Into Darkness: Samhain Reflections

img_2295It’s the 31st October. The day we know as Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve. However, it’s also called Samhain. This title relates back into Celtic times and possibly before. So why does it matter now?

The tradition observed on Samhain relates to celebrating the end of the harvest. It’s the time of stopping the work on the land and settling in for the Winter months. It’s a time of hearth and home with the hope of enough harvest goodness to sustain the family through the fallow months. Animals are gathered in close. Preparations are being made for the coming Spring planting. But the bulk of the year’s work has stopped. It is a time of growing darkness. I love this sense of rest and reflection. The idea that I collect my harvest from my work with time to plan for my next year. It’s also part of the tradition that at this time the divisions between this and the other worlds are thin.

Two of our key human questions seem to be where did we come from and where do we go. I am often asked to explain about the life we live between human lives. Samhain is one of the times when those questions can be explored a little more. I know that the energy barriers between the dimensions (to put it in the terminology of my time) are ‘thinner’ than normal. If I choose to, I can step in a little closer to the other worlds and explore. What I am exploring relates to the eternal cycle of life and death and rebirth. Our ancestors knew and understood that cycle. After all it was played out for them every year in their connection to the land and growing things.

When we recognise that there is this underlying process going on I know that what we achieve becomes more significant. What legacy do we leave behind for others? Or even ourselves when we are reborn?

That’s where I feel that the celebration of Samhain can remind us to think of a differnt approach to life. Not one where time is linear and events are fixed. But where there is a state of potential, of fluid time and that anything is possible. For if I access the edges of other dimensions then my reality is not the only one. My parents aren’t dead and gone forever. There are other energy flows that are available to me. The world of the Spirits can come close and send back it’s messages of love and comfort. No wonder we have the Greek myth of Persephone as a way of explaining the interconnection between two worlds as well. When I connect into these other energies what do I receive?

I believe that Samhain is a time when greater amounts of love and healing can be transferred into this world. The Spirits who meet us at the border between the worlds remind us that love is an eternal energy. It doesn’t fade or diminish. Our loved ones in Spirit can join us by the fire and share in our achievements, our losses and our reflections. They can encourage us to look forward to the return of the light. To new days full of opportunities. Their quiet comfort can bring us healing. Have I been working myself too hard? Did all my planting bring me a good crop? Have I done enough to provide for those I care for? Their answer is always yes.

If I recognise that I have done well in some things I can forgive myself for having done less well in others. I can use the dark days to review and revise what I do next.

The darkness is a welcome break. Because it’s not completely dark during the day. I also have the gift of firelight (electricity nowadays) to show me fresh possibilities. I love gazing into the fire. That’s because my mind conjures up wonderful pictures. I can create as I will. The pressure to hurry up and get on with things is gone. I can be fruitfully idle. What a wonderful moment to have. This day of celebration is opening my mind to all sorts of things. How amazing that my ancestors knew all of this. And how appropriate that I share the dark and light of this day with them.

Day 351 of my blogging challenge.

Ostara – the Spring forward

Etain - Goddess Knowledge Cards

Etain – Goddess Knowledge Cards

One of the ways in which we can mark the turning of the year is to see the shortening and lengthening of the hours of daylight. The Solstice and Equinox points help us to notice how much light and dark each day contains. In older traditions the seasonal changes in the amount of light are also marked by their association with Goddess energy. Ostara is a Germanic Goddess associated with the return of the Spring light. As the day grows longer in light the fertility of the plants and animals increases and it is time to plant ready for the longer hours of sunshine. In some traditions the festivals around the spring equinox have become known as Easter and the mythology is of the man who dies and rises again.

There are other Goddesses who predate or run alongside the God mythology of Spring Equinox. One of my favourite is Etain, the shining one, who was a Celtic moon Goddess. Though a series of misfortunes, including dying and being reborn, she is destined to spend half of her year underground and half above the surface. She is therefore, in her risen state, a symbol of fertility, of the vitality of all growing things. This echoes the myth of Persephone, the Greek Goddess who spent Winter in the underworld taking the life of the growing world with her. And even further back, for the Sumerian people the Goddess who spent half her time in the land of the dead was Inanna. She returned once again in the Spring to bring new life and a temporary triumph over death. So whether you favour Ostara, Etain, Persephone or Inanna, there is a tradition dating back many thousands of years that links the return of new life on the Earth with the Divine Goddess energy.

Spring is the signal to clear out the old energy of Winter, to emerge from the retreat into solitude around the hearth fire and to begin the work of manifesting the new growth in all areas of our life. If we attune to Nature we notice the buds on the trees, the frog spawn, the daffodils starting to open. Cautious at first, for a stray frost may still hold the warmth of the daytime sun back, the Northern Hemisphere awakens. In the Southern Hemisphere it is time to gather the harvest and prepare for Winter. And that is the most wonderful thing of all. We have two sides to our planet. We have a system where one side grows as the other rests. We need never be hungry as growth is always going on. A complete solution to all of our basic needs of only we realised and organised it to be so.

I always feel at my most creative in the Spring. My Guides bring me new ideas, challenges and opportunities. I love to grab all that is on offer even if it may be some time before I get the fruits from all of my work. I also enjoy acknowledging the return of the Divine Feminine energy as it flows back in to plain sight. No longer hidden inside (underneath or below) the emergence of my creative voice and action is a way of honouring the part of myself that is more visible in the world in Spring. It’s hard to step outside of the conditioning that women have faced, the casual but insidious pressure to be and behave in certain ways. Each Goddess reminds us that there is a trade off for being a creative force; that at times we have to withdraw and await the turning of the seasons. ¬†Finally it is our season. It’s time to spring forward with all the positivity you can muster. Enjoy your opportunity to create the new, fresh, energy for the world. Share your inner Divine Goddess connections with everyone as you make, do, feel and think all of the newness into your life.

Day 125 of my blogging challenge.