ORLANDO – In theory, this is the time of year when the cold winter months are just getting started, the flowers in the garden begin to fade, the grass turns from green to pale brown, and the skies look grey and overcast.
At least, that’s what happens in most of the world. The Sunshine State, on the other hand, remains an exception.
“This is the cross quarter between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice,” said Miranda Sophia Solace. “The nights are getting longer and we enter the darkest time of the year. The Earth begins to sleep” – but not in Florida!
Northern states and European nations confront the first signs of winter in October. Ancient spiritual traditions and folk customs surrounding Samhain, the pagan Hallowe’en, originated in these colder climes. They represent the preparation for the times of austerity from bleak weather and shortened food supplies. The Earth becomes still and people spiritually and literally began to wait ….. wait for the return of the light at the winter solstice.
“Nowadays, with electric lights and grocery stores, we have little to worry about concerning our comfort,” Solace said. “For modern pagans, Hallowe’en has become a time of introspection, a taking stock of the soul within and an honouring of departed loved ones.”
Solace runs Avalon, a New Age Metaphysical book and supply store on Hillcrest Street in the Mills 50 district. The store has served the local Earth-based religious community under various names for the last 18 years, offering everything from candles to crystals, tarot to teaching for anyone wanting to explore alternative spirituality.
Later this month, Avalon will be hosting a Hallowe’en Psychic Faire and Samhain Ritual on Sunday, Oct. 30, with readings from 2-6 p.m., and a ritual at 6 o’clock.
“We have themed psychic fairs a few times a year, though we have individual readers on hand several times a week,” Solace said. “This one holds a focus on individual spiritual goals and coincides with the Celtic New Year.”
Along with the psychic faire, there will be an altar to the ancestors where visitors are encouraged to place mementos or the names of departed loved ones.
“We are going into the dark time of year, and there’s a recognition that the veil between the worlds is thinner now, and we can communicate with those who have gone before,” she said. These kind of celebrations are held the world over. One example is the Mexican Day of the Dead on Nov. 2, where families build “offrendas” — alters with personal belongings and favourite foods of the departed.
“We begin a spiritual vigil,” Solace said. “Looking at our dark sides, just as the Earth moves into the quiet months of repose. When the light returns in the spring, we look outwards again with the riotous abundance of sprouting leaves and colourful flowers.”
Although the psychic faire will take place one day before Halloween, Solace said the intent isn’t to tap into the commercial concept of Halloween, with witches and pumpkins and ghouls. This psychic faire isn’t meant to be scary, she said, but rather to reflect something else entirely.
“It’s a mysterious time,” she said. “Nothing that is supposed to be frightening or threatening, though in some ways looking within ourselves can be a little disconcerting.”
Solace, who grew up in England, said she never celebrated Halloween in the American sense of trick or treat and dressing up — the idea of putting on a costume and going out into the neighborhood simply wasn’t considered, she said.
“The commercialization of Halloween was not a part of the British culture at the time,” she said. “We celebrate Guy Fawkes on November 5, where children ask for money to buy fireworks. Perhaps the two holidays are linked in some way from the mists of time!”
But she acknowledged that many pagans naturally enjoy this time of year as much as everyone else.
“American Hallowe’en is not a religious holiday, but a modern folk tradition which everyone who grew up with it loves to participate in,” Solace said.
The psychic faire, on the other hand, is more likely to be educational than eerie – a chance to connect with our intuitive sides and prepare for the months ahead.
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