This weekend folks globally will celebrate Halloween, yet many of us are unaware of the origins of this celebration. The way we honour this date in the modern day is a blend of thousands of years of indigenous and pagan traditions, spanning the globe; however the intent has always been the same – to honour a time when the veil between this world and the spirit one is thinnest. Sade Buari takes us through the history of this auspicious date.
It’s officially Scorpio season! We have now entered an astrological cycle to honour all those who walked this earthly plane before us. Scorpio represents the underworld, ritual, and ancestor veneration. Between October 31st and November 2nd, different cultures across the world celebrate the life of those who are no longer in physical bodies but are “here” with us in spirit form.
Fire’s are lit and stories narrated under the star-lit skies, adding richness to those in a close commune for the pagan and Druid festival ‘Samhain’, which is traditionally celebrated between October 31st and November 1st. This ancient Celtic tradition marks the ‘thinning’ of the veil allowing us to connect and dance with their ancestors. Excluding the ritualistic nature involved with ‘Samhain’ Halloween is distantly related to this festival.
Significantly, this celebration takes place nearly halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice.
Samhain calls in the ‘dark half of the year’, a reminder that in darkness we can and do become whole. Our lives are intertwined with the ‘dead’ and this season of resurrection acts as a bridge for the celebrants to accept the continuity of life itself. Traditionally, food harvested in the summer and autumn months is laid out as an offering to the spirits and community to eat together in nourishing remembrance of their everlasting presence.
Moving to the land of Haiti, practitioners of the Christian and Vodou faiths commensurate the ‘dead’ on ‘Fête Gede’ meaning ‘Festival of the dead’, which happens on the 1st and 2nd of November. Haitians make annual visits to cemeteries in Port-au-Prince and throughout the country to speak ‘life’ into the names of their ancestors and pay respect to the spirits. Baron Samedi is known as the gatekeeper (Lwa) of the ‘dead’, as well as one of the guardians of the past, of history and heritage in Haitian Vodou (Jackson, 2010). Alcohol, coffee, and food welcome the spirits and Baron Samedi to communicate and bless the celebrants.
Many believe that by combining sound and movement, a portal is created connecting people to the ‘other’ realm. Music and dance is the sacred call for spirits to move through their bodies all night at Vodou temples. Dance is a spiritual rite as it’s a gateway of fellowship with our spirit and physical bodies. Over these dates, the cross between the physical realm and the ‘other side’ is also marked by Mexicans and other Central America’s Indigenous tribes for ‘Día de los Muertos’. This special holiday pays tribute to the loved ones who have too crossed over.