On the last day of October, when the darkness of night drapes the sky like a shroud and the crisp air grows sweet with the aroma of fallen autumn leaves, magick and mystery abound. This is the night when the shadow realm beckons and the veil that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead grows most thin.
The Great Wheel of the Year has once again completed its cycle, and the time of endings and beginnings has arrived. This is Samhain.
Known by many names, Samhain, Shadowfest, Olde Hallowmas, All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween, Festival of the Dead, this special night of the year is the most important of the eight annual Sabbats, which are holy days that revolve around seasonal transitions and agricultural observances celebrated by pagans and witches throughout the world. It is a time when the spirits of deceased loved ones and friends are honored, as well as a time to gaze into the world of things yet to come.
To the average person, the most common images associated with Samhain/Halloween are monstrous and macabre. But it may surprise you to learn that to many modern-day-witches and pagans, this jack-o’-lantern-lit night is the most sacred night of the year and a time to momentarily put aside one’s troubles and enjoy some good, old-fashioned pagan mirth and merriment.
In the Middle Ages, Europeans believed that on Samhain/Halloween Witches took to the sky to celebrate their Sabbat until the rising of the sun. Hundreds of years later, modern Witches and Pagans still gather every year on October 31 to celebrate the holiday with rituals, chanting, song and dance, sacred bonfires, traditional pagan feasts, and various methods of divination, espeically those of an amatory nature.
For Pagans the world over, Samhain/Halloween is, among other things, a night of ancestors, a harvest festival, a time of magick and mirth, and a New Year’s Eve celebration. Samhain’s roots are undeniably pagan; yet, Halloween and its celebration should not be restricted to Witches and others who identify themselves as neo-pagans. Samhain/Halloween is a festive holiday that can, and should, be enjoyed by all, regardless of age, cultural background, or religious point of view.
As a new era begins, the pagan path is shining its light on more and more people who are experiencing a growing spiritual need to reconnect with Mother Nature and the ancient ways. Individuals throughout the world are discovering that Wicca (an earth-based religion embraced by many contemporary witches) is a positive, nature-oriented spiritual path, similar in many ways to Native American Shamanism. No devils are worshiped and no evil spells are employed to bring harm to others. Instead, most witches seek to live in harmony with the forces of nature and work positive magick to help, heal, and shape a better world for themselves and their children.
May you be guided well in your path to magickal mysteries and spiritual enlightenment, and may the Goddesses and Gods of olde bestow upon you their blessings of darkness and light. Craft thy magick with love, for love is the law of the Craft.