Every week I tend to meet up with a small group of Pagans. These Pagans range in age, gender, career, experience, and paths within Paganism.
Tonight we we discussing the different Pagan holidays. I found it particularly interesting to ask each person:
What do you do to celebrate this holiday?
What do you associate with this holiday?
If you don’t celebrate this holiday why not?
As we (the whole group) went holiday by holiday I found it interesting that a large majority of people (myself included at times) celebrated a few “main” holidays.
Those holidays were:
I started to draw some interesting lines between things. All of these holidays fall in/around/near a Christian holiday OR a commercial holiday.
Beltane. Memorial Day. May Day (in some places)
Samhain. Halloween (widely accepted holiday even with Christians)
I asked the question:
Do you think perhaps we celebrate (we meaning the individuals in the group) simply because of familiarity with the Christian counter-part holiday?
Do you think we concentrate on these holidays because of the commercial appeal and overall ‘acceptance’ during this holiday?
Another point was raised that there are basically 4 celestial holidays. These holidays are based on a solstice or equinox. The other holidays are harvest holidays. These are based on harvest times of different crops.
One group member brought up the point that since we are no longer farmers/gatherers we don’t have the same connection with the land as we once did. Now that we’ve got supermarkets and can get any variety of fruit and vegetables all year round we have little working knowledge of harvest type holidays.
Is this a good or a bad thing? To bring proper balance should we observe each holiday’s counterpart?
These are all just thoughts/ideas I’m sharing. Feel free to chime in!
The answers were really interesting. I’ve been Pagan for the better part of 15 years. Perhaps even a few more, but I only consider myself a 15 year practitioner because I was still really super clueless during those first few years. During all my time as a Pagan I have also chosen some holidays which are ‘high’ holidays and some which aren’t.
After hearing everyone else’s feedback I then started to analyze my own observance of the holidays.
Did I not celebrate the others simply because of no personal connection – or – was I not celebrating simply because it was too much work?
I now bring the question here, to those who read this.
Are there holidays you don’t celebrate? Do you abstain simply because you don’t feel a connection to that holiday or is there another reason?
I really procrastinated on this post! Woosh!
Samhain. Its a Sabbat. Another main spoke on the wheel o’ the year!
What is Samhain?
Well, different people will tell you different things. Like all things in this blog I will only tell you what I think. You are totally welcome to disagree! Its totally cool if you think I’m full of shit! You can absorb this information/energy or you can leave it for someone else. That’s how things work 🙂
From all sensible research I have done (meaning physical reading and researching based on recorded history) there is absolutely no mention of a holiday like Samhain or Halloween anywhere until the 19th Century.
The ancient Celts of Ireland/Scotland/France/England did celebrate their New Year on November 1. This would make October 31 New Year’s Eve.
As we know Romans conquered like .. everything. So when Rome took over the Celtic lands (which lasted like half a century) some Roman celebrations were thrown into the mix. One of these holidays was similar to the modern Memorial Day. Simply a day to remember those that have died.
In like the seventh or eighth century a Pope (I don’t remember which one. I want to say it was Gregory) made November 1 a holiday. It was called (in archaic English) All Hallow’s. Today its called All Saints Day.
So the night before All Hallow’s? All Hallow’s Eve, of course. This was then called Samhain then Halloween.
I think it is a huge mix of many cultures.
How do I celebrate Samhain?
Well while I do it quite simply.
I place a candle on my altar for each beloved dead. This year there are 6 candles.
- My Paternal Grandmother
- My Paternal Grandfather
- A childhood friend
- Maternal Uncle
- Husband’s Grandmother
- Husband’s Aunt
I anoint each candle and either whisper their name to the candle – or the person’s title. This candle is then lit in their memory while I think of them.
I feel this kind of quiet time is important to continue the healing process. Not only that but with our everyday busy lives often we don’t have time to stop and think about things that really mean a lot to us.
Rarely do we share our history/herstory with one another. We don’t tell one another stories like we once did.
I make offerings to my Patron Goddess. This is the time of year I either dedicate or rededicate myself to a Patron God or Goddess. This year I will be once again rededicating myself to Hecate.
When my Beloved Dead candles have extinguished themselves I tell each person for whom a candle was lit that I love them. I tell them I miss them. I tell them that they are welcome in my home for the evening if they want to be there. I will leave sort of like a group offering (a glass of wine, a chunk of freshly made bread) and thank them for being part of my life.
The next morning – the offerings made to my Beloved Dead are placed outside. I then tell anyone who I feel is still present that they are free to return to their side of the veil.
I do not smudge. I do not do any protection stuff. Why? Because I have only invited the people I have named. I didn’t invite ALL spirits to my home or sacred space. I do not need protection from any of my Beloved Dead. I do, however, treat them with the same respect as a spirit as I did when they were living.