The veil is thin this time of year.
For those who don’t know what this means, there’s the notion of a veil, a layer that separates this world from the next, separates body and spirit, the physical from the metaphysical. It’s a drape of sorts, believed to be more permeable at certain times and places than others, enabling us to see beyond the material world.
This veil is more a feeling—beyond time and space—another dimension if you will.
Throughout the ages, this time has been an honored rite and ritual, found in both religious and pagan observances.
Halloween is one of the last truly pagan holidays we have left in the United States. It comes from the Celtic tradition of Samhain (pronounced sow-wen) and celebrates the end of the Celtic Year and the beginning of the next.
This originated as a time to celebrate and honor the previous year, let go of things from the past, and step back to let them die.
But this is a truth of the nature of all living things. The Celtics observed this time through rituals and rites. Carving faces in pumpkins, dressing as demons, and communing around fires were used as symbols throughout the ages, igniting change and moving forward.
It’s magical and certainly spooky.
All Saints’ Day—also known as All Hallows’ Day or the Feast of All Saints—is November 1st and is a Christian solemnity celebrated in honor of all the saints of the church. People visit cemeteries, go to church, and honor the deceased saints on this day.
Additionally, on All Souls Day (November 2nd), all deceased are honored, not just the saintly types. This notion of praying for all humans, even those you don’t care for, was practiced by all the great spiritual masters.
We find it in Metta Meditation and embodied in the ways of Jesus. This all-encompassing holiday is known to many of us as Day of the Dead, where we celebrate and honor the humanness in the deceased and acknowledge the reality of good and bad, the perfect and imperfect as part of life on Earth.
The three holidays together represent Hallowtide, an aptly name trifecta celebration of all the comings and goings of things found naturally here in life on Earth.
Simultaneously, these things are happening in nature as we move from the light into the dark, from summer to winter. And what separates these things are seasons of transition, often blustery in nature, providing contrast to the stillness of the blistering heat and numbing cold.
This balance of grounding down and letting the natural process of change flow through us is reflected in nature. The trees that shine brilliantly let go of those leaves and hunker down, with trust that a new season and new growth await.
Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga (the yoking of body and Spirit), informs us of these seasonal changes and whipping winds. The elements associated with this season are—go figure—air and ether.
There’s a need for both groundedness and flexibility, and ritual and “rites of passage” to support both.
In the realm of self-care, sleep, quiet, and time in nature restore us and help us rejuvenate. The winds of change can be uncomfortable and pull us off our bearings.
It’s a time to observe the best of our own personal grounding preferences: cups of tea by a warm fire, baths, reading, and writing.
At the same time, we support the movement of things, trying not to remain stuck or too attached to the past. Movement and plenty of water are important.
And breathing. Always breathing.
It’s a time to honor the whole cycle of life; this includes your own. Figure out the best way to do this. What feeds you?
For me, it’s writing.
I offer this reflection in honor of it all. Happy Hallowtide!
‘Tis your season; the veil is thin.
The dark descends, we go within.
We look inside to trust and see
Your wholesome spirit of eternity.
What are you, tho? I beg to know.
Are you up above or down below?
Perhaps, right here where faith stakes claim
Your altering presence which has no name.
I long to embody your Love now,
Dear God, great Spirit, show me how.