The concept of a "veil between the worlds" has long been a part of various cultures and spiritual belief systems. At its core, this metaphorical veil represents the boundary between the realm of the living and the realm of spirits, ancestors, or otherworldly entities.

Digging into Celtic origins, Samhain, which is celebrated at the end of October and beginning of November, was believed to be a time when this veil was at its thinnest. This belief wasn't just limited to the end of the year; Beltane, a festival celebrating the start of the warmer season on May 1st, was also believed to be a time of thin veils. The transitionary periods between the light and dark halves of the year were seen as liminal times, conducive to supernatural occurrences.

It's not just the Celts who held such beliefs. Many cultures believed in specific days or festivals when the living could more easily connect with the dead or otherworldly realms. For example, in Mexico, the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) is a celebration of the deceased, with the belief that they return to be with their families during this period.

Why the Veil?

The idea of a boundary between worlds can be seen as a way for humans to understand and categorize experiences and knowledge that doesn't fit neatly into everyday reality. Whether it's a vision, dream, or a moment of uncanny intuition, these experiences can sometimes be explained as "crossing over" or interacting with something beyond the veil.

Connection to Ancestors

In agrarian societies, the end of October and beginning of November marked the final harvest. It was the culmination of a year's work, and the onset of winter meant a metaphorical (and sometimes literal) death. Just as crops were harvested, it was believed the souls of the dead were also "harvested" or commemorated during this time.

As winter approached, the longer nights and shorter days were conducive to introspection. Remembering ancestors and seeking their guidance or blessings for the challenging winter months became a significant aspect of this period.

Collective memory and ritualized practices play a huge role in belief systems. When everyone in a community believes and participates in the same rituals, they reinforce and perpetuate those beliefs, making them deeply ingrained.

Skepticism & Modern Interpretation

It's perfectly reasonable to approach the idea of a "veil between the worlds" with skepticism, especially if one adopts a more empirical or scientific worldview. For many, this concept can be understood metaphorically rather than literally. The "thinning" of the veil can be seen as a collective shift in focus towards memory, introspection, and honoring the past. The rituals and practices associated with this time of year can help people connect with their roots, remember loved ones, and find a deeper sense of purpose or place in the world.

While beliefs and interpretations may vary, the core sentiment behind the "veil between the worlds" revolves around connection, reflection, and the cyclical nature of life and death. Whether taken literally or metaphorically, it serves as a powerful reminder of our ties to the past and the mysteries of existence.

Karen Steuer