Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Samhain

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…


  1. As much as I will miss summer, I do love this time of year. This Samhain seems more potent than ever and the veil is very thin indeed. It was a huge year with much to let go of. Time to dream again! Thank you for this gorgeous post!

  2. Thanks, Janet, for taking the time to leave a comment. I agree, this Samhain feels acutely more potent, which I guess means it also has more potential?

  3. You never truly know what lies ahead, and I like to think that anything is possible. Once a seed takes hold it is up to us to just let it grow, and not mess with it or think to hard on it...just let it be what it is.

    Lovely post, and thank you for taking the time to share.


  4. Thank you for the invite, this was just a perfect piece toread today. I am thankfully home more this year and was sitting by the fire gazing out at the yellowing ginkos, ruminating on my gains and losses in this past year. How Serendipitous to open this now. I believe I have spent much of this year looking lokie the right hand owl, life amazing me! I greatly appreciate your lovely thoughts Lise

  5. Astara,

    You are so right about the need to just let the seeds "do what they will," instead of constantly poking at them (mostly with our persistent thoughts). It takes discipline, patience, and most of all, I think, an inherent trust in All That Is.

  6. Lanie,

    Thank you for sharing a place around your fire and the sight, sound, and scent of those gingko trees holding sacred space with you.

  7. It seems like the gathering was a perfect precursor to Samhain. Hopefully the work we did will stick! It's also really interesting that all this turmoil and unrest is happening in the world right now- just in time for this New Year. I'm excited to see what it will bring!

  8. The work we did undoubtedly made a difference. We need to keep at it, though.

  9. Beautiful post :)

  10. Thank you so much, Lisa. Your words articulate how I have been feeling but haven't been able to fully realize. Now I feel much more direction towards how to embrace this time of year and feel its richness, a time I have historically resisted. Thank you.

  11. Ooooh. I don't know how i missed this post. Wonderful for me to read today though.(aha!) Some really simple, yet oh-so-big questions to ponder.

  12. Thanks, Leigh and Ellen. I appreciate your comments. I love thinking of this time of year in this way.

    Question is: Are we going to give ourselves permission within the next few days (if we haven't already) to sit with these questions in a meaningful way?

  13. Hey, Lisa:
    I read your post the other day. It sat deeply with me. I shared your post with Dennis tonight. I love how you express yourself. You know just what needs to be said.

    Both Dennis and I are very thankful to have been at the Gathering earlier this month. After the Trick or Treaters, we plan on huddling around a fire to celebrate our past year, reflect upon our challenges and put out there our wishes for growth in the New Year ahead.

    Happy Samhain to all...all that is! Special shout out to the to Tuatha Naofa! Surrender. Let it be.

    With love,

  14. Sweet post, Christine. Love your last two lines...