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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Thinning of the Veil

The Celtic Festival , Samhain (pronounced sow-in), approached soon. Commercially, this is the time of the popular Halloween celebration. Houses are decorated in orange and black colors with both playful and ghoulish themes. Children (and adults) dress up as their favorite characters, in alter egos costumes, or frightening attire and wander the streets in search of mischief or favors. This is the beginning of yet another marketing season with candy, cards, and decorations. While fall offers the most amazing color displays we trade it all for plastic, crepe, and chenille.

(Did you know that one quarter of all the candy purchased in the United States is for Halloween? That is the best time to get your Christmas supply, as well.)

Samhain has another significance. In ancient times, October 31st marked the end of summer and the beginning of the New Year. This is the time in which the veil between the world of the living and dead is thinnest and allows those who have passed over to return (believed by some to cause trouble and damage crops). This time is also when priests, shamans, and intuitives are able to make predictions about the future. 

"Oyá" (c) Francisco Santos
Oyá, as the undergoddess of the Niger River, is the spirit of winds, lightning, and earthquakes – creating though chaos and destruction. She clears away the old to prepare for new growth. Oyá brings the winds of change of mind and memory. She gives you the courage to transform yourself. Her association with the marketplace offering shrewdness in commerce and exchange, and more specifically with the gates of cemeteries (as opposed to the entire underworld), reveals her in her aspect as facilitator of transition. 

Listening to the wind chimes, the rustling bamboo and whirls of leaves, I hear change happening. Watching greens become golden, red, burgundy, orange and brown, I see the shift from life to decay. Wood scented breezes share burning from fireplaces, open blaze, or chiminea. We light candles and hang decorative twinkling lights, to dispel the darkness. Our meals become warmer with soups and stews; as do our drinks – teas and toddies, hot chocolate and mulled wine. 

Today we are cooking a cream vegetable soup with new potatoes, mixed bell peppers, spinach, onion and cheese. We are enjoying warm cups of ginger, orange zinger teas, and nibbling on chia seed cookies.

Come Monday, October 31st, we will move the ancestral altar outdoors. I honor the memory of those who have gone before me and passed beyond the veil. For me, this season is a purposeful opening of my heart to allow the flood of loving memories to wash over me, knowing that even in death I am not separated from those I hold dear. 

How are you welcoming and embracing this season of change?

1 comment:

  1. Nice to read about Samhain and the story behind it. Coming from a place where even Halloween is unknown, this is indeed good information.


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