Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Samhain, Death, and Denial

Here we are gearing up for my very favorite Holiday and Sabbat: Halloween/Samhain! I've always been a Halloween girl. Some of my favorite childhood books were about stereotypical witches. Now that I'm a pagan Samhain makes the whole season that much more powerful and beautiful.

Samhain is a Gaelic word meaning "summer's end" and has all the connotations of transition that come naturally when warm weather gives way to cold. Ancient pagans would have been carefully gathering in their harvest. Cutting down plants. Slaughtering animals. Drying and preparing the foods to last through the long, dark season. If the harvest was not good, the winter could result in death. Death and dying hung over this part of the year.

I have noticed that Samhain can be a really therapeutic time to address our issues with death and with grief. It does not have to be a tear jag but just a time to explore our beliefs and to honor those who came before us. As a vegan pagan I include nonhumans in this equation. I think Samhain is a powerful time to send energy for the spirits of animals who have been killed by humans for innumerable reasons (or for no reason at all). It is also a time to send magicks to neutralize animal exploitation by our species.

It is very interesting to me that many of the same people in the pagan community who have laughed in my face or gotten confrontational with me about my veganism (this is not chronic but it does occur) are also the same people who dislike talk of death and dying. I think this is a fascinating correlation of denials. Denial that we kill with our choices, denial that we ourselves die. Or then there are pagans who are very willing to wallow around in the abstract concept of death but don't think at all about the way they kill with food, clothing, cosmetic, and other choices. I know none of us can be perfect (especially myself) but I'm just talking about acknowledgement of this issue and some sort of good faith attempt to deal with it.

Anyhow, I will blog more about Samhain because I think it is a huge holiday not only for pagans but especially for vegan pagans. Next time I want to think more about the concept of "banishing" evil, or attempting to neutralize those doing it.