The universal forces of nature keep all of life in check and balance through the equinox; auspicious times of year when transformation is apparent in the change of season, light and darkness, the birth and death of nature. It is said that the fabric of space and time becomes more porous during these times of year.
Every year, Halloween and All Saints’ Day occur around the time of the fall equinox. As the atmosphere is more transparent, the spirits play between the realms of the gross and the subtle, between the worlds of the limited manifest, and the limitless ethereal.
Although the words ‘limited’ and ‘gross’ imply some negativity, and it certainly may not always feel wonderful or magical to live in this world, having a body is a tremendous gift. Not only do we have the capacity to feel, share and express love, but as it turns out, it is easier to work out our karmas in a body. Our physical body is a precious vehicle, something to value rather than take for granted. Even so, many of us neglect this gift.
“Hungry ghosts” is a term that some traditions use to describe disembodied souls. These bodiless souls are hungry for a vehicle to resolve their past lives so they can finally find lasting peace.
Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve as it was called historically, is the night these hungry ghosts reveal themselves to the world of the living. Due to the atmospheric conditions of the equinox, they are able to pierce through the boundaries that normally separate the dimensions of life and death. They make mischief as they seek to have the same experiences and feelings as those living, and will do just about anything to inhabit a body with a weak soul they can boss around, even briefly.
People anticipated the arrival of these ravenous ghosts by preparing food offerings for them. The goal was to ensure the food would be so delicious that the ghosts would be satisfied by the food alone and forget about trying to possess their bodies. Today, this tradition is still practiced. People leave food on their doorsteps for spirits at certain times of the year, hanging scary, demon-faced masks above their front doors in the hopes unwanted guests might be scared away.
In the old days, no one who valued their life would have left their house on All Hallow’s Eve. Most likely they would have locked their doors and bowed down at their altars, calling upon all saints, gods and goddesses. The next day, awaking in their human form meant that their faith saved them, and the entire day was spent in gratitude. Therefore, the day after All Hallows’ Eve is reserved for remembrance of the saints and is called All Saints’ Day.