As I am writing this, I am looking at tomorrow’s holiday with a new perspective of sorts. I’ve always loved Halloween, from my earliest memory. It was a fun holiday, a chance to become something besides your self, and of course, there was all the candy!
As a new Pagan many years ago it took on new meaning. I celebrated Samhain as I imagine a lot of new Pagans do. I did a little research, I borrowed traditions from paths that seemed to get it right, and I threw myself into celebrating this holiday of the dead.
But what I didn’t really have, or understand, was any real connections to my “beloved dead” or my “ancestors”…I never really had a strong sense of family connections beyond my immediate family and they’re immediate family (mother, father, siblings…aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents). I had never known my mother’s father and at the time I chose my Pagan path, the only people in my life who had died were my father’s mother and a childhood friend.
Still, I had a strong draw toward honoring the dead. My love of old cemeteries also goes back to my childhood and my interest in the spirit world was part of what drew me to Paganism to begin with.
Over the last few years, my religious path has changed some…nothing drastic, but if your faith doesn’t grow with you as you grow then your faith can die. I found myself digging into my family tree, into the history of me as it were, and discovered a feeling of connection with several ancestors that I had never known.
Two years ago, I attended a class in bone reading as divination. It had a strong emphasis on calling on the beloved dead to assist. It was after that class that I set up a small altar with pictures of those ancestors, and in the two years since I have added images of those who have passed more recently, not necessarily family of my blood, but family of my heart.
This Samhain, after I go to work in my Raven costume, I will spend an evening in quiet contemplation and while I can’t really have a bonfire like I’d like, I will light as many candles as I deem safe and invite those beloved dead to visit. I may even throw some bones and see if they speak to me.
Whether you celebrate Halloween, Samhain or Dia de los Muertos, may your day be filled with blessings and sweet things.