For me, speaking personally, I have been lucky enough so far in this life to not have lost anyone particularly close to me. I have seen some relatives pass on but to be honest they have all been old and I didn't know them very well. So Samhain doesn't have the personal link with my own past for me the way it does for some witches. For me, I have to look beyond the boundaries of my own experiences of death to find my meaning in this time of year.
Samhain is the last of the three harvest festivals celebrated by Pagans. It is the end of the harvest, the end of the light half of the year and it marks a rest for the earth after the fertility and productivity of the summer months. And this period of rest can be echoed in our own lives as well. At Mabon we took stock of our own personal harvests, we looked at what we had done in the preceding months, effectively we looked at what we had reaped from the seeds sown and grown into our own personal harvest. At Samhain we put the year to bed, we can stand back and evaluate what worked well for us and what changes we would like to make in the coming year. Samhain is a time for self honesty, the hustle and bustle of the year has slowed right down, the nights are drawing in, people feel tired, a little slower and a little lethargic. It is in this mindset that perhaps we are most vulnerable to the negativity in our lives. Samhain is a time for discerning what negativity lies in our hearts and for planning steps to take in the coming year to make our lives better. Just as the farmer in days of old may have changed his crop plans for the coming year, we too can decide to sow different seeds to bring happiness in the seasons and harvests ahead.
Just as Beltane is the time of year when the walls between the world and the world of faery are at their weaknest, Samhain is the night of the year when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. It is traditionally a time for communication with the spirits and divination. It presents the opportunity to dust off the ouija board and straddle that chasm between the worlds.
So what will I be doing? Well I've got grand plans and a cold, so Samhain could go either way for me. Plan A. I've got some super duper halloweeny spider earrings to wear to work tomorrow, then back home to home made pumpkin soup and husband baked bread - he will have carved my pumpkin into a spooky face for me and I'll dress my altar for the coming seasons and display the pumpkin proudly in my witch room. After dinner we will have a spirit contacting session on my ouija board and then drive off around midnight to my favourite standing stones where we will light lanterns and I will perform a short (it will be cold!) ritual to mark the occasion.
(Plan B is if the cold gets worse, I'll go home and go to bed. Even witches can't win all the time!)
Image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1234809 (PaulGeor)