Samhain is festival of darkness and transition, celebrated on October 31st, to which is balance to the opposite point of the wheel; Beltane on May 31st which is a spring festival celebrating light and fertility.
Samhain pronounced "sow'inn" translates to “SUMMERS END” and is the Celtic New Year festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the "darker half" of the year.
Samhain is a time to celebrate the lives of our ancestors, it is a festival to celebrate the cycle of death and rebirth. It is a holiday to honour and give life to passed family members, pets and others we have loved and cared about by celebrating them and telling stories of who they were.
As the days draw darker, shorter and colder, as the trees become bare and leafless, the agricultural year is at its close and its beginning. The growth cycle begins in the darkest depth of winter when the cold forces seeds to germinate in preparation for their spring emergent. Although all seems dead, life rests and waits for the returning light. The period of Samhain is a good time for introspection, giving space for personal perspective and reflection.
There is truly a tremendous beauty to this season, it’s a sad beauty, powerful, moving, with a little taste of the loss. It’s a beauty that highlights the transitory nature of things, and somehow that very sense of pending loss enhances the loveliness of this holiday. It gives us a reason to acknowledge the universal cycles, making us think about the higher forces at work.
Samhain heralds in the season of grace as the earth grows colder, entering into its dying phase, turning within, we too are given the opportunity to look within. We are given the opportunity to attend to ourselves, and to the dusty unexamined parts of our lives, the chance to pull up any wounds we have been suppressing.
Samhain heralds in a terrifying season when are asked to radically embrace loss. To willingly and actively journey within. Into the labyrinth passages of our heart, mind and soul. We are asked to journey into memory, to sweep out those hidden internal corners, all the things that no longer serve us. Here we are given a chance to revaluate, to make space for growth.
During this season we are challenged to remember our successes but more importantly our losses, our failures, those moments of grief and shame. These things too are building blocks and guides sometimes much more powerful ones than those ones crafted from more pleasant experiences. These are the ones that make us stronger, that teach us those important life lessons. More importantly we are asked to rejoice and give thanks for the blessings we have received.
Samhain is about the memory of things that have long passed, and long gone. Loss has value, loss teaches us what we have. It teaches us how to recognise and treasure the smallest blessings in our lives, it brings perspective. Samhain is a time above all else we are asked to honour loss.
The thinning of the veil
During the Ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain huge bonfires where lit to symbolise unity between the living and the dead, and the ashes where spread over harvested fields to bless and protect the land. A druid or shaman would gaze into the fire and tell of stories he would receive or messages he got from the other side. This is where divination was derived from.
During this time of year, you hear people speak about the veil being thinner. The "veil" is the energetic barrier between dimensions which separate us from those who have crossed over, or lived out their karmic lessons. The veil is said to be thinner at this time, which allows the living to have heightened sensitivities such as increased intuition or psychic abilities. Around Samhain is the perfect time for scrying or divination work, a chance to communicate with the other side and look into the future.
Many people perform divination rituals on Samhain for knowledge of the coming year, using crystal balls, tarot cards, runes, and other methods of divination can be more powerful around this season. You can scry into almost anything with a reflective surface, my personal favourite is my Black Obsidian scrying mirror. Using a bowl of water or gazing into a fire can be just as affective.
We believe that our ancestors can easily walk among us at this time, we feel their presence so much more, they are in our thoughts, in our dreams. Take note of what guidance and messages you are receiving. They are always watching over us and guiding us, suffering as we suffer, celebrating as we rejoice. Even though our ancestors are always with us, there is something special about this time. Perhaps with the world withering in beauty all around us, it is easier to put ourselves in a place where we can consciously touch them.
For a journey through the veil meditation please click here.