This is the time of Hallowmas, the Triduum of All Saints-Halloween (All Hallows’ Eve), All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day- from October 31 through November 2. It is Samhain, the Gaelic festival celebrating the end of harvest and the beginning of winter. It’s a “thin” time where the divide between the material and spiritual worlds is almost nil. It is the turning of seasons, the turning of leaves, the turning toward darker days.
It is a time to remember that life and death go hand-in-hand. A time to face our shadows, to acknowledge that which we are ashamed of, and to know that the other side of dark is light. It is a time to draw close to the source of Life, to the One who holds sleepers in her arms. It is now ever more clear that we are within a mystery, which is all grace- that all of this living and dying and goodness and evil and beauty and violence is witnessed and hallowed by grace. ~Joelle Chase
We stand hand in hand around these graves.
The moon shines dimly, and stars dot the sky.
All around us candles shine dimly one for each long extinguished life.
The graves surrounded by the life force of the dead.
Knowledge swarms this place radiating from the grave.
Barrier between us and those so long gone thin.
Moon shines on the tombstones giving them a dim silver glow.
It is as if they are among us again just for this moment.
Their spirits reaching out to us, filling us with their knowledge.
I lay flowers on their graves, and honor their deaths.
Honor new beginning that came with all those that died.
Mourning the end of the old and celebrating the new.
The lights extinguish and they return to their graves,
To sleep again until next year.~
Day of the Dead. Hallowmas. All Saints Day. Yes. And Yes. And Yes. Leaning into the thin veil. Whispering. Who are the Gods? And who am I with these Gods?
All Saints’ Day emanates from early Christian celebrations of martyrs in the Eastern Church, Donohoe said. “It has its roots all the way back to the fourth century,” he said.
The church observance was in turn built upon pagan customs of honoring the dead.
In Europe, Samhain was a Gaelic festival of the dead marking the end of the harvest and the beginning of the darkest time of year, a time when the spirit was more closely aligned to the physical world.
In the Americas, church ritual mixed with native celebration of ancestors.
“When Europeans came in the 1500s, the Mayans and Incas had this great reverence for those who had died,” King said. “Ancestor worship was highly followed. Native people of this country honored the dead. It’s a mixture of the Christian tradition and the native traditions.” Whether pagan or Christian, the celebrations touch on important cultural beliefs about the spirit world and honoring the dead. “There are lots of non-Christian religions that have ancestor worship and remembrance,” King said.
“We’ve always borrowed from ancient times. We’ve always built on the previous rituals. Don’t we all remember our ancestors? This is what this is all about. We’re remembering generations we don’t even have names for. We’re remembering the saints.” ~Greg Garrison