Samhain, which falls around the time of Halloween, sometimes takes the back seat - what with the parties and festivities associated with the modern holiday.
But beneath all the hullabaloo, the meaning of Samhain remains and is still remembered by Wiccans and pagans all over the world. Here are four priceless lessons Samhain lets us relearn every year.
The Celts observed Samhain as a day of endings. The final harvest is done, the grains and livestock are safe, and everybody is ready for the earth to die in winter. It has been a good year.
Since many Wiccans consider Samhain as the New Year, we can also learn from this and look back on the year that's been. We can practice gratitude by reflecting on every blessing, big or small, that happened during the year. Even the difficulties have their place, in that they served as challenges for us to emerge stronger.
Samhain, as the Day of the Dead, also teaches us to be thankful for those who have come before us - our family, friends, ancestors, and personal heroes. They are the people who played an important part in our lives. Remembering them, their efforts, and their sacrifices will inspire us to be better Wiccans ourselves.
The pain of losing a loved one is incomparable. The road to healing is long and is often riddled with questions of why this tragedy had to happen.
However, Samhain reminds us that death is an essential part of life. The Goddess in her Crone aspect informs us that the Sun God has indeed died, but comforts us in the fact that he will be reborn at Yule. The Wheel of the Year will once again turn. And, like the song, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."
It may not be possible for our loved ones to come back from the afterlife, but it comforts us to know that they have occupied their rightful place in the Universe, and that we were lucky enough to have enjoyed life with them.
Seizing the day
Samhain is also a good time to reflect on our own lives. It reminds us that no matter how young or healthy we may feel, our time on Earth will eventually end.
The knowledge of our mortality doesn't serve to dampen our spirits, but to push us to live our fullest lives. Accepting our mortal limits means living life without limits - that is, a life without regrets. So are you still thinking about taking that trip? Or still mulling over whether to ask out the person you like?
The past has passed, the future is unknown, and all we are ever sure of is the present time. So better take that chance now!
Lastly, Samhain teaches us hope. We know that the Celts celebrated Samhain as a time of endings. Winter was coming, ready to put a sleeping spell on the earth, where it would regenerate into a new one in the spring.
But the Celts also saw Samhain as a time of new beginnings. Winter would eventually pass. The Sun God will grow strong again. The darkness and desolation will give way to light and warmth.
Samhain reminds us that whatever challenges we face, it will come to pass and that the best is yet to come. As sure as the sun rises and the moon gives its gentle night, this beautiful world will keep turning.
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Learning about the Wheel of the Year is important if you are serious about your spiritual journey. When you observe the Sabbats, not only will you be an expert at correspondences. You will also be more connected to nature in a sublime and deeply meaningful way. But how do you go about celebrating the Sabbats?