries. Later mumming turned into children dressing in costumes and knocking on doors for candy.
- As Christianity became more popular in Northern Europe, the Catholic Church re-branded pagan holidays by instituting Christian practices. November 1 became “All Souls Day” and is a time to remember and to pray for one’s ancestors.
- In Mexico, this celebration is called “Día de los Muertos” or “Day of the Dead.” On Dia de los Muertos a large meal with dishes favored by one’s ancestors is served. Stories are shared about the dead and a plate of food is left for one’s ancestors on La Ofrendas or ancestor altar. This two-day celebration is about honoring the people who came before you as well as recognizing the cycle of life that includes death. To learn more about the traditions associated with Dia de los Muertos, go here.
This Halloween is also the night of the full moon: a time during the lunar cycle where our new moon intentions manifest and impediments are released. Weather permitting, consider building a fire outdoors and sitting in contemplation beside it. (If an outdoor fire is not possible, lighting a candle indoors works just as well.)
As you stare into the flames, recall the last two weeks. Sit with and possibly journal about the following questions:
- What have you noticed about your world?
- How have you shown up…for yourself and for others?
- What familial and cultural traditions do you want to perpetuate?
- What familial and cultural traditions do you want to revamp or to divest yourself of?
Write down on a sheet of paper anything you are ready to release. Perhaps you are ready to let go of something you fear or perhaps you are ready to shed a limiting belief. Maybe you are ready to forgive a wrong or to stop blaming another. Whatever you write on the paper be sure it is coming from a place of “want to” rather than “have to.” If you are not ready to release something, then honor that knowing.
Once you have made a decision and put your decision on paper, throw the paper onto the fire. (If you are indoors, find an old pot or bowl to throw your lit paper into. Open some windows.) Notice how it feels to watch the paper burn. I like to think of the smoke as a prayer being released into the world. Who knows what the smoke might touch?
When you are finished, give yourself space to enjoy the full moon hanging in the sky. What is La Luna illuminating for you?
As always, I wish each and every one of you a beautiful week. Happy Halloween!
Kim Bushore-Maki is a soul-driven entrepreneur who understands the undeniable urge to create a business and a life filled with meaning and purpose. Her vision of opening a center where women could heal and grow led her to open Shakti in the Mountains in Johnson City, Tennessee: a place where the creative, feminine energy is nurtured and valued.
Five years later, Kim is still in the flow of supporting and building a healthy, vibrant community and now guides retreats, teaches yoga, and provides one-on-one services for women who want an immersion experience into the life-affirming, Shakti energy.
Kim’s training as a therapist and yoga teacher allows her to safely and compassionately guide women on a heart-centered journey to Self, where women re-connect with their beautiful, authentic spirit.