All Saints Day is the celebration of those who have contributed successfully to the creation of the kingdom. The saints were not perfect, but they were whole, holy, and they were certainly human. They lived their unique fate with creativity and participated in the evolution of human consciousness. Such a great feast, as every great feast, is preceded by an “eve” or vigil. At sunset, we turn toward the coming celebration of the next day. We launch our celebration of all that is holy with a consideration of all that is “unholy.”
All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, carries these overtones. A Christian veil has been thrown over the ancient, pre-Christian festivals for the dead, which celebrated both good souls and evil. The feasts of All Saints and All Souls were placed on top of ancient feasts. So some of the old traditions entered and mixed with the new practices. The ancient British Celtic traditions of fire festivals on this last night of October, of fear of witches and invitations to ghosts, have prevailed to this day in parts of Great Britain . . . What is unseen and unknown is so often treated as evil or dangerous. But with a contrasting intuitive gesture, the ancients also felt that, on this night when autumn made its transition to winter, the dead departed, returned to their old homes to be invited to the fireside, to be warmed and fed, by the living . . . Invitation into the light of consciousness does make unknown dangers safe, indeed full of energy and blessing. These ancient practices still color the way people enter into Halloween festivities today.
Gertrud Mueller Nelson