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We have entered the time of the year when many modern Pagans celebrate Samhain. The holiday marks the start of winter and the new year according to the old Celtic calendar. It is a time when the ancestors are honored, divination is performed, and festivals are held in honor of the gods.
Samhain is also recognized as the final harvest before the long winter ahead. It is perhaps the best-known and most widely celebrated of all the modern Pagan holidays.During this season, other celebrations and festivals are also being held such as Velu Laiks (“the time of spirits”) by Baltic Pagans, Álfablót or the Scandanavian sacrifice to the elves, Winter Nights by Ásatrú, Foundation Night in modern devotional practices to Antinous, Allelieweziel by the Urglaawe tradition, Fete Gede by Vodou practitioners, Día de los Muertos for followers of Santeria and several indigenous religions in Mexico and Latin America, Diwali for Hindus (beginning Oct. 19 this year, it runs for five days) and the astrological Samhain on Nov. 6 for some Witches and Druids. Finally, in the Southern Hemisphere, many Pagans are currently celebrating Beltane.
And of course, there is the secular celebration of Halloween.
Here are some thoughts shared by Pagans and polytheists about this time of year:
“Samhain is not everyone’s favorite sabbat, but it is truly the season of the Witch. Halloween Witches dominate holiday displays, and it’s the one time of year the rest of the world seems to truly embrace the supernatural, the unexplained, and the occult.” – Jason Mankey, “Samhain is Pagan Christmas”
“Lastly, a healthy celebration of death can bring many benefits. In addition to solutions to the many problems caused by our culture’s dysfunctional hang up over death, our children can be prepared for when someone important in their life dies – which will happen sooner or later. If we prepare them, it can be a manageable time of grief instead of a life destroying, scarring trauma.” – Jon Cleland Host, “Teaching Death to Naturalistic Pagan Children”
“When we take the time to look back on our paths, we can see where the labyrinth has guided us true again and again. When we succumb to its spiral, we can feel our hands on the threads of fate, being woven strong. There is no way to get lost in this labyrinth – all we have to do is keep moving forward – even in the dark.” – Laura Tempest Zakroff, “Navigating the Witch’s Maze in Dark Times.”
Many people who have been active members of our collective communities have crossed the veil this past year, including: Raymond Buckland, Hugh Hampton, Dana Eilers, Eric G. Canali, Jaime Johnson, Donna Darkwolf, Ophidia Kalendae, Bill Trivett, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, Nathan Smith, Lucie Marie-Mai DuFresne, Margaret Alia Denny, Donald Weiser, Lady Siobhan, Michael Crahart, Claire Hamilton, Matt Schofield, Anne Lenzi, Jerry Fandel, and Velvet Rieth. There are also many others who have not been not named here but who have touched our individual lives, our practices, and our communities.
What is remembered, lives.
May you have a blessed Samhain and a blessed holiday season. May peace fall upon you and your beloved dead during this time. Let this be a new cycle of quiet joy and renewed blessings for all of you.