They bring out werewolves, cause coyotes to shriek, pull the tides high, and catalyze emotional intensity. Even if you don’t follow the cycles of the moons, full moons impact you.
Today’s Halloween full moon is a once-in-a-lifetime moon for many of us. First, it’s a Blue Moon, meaning it’s the second full moon in the month. This happens every 2.5–3 years, hence the expression “once in a blue moon.”
A full moon on Halloween happens approximately every 19 years. And this one is the first full moon visible in all time zones on Halloween since 1944. The next time a Halloween full moon will be visible across all time zones will be 2077.
A Time for Grieving
Halloween, of course, is a holiday intimately associated with ghosts, monsters, and other scary surprises. It is closely related to (but distinct from) the Pagan holiday of Samhain (pronounced Saah-win), a day for honoring the dead.
It is said that on Samhain, the veils between this world and the otherworld are thinned, making it easier to have contact with those who have passed, allowing us to get closure on things that were left unresolved, or call in support from our ancestors or dearly-departed beings.
In the cycle of the year, Samhain is the midway point between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. As we transition to even shorter days and view the death of nature around us, we enter the grieving time.
Full moons are a potent time for illuminating what’s in our subconscious, our shadow realm, letting go, and healing.
So the full moon’s arrival with Halloween and Samhain is perfectly timed for us to look at what we’re keeping buried — namely, our grief — in service of healing.
Honoring Death is How We Honor Life
Grief is a natural part of the lifecycle that is not properly honored in our culture, which focuses relentlessly on being “happy” and staying positive. Our culture wants us to push away feelings of loss and “just get over it already.”
The messaging tells us that grief is the opposite of happiness, that feeling the strong emotions means that we are not ok. These messages are damaging.
Buried grief turns into depression and anxiety. It lies beneath anger and fear, hides in the cracks of sadness and disappointment, and festers under our resistance to change.
It is only by honoring our grief that we can fully experience joy; only by embracing the depths that we can expand to the heights. It is only by confronting our own mortality that we can fully inhabit life.
There are no opposites here; each is part of the other. Without the darkness there is no light.
Honoring the dead is how we honor life itself.
A Day For Grieving
It’s human nature to mourn and grieve. In the wake of discrete tragedies — shootings, terrorist attacks, bombings, crashes — our instinct is to gather at the place of impact to create a shrine.
2020 has been year of incredible loss, both individually and collectively. You likely know someone who has died from the coronavirus; if not, then you know someone who has lost someone.
Perhaps because the coronavirus is an ongoing event, we haven’t had a moment of collective grief, and mass gatherings don’t vibe with safety protocols. But left unexpressed and unhealed, we will be looking at an inevitable grief fallout from the pandemic.
Samhain offers us an opportunity to grieve.
Use the light of this full moon, and the energy of these days for honoring the dead, to illuminate who and what you have lost: the people, the ways of life, the parts of yourself.
It’s only through grieving that we can move on, move though, and move forward.