We don’t usually refer to it as “Halloween.” This holiday has been observed for hundreds of years in one form or another. What we witches and wiccans celebrate today largely comes from the Celtic New Year, Samhain (pronunciation depends on the region, but generally “sah-when” or “soween”). The annual cycle begins with death, rather than birth.
Samhain marks the end of Summer. In Northern Europe it is the final harvest before the land grows cold and the landscape dies—in times past it was the last of the crops we would have to sustain us through winter, the season of death, hibernation, and dormancy.
The nearest full Moon was named the “Blood Moon” because it’s the time when it was decided what livestock would be slaughtered for winter food stores, and what would be spared to breed again in Spring. These decisions were of the utmost importance, and made the difference between life and starving to death.
In keeping with the season, it is a time to honor the dead and the process of death itself. After all, death is a part of life. It is also the time when the “veil” between this world and the world of spirit is at its thinnest, and therefore is a great time to communicate with the spirits of the dead, our ancestors.
It is a time to recognize and release that which does not serve us anymore. A time of letting go and turning inward, to begin dreaming, seeking to understand ourselves and our spiritual journey.
It is a time to honor the Crone Goddess. Crone is the third stage of a woman’s life, post-menopausal. Her creativity has turned inward. Some believe a woman’s menstrual blood is very powerful (it’s the power of creation, after all), and at the Crone stage, she keeps that blood within her instead of releasing it, and thus becomes more powerful.
The Crone is wise, introspective, and contains within herself all the powers of the Maiden and Mother, is independent, sexual, and creative. She owns the power of a full life and its wisdom.
The Crone is the agent of change and transformation. She understands the mystery of death, of endings and letting go into the darkness. She is the Goddess Hecate, The Morrigan, Cerridwen, The Cailleach, Baubo, Grandmother Spider, Kali, Hel, Oya, Ereshkigal, Xochiquetzal … and many other names.
With death comes room for new growth, for regeneration. Letting go of the old clears the slate and makes room for the new. After Yule, in mid-December, the days will become longer. This sets the stage for new life, which we will see the first spark of at Imbolc, around February … and the cycles of life continue.