Halloween is this Sunday, and it's likely to be different from the Halloweens that have taken place before the pandemic. Nevertheless, Halloween may come just in time to give some a respite from the polarized environment we sometimes witness, and in some cases experience. It may also temporarily help others rise above the latest emotion attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic languishing. Researchers define “languishing” as muddling through the days and feeling like we're looking at life through a foggy windshield. So, to change things up a bit, I decided to share something different today and write about Halloween.
Halloween is traditionally a time to bring out the ghosts and goblins, witches and broomsticks, spider webs, and candy corn (which I never really liked and wonder why anyone does). 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 we could collect …only to regret eating so much of it later!
Originally called All Hallows Eve, Halloween has its origin in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain - when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. But as I gave it some thought, I wondered if Halloween has any spiritual meaning? According to some scholars, it does. Some say it’s about celebrating the cycle of death and rebirth. While in the northern half of the earth, the leaves die, and nature prepares for winter; in the southern hemisphere, the dormant buds prepare for their rebirths and the start of summer. This death and rebirth cycle that is inherent in nature, is mirrored in our own human experience.
All of us, at some point, will go through a process of releasing and experiencing mini deaths of what was, and re-births of ourselves as we go through this journey called 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 the things we need to release, and simultaneously celebrate the new expression of life seeking to emerge.
In addition, Halloween is an opportunity to honor our ancestors, and give attention to the lessons they have given us. We remember those who preceded us and the legacies they left for us and our planet. We remember their struggles so that we may embody their strength when we don’t seem to have any more of our own.
I recall when I visited Ghana, West Africa, and toured the dungeons where soon to be enslaved people were pushed through the "door of no return" and then shipped to a life of bondage in Brazil, the Caribbean, and America. It was a sobering experience. The event also reminded us that the spirits of those beings live. Moreover, that spiritual energy encourages us today to live our lives according to our true ideals. If we do, those formerly enslaved would not have lived in vain.
Halloween is also a time for meditating on the gifts our loved ones and ancestors have left us. It is a time to remember the patriarchs and matriarchs who modeled attributes we want to emulate and learned tough lessons we don’t want 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.
So this Halloween, in addition to the tricks and treats, let us take in the spiritual meaning that it can have for us as well.
Peace and Blessings,