In Western culture, Halloween is one of the biggest commercial holidays of the year. Pumpkin carving, haunted houses, and trick or treating are some well known traditions, but like a lot of American celebrations the roots run deep in a different holiday altogether. In this case in particular, that holiday is the Celtic harvest celebration of Samhain.
Samhain is a traditional harvest feast that generally marks the halfway point between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. It is celebrated by lighting a large bonfire in the center of the village and a large meal consisting of the fruits of the previous summer’s harvest. At the end of the festival each family lights a torch from the bonfire and uses it to light their own respective hearth fires, to burn and warm the home through the winter.
There is a certain supernatural element to Samhain that harkens to our modern day celebrations of Halloween. During this time it is believed that the barrier is lifted between the lands of the living and the dead. Many tell stories of deceased family members seeking refuge in their previous homes for the night, and some families even set places at their tables for them. The Fae (sometimes aggressive, superhuman race, more commonly known as faeries) also play a large part in the culture of Samhain, and offerings of food and drink are left out in exchange for protection of family and livestock through the colder months. It was also common for people to dress in costume and go door to door reciting verses in exchange for food and drink. The costumes were believed to disguise the wearer from mischievous fae and malevolent spirits.
During this time of year, much like the torch lit from the bonfire in the center of town, we heat our bodies on our mats, and carry that flame in our hearts as we move through the yoga of life. Much like the mischievous Fae, we encounter demons and distractions from our dharma or life’s purpose, and much like the costumes of the ancient celts, we don our “costumes” as members of a functioning society. In Celtic tradition this is widely regarded as a new year celebration, and we also have the privilege of using this time as a fresh start or a mental reset. As we all know, it is one of the darkest times of the year, and in our yoga lineage, we honor and revere the pure potential of darkness, rather than fear what it could be concealing.
Celebrate safely friends.
From all of us at Sanctuary Yoga and Mindfulness, we wish you a Blessed Samhain, and a Happy Halloween.
SANCTUARY YOGA & MINDFULNESS
Sanctuary Yoga & Mindfulness is a healing haven in the heart of Center City Philadelphia. Our premier yoga studio offers weekly yoga & mindfulness meditation classes, as well as workshops and teacher trainings of the highest caliber. “Sanctuary Signature” yoga classes all place an emphasis on: excellence in alignment; thoughtful sequencing; inspiring & uplifting verbiage to support your body, mind and heart, allowing you to feel enhanced on every level. Each yoga class and yoga practice offered also contains 3-5 minutes of mindfulness meditation at its conclusion to further punctuate your profound experience during your time with us.
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