Category Archives: Ghosts
Samhain and Hallowmas:
The Holy Week:
Death and Rebirth in the cycle becomes complete
Part 1: The Spiritual Aspects and implications
I write this as Samhain and Hallowmas come to a close. The festivals of the dead and the transition from the lords of the land to the lords of the underworld completes the transition. I figured that as part of my job to help seekers on their search for questions I should provide some insight as to exactly what this sabbat is about and why people celebrate the sabbat in the ways that they do. Like everything else there are many ways to explain and experience the mysteries of these sabbats and not every ones view will agree with yours or even make sense to you. All I can do is provide my own insight based on my personal experiences and sources.
As I have started to develop my own personal theology this sabbat has come have a different meaning to me than other people might have. That is why in my own practice I call the holiday I celebrate Mortedon. However since most people are familiar with the names Samhain, Halloween, All Hallows Eve, and All Saints Day that is what I will use here.
According to many sources this time of year could easily be considered the witches new year. The God is officially dead and in the underworld. He wont be born again until the Winter solstice and as such he is dead and in the underworld. This is the time to transit between one working season and the other. It is a time of completion and reflection that may bring about the planning ad start of the new planting season for the next harvest.
In many ways the major difference between those who call themselves Traditional witches and those who consider themselves Wiccan is that the majority of the rituals in traditional witchcraft deal with ancestral veneration and ancestors as divine while the rituals found within Wicca focus on the God and Goddess or Lord and Lady rather than the ancestors. This is alright. Not every one is meant to worship and venerate the ancestors. Anthropologically it has been said that ancestral worship was the first form of worship, which is why for me it has become a source of my foundation.
I actually appreciate these different theological styles. There is one holiday in which they both meet and they both share the same view. It is viewed by both paradigms (Wicca and Traditional Witchcraft) as a day to honor both the dead and the ancestors as well as the God and Goddess. It is also an acknowledgement by both sides that the season of reflection is upon us. It is now that we must spend our time upon reflection and preparation for the new year and seasons.
Samhain, All souls Day, All Saints Day, Ancestor Night…all of these are names for essentially the same festival. This festival is an acknowledgment of every one who has gone before us. It is also an acknowledgement that there is life after death. It is here we can really see how even though the people we love and cherish may have passed on from this life, they really are still near by and watching us.
In many ways this is the time of year where the festivals a person honors and celebrates explains at least in part what their view of the afterlife is. For some people who believe in reincarnation this is also a time to connect with any of their past lives so that lessons they have to impart may be gives. This is the second festival where the veil between the worlds of the living and dead as well as spirit worlds is lowest. That is why contact with spiritual allies at this time of year.
Part Two: The Theology and Mythology of the Sabbat
Folkore and myth united
This is according to many sources the last sabbat of the year. For many witches the year starts at Yule and ends at Samhain and begins at Yule. In reality there is no real start or finish to a cycle. Cycles are circles and will always come back to a point and start again. This is how the world and the universe exist. Everything in the universe will be used again in the universe at some point in time. Every thing physical you see on this planet is made of of a star that existed eons before we were born:
Theologically, spiritually, and mentally it makes sense that the world as we know it would work in cycles. The physics at work in the universe simply provide a non-disputed example of how reincarnation exists. Here at Hallowmass and Samhaintide we are really able to see and understand how death and destruction/decay are essential to the growth and development of future lives and crops.
According to the Cycle of the Year and the 8 sabbats within Wicca and Eclectic witchcraft Samhain is when the God is dead. He was sacrificed at Mabon to ensure the fertile grounds of the next harvest. At one point in history it was believed that the king was sacrificed to bring life to the land for the next year. This was symbolic of the God’s death for the fertility of the land. Latter corn dollies were sacrificed instead of a human.
Blood was and still is the essential life force. If a creature is alive it bleeds. By the God sacrificing himself his blood (his life force) goes into the land giving life to the land. He knows that he will be reborn in his son in the end of winter and he will from the underworld guide and symbolize his son’s birth and his return by the return of the sun’s light starting at the Winter solstice (Yule).
