Beth Ann asked. . .
Dear Ms. Terry,
What is Samhain? Is it the same as Hallowe’en? How do you pronounce it? Where does it fit in the calendar of the old religion? I am just learning Earth based spirituality so I’m wondering how this all ties together. I know … big questions … but I hope you can offer some clarity.Curious, Beth Ann
Dear Beth Ann,
I am always happy to consider the big questions and yours are not really that complicated.
Samhain is pronounced “SahWn”. It is sometimes called Hallowe’en or All Hallows Eve and is one of the major celebrations in the old religion, in Celtic spiritual traditions, and also among Pagans.
In my personal and professional practice, Samhain (Hallowe’en), is an opportunity to heal another layer of grief. As we evolve, we notice that we are more interested in, and more willing for healing to be deeper and deeper. We notice unresolved grief as it seems to pop up at the most awkward and unusual times. We may not have fully grieved the loss of our first pet, or one of our grandparents, or another family member. We may not have fully grieved the end of a relationship, career, phase of life, disappointment, or the end of a fantasy, dream or expectation.
Samhain offers an opportunity to do just that. I have a beautiful wooden box full of carefully chosen stones. In my personal practice, I take this special carved box from my altar. Each rock represents an individual or pet who has left her or his body, someone I have known, loved and lost. Since I have so many stones, I had to create a legend or key to keep track of which stone I originally intended for each person or pet! Samhain is one of those times of year (among others) when I pull my “ancestor rocks” out. I clean them by removing them, immersing them in salt water, and charging them in the sun.
I hold each stone to my heart and give thanks. Then I sing to each of them using the chorus from Gregory Norbet’s hymn, All I Ask of You. Norbet who was a Benedictine monk at Weston Priory in Vermont. This is a beautiful chant that I was privileged to learn, and that I love to sing several times until I feel myself remembering each one of my loved ones.
“All I ask of you is forever to remember me, as loving you. All I ask of you is forever to remember me, as loving you. All I ask of you is forever to remember me, as loving you. All I ask of you is forever to remember me, as loving you. All I ask of you …” 1
If you choose to remember your loved ones who have transitioned by using this chant, you will experience heart-fullness.
Gregory Norbet, All I Ask of You. [MP3] From: Journeysongs Third Edition CD Library.
Beth Ann, I hope you find the time, energy and inspiration to create your own Samhain ritual that works for you as you remember those you’ve lost in this loving honoring way. I promise you will find deep healing if you do so. I hope my response to your questions was helpful, hopeful, and inspiring.
You might also feel ready to do my Grief Gift meditation which you can access here: https://spiritfirstcounselling.ca/meditationsgifts/
In Light, Terry