Symbolic Meaning Of Halloween

Renewal and Personalizing the Meaning of Halloween

Have you ever been taken up with the feeling of electric excitement, but you don’t know why? Ever been consumed by prickles of exuberant anticipation – but not sure about what? You just know something incredible is right around the corner.

For me, the meaning of Halloween embodies these sensations. This time of year, there is magic crouched behind every frosty pumpkin, delicious anticipation waiting in every bite of fresh baked apple pie, and crazy delight dancing in the heart of every costumed child.

The whole month of October lends itself to the theme of potential because it’s a month of transition. Climates change, winds shift, leaves begin their metamorphosis and descent, days grow discernibly shorter. I’m a transition-junkie, so this time of year launches me into a state of anticipation that’s completely wondrous.

That prevalent awe and wonder is enhanced by the underlying themes and meaning of Halloween, which come primarily from ancient European peoples whose lives were intimately connected with the Earth, Nature and the seasons.

Our ancients recognized the incredible changes of this month. Past experience alluded to the upcoming shifts (weather, provision, lifestyle) and what could be expected in the upcoming winter months. And although steps were taken (harvest, slaughter, home preparations/insulation, food storage, etc) to insure survival through the winter, a great deal of life was left to faith.

I like to think that’s why the ancient fire festival of Samhain marks the beginning of a new year in the Earth-based system of living in cycle with Nature. Samhain and Halloween share many traditions (indeed, the names are used interchangeably) for one, both are commemorated on October 31st.

To the ancient Celtic way of thought, October 31st marked the end of one year, the beginning of another (Samhain, in fact means “summers end”). This is an extension of the Celtic view of sundown as the beginning of each day.

To me, this resonates symbolism of faith as we surrender to the void, knowing our deepest renewal begins with that surrender.

The concept of dark/night marking the beginning of a day (or Samhain kicking off the beginning of a new year) is hard for my analytical mind to fathom – but my spiritual knowing is all over this concept.

The spiritually minded among us will recognize a period of intense withdraw or even a “dying to the self” before enlightenment dawns over our awareness. The Celts took this to the extreme by daily recognizing the faith-walk through the “night of the soul” in order reach the dawning of awareness.

Samhain or Halloween is an annual celebration of this kind of renewal. The meaning of Halloween emblazons the inherent potential all life holds for us, and marks in a very public/profound way how we can transform darkness by pointing ourselves into the direction of our own guiding Lights.

To be sure, the meaning of Halloween solidifies the presence of great transition in our midst. Our ancestors could viscerally feel shifts within Nature, and so they anticipated internal shifts within spirit, mind and body too. Halloween/Samhain was and still is a landmark way to embrace the changes in our lives and prepare ourselves to meet amazing transformation in the months that lay ahead.

Happy Samhain!


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