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Lesson #39

Samhain: The Great Sabbat

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Season of the Witch

Samhain is the biggest festival in Wicca, our greatest holy day.

Why is Samhain — virtually ignored if not shunned by other religions — so pivotal in Wicca? What makes it so important to Wiccans?

This is something you probably won't find anywhere — I know I've looked for years for a good answer. Wicca-School Winking Witch ©

When I asked the Goddess to tell me what was the most important thing about Samhain, as I did for every lesson in this course, this is what She said:

Samhain is when Witches bridge the gap between the world of the living (material reality) and the realm of the dead (spirit reality), and that bridging is what sets Wicca apart.

You see, at Samhain, we don't merely honour the ancestors or speak with discarnate souls.

We experience for ourselves a taste of life beyond life, dipping our toes into eternity.

Tasting Life Beyond Life

Wiccans are fully participating (as much as a mortal can) in the entire cycle of life, which includes death. At Samhain, we're honouring this first and “final” part of the process, demystifying it, and taking it from the fearful unknown to the comfortable and welcoming known.

If you've read up on the origins of North American Hallowe'en, you'll know that it was based in Celtic observances of Samhain. You may also have read that the origin of costuming for trick or treat was that the Celts believed spirits roamed freely this night and may be harmful or mischievous as well as helpful and friendly.

So to protect themselves, supposedly, they wore disguises to fool the spirits into thinking they were dead too and no use trying to mess with.

I don't know about you, but it's always seemed highly doubtful to me that a spirit would be misled by a bedsheet thrown over our heads! Wicca-School Winking Witch ©

I doubt our more-spiritually-attuned ancestors were really so simple.

I've always thought it far more likely that they dressed as skeletons and ghosts in the same way aboriginal peoples would dress up as deer: to honour and invite them, but more than that — to experience a bit of what other beings know and experience.

Maybe they dressed as the dead to participate for one night in this most mysterious part of the Cycle of Life, to help them cross the boundary between life and afterlife.

If this is the case, it makes sense why Witches are associated with Hallowe'en — we are the only mortals (in the Western world) flying between the worlds this night, bold and unafraid, seeking wisdom, a full participant in life.

At least, that's our goal as modern, spiritual Wiccans.

Sacred Mystery

Samhain is a spiritual reset button, where we celebrate the other half of life — death — in a way fairly unique in the world.

When we lose a loved one, we might know or believe that they still live, freed from physical constraints and suffering, but we really can't celebrate their freedom because our own feelings of loss get in the way (understandably).

If that's all we ever had — loss and grief — we'd end up fearing and resisting death.

Instead, every year at this time, we remember and celebrate the profound joy of the truth...

There is no death,
only a change of worlds.

Chief Seattle

Wiccans remember to celebrate the Mystery that takes us to our true Home, the Mystery that reminds us more than anything that there is far more to existence than what our eyes can perceive!

Most people prefer mysteries explained, solved. They want facts, not mysticism.

Wiccans know there's a lot more to existence than the Materialist philosophy allows, and we revel in Mystery as a peak into that "something more."

Death Worship?

Now, some misguided folks might think that a celebration of passing from worldly to eternal life means that we serve death... and offer living sacrifices to the gods.

It's ludicrous, of course. It's like seeing Christians worshipping a tortured and dying man on a cross and thinking they must love and serve death with torture and murder.

It's the mystery BEYOND death that we're seeking to remember.

But our death-phobic culture equates any death as a sort of failure or intentional murder (as when terminally ill patients beg to be released from pointless suffering).

Wiccans understand that there's infinite difference between the natural processes of life and the intention harm of another being. (Besides, from a spiritual perspective, we are ALL living sacrifices which the Divine will receive, when Her time is right.)

Season of the Wise

Samhain is a time of deep magick. It's a time of subtle beauty, that people of shallow perception miss noticing.

It takes a Wise-Woman, or -Man (the ancient title for a Witch) to perceive that there is more to this season than death and cold and scary darkness.

And it takes a person of Power to ride this season and utilize its potential rather than be run over or chased away by it.

In short, Samhain is a time that focuses Energy on and enhances the special Powers of Wiccans.

Well... I couldn't imagine a better answer to the question of why Samhain is so important to Wiccans. Wicca-School Winking Witch ©

Thank you, Goddess! HeartLoveGlow ©

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Continue with Samhain: The Great Sabbat , part 3:

Key Powers of Samhain

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