In the Pagan world, this time of the year marks the coming of the new year. Samhain, the old Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season. In modern times, Pagans and Wiccans celebrate Samhain as a religious holiday. It marks as the Pagan New Year and is considered as one of the most sacred festival in the Wheel of the Year.
What is the significance of a Celtic celebration in the life of a Filipino Pagan?
As all of the celebrations on the Wheel, even though that this celebration did not originate from our country, Samhain has a similar celebration in almost all cultures in the world. In Mexico, they celebrate it as Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) which also starts on October 31 and ends on November 2. In the Philippines, we observe this celebration as All Saints and All Soul's Day, which primarily centers with the veneration of the dead. As a liminal celebration, it is believed that during this time, the veil that divides the world of the living and the realm of the spirits are at its thinnest. Therefore it is believed that the spirits can easily pass through this curtain and visit the living.
As a "Paganong Pilipino", I celebrate Samhain and it is for me, the most important of the four Greater Sabbats. Though the practice that we have here in the Philippines is very different from the last harvest of the year celebration of our Western brethren, we still follow the most important thing celebrated during this feast- the honoring of our dead loved ones.
In the days prior to Samhain, people who are sensitive to the other worlds may feel a little bit different. Some might already be visited by their dead loved ones and may appear to them in dreams. The realm of the Fairy or what we call Engkantos are also nearest to the realm of the living. Similar in England, where some person who mistakenly stepped on a Fairy Ring get transported to the realm of the Shining ones, we have some similar accounts here in the country where people might see a very shiny mansion in a lonely road only to discover that it was a big tree in the morning. Some might even be successful to be invited in this lavish dinner that these folks were giving only to discover that the black rice seem to be moving or wriggling. In the English lore, when someone who successfully crossed fails to return before midnight (or in some the first rays of sun shine), they will be trapped in the realm of the faeries. In the Filipino folklore, when someone eats food in the engkantado's banquet, they wont be able to return, leaving their family see their dead body who is actually a banana trunk. In order for the body to return, the family should lift the "corpse" and let it pass through a window.
As most of the "Filipinized" celebrations that we get from Western Pagan and Wiccan practices, we included some of our cultural observances in the rites of Samhain. In our previous celebrations, we made sure that Filipino "All Souls Day" activities were also done- like the offering of kakanin, tabako, anisado or vino. We also do the tracing of the bloodline where we honor all our relative who passed on.
In the coming days, the veil will become thinner and will culminate to its parting on the 31st of October. I want to greet all our Pagan brothers and sisters a Blessed Samhain.
- pictures from the internet-