Hallowe’en has, apparently, become one of the biggest festivals in the West…
I’m not saying that it’s all terrible, that it can’t be great fun - or that we shouldn’t join in - but I do think it’s sad that profundity and beauty have been given up for something more superficial.
The Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Sa-wen) was a time to give thanks for the harvest and to celebrate the lives of those who had passed on, since the previous Samhain festival. It was also a time to honour the ancestors and to remember them. Many Celts believed that, at this time of year, the Veil between the material and the Other was especially thin and that, therefore, the Spirits of the departed were better able and more likely to visit.
Likewise in the Christian tradition, Samhain became “Hallowe’en” or “All Hallows Eve” or “All Souls Day”, when the souls of the departed would be remembered and honoured and thanks would be given for them.
Samhain is a seasonal festival too, and celebrates the Earth’s movement into Darkness, that balances the light and brings rest before renewal.
This can be a metaphor for personal life, too - laying down the old and resting before moving into the new.
So, today, when opinion is polarized between enjoying the spookiness and condemning it, and when tricking and treating is the order of the evening, I wish you all a very blessed Samhain. May we all find peace in the amongst the excitement and, for some, the fear, and take time to reflect on and give thanks for what has been and prepare for what is to come.
The Transient Eclipse
Samhain, soft and gentle,
descending graceful on the haunches of the year -
Ancestors smile on the backs of shadows
and the veil shimmers and almost disappears
on Autumn’s burnished breath.
The fragrance of decay hangs in your arms and on your warm exhale,
the welcome sleep of death
that leads to rebirth and risings
to greater, higher things.
How did your face, your comfortable embrace,
so full of wisdom, love and tender grace,
become eclipsed by sweets and tricks and treats
- and worse, by blood and gore, villainy and more
than any other season must endure?
How did your transforming power
become the Evil Hour,
the scourge of days?
Samhain, soft and gentle, your heart ablaze with Autumn’s gold,
you’ll not be hijacked, ‘slaved and sold,
for, strong beyond the knavery and tricks,
You’re more profound - and more secure and more eternal sure -
than any transient eclipse.
Ruth Calder Murphy is a writer, artist, music teacher, wife and mother living in London, UK. Her life is wonderfully full of creativity and low-level chaos. She is the author of one published novel, “The Scream,” several books of poetry and one or two as-yet unpublished novels. She is passionate about celebrating the uniqueness of people, questioning the unquestionable and discovering new perspectives on old wonders. She is learning to ride the waves that come along—peaks and troughs—and is waking up to just how wonderful life really is. You can visit Ruth and view more of her art on her website here, or on her Facebook page. Her latest book is available on Amazon here, and here.
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