October 31. Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve. We all have some idea of what it means to us, present or nostalgic. For many pagans, it means something more than dressing up in scary or slutty costumes and getting drunk.
Paganism is a diversity in itself. There are many, many paths that are lumped together under one umbrella here. If, like myself, you’re not part of the Big 3 Abrahamic religions, you are identified as a pagan in the eyes of those who would use term as though it were a bad thing… the Other. Well, we’re accounted for in the Biblical accounts, the “other people, East of the land of Nod,” not under the power, influence, or jurisdiction of that particular deity. That covers a lot of ground. Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, all of the various reconstructionist faiths, neopaganism, witchcraft… the list goes on. The Eastern faiths don’t have a direct correlation to Halloween so far as I know, but they tend to honor their ancestors and those who came before. That is the very essence of the Western pagan celebration known as Samhain.
On the cycle of the wheel, it is the end, the third of three autumn harvests. From here the fields and all of nature around it begin to die. The cycle of death begins with Samhain and continues to Yule, the Winter Solstice, where the death itself is marked. Those festive wreaths you see during the winter holidays are funeral wreaths. The cycle of life ramps back up from there with a new birth three days later. Jesus is only the latest version of that resurrecting Sun God story. It’s all symbolic, based in astronomy and astrology, reflecting the natural cycles of the seen and the unseen. Who we are and have always been is reflected in our stories.
October 31, and it’s opposite point on the wheel, April 30 (Walpurgis Nacht), are the points where the veil between this world and the next is thinnest. Troubled souls can find their peace through reconciliation and realignment with the various cycles of life, death, and renewal. The pagan new year begins with the cycle of dying. It sounds morbid from the outside, until you understand why. We are all souls having a human experience. During those thin points in the veil, we can better connect with the eternal life force that connects us all. It’s actually quite beautiful to be reminded that even death has a purpose. It is not the end. It is the transition into a new beginning.
I’ve spent a great deal of time this year being reminded that the cycle persists whether I’m consciously aware of it or not, and whether I actively participate in it or not. It’s sometimes difficult to be fully aware of it in an urban setting. My life has made many transitions this year. When that happens, to cling to the past is harmful. Death, the end of the cycle, makes us let go that we may embrace the new life ahead. Sometimes what we are needing to let go of is an old way of doing things. Sometimes we say goodbye to a lifestyle or to a friendship or to a former understanding that no longer serves. Sometimes we say farewell to an energetic blockage that’s been holding us back, a misperception. Sometimes letting go simply means allowing what we’ve been holding on to so desperately to return to us on its own accord. Letting go doesn’t have to mean goodbye. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it just means we fly higher together, without tripping on each other or getting in one another’s way. Sometimes we have to let go just long enough so that we can readjust our grip. It’s not always easy to know which it is or needs to be.
It’s a lesson that requires constant learning, and for me, it’s a message that has different meanings towards different people in my life right now.
For many, the spring and summer months mark the high points for people. I only begin the climb to my apex in this part of the cycle. The reason being is because my energetic flow is less hampered in this part of the year by my… shall we say, biological limitations, being at odds with my energetic makeup. In short, I spend a lot less time fighting myself during the autumn and winter months. I’m more at home with the unknowns of the inner world than I am with those of the outer world. Or as the Taoists would say, I have more yin energy than yang. Or perhaps that, too, is only perception.
The “dark months” of the calendar offer insight and perspective. Good timing too. There are some aspects of upheaval in my personal life right now. I’ll need all the strength and insight I can get. I’m fortunate in that I don’t walk alone. If anything, with all of the seeds planted this year, the harvest has brought in more friends, closer friends, than at any point in my life. Maybe some things haven’t played out as I expected, but I choose to focus on the positive and learn what I can from the rest. I’m grateful for all who have come into my life, be it for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I’m especially grateful for those who have stuck with me this year following the “big reveal” and all of the drama that incurs as a result, both in my personal life and here on this site. It’s a lot to handle, too much for most. People expect that you have answers once you open the door to their questions. Not so much. We all have to learn answers for ourselves. The same ideas play differently for all of us depending on where we are on our personal development, which makes things interesting because sometimes that’s when we discover our blind spots. We all have those too. You know how it is, you can look at something a thousand times, and that thousand and first time is when it looks completely different and so obvious that it’s embarrassing. We all do that, but never in the same way, or over the same things. This year I’m learning to approach all of this from the same place of love that others have offered to me in this past year. I spent so many angry, fearful years looking to break the cycle. Now I have better insight into working within the cycle. Now I have to learn how to apply that. Better late than never.