Life is wonderful, but each life eventually ends in death. Samhain commemorates this powerful realization. The life of the earth is seen to rapidly retreat as the leaves fall, the weeds wither, chill winds blow, and darkness asserts it’s dominance. In the human lifespan, this Sabbat corresponds to death. Just as Samhain heralds the dark quarter of the year (Samhain to Imbolc) and then the cold quarter of the year (Yule to Ostara), the Cretaceous extinction started with the dark cloud of ejecta from the asteroid impact, followed by the deadly freeze of a “nuclear” winter. Samhain also works well to commemorate extinction, which has been the fate of over 99.99% of all species that have existed on earth.
In Deep Time, Samhain represents death and extinction. Extinction is a fundamental part of evolution, with death being part of the cycle of life. Asteroid impacts and megafaunal extinctions are tied with the death that awaits each of us. This includes the mass extinction 65 million years ago, as well as the present mass extinction. (Time = from 65 million years ago to the present)
Death and extinction are not completely bad things. These extinctions have made room for new species (such as us), and death makes room for new life. Samhain is thus the time to express our gratitude to those who have gone before us, those who have made our lives possible, those who have influenced us, and those who we remember. For this reason our ritual usually includes tributes to our ancestors and others. Photos of the dead can be given a place of prominence leading up to Samhain, and all can be especially remembered, even spoken to, if you like. The meditation to our ancestors can be read or used as an activity.
The seriousness of this Sabbat should not overcome the celebration that comes with all parts of the wheel. Thus fun activities like Samhain (Halloween) parties are good, as is trick-or-treating, bobbing for apples, and decorating. Colors are black, orange, tombstone gray and sometimes bone (off white).