I now know that my life has more or less always followed Pagan principles, I just didn't have a definition for my beliefs. It just always felt right to honor and respect nature, to not cause harm to any living thing, to heal with and use natural elements instead of chemicals. The one sided-ness of Christianity was never anything I could get behind ... even my five year old knows that to create life, you need BOTH a seed and an egg. Honoring just the Father, with no mention of a Mother? Except for Mary .... yet she has to be a virgin to be honored? Paganism celebrates the God as well as the Goddess, acknowledges that they both rule different elements and seasons, and the creed "An it harm none, do as ye will" is the one rule. The simplicity of that keeps me focused and peaceful. There is no room for your own interpretation .... you are either harming someone or something or you are not.
I'm challenging myself every day to bring about more understanding of Paganism. I avoid labels of any kind because I don't like the knee-jerk reactions that they provoke, but I would love to be able to sum up my beliefs without the negative connotations that come with it.
So let's start with Samhain.
No, not that one.
Samhain (pronounced sow-en) is a Pagan sabbat (any of eight pagan religious festivals commemorating phases of the changing season) which honors ancestors who have passed, and the Earth's transition from the abundance of summer to the cold of the winter. The word Samhain in Celtic means "summer's end". It is also a time when the veil between the spirit world and this world is said to be very thin, which is why skulls, tombstones, skeletons, etc are typical Halloween decorations. On this sabbat, we honor the dead with a "silent supper" - a plate of food set out next to a glass of wine; with telling stories of those who have passed and remembering the time we had with them. We hope that they will show us a sign that they are with us, but communicating with them is hoped for, never commanded. Pagans believe disturbance of the dead immoral, as they have earned their rest.
In our house, this is when I also clean and organize as much as possible to make our home comfortable during the winter. I dread the winter every year, so I start craft projects for me and the kids to keep us occupied, and stock up on birdseed for our birdy friends. This year I will also be planning my garden (yayyyy!) for next year, and in March I will start a lot of seeds. And with my sweet new fire pit, I have fires on the patio on cold evenings to look forward to.
If you are interested in learning more about Samhain or any of the sabbats, I encourage you to educate yourself. Just typing in Samhain on a search will give you loads of reading material.
Hope you are well and Blessed Samhain!