|Posted by Felicia on October 24, 2009 at 12:00 AM|
Its nearly Samhain, the new year for us Wiccans, and the time when the veil between us and our ancestors is at its thinnest. Samhain is a time for honouring those who have come before us, for celebrating those who gave us life, for without them we would not exist. It is also a time to look back on the past year, and make wishes for the new.
Although a lot of the old traditions from the Pagans who lived long ago are lost, some still survive with us, and we can create our own. Every year on Halloween children dress up in all kinds of outfits, unaware that long ago people were doing the same thing, not for candy, but to stop the spirits of those unrelated to them taking them back to the spirit world. It was believed that if they could not recognise you, they could not take you. Jack o' lanterns are modern versions of the carved turnips set in windows to guide the visiting spirits of friends and family who had passed on back home. The dumb supper, a silent meal with a place set and served for visiting spirits, is still happening in some homes every year. Originally this time was not for fearing ghosts, goblins and the supernatural, the visit of the spirits was a happy time, for they love us their descendants, and just wish to spend time with us again. Much of this has been lost, but Wiccans and many other religions still maintain the honouring of the dead each year.
Ways We Can Celebrate
Here are a few ideas for celebrating and honouring those who came before us, as well as celebrating the new year.
The dumb supper
As mentioned before, the dumb supper is a silent meal with an extra place laid and served, so that visiting spirits may join you. If you have children then silence may be difficult, but a place could still be set, and a few pieces of food placed there as an offering. Seeds, nuts, halved apples and bread are good, as after Samhain they can be put out for the birds to enjoy as well.
Jack o' Lanterns
The origin of these, carved turnips, can easily be done, but apples, gourds, squash and pumpkins are all easy to do as well. Remember to place one in the window or by the door with a candle lit, so that any visiting spirits can find their way.
Garlands made from slices of dried apple, nuts, leaves, berries and other natural objects are easy to make, and are good decorations, as well as being more eco friendly and having symbolic meaning.
Tree of Remembrance
If there is a tree near you that you have always viewed fondly, then take a white ribbon, and tie it gently onto a twig in honour of friends and family that have moved on. If possible encourage other members of the family to add one as well. Another option is to place a crystal amoungst the roots or branches.
Place a plate of halved apples, or a favourite food of a loved one, on your altar, or outside.
When you have your circle, give thanks to your ancestors for all they have provided, and honour anyone, be it friends, family or pets, that you have lost this year. Remember to write a wish or goal for the new year on a piece of paper, and bury it outside.
Placing photos or tokens of anyone you have loved and lost, or of some of your ancestors, on your altar, is a good way to honour them. Light a candle and hold a minutes silence for them, while you remember all the good things about them that you can.
There are many more things you can do, try to come up with some fun and unique ideas. Remember to have fun, but stay safe, and always take care with the use of candles.