My favorite thing about the internet is being able to have real, live conversations with real, live people in real, live other parts of the world. It points me back toward reality when my American is showing.
I really had forgotten that Halloween isn’t by any means a global holiday. Neither are the older, more esoteric symbols rooted in Samhain. How many of the kids running around in the noble pursuit of chocolate or the adults in pursuit of cosplay and beer are thinking about the dark side of human nature, spirit, shadow or deceased loved ones? For me, the uber-symbol of Halloween gone pear shaped is those strings of orange and purple lights that people put in their yards. Twinkle lights? Halloween? It is as if Halloween has become a pre-game tailgate for Christmas instead of symbolic and important in its own right.
That contrast is even more pronounced when we put Halloween (in its contemporary, especially its American observance) into a global perspective. As one of our Menage A Tarot listeners pointed out last year, even though Halloween is somewhat similar in Great Britain, you seldom see pop culture characters as costumes – it is more archetypal ‘monsters’ like witches, ghosts, vampires and the like. Dio De Los Muertos is growing in popularity here in the States. I’m glad…it might re-infuse some of the original spirit back into the holiday…all puns intended.
Roseline Deleu of Feng Shui Steps lived in Belgium as a child, where Halloween isn’t celebrated. Now she lives in Australia and studies with Aboriginal peoples. Those original peoples have never heard of Halloween…but then, as she rightly points out, few Americans know any tiny thing of Aboriginal observances and beliefs, There is no one better than Roseline to ask about the contrast of season vs time of year in the northern and southern hemispheres.
Roseline suggests that the sense of the “veil” being thin this time of year might be a collective thought-form kind of phenomena, a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy fueled by widespread celebration of the holiday. I never thought of that, but it fits with the
Celtic Samhain roots of it all. The influx of Celtic culture combined with the modern explosion of Halloween observance may be why we’ve all heard of the “veil” symbolism.
The most telling part of her kind response was simply this: While neither Belgium nor Australia celebrate Halloween (at least not as Americans know it) the energy is indeed different between the two places. Autumn in Europe is a different energy than Spring in Australia ….both of which are happening right now. I like to think that goes along with the idea of sensitivity to the spirit world, if it waxes and wanes at all, it does so in conjunction with natural life cycles rather than location or cultural popularity.
Rather than place, the existence and state of “the veil” is very much dependent on emotion, mind and sensitivity, be it on an individual or collective-cultural level. It may not be called the ‘veil’. It may not be a part of Halloween. It may be at different times of year in different places on Earth. No matter what we call it, or how we remember and honor it, the key seems to me to be remembering at all. There are times when we feel more receptive to contemplating the spirit world, and the darker realities of the human experience.
I suppose it is fitting that my favorite example of this has nothing to do with Halloween and comes from a bit of fiction set in none other than Australia. In the book “Crystal Woman” by Lynn Andrews, the character Genevieve explains how the shadow side is as utterly necessary as light. She uses physical vision as the example. She points out that if all were light we couldn’t see any more than we could if there was no light at all. It is the contrast, the presence of both light and shadow that lets us see.
Winds of experience may blow the mythic veil different ways in different places. How and when it thins isn’t as important as the fact that it does at all. If, how and when we celebrate the memory of loved ones lost is less important than the fact that we do. The veil itself is less important than our acknowledging it and honoring it whenever and wherever we feel its etherial touch. Feeling the touch of spirit by any name is as profound.