Beliefnet
A Pagan's Blog

I’ve been busy polishing our ritual
script for Samhain (pronounced “Sow-win”), which we will celebrate the 30th.  I hope every other Pagan reader of this
blog will have an opportunity to observe and celebrate this time as well.  I think it is one of our two most
important Sabbats.


Wicca celebrates and honors the
Sacred in all its manifestation throughout life, for it is the Divine as it
manifests in the world that serves as our “sacred text.” We focus on the
meaning within phenomena as
symbols
of a larger context toward which
they point.  Life is a cycle, and
we see it symbolized throughout the course of a year here in temperate
zones.  On the equator we would
need different symbolism to bring this insight alive, a sign that variety is
itself Sacred. Along with the Sacredness of variety, I believe our world’s
other most fundamental teaching about the Sacred is its eternal linkage of life
and death.  Everything that lives,
dies.

Samhain is when we honor death, as
six months previously we honored life at Beltane.  Then light was rapidly increasing, each day longer than the
one before.  Now night is becoming
dominant, each night longer than the one before. 

In NeoPagan and Celtic traditions
Samhain is the last day of the year, as sundown is the end of the day and the
beginning of the next.  For Wiccans
such as myself, the time between Samhain and Yule is the time when death is the
dimension of Spirit most present at least symbolically. 

Here in Sonoma County both our main
altar and our ancestor altar will be decorated with marigolds, and the central
candles will be atop a wonderful Mexican ceramic skull, for we are blessed with
the near coincidence of Samhain and Day of the Dead.  These two celebrations are particularly harmonious for both
honor those who have passed on. Both connect with that part of existence we
usually most avoid.  And Day of the
Dead is celebratory towards those who have passed, helping us connect with our
ancestors, something far less prevalent in NeoPaganism than in indigenous traditions. 

Day of the Dead is indigenous to
America, particularly Mexico.  Its roots are thousands of years old.   Its celebration has moved north as Mexican people have come here to
work and to live, in the process enriching our own appreciation of this time.  To me its is fitting that we integrate
their wisdom and beauty into our practice.

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