It was believed that once a person died their body became the land. The blood of the sacrificed victim nourished the spirits of the land for the winter and would gain their favor for the spring.At Samhain the ancestors and other spirits from the land of the dead returned to give their blessings for the following year to their descendants.
The God at this time was in the Underworld understanding and being reborn. At Beltaine he had impregnated the Lady, his lover and wife, who would bear the child of promise who would carry and light the way for the Lord to be reborn at Yule (the light returning slowly) with his actual birth at Imbolc. The rest of the sabbats continue along this line. So in some ways Samhain is both the start and the finish.
The knowledge that there is life after death and life in death is symbolized no better than with ever greens (one of the reasons why those trees are decorated at Christmas). It’s also one of the reasons I feel that the hope to get through the winter for the spring exists. To see something that is alive and producing chlorophyll in the winter while the rest of the trees are inherently dead proves that there is life in death. It is one of the reasons I can see that death allows for the continuation of life.
With these thoughts in mind it is time to get to:
Part 3: A sample ritual
Ways that honoring the ancestors can be done
Now that it has been established why honoring the ancestors is so important I can start to give you some ideas as to how you as a seeker or as an active Pagan could honor your ancestors and the Gods and celebrate this sabbat and simply begin or further expand your understanding of this sabbat. For myself I gained even deeper insight into the mysteries this Samhain. As I post this the gates start to begin closing and the path seems to close, yet the creepy and spooky nature that is Samhaintide and Hallowsmass remains, the time to honor the ancestors comes to a close.
I have had a week to reflect on what I wanted to write for this entry and I have finally come to the last part of the entry where I can really start to explain how one can go about celebrating this sabbat. For many years as a seeker I was honestly unsure of what to do with my offerings for any sabbat. Samhain was another one that left me confused, so now I feel it it is time to give some sort of explanation as to how you can give your offerings to the Gods and the ancestors.
So here is a very simple ritual:
Ancestral Ritual For Samhain:
Apple or Pomegranete Juice/alcohol
Red Apples or Pomegranete fruit & Seeds
As you pour your drink concentrate and think of your ancestors and the Gods and the land. Focus intently and place this light into the food and drink blessing it in the names of the spirits, the ancestors, and the Gods. You then pour two drinks one for the Spirits, ancestors and Gods and one for your self.
As you take your drink say a prayer for what you are thankful and towards any ancestors you wish to contact and communicate with. Take a moment and think of them. Then get into your trance position. For this it may be best of you lie facing down with your hands working as a head rest head in a comfortable position. After you get into position think and state to your self:
“I Vibrate in harmony with the Underworld and the Gods of the Underworld”.
Repeat this statement over and over until you reach a state where you see and become one with the God or Goddess of the Underworld. Continue the trance until you have gained all the insight you will receive. Slowly reduce your vibration into yourself. Once you are back into yourself take another drink in honor of the Gods and the lesson you learned.
Eat the red apple or the pomegranate seeds. If you eat the apple place the seeds aside till the morning. If you eat the pomegranate seeds place a few aside till the morning.
Go to bed expecting dreams based on the rite you performed. The following morning write down any dreams you may have had. When done and dressed for the day take the seeds and the same drink you had the night before and place them in a whole at the trees base.
Reasoning behind the ritual:
By taking in that blessed drink you understand that the drink is the fruits of the Gods who you worship as well as the ancestors who literally are the land. This drink is their blood after the sacrificial blood of the god had been spilled, this is their response. When you eat the fruits of the land or drink of the liquids you are taking in the essence of the land and your ancestors.
When you let a drink in a cup evaporate overnight that drink is consumed by the air and the essence of life. The ancestors who have returned to visit partake of this liquid. In the morning the seeds and the remaining liquid are returned to the ground. This nourishes the ancestors and the spirits as well as the gods. This is how we can honor and nourish them.
Part four: My conclusion:
For me this really explains a lot. Through the ritual expressed above I was able to understand the roles of the Gods and the Goddesses that I worship. I was also able to understand exactly what the underworld does to work with rebirth and reincarnation. Finally When I look at astrophysics and how the creation of new universes begin and what black-holes really are I can see how my theology and philosophy line up with science.
