It was a cool fall night in the mountains of Utah and the rest I was trying to get before an all night adventure was proving impossible. I was so excited for what was to come but never could have guessed how monumental a turning point this night would end up being.
I was on the heels of a disaster I had just gone through and was spending a lot of time healing in the area. On my previous visit the man who would become my teacher, to my surprise, said to me “next time you come out, we’ll go ghost hunting.” You see, I had met this shaman years earlier and it seemed to take an endless amount of time to get him to give me the time of day and more years after that to convince him to begin teaching me his ways.
We left to head up into the mountains around midnight. Our destination was a very old cemetery that held the bodies and some of the souls of both Natives and Westerners who had been killed by war, illness, and natural causes. We spent the entire night in that cemetery and over the course of that time, I came to understand there is a veil between the physical and spirit worlds. It seemed my teacher had lifted that veil for me, giving me a glimpse into this other parallel yet mysterious reality.
I was already a senior practitioner of the traditions i had been studying since I was a teenager and was doing my best to bring the Japanese/Vedic fire ceremony to the western world as my teacher had instructed but what I experienced that night ended up being the first initiation that would change the course of my life and path.
Halloween seems the most appropriate time to write about this experience as in America, Halloween has become a very fun holiday with costumes, partying, and imbibing. However looking back over the haunted roots of the holiday can provide us some insights into what happens during this seasonal transition from fall to winter.
It is thought that Halloween developed out of the original Celtic harvest festival of Samhain “sah-win” which ushered in the darker half of the year. Most cultures have some form of harvest festival; in Japanese Shinto, Shyuki Taisai is celebrated to offer food from the harvest and thanksgiving to the deities. It is natural for humans to thank the divine for a prosperous harvest season.
In modern society, of course we have become disconnected from the cycles of nature but a quick look through our past can allow us to more clearly see our roots as human beings who are inseparably bound to great nature. Without the harmony of 4 the elements of
and the abundance of food and blessings of Great Nature (Daishizen), We cannot sustain our existence.
Spiritually, Halloween was a pagan holiday known as All Hallows Eve which was Christianized like many pagan holidays. It is thought to be the day when the veils I speak of above is at its thinnest and spirits are said to more easily be able to come into our world.
The celts believed that during Samhain, the spirits of the dead would return to mingle with the living and the spirits of those who had recently died could more easily transition into the other world. Transition points in the physical world tend to open the gates to the spiritual world and one of the most profound transition times we have is from the abundance of summer to the stillness of winter.
It is believed by many that costumes, jack-o-lanterns, bonfires, and other Halloween traditions were originally used to both ward off evil spirits and aid departed spirits in their journeys. Food offerings were left on doorsteps to aid the spirits of the departed.
That tradition has filtered in our modern culture as a fun dress up holiday.
Samhain became Halloween with the early Christian Missionaries who attempted to convert the celts from their native spirituality. All Hallows Eve was renamed “All Saints Day;” a more Christian appropriate label.
This Halloween we will celebrate with a traditional Japanese Fire Ceremony with Vedic Roots known as Goma. However you spend Halloween, please enjoy yourself and try to remember that with the veil being thinnest, it may be more easily to tap into your intuition and messages from the universe.