thin veil

Paranormal Path

October, 2011

A Thin Veil

Towards the end of October it seems that everyone has ghosts on their mind with Halloween just around the corner.  There are many traditions and superstitions that have carried over many years.  Some we have barely modified and some have taken on a life of their own.  Many carry on these old traditions without knowing how or why they came to be.  Even for those who do not believe in the paranormal, Halloween turns almost everyone superstitious for one night.

The holiday we celebrate today is a large blend of different beliefs, religions and folklore that accumulated over the years.   The Celtic belief, over 2,000 years ago, was the night before their new year, November 1st, the veil between the living and the dead was very thin.  On October 31st they celebrated Samhain .  The Celts believed that on this night the dead would return to earth and potentially damage their crops.  There was also the belief that druids would return and share knowledge about the future.  To celebrate, the Celts would build huge bonfires and dress up in animal skins.

Later around 43 AD the Romans combined their festivals with the Celtic celebrations.  One Roman festival was to honor the Roman Goddess of fruit and trees Pomona, whose symbol was the apple.  This is one explanation for the tradition of bobbing for apples that is performed at many Halloween parties today.

Depending on the culture and traditions, this Holiday as always been about either communicating with or warding off spirits.  The belief that this is the best time for spirit interaction has stayed strong for thousands of years.

Not until the second half of the nineteenth century, many immigrants came over to America and helped to popularize Halloween, mixing many Irish and English traditions.

Since many believed ghosts walked among us on this night, they would go out disguised as spirits to blend in.  The tradition of trick or treating was also brought over.  During the All Souls Day celebration in England, poor citizens would beg for food and money.  Families would give them pastries called “Soul Cakes” in exchange for a promise they would pray for their dead relatives.  This practice was more welcomed by the Church than the older tradition of leaving wine and food out for roaming spirits.

The belief of the dead returning was so strong, it wasn’t uncommon for people to set the dinner table in hopes of welcoming back a deceased family member.  Food and candles were left on doorsteps and along the roads for the spirit to find its way.  Many forms of divination were performed on this night as well, since the veil was so thin many hoped for a glimpse of their future.

There was a belief many years ago that a young woman should name a hazelnut for each of her suitors, and then toss them one by one into the fire.  The nut that completely burned to ashes, without popping or exploding was the one named for her future husband.  Young women would also peel apples and toss the peel over their shoulder to reveal the initials of their true love.  Scrying was also popular on Halloween night.  Many would drop egg yolks into a bowl of water and peer into it, or stand in front of a mirror in a dark room holding a candle.  Staring long enough into the mirror would bring the vision of a face over your shoulder.

Many Pagans still celebrate Samhain and honor the old ways.  We who practice the Craft and Magic understand this history and keep it alive.  The Witches New Year will soon be upon us and for one night many people of many different backgrounds will celebrate.  This holiday is centered greatly on spirits and superstitions but it is also a symbol that wherever there is death there is always new life.  The circle will always continue.

A Thin Veil Towards the end of October it seems that everyone has ghosts on their mind with Halloween just around the corner.  There are many traditions and superstitions that have carried over many years.  Some we have barely modified and some have taken on a life of their own.  Many carry on these old traditions without knowing how or why they came to be.  Even for those who do not believe in the paranormal, Halloween turns almost everyone superstitious for one night.      The holiday we celebrate today is a large blend of different beliefs, religions and folklore that accumulated over the years.   The Celtic belief, over 2,000 years ago, was the night before their new year, November 1st, the veil between the living and the dead was very thin.  On October 31st they celebrated Samhain .  The Celts believed that on this night the dead would return to earth and potentially damage their crops.  There was also the belief that druids would return and share knowledge about the future.  To celebrate, the Celts would build huge bonfires and dress up in animal skins.      Later around 43 AD the Romans combined their festivals with the Celtic celebrations.  One Roman festival was to honor the Roman Goddess of fruit and trees Pomona, whose symbol was the apple.  This is one explanation for the tradition of bobbing for apples that is performed at many Halloween parties today.      Depending on the culture and traditions, this Holiday as always been about either communicating with or warding off spirits.  The belief that this is the best time for spirit interaction has stayed strong for thousands of years.       Not until the second half of the nineteenth century, many immigrants came over to America and helped to popularize Halloween, mixing many Irish and English traditions.        Since many believed ghosts walked among us on this night, they would go out disguised as spirits to blend in.  The tradition of trick or treating was also brought over.  During the All Souls Day celebration in England, poor citizens would beg for food and money.  Families would give them pastries called “Soul Cakes” in exchange for a promise they would pray for their dead relatives.  This practice was more welcomed by the Church than the older tradition of leaving wine and food out for roaming spirits.      The belief of the dead returning was so strong, it wasn’t uncommon for people to set the dinner table in hopes of welcoming back a deceased family member.  Food and candles were left on doorsteps and along the roads for the spirit to find its way.  Many forms of divination were performed on this night as well, since the veil was so thin many hoped for a glimpse of their future.      There was a belief many years ago that a young woman should name a hazelnut for each of her suitors, and then toss them one by one into the fire.  The nut that completely burned to ashes, without popping or exploding was the one named for her future husband.  Young women would also peel apples and toss the peel over their shoulder to reveal the initials of their true love.  Scrying was also popular on Halloween night.  Many would drop egg yolks into a bowl of water and peer into it, or stand in front of a mirror in a dark room holding a candle.  Staring long enough into the mirror would bring the vision of a face over your shoulder.       Many Pagans still celebrate Samhain and honor the old ways.  We who practice the Craft and Magic understand this history and keep it alive.  The Witches New Year will soon be upon us and for one night many people of many different backgrounds will celebrate.  This holiday is centered greatly on spirits and superstitions but it is also a symbol that wherever there is death there is always new life.  The circle will always continue.