I really recommended that any seeker of the wisdom of the cycle of destruction, reformation, creation, growth, and development take a basic physics course. This course will explain how the various galaxies came into being, how stars and suns are born, and how new universes are created. In some ways it may also lead a seeker to see how magic could be seen to be the force that keeps all of these things working in balance. That is what Samhaintide and Hallowmas is all about.
With my last Pagan Blog project post I was all caught up and could now focus on one entry per week. There are three D themes in my path Death, divinity/deity, and Disir. An acquaintance of mine posted a very well written blog about the Disir as in D is for Disir. While the Disir is a concept I accept and do work with, it is not something I have spent much time researching on. That is why I don’t feel like posting anything about them other than I believe that they are ancestral mothers and female ancestral spirits. The topic of Death itself in my path has two subsets which must be touched upon if the topic of death is to be understood with in my path. My post on Divinity and divine will be next week. My post on death and it’s related aspects will be this weeks focus.
So why do I mention the belief in the Disir at all? Well that’s simple. The focus of this entry is on death. However when I think about death and the role it plays in mat nature based path I realize that there is more to death than simply the end of “life” or the end of an essence in “physical form”. When it comes to death the destruction or the end of a life is an aspect of death. It is the onset of death in many cases and in the physical world it may be the aftermath of something (the destruction created death) that brings about new life and new hope.
The Disir are female ancestral spirits. That means they are dead and thus have experienced death and its destructive force. They also have a fresh and new look on life as they are not bound by the physical senses any more. It is to my Disir I am most connected to when I pray to my ancestors, however I am also connected to my Alfar (male ancestral spirits). The fact remains that they are dead and thus that is their connection to death.
Many people would consider me morbid for accepting and relishing in the beauty that comes from death and the destruction found with in the so called icy grips of death. If I am morbid than so be it. The fact of the matter is death is a simple fact of life. I have experiences the cruel loss of loved ones close to me. Those deaths impacted me in many ways. It hurt me.
One of those deaths happened at a time where I was already very anti-life. I was relishing in death as an end to existence and the pains of life. It was a very dark time for me. Everything was a dark empty soul sucking whole. I was convinced I was a demoness at heart and that my humanity was punishment for turning on the demon race at some point.
This went on for several years. Eventually I went into the mental hospital for help when I was severely suicidal and ultimately knocking on deaths door. If you have ever read any of Poe’s works and see how he describes the mad characters as living corpses, that was my physical appearance at the end of 2005. Through therapy I accepted my issues and worked on them. I am no longer so acey for deaths acceptance of me, but I have a new appreciation for death and its role.
In many ways during those years and until the last 3 years I was alive and dead at the same time. I had turned off basically every other emotion I could feel. It was all pain all the time. I was op[en only to the beauty that was found in the darkest of humanity. That for me was the essence of life and humanity. Pain and suffering were my focus of life.
There was a pivotal author that lead me to accept that darkness in your view and acceptance of the world was an acceptable thing. I read several works by Konstantinos. His works about nocturnal witchcraft and Gothic magic lead me to a deeper understanding and appreciation for the darkness within me.
Overtime that in turn started to help me see the beauty in happiness and the simple joys in life, while still accepting the beauty found in pain and suffering as expressions of the human experience. Through the darkness I was able to see life in all its complex forms while seeing the true darkness with in this reality.
I did not mean to get bio-graphical on you, but there it is. Death and darkness have been a prevalent part of my world view for the last 13 years, though not always in a positive way. I did feel that some insight into my own mental state and processing was required to gain an appreciation for what comes next in my blog.
What is this true unrelenting darkness? The truth is that everything dies. The truth is that in order for any sort of life to be sustained there must be other forms of life sacrificed so that others may live. Something must die in order for other things to live. Death is inevitable for all life. Yet death is not the end. Death is simply a door to the next part of the cycle (which was touched on my my earlier post).
