The ancient Celtic festival of “Samhain” (pronounced sow-in) is celebrated on Oct. 31, a cross-quarter day (meaning the midpoint between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice).
This day marks the final day for harvesting the crops; whatever is left in the fields belongs to Mother Earth as both an offering of gratitude and a prayer for the planet’s continued generosity.
This special harvest day is also when the Feast of the Dead is celebrated. As we see that the crops of the year are dying, our thoughts turn to acknowledge the deaths of our ancestors without whom we would not be here.
Wiccans honour how a beautiful, precious life has touched us, how connected we are still to their spirit. We thank our ancestors for going on before us and struggling to make a better world for us to live in.
Today’s modern pagan, in reclaiming the ancient roots of the old religion, is returning to the honouring of death as a natural part of life. Death is not an event to be feared, denied or hidden away, but rather it is part of the whole cycle of life and is to be celebrated.
During the rituals of Samhain, we remember and honour all of our ancestors in a sacred circle. Animal ancestors are thanked by placing a bone in the north quadrant of the circle. Our bird ancestors of the air are honoured with a feather placed in the east quadrant. Wood is placed in the south quadrant for fire and to invoke the spirits of our ancestors. Shells are offered in the west quadrant to remember our water ancestors.
For the Samhain Festival, the spirits of our ancestors are able to cross the veil between the spirit realm and the physical world. Ancestors can send a vision, appear in a dream or bring a message from the spirit world.
Souls come to visit and mingle with the living. We allow ourselves to be open to receive any messages sent on this night.
Samhain is a time to explore our own mortality and accept our own death. We honour, remember, and learn to laugh at our own fears of death. This respect and honoring of death leads us to truly appreciate life in all its fragility and magnificence.
The Samhain Festival will take place in Kelowna for three days, Oct. 19 to 21, at the Unitarian Church hall, 1310 Bertram St. The ticket cost for the weekend is $75.
For more information see www.westerngate.ca.