Samhain ritual celebrates end of harvest

Mia Wilson

Tyler Hahn offers student Devin Matznick bread in the Giving ceremony. The ceremony was held by the Pagan Student Alliance on Halloween.
[/media-credit] Tyler Hahn offers student Devin Matznick bread in the Giving ceremony. The ceremony was held by the Pagan Student Alliance on Halloween.

In order to celebrate the end of harvest and honor spirits of those who have passed, the UW Oshkosh Pagan Student Alliance held a Samhain ritual on Monday in the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center.

The Pagan Student Alliance is an all inclusive group providing a safe space for those who wish to join. It is a collective organization of students following or interested in Earth-based faiths. They explore spirituality through the natural world and everyday life in equal parts with mysticism and magic.

Senior Tyler Hahn said he has more of an idea of what Halloween is as a holiday, since joining the Pagan student alliance.

“I still see Halloween as a mildly commercialized holiday, but I also see that it’s not just a day for partying and dressing up as something cool, but it’s something spiritual,” Hahn said. “This is one of the times of year that the veil, which separates our world from the supernatural, is the thinnest.”

Senior Gwendolyn Dahlin, a long-time member of the club, said a typical meeting entails learning more about Paganism as a whole.

“They tend to be based around looking at different aspects of Paganism and sometimes just do fun things like crafts,” Dahlin said. “Sometimes they bring in speakers to talk about the different branches of Paganism since it’s such a wide variety of people.”

When asked to describe Paganism, senior Devin Matznick, president of Pagan Student Alliance, said that it is hard to define.

“Paganism is a very broad topic, the running joke is if you ask five pagans, you will get 12 answers,” Matznick said. “I believe in paganism because I believe in the sanctity of the earth, and in honoring nature. Everything we used in the ritual is symbolic.”

The club Oshkosh Student Association representative, senior Tyler Hahn said for him, Paganism is spiritual and personal to each person.

“To me being pagan is more about being in tune with nature and to find one’s own spiritual identity,” Hahn said. “Instead of being born into a specific faith, many pagans are lead into it. I think that shows a sense of individuality.”

Dahlin said Halloween is not only a holiday, but it has a deeper meaning that lies in religion.

“For me, it’s kind of a combination,” Dahlin said. “It’s a celebration of the end of the harvest season and that same idea of respecting the people that have passed and paying tribute to them.”

The group gathered around a fire outside of the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center. A pamphlet with the written ritual was handed out to participants to recite.

Each person was given three leaves to make into a rose, a symbol of those before us, dead or living, and representative of the energy and focus placed onto that person to honor them.

There was also bread and “wine,” or in this case apple juice, used to symbolize nourishment and to wish participants in the ritual that they have plentiful food and drink.

In addition to the ritual, the group has a few upcoming events, including “Meet a Druid” with Greg Shori on Nov. 7 in Sage 4210, and another “Meet a Druid” with Dale Frampton on Nov. 21 in the same location.

Matznick said any student looking to find out more about the organization is more than welcome to ask questions or attend a meeting.

“As a group, one of our missions is to educate and to dispel any stigma,” Matznick said. “We’re always here to help to try to answer [questions.]”