If I am morbid then I am morbid. I tend to see myself as a naturalist. In the wild animals see and experience death on a regular basis. There are scavenger species out there who in the wild survive completely upon the dead of other creatures. Death is a part of life. That which dies in nature upon its decay (destruction) provide nutrients into the land and other creatures in the Eco-system into the future provide more life and sustenance for the survival of other lifeforms.
There are entire bacterial life forms and other forms of life who depend entirely upon the cycle of death to survive and live. Death is not pretty nor should it be. However death is also not something to be avoided and hushed over. Death is simply one set in the cycle of life,
Death is what provides for the future. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t mourn our dead. Not at all. I think that death of loved ones should be mourned. I think that death should also be accepted as something that happens. We don’t have to like it or even really want it. Death is not always fair. It just happens. However death is essential in the ultimate progression of the soul of humans and something we experience through many years of our life.
So what does death involve and why do I honor an accept deaths role in the evolution of my soul and self? Well for me I have already experienced a death of myself at least once. I believe that a part of me died when I faced my darkness and escaped knowing that I was no monster, but that I simply had my own views on things. That has given me some idea as to how the physical death of our self.
To answer the question about death and destruction its important to have a brief concept of how I understand the soul to be structured, and my belief in reincarnation as well as ascension. These are things I hope to post detailed essays on under my writings page, but for now I’ll give a basic overview and get back to death and destruction.
The soul is made up of five basic components. You have your body, your mind, the ancestral line/blood/shadow, the spirit, and your soul itself which is will call for now the susoul. Each part of the soul is essential. Only the body is mortal. The other aspects of the soul and our essential selves and the mystery of what reality is are essentially immortal and forever lasting. That doesn’t mean that they are with out change. Time does change and time is the ultimate destruction and death. So now let me explain each part and why:
Your body is your physical body. With out your body you can’t gain the experiences you expect to gain in each life. You need the physical body to gain knowledge and wisdom available in each generation as science and philosophy grow so does our mental experiences and ability to comprehend the universe and the meaning of life. our bodies provide the vessel of experiences which lead to gnosis of mysteries of the universe through religion or other practices.
Your mind is what processes our past life experiences and our current experiences to gain further knowledge and wisdom. It is our mind that processes that which we have gained in the past and that which we must gain in order to ascend to the next physical state of being and those mysteries until we ultimately reach the pinnacle of spiritual development: being at one with THE ALL. Essentially our minds is THE ALL manifested within us as we are simply all thoughts with in the divine cosmic mind (which will be touched upon next week with divinity and deity).
The ancestral line/ blood/ shade is the aspect of the soul which can manifest as a ghost. This is the ego of our self. It is our personality. When we die our mind and our soul guide our shade into the realm of the dead. This is the sum of our current incarnation. When we pray to our ancestors it is this part of the soul that hears the prayers and may or may not answer. So long as some one remembers “you” the shade remains intact. This could be in the form of family stories and legends, physical images, or even in the case of generic “ancestors” the very idea of ancestors of blood is those who have gone before in the family line. So as long as the family line is remembered your ego exists in some form.
I agree with the ancient Greeks in that it would be through the offering of blood (the essence of life) which would bring true memories to the ancestors and dead, but aside from that we exist forever in the land of the dead as our ego. This personality, this physical experience lasts on life. When this physical body dies it is the end of ourselves as we know it. All that will remain of us as we see and know ourslves and our family knows us is a shade which is a poor reflection of that which we were (read the book of the Odyssey where Odyssesus travels to the land of the dead to see what I mean).
Our spirit is our essential life force. It is our Ki. This comes from nature. This is literally what I would refer to as the breath of life. While I think that babies are alive the moment they can live outside the mother’s body a child is “a life” the essence of life is not with in a person until they take their first independent breath. This comes from many mythos where its wasn’t until the first humans were given the breath of life by the respective gods of that religion (in my history Christian and Germanic) that the humans were not fully alive and willing to do the Gods will.
It has often been accepted that breath and life were considered to be equated. I wouldn’t say that it’s far off as all living beings require to breathe in some form in order to survive (yes plants breathe. They intake our exhaled waste and through their intake exhale something we can breathe. Symbiosis at its finest). Thats why I equate spirit with breath and life. When I do spirit enhancing exercises I typically alter my breathing and it has an effect that directly correlates to the feeling I have of my physical being. When I physically feel ill my breathing is different than when I am fit. My breathing and breath relates to my life in direct ways. This is why I also feel that breathing exercises to transmute emotional states and feelings can be highly effective.
