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Hello all, you can call me duhban and tonight I wish to talk about Samhainn, what is and what it means to me.

This is my first time doing this and I am glad to be able to share what is both my favorite and least favorite day of the year, Samhainn or as some call it Samhain (and for those that recognize neither Halloween).  I will apologize in advance for what my seem like rambling here but I think if you bear with me it will make sense.

So what exactly is Samhainn? Well one answer is that it is simply the Celtic day of the dead and it was this answer that first attracted me to the day. I actually was raised Christian (Catholic to be specific) but by about my 17th birthday I just couldn't do it any more. Too much hypocrisy, too many things that seemed to be the exact opposite of what Jesus taught and too many circular arguments. At about the same time I had been exposed to Buddhism though a world's religion class and it appealed to me. At the same time I resisted, scared both to tell my family and scared to in my mind throw myself out into the unknown. I'm not sure I can really do justice to that point in my life, all I can really say is if you've never had everything you've ever known and believed become questioned and ultimately not like the answer to that question I am not sure you can understand.

And so it was that I, a former devout Catholic was no longer one but I wasn't sure what I was anymore. At this point it was time to go to college and in flailing around looking for answers I found a group dedicated well to all beliefs  but was mostly comprised of neo pagans of all sorts (including a shaman) and was very much alternative to my views. And thus I had my first answer to what Samhainn is, an ancient celebration for the dead. And it really was a celebration as traditionally some of all the food and drink is left out for the dead to partake in if they wish. To this day that is primarily what Samhainn is to me, celebration and remembrance for those that are no longer in this world.

However Samhainn is much more then that at the same time and this is something that is often lost.  Samhainn is one of the four Gaelic feasts marking important points in the year (Beltane, Imbloc, and Lammas are the others) and actually marks the end of fall and the beginning of winter, it was (and still often is) on this day that the herds were taken down from their summer pastures and farmers and herders would choose which sheep to slaughter for winter food. It was also a celebration of course and there is evidence of massive bonfires. The reason Samhainn is linked to the dead is during Samhainn it is believed the door to the other world was open and the dead and the fae not only could but would come and visit. This belief lead to the the day being linked to the dead and to leaving offerings. This actually is where the idea of masks and costumes might have originated too as some posit that masks were worn on Samhainn to protect from the dead and the fae.

And while it is important to know where things come from in the end meaning is up to the individual, so what is Samhainn to me? Primarily it is a night to remember all those that I miss, all those that have helped make me who I am but are no longer in this world. But it is not a night of sorrow even though I do miss them because to me it is a celebration at the same time. A celebration for the dead which perhaps is a dichotomy but that is really the best way I can put it. Life is a journey for the living and all we can do is honor the dead for how they lived, what they did and what they wanted to do. Some to me as inspiration like both of my grandfathers, others are bittersweet like my dad's mom (who I never got to know)  but I remember all of them.

I thank you all for following me though that, I'm not exactly the best writer and my feelings and beliefs here are complicated but as we approach Samhainn (and for Christians the Feast of Souls) I wanted to share this simply to offer a way of viewing life that might be a little different then you might be used to. And if you have questions about neo paganism or Buddhism I'll be around to answer

edit:

hmm I think I failed on the timer, anyways I wanted to add this song to the mix

Originally posted to duhban on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 04:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by PaganKos, Street Prophets , Shamrock American Kossacks, and Community Spotlight.

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