As Advent is to the church year, so Samhain is to the Celtic year: a new beginning, a doorway opening into infinite possibility. This year, Daylight Savings ends in the United States on 1 November (the first day of Samhain), so we will have a very visible reminder that we are slowing and darkening toward the Winter Solstice.
We are in All Hallows Tide when the veil between worlds is very thin. In Mexico, our sisters and brothers will soon be observing the Day of the Dead. The Church will be celebrating All Saints’ and then All Souls’ Days on 1 and 2 November. If you have lost a precious companion this year, you may want to create a small remembrance space where you can set a picture or two, perhaps some marigolds or another fall flower (pansies, asters, mums), candles, and some items that spark memories (letters, a piece of clothing, a special ornament.) You may want to include pictures of all your departed family and friends. This year I will be especially remembering my friend, Lori. It is appropriate to include some examples of the bounty with which you have been blessed (whether this is symbolically captured by grain and grape or apple, or a book, a special gift from a friend, your own creative artwork).
This particular threshold is a good one for deep thoughtfulness, gathering up the lessons of the past year and allowing them to prepare you for the next cycle.
Therefore, as I did at the end of Beltane, I invite you to join me in reflecting with intention on your experience of Lughnasadh…and the past year. Without feeling compelled to complete it before the first of November, you may find it fruitful (both challenging and comforting) to take a hour (or thirty minutes, or fifteen) and ponder some questions. Some may feel more intriguing than others. Use the ones that inspire curiosity. As always, I urge you to write your answers in your journal so that you can look back in the future and notice how your life is in continual shift. It can be all too easy to miss those small, but steady, changes that – cumulatively – reshape us in profound ways.
Some questions remain useful at each threshold (and you will recognize them from other seasons); others seem to be particular to this moment in time. So:
- Where did you experience growth (transformation, tempering, honing) during these three months?
- Where did you notice your energy sources supporting you steadily? Where did you notice yourself unwisely over-extending or, conversely, feeling that you under-used your life force?
- What was the most abundant harvest of this season?
- Were you surprised by that abundance in that area? Or was it a carefully nurtured hope that came to fulfillment?
- What were the blessings and challenges that shaped this season and assured bounty in one area or, perhaps, restricted bounty in another?
- What opportunities were you offered to stretch into greater strength, skill, vision, witness?
Looking back over the whole year, how would you describe the shape of that year (a circle, a spiral, a heartbeat, a cresting wave)?
What differences can you identify between the person who crossed into Samhain in 2014, and the person who is preparing to welcome Samhain 2015?
As you assess your emotional and spiritual tone, where are you right this moment?
If you can, try to observe rather than judge. Observation opens our eyes and hearts to possibility, to wonder, to appreciation. Judgment closes us down and limits our energy and our creativity.
On Saturday (31 October), you may want to release Lughnasadh and the past year with a small personal ritual. If that involves words, you may use these or your own.
receive my thanksgiving
for blessings poured through me,
for the saturated splendor of harvest glory,
for your sustaining companionship
in this time of ingathering.
With unmeasured gratitude
I yield the extravagance you inspired in me:
the infinite miracles of color-texture-taste
in which I shared.
Fare you well as you journey onward
carrying the seeds of futures yet to be.
And on Sunday (1 November) you may wish to welcome Samhain and the new year. Here are the words I will be using.
Come you in, Dormant Power.
Come you in, you who rest us into potential,
enfolding all life with
holiness of awaiting,
wisdom of reflection,
silence of latency,
vision of imagination,
stamina of endurance,
healing of hibernation,
clarity of dream,
strength of bones,
depth of memory.
Be you welcome
at the hearthfire of my soul.
Text © 2015, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2014, 2015 Immram Chara, LLC
The first photo is a New England maple in full glory. The second is ‘Arcs and Orbs’ from my recent 21-Day Art Journey. The final one is from St Govan’s Chapel in south Wales. These are all available as cards by special order. Contact me here.
Shortly after 1 November, new cards selections will be available in the Store and in my Etsy Shop.