Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Death and Rememberance - Samhain

One of my favorite quotes on life and death is,

"[The Goddess] gives birth to abundance. But as life is Her gift, She lends it with the promise of death. This is not darkness and oblivion, but rest from the toils of physical existence. It is human existence between incarnations."
-Scott Cunningham

Pronounced “Sow-en”, Samhain is the pagan holiday which focuses on death. It marks the witch’s New Year as the cycle of life and death is complete. This is the Sabbat the Sun God dies, to eventually be reborn again to the Goddess at Yule. It is celebrated beginning at sunset on October 31st, the same day as Halloween. Samhain in Wiccan tradition, as well as many others, is the day of the year when the veil between the world of the living and dead is the thinnest. It is this day that spirits roam the Earth and visit loved ones.

Death can be a hard concept to understand for children who’ve never known anyone or anything who has died. Death can be hard to accept for those children who have known a loved one, including pets, to pass away. The reason that Cunningham’s quote is one of my favorites is because it shows that we should not fear death, nor should we be sad for those who have passed on. They are at rest.

This Samhain, we will perform a ritual after trick-or-treating which will allow us to honor our loved ones who’ve passed on.

A few years ago, Adonis’ mother passed away from breast cancer and everyone is still grieving. The children were all very close to her and still make drawings and prayers for her. This ritual can be another way of honoring her memory. My own grandmother is close to moving toward her physical rest. She recently found out that she has stage 4 lung cancer and I hope to be able to honor her life on this Samhain, even if she has not yet passed. Her being in the hospital so suddenly, with relatively no notice and such a short time to live, reminds me how fragile life is and how unexpected death can be.

Many cultures leave offerings of food, toys, or beverages for spirits traveling through this world on Samhain. Our ritual that night will do the same. We still care about the people and animals who have been a part of our lives and so we will feed their spirits. A candle will be placed in the window to help guide them if needed and an extra place at the table will be set if they’d like to join us. Samhain is also a holiday of candy, being Halloween and all. We will have the children leave a piece of collected candy at the altar to share with the spirits and to sweeten the spirits’ journey.  Our ritual will also include a chance to share a person or pet they’d like to remember or honor and to say some things that they remember or enjoyed.

Life is celebrated as a gift and remembered on this special Sabbat.

Next Sabbat: Yule

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