Here in my home my youngest is super excited about going trick or treating this evening and my older daughter about her Halloween party on the weekend. Neither of them, I believe are particularly interested in why they are celebrating they are just enjoying the commercial hype that this day has been given and quite rightly the opportunity to hang out with their friends.
Halloween was always one of my favourite celebrations when we lived in the UK. I love carving pumpkins, lighting candles, decorating in Autumnal colours. I love walking with my children around the neighbourhood seeing other peoples houses and watching the lights of the homes form the darkness of the street. It is the beginning of the festive season for me and with Guy Fawkes/bonfire night following on the 5th November with the warming soup, mulled wine and fireworks it is a part of winter I deeply enjoy.
However when we moved to Australia my soul felt lost. Walking around sweating on Halloween I would find myself wondering why anyone would want to dress up as anything with a cloak or full length costume. I needed to re ritualise this day.
Celebrating Halloween in Australia is a relatively new tradition. Most of my friends say it wasn’t as big even just 7 years ago. The shops are spreading the commercial hype more aligned with our Northern hemisphere heritage and their lolly sales. With this in mind I wanted to explain the true meaning of this celebration and give some ideas for how to create new rituals that align with living in the Southern hemisphere.
Halloween and Samhain was an Autumn celebration created in the Northern Hemisphere. Here in Australia we would correctly celebrate on the evening of 30th April/1st of May.
It is the celebration of the days getting both darker and shorter. It is a time to farewell the old year. A time to honour our ancestors and acknowledge that without death there can be no rebirth ( just like our beautiful mantra Sa Ta Na Ma).
The word Samhain derived from the Celtic Festival and the old Irish word “Samhuin”, meaning “Summers End”.
It was an important time of stock taking and preparation for the winter months ahead. This time of the year was also felt to be a time where the veil between the worlds of the living and dead was thin and that magical things were able to happen. Bonfires were built to ward off spirits and sacrifices were made to the Gods.
Halloween is influenced by the Christian holy days of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. A time to honour saints and pray for the recently departed who are yet to reach heaven.
It was believed the souls of the departed wandered the earth until All Saints Day. All Hallows’ Eve enabled the dead a last chance to gain vengeance on their enemies before they move to the next world.
Christians wore masks and costumes to disguise themselves, following the lighted candles left by others to guide the travel to worship the next day.
This is where we get our practice of "Trick or Treating".
Here in Australia we should be celebrating Beltane.
Beltane is the mirror of Samhain.
Where Samhain is about honouring Death, Beltane is about honouring Life.
It is the mid point between the Spring and Summer Equinox and falls for us on 1st November. Traditionally it may have been celebrated on the full moon closest to this point.
It is the time to celebrate fertility and to bring energy to the earths womb so that she may bare fruitfully.
It is also a time when the veil between the worlds is thin.
There is magic in the air and the days lengthen and warm. Our bodies respond, we lighten physically and emotionally. We dress lighter and brighter as we enjoy the feel of the sun on our bodies.
This is the time of year to see and sense the spirits of nature,
the faery folk.
They are out playing, teasing and taunting us to join them in their frolicking.
Traditionally there would be offerings made sweets and cream to these folk so they would not play too many tricks or create mischief.
So this evening if like me you are escorting your children trick or treating, perhaps take some moments after to help them create an offering to the Faeries.
Build a small faery garden and place not only sweets but perhaps little scrolls of prayers for the fruitfulness you are calling into your life and your home.
A tradition of mine is to take a night swim in our pool as the bats fly overhead. I like to feel into the mystical aspects that are awake. I lay out in the water (preferably naked) and invite myself to feel fullness in my entire being. Dream about the unfolding summer ahead, the balmy evenings, the sounds of children playing and the joy of gathering with friends.
Write a poem and place it on a Beltane alter decorated with the colour green, budding branches and bright flowers.
Our rituals can be simple and small and yet have such a deep profound effect on our energy as women.
Here is a beautiful poem that i would like to offer you.
The Beltane Blessing
Bless, O threefold true and bountiful, Myself, my spouse, my children. Bless everything within my dwelling and in my possession, Bless the kine and crops, the flocks and corn, From Samhain Eve to Beltane Eve, With goodly progress and gentle blessing, From sea to sea, and every river mouth, From wave to wave, and base of waterfall.
Be the Maiden, Mother, and Crone, Taking possession of all to me belonging. Be the Horned God, the Wild Spirit of the Forest, Protecting me in truth and honour. Satisfy my soul and shield my loved ones, Blessing every thing and every one, All my land and my surroundings. Great gods who create and bring life to all, I ask for your blessings on this day of fire.
However you choose to spend today, this evening and tomorrow I wish you joy, abundance, love and laughter for the fertile months to come.
And as my Romany ancestors would say.
Ache Mai Deve (May the Divine bless you)