Samhain is a festival of darkness and transition which is balance to the opposite point of the wheel Beltane on May 31st, a spring festival which celebrates light and fertility. As we prepare for the season of rest, the Southern Hemisphere are reawakening, emerging from their winter slumber and prepare to embrace a new road ahead, one filled with life and a promise of new beginnings.
Samhain translates to “SUMMERS END” and is the Celtic New Year. Samhain is the final of the three harvests in the Celtic cycle, it is it’s a festival to celebrate the cycle of death and rebirth.
Samhain is a time to celebrate all that we have grown this year, a time to give thanks for all our blessings, but more importantly, a time to honour our losses. Samhain is a time of reflection and an opportunity to be mindful of all that we have lost this year, for all of the things that didn’t come to pass, no matter how big or small. Above all else, Samhain is a time to celebrate the lives of our ancestors, all that we have known and loved, passed family members, pets and others we have held close in our hearts.
During the Ancient Celtic Festival of Samhain huge bonfires were lit to symbolise unity between the living and the dead, and the ashes were spread over harvested fields to bless and protect the land. A druid or shaman would gaze into the fire and tell stories, he would receive guidance and messages from the flames he got from the other side. This is believed to be where divination derived from.
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 depths 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 high 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 and turn to face our shadow aspects.
Samhain heralds in a terrifying season when are asked to radically embrace loss. To willingly and moreover 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, our Gods, Goddesses, our spirituality or our lives at large. Here we are given a chance to take stock, given a chance to reevaluate.
We are challenged to remember our successes but more importantly our losses, our failures, these moments of grief and shame. These things too are building blocks and guides sometimes much more powerful ones than those 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. Especially those unexpected blessings that have fallen into our hands throughout the year.
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.
During this season, the veil between our world and the spirit world is thinner, and we believe that our ancestors can easily walk among us at this time. 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, we feel their presence much more strongly at this time, there is something special about this holiday, giving us the opportunity to connect with our loved ones once more. We are more open to their presence around this holiday, with the world withering in beauty all around us, it is easier to put ourselves in a place where we can consciously touch them.
Let us remember them now, their names, their stories, their struggles, their sacrifices. Let us carry their graves on our backs, in our hearts, in our minds in our memories. We are here because of them, we are their legacy.
Generation after generation of ancestors down our line and we are here. Let us praise them, let us remember their names.
Love, Light, & Magick xxx