Samhain: How to approach darkness and descent?

Darkness can be unsettling, but it can also become a source of strength and power. We can enter darkness with fear, anger, and ignorance and experience sadness and hate OR we can choose to bring our light to the darkness with reflection, forgiveness, and gratitude and experience joy and love. It is a choice we are constantly making but this season gives us time to remember who we are.

Samhain, All Hollow’s Eve, or Halloween – it goes by many names and has special significance for many cultures. In the culture I grew up, we called it Halloween and it signified mischief, costumes, and CANDY, but there is a deeper connection – an archetypal connection.

(Archetypal is an academic term that describes how some things apply to everyone. Everyone (universally) knows what sadness feels like, everyone has experienced excitement , we all know things from deep inside that we just know, without knowing why we know it – these things that connect us, are archetypal.)

Anyway – back to Samhain and Halloween. Halloween is actually a celebration that is a reaction of the day that follows – all saints day (Dia de los muertos) when the barrier between life and death is lifted and we can reunite with the souls we have lost.

It’s a beautiful thing to reunite with loved ones, but we know that these reunions are not lasting – the dead will once again return to their own plane of existence and we will return to our daily lives. But for that brief moment, for that one day – we are together again.

Death is not the only thing that separates us – we can be separated by distance, obligations, misunderstandings, opportunities, or just circumstance. Regardless the cause for separation, November 1st is a day of reunion – but unlike Thanksgiving when we physically join each other, this is a day of remembering and reflection. We do not get to physically commune with each other.

Just like a Zoom meeting, we are together, we commune with one another … but it isn’t the same. It’s enough, it gets us by until we can meet again, but it is a placeholder.

That seems kind of sad, but it’s joyous – we get a little bit of the people we miss, the people that matter, and also we reunite with our ghosts. There are those absent from our lives we do not miss but like the memories of those we love, they return. We have to deal with our past – the past that we miss, the past we loved, and the past we regret.

Sometimes we long to return to the past so we can relive something beautiful. We want to reunite with the person we love but with reflection, we can be faced with darkness. Samhain urges us to enter the darkness. Right now – until Dec 21st, every day will be shorter and every night longer. We are descending into darkness – this is the reality – the sun is further and our environment is colder. It is becoming winter (for us in this hemisphere).

Darkness and cold bring many emotions, many ideas. Fear, surprise, uncertainty, anonymity, freedom, chaos, liberation, sadness, understanding. Darkness and cold make us rest, they make us stay still, take time, and reflect.

So tonight, embrace the madness, the chaos, and uncertainty. Brazenly walk the streets as ghouls, kitties, and superheroes. Demand some candy and create a little mischief. Because tomorrow and through this season of darkness comes our time for reflection. Tomorrow we begin to slow down, tomorrow we have time to remember the people we no longer have in our lives, and in the following month that leads to Thanksgiving, we will have time to receive gratitude as we remember our past, the experiences and souls that have touched our lives. We can use this time of darkness to reflect, to let go, to be full of gratitude, forgiveness, and most of all … LOVE.