In the arc of the Pagan wheel of the year, October is the time leading up to Samhain or Hallows (the midpoint between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice). It is, of course, the time when we all go a little crazy with spooky décor and witchy aesthetic, leading up to Halloween night, although the actual midpoint is around Nov. 7.
October is a time when we contemplate mortality and memory, remembering those who have died and our ancestors leading back into the mists of time. The skulls and bones and spider webs remind us that we are here only for a limited time, and will also one day be only memories in the minds of those who survive us.
This is important, because on Planet Earth, death is the means to life. Every organism is created through a genetic split or combination, and then grows and survives by taking into itself component parts which were once something else alive. It is the very miracle of Life on Earth, this death, and though we fear our own endings we understand that in the end, the ride is worth the price of the ticket.
We Pagans understand that death is a natural process and prefer to look squarely at it, rather than avoiding it as so many in mainstream culture do. As the year ages and the leaves begin to fall, many of us find it an appropriate time to do the work to make our deaths as easy for our loved ones as possible: to complete wills, health directives, wishes for disposal of our bodies and so forth. Having all of this information in a readily accessible place is a great gift we can give to our loved ones, so they don’t have to scramble around looking for it while mourning. If this is something that appeals to you, there is a workbook you can download at https://atheopaganism.wordpress.com/2018/10/07/a-gift-from-the-dying/
For many Pagans, honoring of ancestors is a big part of their spiritual practice, not only at this time of the year, but throughout it. Others may struggle with embracing ancestors whose deeds weren’t very worthy, but there is always more ancestry to point to: that very first finned fish that “walked” up on land to escape a predator or seek food, or that first homo erectus that figured out how to manage fire. Our heritage is filled with remarkable accomplishments; there is always something to celebrate, for each of us.
May the eerie month of October bless you with reflection and memory!