Samhain: Ancient and Modern

Here’s a taster of a blog that I put up yesterday for SageWoman’s channel at PaganSquare. To read the full post, click HERE.

samhain 1Calan Gaeaf (Welsh) or Samhain (Irish) begins at sunset of 31st October and runs to to sunset 1st November according to most Western Pagan traditions. If working by the moon, it is the first full moon when the sun is in Scorpio. If working by the natural landscape, it is when the first frosts bite. Samhain was termed the Celtic New Year, as it marked the ending of one cycle and the beginning of another. The Celts reckoned their days from sunset to sunset, and so the start of the year would begin in the dark time at the beginning of winter. Samhain marked the first day of Winter.

Calan Gaeaf, however, is a time that is not a time, and therefore some Pagans honour this tide and season from 31st October right through to the Winter Solstice. It is a time after many things have died, and there is a stillness to the air, an Otherworldly feel in the silence. It’s a dark time here in the UK, with long nights on our northerly latitude, and usually a very wet time as well. It’s not hard to see how these months could be seen outside of time, outside of the cycles of life, death and rebirth.

Calan Gaeaf, Samhain, Hallowe’en, All Soul’s Night – for many pagans this is the ending of one year and the beginning of another. It is often seen as the third and final harvest – with the last of the apples harvested, the cattle were prepared for winter and the grain stored properly. It is also a time when it is said that the veil between the worlds is thin, and the realms of the living and the dead are laid bare to each other. We are approaching the darkest time of the year, and the killing frosts and snows await just around the corner. It is a time of letting go, of releasing into the dark half of the year, and getting rid of the dross in our lives so that we do not have to carry them with us through the long winter nights. We consciously make the effort to live better, meaningful lives and let go of all that holds us back – our fears and worries, our anger and hatred. We nurture the beneficial and the good that we have in our lives, ensuring that they are well kept for our plans to come at the winter solstice. So the cycle continues.  READ MORE…

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Hallowe’en fun and frolics…

 

Phew – what a busy weekend we’ve had! We put on a “dark” belly dance charity fundraiser, Haflawe‘en, this Saturday, and raised over £450 for our charities! We did three performances this time, and got to see lots of other dancers from all over the region.  Great music in the disco afterwards as well – there’s nothing better than just letting it all go to The Prodigy’s Firestarter! Lots of trick-or-treaters at the door on Monday as well, and a moving, deep ritual around the fire outside centering on transformation.  Blessings of the season to you all!

Reblog: The Love of the Darkness

This a reblog from my channel, DruidHeart at Witches and Pagans, on SageWoman’s channel:

 

The still centre.

Outside, in the dark, the air is finally still. Like rich swathes of fabric, the darkness hangs around me, enfolding me, wrapping me in its exquisite embrace. I sit, breathing in the night air, the smell of cedar and dew wet grass filling me with pure awen. The last of the crickets are singing in the remnant of summer’s growth, owls hooting softly in the distance and underneath the beech tree near Caia’s grave I let the songs of the night wash over me in waves of indigo and black.

The quiet is shattered by the call of a stag just on the other side of the hedge. Calling to the does, he is in full rut, looking for the ladies in the shelter of the night. He is maybe four feet away, and his bark and rumbles excite me with the power that he is emanating in following his soul’s truth. I can hear the slight shuffle of leaves and grass beneath his hooves as he paces up the track and then back down towards the nature reserve and farmer’s fields.

Overhead, a few stars are shining between the cloud cover, and the moon has not yet risen. My muscles have become fluid, my sense of self sliding into the darkness until there is no separation. There is no I am to compare with: I cannot even say “I am one with this land”, for there is no I. No me. Just life and death, a cycle and spiral mirrored in the galaxy that we perch upon the edge of, in the vastness of space and time.

But eventually I come back; there is an “I” once again. An “I” to speak from this still centre, to make sense of the experience. Sometimes I loathe that “I”, wanting to remain forever in the embrace of the darkness, boundless and floating, no edges and completely open, sharing with everything on this planet in the beautiful, soundless dance in the round of existence. The “I” always returns however, a little smaller, a little less sure of itself, and for this I am glad.

Deep within the depths of the stillness, the songs of the universe can be heard. Beyond the sense of self is all existence.

The love of the darkness, where there is nothing but potential.

 

To see the original post, click HERE.

 

 

Samhain Musings…

Samhain, the time when the veils between the worlds are thin… I’ve been wondering about this term of phrase lately.  Why, on certain dates of the year, should the veil be thinner than at other times? Is there even such a thing as a veil between the worlds?

More and more I lean towards the negative – that there is indeed no veil, that the dead and the living walk side by side.  That there is no Otherworld, that the Otherworld and this world are all the same – it’s only our perception of it that makes it “other”.  We like to separate things, we human beings, to classify and put them in a place where we can understand them from a stand-offish perspective.  I would posit that, looking at nature, nothing is that simple, or can be tied so neatly to an idea.

