A night of the living dead is celebrated in all parts of the world at around roughly the same time. The Wheel turns to the final spoke symbolizing the ‘closing down’ of the year. The Autumn harvest comes to an end epitomizing the dying and death phase within the circle of life. This is the ideal time to honour our ancestors and departed loved ones; and when you hear the term, “thinning of the veil”.
The veil is said to be a membranelike barrier separating the dimensions of our physical world and that of the Spirit. It is believed that during Samhain, this boundary is at its thinnest, a time when Spirits can cross over, while us mortals have increased psychic and intuitive abilities to receive. This is the mystical equation that allows Spirits to communicate more easily with the living.
In centuries past, villagers left food offerings at the edge of their communities for wandering spirits and those from the otherworld. Not every creature that crossed over was welcome however, and fearful citizens dressed as animals to fool a fairy or sprite wanting to kidnap a villager or two. Food was prepared and set out to appease the mischievous and the dangerous. They carved jack-o’-lanterns and burned torches along the edge of walkways to keep the witches away.
But it also lit the way for ancestors who crossed over to visit their household. Candles were placed in the west-facing windows, as it represented the land of the dead. Their homes had been scrupulously cleaned and everyone wore their Sunday best. A feast was prepared with extra places set at the table for passed loved ones. They would invite the deceased to join the meal, which then continued in silence. As bowls of food were passed around the table, a scoop from each was placed on the plate of the deceased. At the end of the meal, they would thank their loved ones for joining them.
Does the veil truly exist, and does it thin around late Autumn? Perhaps. We are in mystical Scorpio after all - ruled by Pluto, god of the underworld, overseer of the eighth house of Sex, Death and Transformation. Besides, it’s never been proved a veil doesn’t exist. ‘Veil’ symbolizes a distinct separation, which is flimsy and opaque in nature. We often say something is “veiled” when we don’t have all the information – the High Priestess card in the Tarot, for example, wears a veil, indicating hidden knowledge revealed only to the querent. The more popular point of view is that the veil is a metaphor for that which we cannot see. It asks us to be more open this time of year to the mysteries that surround us.
Regardless, paying attention never hurts. We are always so caught up in the day to day that we miss the signs, the synchronicities, the coincidences. The Wheel reminds us this is a time of reflection, a time to slow down. It is natural that a part of you has a strong desire to re-connect with Spirit – whether the one residing within each of us, or that of a loved one who has crossed over. We find ourselves searching for the mystery of spiritual connection that somehow seems just beyond our reach. By taking time to step aside, be still, serene, it sends a message to those in the spiritual realm that we are open.
This Samhain (or any other time of the year) gather photographs, heirlooms and other momentos of your passed loved ones. This could be anyone you wish to feel closer to – friends or family members, including our beloved fur friends or any other creature companions. Arrange wherever you wish them to be. Light a candle, or ten, and thank them for being a part of your life. Sit quietly, be open to receive.