|From Wolf Science|
When you carve pumpkins and dress up as witches, vampires and monsters, think about where it comes from.
It's the season of the Dead. Some people call it Samhain (pronounced "sow-win"), a very ancient Celtic celebration. It's also better knowned as Halloween. To the Scandinavians, it's called Alfablot.
During the ancient rituals of both Samhain and Alfablot, animals (mainly cattle) were sacrificed to the ancestors in celebration of the Dead. Both customs recognised that the spirits of the dead walk at the end of Autumn. The sacrifices were not just in honour of dead ancestors or ghosts but to the nature spirits including fairies. Alfablot means "sacrifice to the elves". Food and sacrificial blood was offered to the spirits in both celebrations.
What can you do?
First of all, in the 21st Century we've become more compassionate towards fellow humans and animals. We don't use live sacrifices anymore during these seasonal rites. Instead we eat, drink and chant. Some people want to make sacrifices but I believe that modern sacrifices should be made entirely different:
Modern day sacrifices:
1. Giving up ones meal and use this as an offering, placing it in the ground or beneath a tree.
2. Removing a lock of hair.
3. Fasting for the day.
4. Donating money and favourite clothes.
However, some prefer to still use living animals. This is just wrong and won't be considered a sacrifice to the gods or spirits anymore. Don't forget that in ancient times, people lived on the brink of starvation and at the mercy of dangerous animals, harsh freezing winters and plagues. Animals and wood (a very important fire fuel to use in the home), was considered a sacrifice if these were offered in the autumn rites, because people suffered more without them. In exchange for that short-term suffering they were rewarded with gifts from nature.
Modern people are a different breed of humans and have no right to destroy any living thing in the name of an ancient sacrifice because modern people won't be making a sacrifice but doing cruelty. Such an act that will have repurcussions. It isn't the person doing a sacrifice because they won't suffer starvation after it. People have lost the meaning of the word "sacrifice" today. Most people think of it as being evil and killing someone and something. It actually means giving up what you most need to others.
To make an ancient type of offering to the dead and nature spirits, you would be better off going to the local butchers and buying some meat. Then offering the meat to the spirits, ghosts and elves, giving it away to the earth, leaving it by a track or a graveyard or a wood.
Some people can say giving food to trick or treaters is an act of sacrifice because you've paid for something you're giving to children dressed up as little monsters. Also leave sweets out throughout the night for the actual spirits would be interested in your sugary offerings. In a way, donating to charity is a form of modern day sacrifice. Today's sacrifices are an act of kindness.
Have a really interesting Halloween.