October 31st-November 1st are holy days in the pagan tradition. They mark the point on the wheel of the year called Samhain. Samhain (pronounced “sau-wen”) is the peak of autumn, midway between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Leaves are falling from the trees, the nights are getting longer, and the weather grows colder. It is the beginning of the dark half of the year. As the signs of nature remind us that winter is coming, we feel the pull of solitude and reflection. It is time to look within and to acknowledge those things that are ready to come to a close.
The Celts believed that during Samhain, the souls of the human dead and the pagan gods of nature were more able to cross over from the supernatural realm into the land of the living. The veil is thin for the entire span of time from the Sun’s entry into Scorpio (October 22nd) until Winter Solstice (December 21st). On October 31st, we also have a waxing Moon in Pisces until about midnight. Pisces energy is about connecting with the world beyond the veil, so our sensitivity to the Other-world is even further enhanced on this particular All Hallow’s Eve. Adding to the watery mix, Mercury and Jupiter are in Scorpio, boosting the Scorpionic signal. Scorpio is a sign of intense emotions, and Scorpio energy helps us to confront our deepest fears. When Scorpio themes are magnified, we can see deeply into the heart of things, and even courageously root out the truth. We can also receive great clarity this week about the nature of the fears that block us -- and what we must do to move past them.
I wrote more about this topic in my post about Jupiter’s transit through Scorpio.
When Scorpio energy runs amok, however, we run the risk of being overwhelmed by fear or by our own intense emotional reactions. We can become paralyzed, unable to move forward in our lives. It's like that feeling you have in a nightmare when you can't run, you can't scream, and you are completely at the mercy of whatever is chasing you.
But instead of feeding in to fear, we can use this potent time for ritual and intention. For example, if you want to connect with loved ones who have passed or with your ancestors, you can do so by creating an ancestor altar. I wrote a post about my own Samhain ritual a couple of years back:
What ritual might you perform, at this powerful time when the veil is thin? Is there a deceased loved-one with whom you wish to connect? Is there something you’d like to heal between you? Is there something you’d like to ask your ancestors to help you with? Now is the time. And it’s not just on Halloween, although that is a power day. These weeks around the peak of fall, as we head into the dark half of the year, hold the energy of the thinned veil.
Here is a simple ritual you can perform tonight, or any time during this darkest part of the year between now and Yule (Winter Solstice): If you have unresolved issues, or are freshly grieving, someone who has passed, write them a letter. Write all the things you’d want to say to them, as if they are sitting in front of you. Place the letter in front of their picture, and light a candle by it. Intend that this person will hear your message. In the days following your ritual, watch for signs, synchronicities, or dreams related to your loved one. They might have a message for you.
In my case, shortly after I sent out that post, I heard from my mother’s former partner, with whom I’d been out of touch for some time. She offered to give me some boxes of my mom’s things that were still in her possession -- things that had huge sentimental value for me, such as her original artwork and an unpublished children’s book she had written. I had thought I’d never see those things again. It was clear to me that my ritual had gotten a response.
You can also use the time from October 31st - December 21st for the following suggested activities:
-Give away or donate things you no longer want or need.
-Cleanse your home of the energies of the past year with sage, frankincense, or palo santo.
-Spend focused time alone and in meditation, reflecting upon all that has occurred since last Samhain.
This will prepare you to be receptive to the new vision that wants to be born at Winter Solstice. Aim your rituals and intention toward shedding, releasing, and letting go of all that which you do not wish to bring into the new cycle beginning on Winter Solstice.