Most people recognize Halloween as a holiday where children dress up in costumes and ask for candy, but it did not always look that way. Jack o' lanterns were originally carved turnips, not pumpkins, and costumes were not always intended to be funny or sexy. Many of the "traditional" Halloween mascots -- like witches, vampires, and skeletons -- also were not originally associated with the holiday. So, what is the real meaning of Halloween, and how did it change over time?
From Samhain to All Hallows Eve.
Halloween is short for All Hallows Eve, the day before All Saints Day. Its timing coincides with Samhain, an old pagan holiday. The word "Samhain" is a combination of two Irish words meaning "summer's end". Ancient Gaulish tradition held that the earth's lengthening days and descent into darkness marked the beginning of the new year. Many modern pagans, particularly those in America where Halloween is popular, celebrate a combination of both holidays.
Why are witches associated with Halloween?
Witches became associated with Halloween as it moved from its early roots to its modern-day state. As Christianity took hold in the places where Samhain was celebrated, those who still followed old religions were often regarded as witches. As a major holiday for many old religions, Samhain became linked with its celebrants. Now, typical Hollywood portrayals of witches are treated as a suitably spooky Halloween costume for children and adults alike.
Halloween and the thinning veil.
Halloween is notable for occuring when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest -- this is where many modern Halloween traditions have their roots. The spirits of the departed can come and go freely between worlds at this time, so people would dress up to frighten off malevolent entities and carve jack o' lanterns to ward them away from houses. This makes Halloween perfect for work involving divination or spirit communication.
Because spiritual entities, both good and bad, are able to pass freely between worlds, it's also a very important time for protective magic. Light Protection Incense Powder in your home, burn a Spiritual Protection Candle, or dab some Protection Oil on the windows and doors of your home to keep away malevolent spirits. Set up an altar to honor your ancestors, with photographs, statues, candles, food offerings, or whatever feels appropriate to you.
Ancestor work spell.
For this, you will need:
- A photo of the person you wish to speak to
- Protection Incense Powder
- 3 white candles
- An offering of food or drink
- The divination tool of your choice
- Vision Oil
- A fireproof bowl
First, dress the candles with Vision Oil. Arrange them around the bowl, and light the candles and incense. Sit for a moment, envisioning your ritual space encircled with a sphere of white light that only benevolent spirits may cross. Set the photograph in front of the bowl, and hold your hands above it. Say,
"My ancestor, come to me.
I ask for your help and guidance here, for I have need of your wisdom.
Please give me your aid."
At this point, you should feel the presence of the spirit you summoned. This can take practice, so, if you do not feel it right away, feel free to use your divination tools to see if you are able to communicate with them. By the same token, you can either communicate with them directly, or use your divination tools to learn the lessons they have to teach you. After you are through speaking to them, burn the offering in the fireproof bowl and snuff the candles.
Halloween may be seen as a holiday to dress up and party by most people, but its ancient spiritual origins are still very much present. No matter where you are or what your spiritual practice may be, the veil between worlds is thinning. If you wish to work with spirits or strengthen your divination skills, October 31st is the perfect time to do it.
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