‘Tis the season of werewolves, zombies, and vampires. Slasher movies on the television. Books and short stories about all manner of paranormal creature. Dressing up as some fantasy character and terrorizing the neighborhood, demanding candy or tricks will result. Going to work in a costume. Horror reigns at Halloween.
What’s the origin the idea that the eerie and otherworldly come out the night of Halloween? The Druids, the spiritual leaders of the Celts. Halloween is the Pagan New Year. Hallow’e’en is Hallowed Eve. The Druids had a lunar calendar and in that kind of a calendar, the days begin at sunset. There are thirteen months (or full moons) in a lunar calendar. (Oooh, yes. The scary 13.) But the earth’s trip around the sun takes 365 days (give or take). One lunar cycle is 28 days, so 13 cycles is 364 days. That leaves one day extra. (Didn’t know you’d have to do math, did you?) That day was considered a day out of time.
It is said the veils are thin during this day out of time. It is easier to see into the other world. It is easier for other worldly creatures to come into our world. Thus the custom of dressing up like a goblin or other creature to fool them into thinking you are one of them. But the Druids did not fear this night. It was considered sacred, a time to see into the deep spiritual source, to contact guides, gods, the fae, and ancestors. It was called Samhain.
Samhain falls halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It’s a cross-quarter day. The equinoxes and solstices divide the year into fours and the cross-quarters (Halloween, Groundhog’s Day, May Day, and Lamas) divide them again.
Samhain also marks a stellar event. On this night, the star cluster called the Pleiades or Seven Sisters crown the sky at midnight. They climb to the highest point in the sky on this night—or they used to. Because of the precession of the equinoxes, or the earth’s tilt and how it changes our relationship to the stars, this now happens a bit later, maybe around November 21. The Pleiades held an important place in Celtic mythology, as well as many other cultures.
What will come to you through the veils this Halloween?