The Dark of the Year

Being a Celtic Reconstructionist, Samhain or Oíche Shamhna (Irish Gaelic), is a pretty big deal. It is the time of year when the Veil between the worlds is thinnest, when our Beloved Dead and Ancestors come for a visit and roam the land of the living. It is also the start of the new year, just as we all start in darkness so does the yearly cycle. On a personal level Oíche Shamhna is a very important day. Besides the above mentioned reasons it has always been my favourite day of the year, was ranked up with Christmas on the big holidays in my family. I adore the decorations, the trick or treaters, the pumpkin carving, the smell of the air, the coloured leaves. This is also my husbands’s favourite day of the year. We wanted to get married on October 31st but that year it landed on a Wednesday, as it did this year, not a good day for weddings. So we were married on the 27th instead. As my spiritual journey has progressed this day becomes more and more sacred to me. I still love the secular aspects of it but I have made sure to research the roots of those traditions and I will teach them to my son. The commercialization of this holy day is really starting to bother me, I think I now understand how Christians feel about the commercialization of Christmas.

I had wanted to have a dumb supper this year but between the baby and my health it didn’t happen. I did get to carve a little pentacle pumpkin though and have a small ritual for my Beloved Dead and Ancestors. I lit my altar up fully, burned some white sage and frankincense and myrrh. I had a dish in which I offered local unpasturized honey, whipping cream (from a can, better then milk I thought), 7 pomegranite seeds, a pinch of millet grains and four dried chick peas. I also set a little item for each Beloved Dead in front of the offering dish. The small silver vial with Grandma Laidlaw’s ashes, a small wooden carved bull that was Grandpa Laidlaw’s, a ceramic tiger that was Great Grandma Warner’s, a ceramic figurine if two mice that made me think of Grandma Dickins and a small wooden egg, painted Polish style for Grandma Furgala. I also placed a small silver backed mirror, face up on the blue velvet bag it stays in. It was something I was compelled to do, I think it was meant to represent water since bodies of water were gateways to the Otherworld.

My festivities and rituals will continue until November 11th as they always do. I will praying everyday as well as lighting my altar. I am doing this for my celebrations but also because it is the new year and I want to get into the habit of doing this every day. Starting this year I will also be treating my body as a Temple again, eating better and getting more exercise.

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