Bringing light into the darker months of the year
What is Samhain?
Samhain is an old Celtic festival which celebrates the closing of harvest and the hunkering down into the darkness of winter. Many view this as the Celtic New Year; last year’s cycle has ended, and we now must stretch and water our roots to enable the new to bloom.
Traditionally, it is a time when the veil between worlds is thin, and we honour our ancestors and those who trod these lands before us. If you have lost someone you love in the past year, now can be a soothing time to light a candle in their honour. This concept of the spirit world is a reminder to go within, reflect, rest and reconnect with our true selves. It is a time of introspection and plunging into that deep inner wisdom we may have forgotten to listen to.
All around us, nature is shedding. From the carpets of crunchy leaves to the forests dusted with cinnamon; Mother Nature is showing us that decay is natural, releasing is necessary, and that with death comes life. Like nature, we too must shed what is no longer serving us; what do I need to let go of? Say thank you to this challenge for the opportunity for growth and the lessons learnt, and then let it go.
As the light is dwindling, we can feel meditative about the months we have left behind. Now is a wonderful opportunity to practice gratitude. What blessings have come your way in the past year? What challenges have you faced? With each challenge, what have you learnt – how have you grown? I like to think of this as silver-lining-spotting: imagine putting on a pair of glittery goggles and suddenly you can see golden threads strung between those heavy clouds. When we focus on the good, the good tends to grow. Practicing looking for the light in this way will help us as we creep into the darkness of the months to come.
Samhain can be also be a soulful time to connect with friends and family. By holding a dinner, or a gathering of closed loved ones, you can each take time to share the challenges and joys of the year so far and where you hope the next Celtic year will take you.
The dreamy mid-like state of Samhain feels symbolic of the balance we must all try and keep in life. As Samhain drifts dreamily between the worlds of the living and the dead, we are reminded too to keep our own lives in equilibrium (Am I balancing work with play? Am I resting as much as I am doing?)
For a bit of candle magick:
Write down whatever you would like to release onto a piece of paper, (carefully!) light one end of the paper with a lighter or open flame and pop into your fire-safe container (such as a steel bowl outside) or fireplace. Watch as your paper slowly curls up into embers and your past pain is transmuted into new energy.
Or, simply state what you are letting go of, and what you are calling into your life, before lighting a candle. Focus on the flicker of the candle flame and repeat your affirmations. When you blow out the candle, give thanks and imagine the smoke is releasing your pain and bringing forth your wishes.
As the light draws in, and darkness begins to envelop us, we must begin to conjure our own light. The ritual of lighting a candle, and reminding ourselves that the sun is always there, can help us through the duskier months to come.
This season has become synonymous with death. But, quietly through the rustling of the leaves and the movements of the sun, we learn that through death comes rebirth. How can I release those things that are no longer serving me, and what sort of flowering shoots do I want to fight through the soil?