Skull on a black table
Sabbats

Samhain: Death is Not the End of Life

The brisk autumn air beckons us to crawl under her darkening skies and Samhain reaches into the depths of which others are afraid to explore. It’s a time to reflect on death and rebirth. Death is not something people often dwell on. It’s a fleeting thought that gets swept away. It’s an uncomfortable fact of life that we are faced with when a loved one or friend passes. It seems taboo in our society to be reminded of our mortality. The uncertainty of what lies waiting on the other side of life as we know it creates a chasm of fear. One day you’re here then the next day you’re not. Or aren’t you?

My journey as an intuitive has led me to many truths or beliefs, like there is not a beginning, middle and end to life. It helps our human minds to organize life in this way – first you’re born, then you experience all these things, then you die. The end. But death isn’t an end and time doesn’t exist the way we know it. Death is the next stepping stone on the journey. There are experiences to be had and choices to be made in death that we carry with us into our next life. I’m sure as humans we will forever disagree on what happens in the afterlife, and I don’t think we are meant to know for sure. It’s the not knowing that grows our souls.

In a sense, we do continue living in the physical world long after we have left our bodies behind. We live on in the memories that become stories we leave behind, passed on from generation to generation. We live on in the family tree. We live on in the words on the lips of those we knew. Somewhere down the line we become a forgotten ancestor that is found again. We live on in a photograph in an old shoe box waiting to be held. The magical moments we lived continue on as a thread in the web of the cosmos.

Box of old photographs

On my ancestor altar are photographs of loved ones who have passed and ancestors, many of whom I never knew and know nothing about. But there they are, some nearly 200 years old. Some stare back with blank expressions while others have smiles. Some sit upright in a posed family photo while others are candid. The most recent addition to my altar is my grandmother who I was never close with.

The day I heard of her passing, I poured us each a shot of whiskey. I clinked her glass and said, “I know you are happier in death than you ever were in life.” We can hold on so tightly to negativity when we are alive but then it evaporates as we cross over into the light. It’s not death that kills us, but the fear, destructive thoughts and negativity. I may not have had a good relationship with my grandmother and I can’t recall any positive memories with her, but I offer her forgiveness so that the bitterness she felt does not live on in my still-beating heart.

Pouring shots of whisey

Samhain invites us to honor those who are on the other side of the veil. Honor your ancestors through the traditions they held. Honor those who aren’t related by blood but still played an important role in your life. Honor them by sharing their stories and your memories of them. Honor them by forgiving them for their flaws and the mistakes they made. Honor them through offerings of thanks for what they endured and what they might have sacrificed.  Honor their journey because one day you will be on the next step of your journey leaving behind your own stories to tell.

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