Samhain (pronounced "sow-when") is the time of year traditionally linked with the Celtic New Year. The harvest has passed, our larders are full, and the nights grow ever darker, beckoning us to retreat into the warmth and comfort of our homes and hearth-fires.
We are called to go within, to retreat from the gathering darkness outside and take stock of all that we have accumulated and stored inside – in our homes, our psyches, our dreams. We are called upon, from deep within ourselves, to reflect upon the year’s blessings and burdens. We are asked to decide what we would like to plant in the rich loam of our past year’s experiences; what we would love to harvest – perhaps for the first time – next year?
What have we learned, either easily or ‘the hard way,’ that will influence which seeds we plant in the days and weeks to come? It’s time to reflect, time to decide. For it is in the fields that will lie fallow for some months to come that we plant the seeds that will slowly stir, quiver, and ultimately thrive – first in that darkness, then bursting forth into the sunlight’s strong spring rays across our consciousness.
In the darkness, these seeds will germinate. They will mull over themselves and decide energetically either to begin the journey upward, toward the light they instinctively know is there, or not.
As we give ourselves permission to sit quietly amongst the falling leaves, permission to sit with our reflections upon this past year of new and old growth, birth and loss, sudden and slow, drawn out experiences of change and transition, we give ourselves permission to plant the seeds of the dreams we intend to nurture through the coming winter and then fully express as the year unfolds.
In this time of retreating within, we also give ourselves permission to joyfully celebrate our abundance, to give full-throated thanks for the many blessings we’ve enjoyed ~ including surviving some of the hardest lessons we may have been asked to learn thus far.
It is said that at Samhain the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. In our western culture, we’ve taken that idea and run with it to the extreme, focusing on all of the scariest things we can imagine, and relishing in scaring the daylights out of ourselves (or numbing ourselves out in sugar-induced comas). Rarely, if ever, does it occur to us to honor the abundance of both what we’ve reaped and what we’ve lost. Rather, we intoxicate ourselves with the superficial, the masks, the excess.
Perhaps this year, as the veils thin, we can instead look at our lives over the past year and see what we may have said or done or experienced that, in retrospect, was terrifying, either to ourselves or others. Maybe we can see or comprehend those relationships or experiences that have died ~ or maybe were already dead ~ a state of being we just refused to see until now. Maybe we can allow ourselves to honestly reflect upon what lies within our hearts out of obligation and what is within our hearts out of simple joy. What do we keep? And what do we bury in the Earth, asking the Mother to mulch and break down into elements so that it may feed and nurture All Life instead of slowly serving to choke the life out of us?
Perhaps we can loosen the death grip we’ve had on our ‘vision’ of our lives and actually see that some of the seeds we keep insisting will sprout this year never germinated, never took root. It’s time to let those old ghosts go and shift our focus, instead, toward a vision of creating something completely new and different, something beyond anything we’ve allowed ourselves to dream before.
What old ghosts are you ready to release, with compassion and kindness, into the night? What new dream seeds will you plant in the dark, rich soil of your life experience?
Happy new year…