Halloween is here, just in time to give many a respite from the political news that’s dominating the headlines these days. So I thought I’d share a little something different today.
Halloween is a time to bring out the ghosts and goblins, witches and broomsticks, spider webs and candy corn (which I never really liked. Not sure why?). As a kid, Halloween was one of my favorite days. I anticipated what costume I would create and competed with my friends to see how many bags of candy I could collect—only to regret eating so much of it later.
All Hallows’ Eve, as this day was originally called, has its origin in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.
But does Halloween have any spiritual meaning for us today?
According to some students of Halloween, it does. This time of year is about celebrating the cycle of death and rebirth. In the Earth’s northern hemisphere, the leaves die and nature prepares for winter. In the southern hemisphere, the dormant buds prepare for rebirth and the start of summer. This death-and-rebirth cycle inherent in nature is mirrored in our human experience.
All of us go through a process of releasing, letting go, experiencing mini-deaths of what was and rebirthing ourselves as we journey through life. Halloween, in a way, is a time to honor the “deaths” of those things that are no longer part of our lives. It is an opportunity to make peace with things we needed to let go of. At the same time, we can celebrate the new expression of life that is seeking to emerge.
In addition, Halloween is an opportunity to honor our ancestors and pay attention to the lessons they have given us. We remember those who preceded us and the legacies they left for us and our planet. When we remember their struggles, we may embody their strength when we don’t seem to have any more of our own.
I remember when I visited Ghana in West Africa and toured the dungeons where soon-to-be slaves were pushed through the “door of no return” and shipped to a life of bondage in Brazil, the Caribbean or America. It was a sobering experience. Yet it was also a reminder that their spirits live on and encourage all of us to live up to our true ideals. If we do, their lives would not have been lived in vain.
Halloween is a time for meditating on the gifts our loved ones and ancestors have left us. It is a time to remember our patriarchs and matriarchs, what we can learn from them and what we choose not to repeat. May we use the memory of those who have gone before us to build stronger futures for ourselves, our children and our world.
This Halloween, in addition to the tricks and treats, let us pause to take in the spiritual meaning it can have for us.
Peace and Blessings,