Finally there is the susoul. This is the true eternal aspect of ourselves. If you read my essay on witchcraft as an underworld tradition this is the part that Artison would call our true soul and true self. In reality I see that view of the susoul as our true self as incomplete. To me it removes the possibility of our personalities surviving in the afterlife.
My personal experience has shown this to be not only inaccurate for my experiences and those of my close family, but to be inaccurate and to not reflect the experiences of anyone who has been visited by a loved one who has passed beyond the veil. In experiences with ghosts and aspirations of those who have passed you inexplicably deal with the persona or ego of a person. This to me shows that our ego as we know ourselves exist in some form for as long as “we” are “remembered”.
So long as there as cemeteries to mark the graves of the deceased egos will remain. While the names of those buried may not be intact, the fact that their bodies are there means they are remembered and are a part of the land (see my cycle view). Being buried makes our body decay and become part of the land. Thats why we are also essentially immortal. our bodies will become part of the earth and then forever be part of all matter in time and space for as long as time and space exist. Talk about immortality.
I do see that the susoul is an important part of us. In our life this may be our mind, but I see it as separate. Our susoul is our thread in the universe. According to Artison humans are not beings in the physical sense that we exist, but that we are beings in that we exist in the tapestry of the universe in al forms. This existence and being boils down to our essential self which I call our susoul.
Our Susoul is that which is reincarnated in every life. This is the core of our being. Anything that happens to us in this life is based on the actions of our previous ego or egos and has been accumulated on this strand of life. That which is unfair to us in this life may be an action in punishment for a previous life, but it might not be. I do know that the actions we have done in our past for the good or for the ill of yourself and your loved ones will have an impact in the next life and possibly lives after that.
This is why people are said to inherit the sins of their ancestors. In many ways this is true. The actions I make will have an impact on my family in the future for my children, my grandchildren, and even generations beyond there. This is also why the concept of wyrd in the Germanic sense is part of the susoul and the ego/blood/ancestral line/ shade*shadow.
For me death provides a way for new life and new creation. Through each physical manifestation we are given chances to gain further insights into life and into the mysteries of the universe. For now I see the meaning of life simply to be to have experiences in as many ways as possible, enjoy all we can and to experience all that we can in this life. As I said once this physical body I have is dead and has breathed its last breath as a physical being Loona Wynd will cease to exist. Her works and her writing will be all thats left in the world at large to remember or know her. The family she has will be all that can remember her (and right now that doesn’t include any children..but time is still on her side).
When I die my ego will cease to be limited by the senses pf the physical world. I will be in the land of the dead. As such I will have sight beyond my normal sight. I believe that when I die I will also be able to meet with and interact with my past lives. So long as my susoul exists (which basically means so long as the universe and reality exists) all of our past lives exist. Thus we could meet in the afterlife and discuss our meanings and experiences. These discussions could lead to a greater understanding of the mysteries experienced by “Us” and thus help us ascend to the next level.
Death in nature leads to destruction which paves the way for new life and new growth. Death is the force which causes the cycle to turn. Death and destruction are the ultimate forces behind creation. In order to create something is destroyed. Destruction paves the way for the new and destruction ultimately means death.
Through death we are nourished and can grow. All the food that we eat was at one point alive. It was killed in order to sustain us. In the wild animal remains will decay (destruction) over time and provide nutrients allowing the plants to grow strong which will in turn provide nutrients for other life forms. In the cycle of life death, destruction, decay, and rebirth are tied together intimately. I feel that as a pagan and as a nature worshiper and fertility worshiper it is time I acknowledge the importance of death. With out death there can be no life and ultimately no future.
My point: Death, Decay, and Destruction are the key concepts that allow life itself to exist in this world and in any other world. Death is a an effect of life itself. Not only that but with out death physical life as we know it can not exist. I worship death as I worship life and fertility and nature.