Twilight rises up from the earth, and a cold wind blows from the north. Night time comes swiftly across the land. Pumpkins grace porches and steps and a thin frost covers the early morning landscape.
The harvest has been completed and the winter season whispers from so close at hand. Trees, plants and patches of earth are bare and lonely, not quite winter not quite the end of autumn.
Dry leaves scatter from every end of the field and swirl together in a blustery spiral. Now is the time of Halloween or Samhain (Sow-en) the Celtic New Year. It is time to honor the one's who have passed over and to honor our ancestors.
This liminal time is full of magic and mystery and is my favorite time of year.
"It is a magical interval when the laws of time and space are suspended"
Samhain is the close mid-point between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. Traditionally celebrated from sunset to sunset October 31st to November 1st, there is evidence that it has been celebrated since ancient times. These ancient people created magical places in nature, where structures are aligned with the Samhain sunrise.
According to Irish literature, many important events in Irish mythology occurred on Samhain. Bonfires were built and animals were brought home from summer pastures and harvested for the winter. This is a liminal time when the veils between the worlds are thin and crossing between them is simple.
Feasts were held and offerings were left out for the nature spirits, ancestors and fairies. Divination and games were played and guises were donned to hide from the fairies. Rituals and ceremonies were performed to ensure good luck and protection.
Samhain time comes at the same time as Halloween and as the Day of the Dead and All Saint's Day. These are all different ways to honor the season from diverse traditions. Modern day movies and imaginations have associated this time of year with terror, death, horror, evil and violence. These are truly modern day inventions and are not what these celebrations are about. I invite you to embrace the aspects of this time of year that resonate with you. The deep mystery contained at this time, in nature is truly a wonder to embrace.
This year, is a perfect time to go inward and to celebrate in a way that is quieter, especially since we do not have ready or safe access to our usual communities, parties, or gatherings.
Let's get creative and go deeper. Let's open our awareness and go through the veil and into the magic and wisdom that awaits us.
Ways to Celebrate Samhain:
-At dusk on Samhain, turn off all the lights in the house and listen to the sounds around you as night falls. After dark, light three candles, one for your future, one for your present and one for your past. Contemplate and make promises to yourself, send forgiveness to yourself and feel yourself in this moment in time.
-Prepare a plate of food for your ancestors. Place it outside after dark and whisper your gratitude to them. Connect to their energies and know that this offering will be gratefully received.
-Dress up in a costume that suits your deepest soul self. It doesn't matter that you don't have a place to go. Let yourself express yourself and all your beautiful aspects. Take some selfies. Send to your best friends. Then treat yourself to listening to all your favorite music that brings out this quality in you.
-Carving pumpkins or turnips. This is a tradition several hundred years old. The people of Ireland originally used turnips however, the immigrants to the Americas found pumpkins to be a better and more plentiful substitute. (How to carve a turnip). You can try your hand at the old ways here.
-Set your intentions for the new year. The celtic new year commences at this time. Write down some thoughts or make a collage or share your list with a trusted and magical friend. There is a great deal of energy and open lines of communication with Spirit at this time. Your intentions will be potently received!
-Do some self reflection. At dusk on Samhain, light some candles and sit before your altar. Do a meditation and reflect on yourself and on your year (or the last 8 months). Notice if there are ways you can improve yourself or learn more or give more. Can you be kinder, happier, gentler with others? Can you love yourself more? Can you forgive those who have wronged you? Can you forgive yourself?
Ask your shadowy parts to come sit by the fire with you and come up with a list of ways you would like to improve yourself and your life.
-Practice Divination. Pull out your oracles cards or do some scrying. Ask questions of your ancestors or your spirit guides. Perhaps the fairy folk or totem animals have something special to share. Listen closely. Also, look for signs and omens in nature. There is so much available to you!
There are many ways to celebrate this sacred time of year and many ways to connect it into your own belief systems. Regardless, we can feel the shift that happens during this season, late October begins to dip into the monochromatic shade of winter. We wrap ourselves more closely inward. Let your body be your guide and mark the seasonal shift with something that feels good to you.
Lark Fox is a Priestess, an herb wyfe, Seer, intuitive healer, writer and ceremonialist.
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