Some of you will have heard me say this before and so I apologise for repeating myself,  but every year at Samhain I find myself sitting-with the premise of the veil between the worlds and each year I can’t help but feel like there’s more to it. The idea that the veil between the living and the dead thins at Halloween or Samhain is often positioned as ancient Celtic lore. However, a quick dig beneath the surface will offer you other stories.


It’s possible that the veil is a fairly modern invention, concocted by Victorian Spiritualists to both comfort and thrill. Spiritualists potentially drew from Helena Blavatsky’s text, ‘Isis Unveiled’, or possibly from a line in the bible: ‘And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent‘. As with all these fragments of folklore that persist within contemporary culture, there are many threads to follow and vast pools of speculation to wade through. I personally love this and enjoy the tangled chase to understand these lore and legends, though I will admit to tying myself in knots all too often… and this time is no different.


And who knows for sure, really? No one. I’m not interested in forcing a definitive answer about the origins of the veil, but I am always fascinated by how these ideas emerge, who they continue to serve and why we cling to them so.


Much of our UK folk traditions have been lost to colonisation, industrialisation and assimilated into Christianity. I imagine teeny bits of what was left passing from mouth to ear down the generations and eventually into the hands of competing folklorists and historians, many who then filtered out what wasn’t of use to their current theory.

I understand the attraction to the veil as an evocative metaphor, but what if this phenomenon wasn’t something outside of us, that we have no agency over, but something that we collectively activate in collaboration with our ancestors and dead during this season?

What if you could actively engage with that threshold anytime? What if we are the veil?


Does the idea of the veil continue because many of us know what it is to have had thin times? Times when we have touched the strange, the uncanny, the intangible; where the otherwordly seems to encroach onto the thisworldly? Where for a moment the ordinary mingles with the extraordinary and it’s as if we are deposited within a time between times?


In my own world these moments have often occurred where I have been at a threshold between one state and another. When my brother died, and again eighteen months later when my grandfather died, the days between learning of their death and the finality of the funeral were days where the Otherworlds seem to nudge closer. Those days were filled with synchronicity and high weirdness. Nothing as definite as my dead ones making contact, but more a sense of an opening being temporarily forged that enabled me to see past the mundane and into the sacred. Lights were brighter, colours enhanced, dreams vivid and prophetic, the more-than-human world made poignant appearances at perfect moments.


Equally, I have also noticed this happening when I accompany a family in the co-crafting of a funeral. This liminal zone between the death and the ceremony feels like a tender opening for re-enchantment that touches some of those that are recently bereaved. Folks I work with will tell me of their wild dreams or a chance encounter with a more-than-human friend that felt charged with something different to ordinary life.  I don’t know why this is, nor do I want an explanation. It just seems to happen sometimes and I feel very honoured to be able to witness it (although I’m sure it’s not ‘professional’ to confess this and I doubt you’ll find many celebrants who will admit to it!) Cynics will write these occurrences off as the by-products of shock and grief, but the animists and weirdos amongst us will likely interpret them with a different lens. Does the veil lift? Who knows. Is it the fabled external veil between the worlds or our own internal veils lifted, heightening our vulnerability and sensitivity so we momentarily see and sense more sharply? I will leave this to you to ponder…


Folks who work with their menstrual cycle will recognise there are thin times in their own rhythms. Sometimes the moment transitioning from one phase in the cycle to the next can be a time of heightened emotions and extra sensitivity. For me their is no greater example of this then the transition from the pre-menstrual phase into menstruation. If we align the menstrual cycle with the so-called wheel of the year then it it feels to me that Samhain aligns precisely with that moment in the cycle when the blood is just about to come. It is a moment on the precipice of letting go; the anticipation of Ouroboros snapping their mouth shut around their tail and completing the eternal cycle.


It is Inanna crossing the gateways to the underworld, stripped of her attachments at each threshold until she descends to those deepest, darkest depths (w)holy naked and unveiled. At this turning something in me is thinning. I’m closer to my fears and worries; the dark places in my being rise to the surface; a carapace, an old skin is wriggled off to the beat of the sweet song of decay. I’m vulnerable and at the same time I often see things more clearly at this transition. Change beckons. A veil within me has lifted.


The term ‘apocalypse’ is derived from the Greek, ‘apokalypsis’, which roughly translates to something like an ‘unveiling’. I have always been fascinated by the possibility that the apocalypse isn’t a distant disaster in some unknown future, but is an emergent event unfolding right before our very eyes. At this critical juncture when we are collectively faced with multiple global catastrophes do we hide behind the veil or dare to peek behind it, allowing ourselves to come face to face with the monsters on the other side?

How do we show up, unveiling ourselves to these horrors? How do we let ourselves be unveiled from the polarity of these times, making meaningful contact with those we might deem on the ‘wrong’ side?


I imagine my body as a listening device: guts, heart, lungs; my totality possessing a body-knowing that my logical thinking-self can’t always access. I cannot, nor do I want to, offer certitudes here but I invite you to feel with your own body what sits right with you. What happens when you unveil yourself to these possibilities?


What if we are the veil?