Taking inspiration from the natural world around us, we see the living and the dead working together all of the time, whether it is autumn, winter, spring or summer.  Things are dying around us constantly – there is no specific season for it. Animals die, plants die, cells die – it does not wait for autumn. I admit, in the Fall we see the foliage around us withdrawing into itself, the leaves falling, the grasses returning to their roots, energy moving in different directions, from out into the sunlight to deep within the earth. This is not a death, however it may appear – simply a reversal of direction.

Like the double helix, energy is always moving, and never in one direction only. When everything appears to be dying here in the Northern Hemisphere, it is beginning to come to life in the Southern Hemisphere. The tides and times of life follow no one set of rules.

I may die in the autumn, I may die in the spring. Whenever I do die, my body will in turn nourish the soil, plants, fungi, animals and legion of other living beings on this planet in that great symbiosis of simply being. It does not rely on a season.  I do not cease to be, either. I simply cease to be in some form or other – my body will take on a new form. My soul – I believe that too will take on a new form, if nature has taught me anything.

In our agricultural year and society here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are at the end of our harvest season, and in that time we are able to take a break as the final crops have come in.  But we are still making our preparations for winter. Is there really a time to rest, to relax, before the snows come?  For some animals this is the busiest season, the squirrels squirreling away their stores, for example.  I’m sure our ancestors would have been busy all throughout the year, just trying to stay alive.

I’ve often thought of autumn as a time of rest, of rejuvenation.  I see now that perhaps “rest” wasn’t quite right.  Autumn is more a time of reflection, of going through what we have learned through the year, and through all the years of our lives.  It is a time to not stop, per se, but to take stock.

Along the way, our ancestors, who are with us always, can help us, guide us throughout our lives.  Having a special time of year set aside to acknowledge them is a good thing, but I would posit that we should honour where we have come from, our stories and our heritage, all that brought us to this point in time each and every day.  It is not a one-off thing. Like the holiday of Thanksgiving, I really enjoy and appreciate the sentiment, but carry that same sentiment with me throughout the year.

All that being said, this IS my favourite time of the year. I love the colours, the smells, the feeling in the air of the approaching winter, the stories of summer lingering upon our lips in reflection and contemplation.

Side by side with the ancestors, I honour the season, the tides and times of life, death, and rebirth.

Reblog from SageWoman: Samhain Approaching

My latest blog for SageWoman’s online channel: http://witchesandpagans.com/SageWoman-Blogs/samhain-approaching.html

Digital art by Ado Ceric, http://www.adoceric.com/Digital7.php

Digital art by Ado Ceric, http://www.adoceric.com/Digital7.php

As I sit here, writing this, the rain taps at the window, the wind howling down the street, carrying with it the scent of winter and the first of the autumn leaves. The sky is fast moving and furious – low dark grey clouds set amidst a backdrop of pure white/grey.  The central heating has been turned on.  The apples are juicy on the trees.  The starlings are flocking together. Welcome, Autumn.

My favourite season – as you may have guessed. From bright, sunny days where the sun shows the last of its strength, to watery, wind-filled days like these, it is a season of change like no other.  Quick, altogether too quickly, it is over, at least the Fall is, when the leaves change and drop to the ground.  After that, it seems Winter is here – only allowing Autumn a brief time of grace to shine in her beauty before all is blanketed under the dreamy cold slumber of Winter.

It is third week of October – and the hectic days of summer leading to the Equinox have long passed.  I feel I can almost catch my breath – almost.  The main bulk of the harvest is done – both agriculturally and in a personal sense.  I have worked hard this year, and the rewards have been great.  There are always disappointments – from the tomatoes that didn’t do well to the vagaries of life.  But Autumn, with her beauty, captures our hearts and our minds, our attention, and causes us to stop, to listen and watch Her before She is gone.

Samhain is just around the corner.  Time to let go of that which did not come to fruition. It is also a time to carry forth and collect the seeds of our new intentions – for we cannot throw these to the winds just yet.  We release the dross of our lives into the flames of Samhain fires, and protect the seeds of new ideas and next year’s harvest within the larder of our souls.  We cannot release everything – we must hold onto something to take us into the new year, something to sow our intentions with. It could be lessons learned, ideas that did have the time to grow, or ideas that came too late in the season to be utilised to their full potential. And so carry them over we must.

I hope your harvest has been bountiful, and that what you carry over be blessed as well. May the release of Samhain and the dreamy slumber of winter nurture you. May you find beauty and strength in this, the most inspiring and beautiful of all seasons.  May the Goddess of Autumn bring you joy as she does me. x