Happy Halloween, everybody! Of course the year that the stars aligned so that there was a full moon (and a Blue Moon!) on Halloween had to be 2020. It is truly a year of enormous things. For this special occasion, I wanted to do something a little special. Let’s talk about Halloween itself, specifically as it relates to The Veil.
If you read this blog, you’re probably the type of person who already knows about Halloween’s origins, but I’ll cover them just in case. Halloween is one of the last truly pagan holidays the U.S. has left. We inherited it from the Celtic Samhain (pronounced sow-wen), the October 31st-November 1st celebration that represents the Celtic New Year. During Samhain, people did (and do) a lot of stuff the broader U.S. still does today: carve faces into produce, bob for apples, dress as demons, crowd around fires, etc. Samhain is the time to harvest what you can from the previous year, and then step back to watch it die.
As you know, winter brings no small amount of danger. But Celtic tradition has it that the change to winter is even more dangerous. On Samhain–on Halloween–the veil between this world and the next lifts, and horrors walk.
Rather than exploring a specific monster, let’s explore lots of them at once by poking at that gauzy boundary. It will be a bolt of fun!
More chiffon than chenille
People familiar with Spiritualism have probably heard the term “beyond the veil” or “the veil is thin” or some such. This is what the mediums are talking about. “The veil” refers to the border between our physical, logical plane and the ineffable. As the name “veil” suggests, that border isn’t super sturdy. Things can (and do) get through–from our side, and from theirs.
These crossings are assisted by the fact that the veil varies in its thickness. Beyond Samhain, you might experience a thinning of the veil between waking and sleeping, around sunrise or sunset, visiting charged places like cemeteries, or even viewing art. You might notice a pattern here: the key to these thinly-veiled spots is that they are places between places. As the sun sets, it is neither day or night. The cemetery houses both the living and the dead. Art is both emotion and physical output–you get the idea.
I should note that a thin veil isn’t all bad. Some actively seek it out. Thinning veils are said to help psychics get a boost in their powers, allowing even ordinary people to better intuit or learn things. They also help us feel close to those who have passed, if not talk to them directly. There’s a lot of wisdom behind the veil. Useful things. Things that can change us for the better.
Of course, there are also some decidedly not useful things.
At the junction between summer and winter, between life and death, it’s easy to see why the veil around Samhain diminishes into no barrier at all. And with no barrier, there’s nothing to protect us from what’s beyond.
Pay no attention to the horror behind the curtain
Samhain honors the inevitability of death; it is a time to remember the dead and to be touched by them. But play your cards wrong, and you can end up among those remembered.
In trying to talk to grandma, you might instead call up something much less friendly–something that doesn’t go away when it’s told. Many mediums point out that even if you don’t run afoul of a straight-up evil spirit, ghosts can be as nasty and deceitful as any stranger in real life. Also as mercurial–you might run into one that seems fine, but then you let on that it’s dead, and it loses its XScreamSnickersBar™.
In short, ghosts are whack. You have to be careful who you’re talking to, and how you talk to them. A long list of protective steps is recommended, even for first-time dabblers.
Then there are the fairies. Oh, yes–I’ve covered at length before how very not-Tinkerbell-y the fairies of European lore can be (and lots of other cultures’ lores, for that matter). When the veil thins, they all come through. There are fairies that will steal your soul to pay their Halloween tithe to hell, or that simply keep it as a collectible in a jar. You can be drowned, turned into a husk of a human, cursed, kidnapped, or have your children kidnapped or even murdered for the slightest offense.
You might run into the Wild Hunt, or the Sluagh, or the Fachan–a chain-wielding, fur covered monstrosity with body parts sticking out of its stomach, so hideous that one look can stop a man’s heart. Or you could bump into a Red Cap, a fairy that looks like an innocent old man but is unstoppably fast and strong and will hack you to bits with a scythe. A monster specifically associated with Samhain is Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta, a tailless black sow that wanders around with a headless woman and devours souls. There is truly no shortage of fun.
See you on the other side
So it’s 2020. There’s a full moon, a blue moon, and lots of SourPatchZombieKids™ goin’ down. How bad could this Halloween be?
First off: The veil is thin indeed. HiggyPop’s Forecasted Paranomal Activity barometer shows it at a mere 30.7% of its full strength, which means we’re at Threat Level Severe. Tonight during the witching hour (3:00 AM), it might drop down to 0%. To make things even more exciting, this is the year that the UK HAUNTED team has for some reason decided to attempt to break the Guiness World Record for the #WorldsLargestSeance, streaming it live so that countless amateur mediums can join in from home. With all of that psychic energy flooding past whatever tatters remain of the veil, what could go wrong?
Me? I’ll be deep in the woods by the time you read this, camping in the dark mountains on what promises to be a very exciting night. I have one flashlight and no extra batteries.
What could go wrong, indeed.
If the veil were a shower curtain, what kind of shower curtain would it be? Fabric? Vinyl? A map of the U.S.? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
IMAGE CRED: All images to the good miscellaneous artists free on Canva.