• Sierra Rose Buckley

Halloween and the Thinning of Veils

Like many holidays celebrated in the West, Halloween is a reframe of a traditional Pagan holiday by the Christian church. The Christian church established All Saints and All Souls Day between the 5th and 9th centuries, overlaying Samhain, a 3-day (or longer) Pagan festival.

Halloween —> All Hallows’ Eve.

Hallow meaning holy, hence, All Saints/Souls Day.

Samhain (sow-win or sah-win) —> Summer’s end. This marks the end of harvest season as the last harvest festival and and the start of the Celtic New Year.

I was raised with Halloween and became curious about Samhain and other Celtic traditions as a way of exploring my Irish roots. Halloween as I see it portrayed (superficial, lacking depth and meaning) doesn't completely resonate. Considering how it came about and the role of the Christian church makes it even more of a question mark for me. I love learning about Paganism and Celtic spirituality, although it is a pretty distant connection from another land and time. Sometimes the context of those traditions do not make sense for my present reality.

This year, I am embracing referring to the seasonal midpoint between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice as Thinveils. I was inspired by rain crowe in her use of creative and clear language that brought forth this name.

Have you heard people refer to the "thinning of the veils" during this time of year? What does this actually mean?

We are entering the darker half of the year, as opposed to the lighter half of the year with summertime being the height. Deep into fall, the days are getting shorter and nights are getting longer. As we move into winter, it is believed that within this season of darkness, the veils between worlds are thin.

The boundaries between the realm of earth and the realm of spirit are less defined, and there is opportunity for heightened communication and interaction between realms. It is no wonder that paying respects to ancestors is emphasized in Samhain and central to Día de Los Muertos. Additionally, All Saints and All Souls Day seem to incorporate this aspect as they honor those who have passed on, including Saints in Heaven.

From rain crowe:

"Thin-veils. One of the thinnings of veils between incarnate and spirit worlds, in a cycle of a human solar year. The veils are thin in this autumntide, as light and weather change, as death claims the presence. The Other Side feels nearer."
"Why not just use the word Samhain? With respect to those who are descended from or belong to the Celtic Peoples in some way, there are those of us who do not have that connection. Some of us come from other ways or practices or lineages."

Thinveils describes this time of year in simple language relevant to present day while still honoring traditions of old and the magic of this time. Thank you rain!


More on Holidays and Seasonal Living

Often holidays can be so centered on consumerism and putting on an event rather than actually tuning into the reason for the season. Holidays are not just dates on the Gregorian calendar. They are related to the movements of celestial bodies, Earth, Sun and Moon. The Summer and Winter Solstice and Spring and Fall Equinox each mark a quarter of the earth's orbit around the sun. The Solstices and Equinoxes are traditional times for celebration, as well as the midpoint or cross-quarter dates, Halloween being the midpoint between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice.

If those last two sentences felt confusing, don't worry! Seasonal living is not a complicated endeavor. Details sink in over time. One of the most powerful and foundational pieces to living in tune with the seasons is simply that: tuning into the seasons. Taking a daily walk or having a sit spot is a perfect way to do this. Even in urban environments, we live in nature and can witness changing weather patterns. We are nature. Cycles are happening all around and within us. Start by simply turning your attention towards this.

As I am tuning into the seasons, with the earth's orbit as larger framework, I am also walking with the cycle of the moon. Sometimes it feels most poignant to honor the culminating energy of the season, solstice, equinox or midpoint, on the nearest new or full moon. Above all, simply holding awareness of the shifts and changes in nature continues to grow as a daily practice for me. In addition to practicing daily awareness, as the spirit moves me throughout the seasons and the moons, I follow the call to engage in more intentional, robust rituals and festivities to honor the seasonal markers.

I am celebrating this way of celebrating life and its seasons, and using this journal as a space to share some of the ways this came to fruition during Thinveils.

Sharing my personal rituals and festivities from this season...

As I began to feel the shift in seasons, I reset my altar, with fall leaves, one of the last sunflowers, a fresh candle and photos of my ancestors. I’ve been watching Halloween themed movies as soon as October 1st hit (okay, maybe late September), including Hocus Pocus, Sleepy Hollow, and a 1922 film on Witchcraft Through the Ages, and yes, I even enjoyed some (Yum Earth) candy corn. My meals have been blessed by delicious wild Chantarelle mushrooms, squash and potatoes harvested by my sweetheart, and garlic from a local urban backyard farm. There have been plenty of apples and walnuts to go around too.

Ancestor connection energy has been strong for me this season, as well as a newer aspect of my practice. Naomi Antinarelli graced Threaded Red with a beautiful wisdom transmission on connecting with our ancestors. This was a powerful offering in which I had the good fortune of being on the receiving end as a part of my membership with Threaded Red. In early October, an intimate ritual, one that gives me so much joy that I am happy to share, was painting my goddess figure, who sits on my altar, in my moon blood, infused with intention and in reverence to the Goddess and cyclical nature. I also came to know my sit spot this past month in our new neighborhood as the beautiful leaves were donning all sorts of brilliant fall colors.

My beloved, J.P., and I dressed up in costume for a local tea house event, Enthea's Spook-Tea-sy. Sipping tea in the room where ancestors were paid homage, inevitably, stories were shared about grandparents and other dear ones who had passed on, which felt very touching and aligned. On October 31st, J.P. and I spent the afternoon doing one of our favorite things: sipping tea and reading poetry in nature. Well, in this case, we were sipping a hot cacao-mushroom blend, and reading Samhain themed poems and excerpts from a Christian mystic by the river.

I share my own experiences in celebration and to hopefully spark some inspiration. In between all these events, taking regular walks in nature is one of my favorite ways to tune in to nature, and often where I find inspiration. There are many ways to honor the shifting seasons. You can create your own traditions and incorporate favorite aspects of other holidays. There is not rule book, no specific ritual you have to follow, only the one that makes your heart sing!

As we continue into winter, may you keep warm, nourished, connected with loved ones and that which inspires you. May your inner light shine bright, and this quiet, dark time offer space for reflection and rest.


P.S. Here's a soundtrack for the spooky season (it's not Christmas yet!). This is a fun one, with eerie instrumentals to set the tone, Pagan chants, witchy folk music, and all sorts of wild cards. If you've moved on from the Halloween vibes, you can always save it for next year.


here in support and kinship | blessings on the way

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