September 24, 2017 4 Comments
AUTUMN makes me giggle for no reason, and it is my absolute favorite time of the year. Why? Well, it seems to hold such promise in its air and a bit of a rumbling danger underfoot, as if to say, “You there! You are bound for a wonderful adventure!” The natural elements give me a bit of a squish, an Earth hug if you will, telling me that no matter what, everything is going to be all right.
Most of my summer is spent in an idealistic state, but autumn steps in and brings forth a kind of realistic boundary to the future. It reminds me not to get ahead of myself in an unhealthy way. Goals are meant to be set, kept, and scored. But the season obliges us to click our heels a little down the alleyway, non? [Enter] SAMHAIN!!! *slaps table repeatedly* Hear, Hear!
Still reeling from Mabon (Thoth is such a character, right?!), this article focuses on the further descent of goddess, on her way to the rich stillness of the underworld. I reflect on gratitude and connect to spirit's life-giving truths.
By way of definition, and to explore the abc's a bit: Two thousand years of après-harvesting and raucous festivities pass down to us, to respectfully honor and continue the spooky glory. How great is that?
1888, from Irish samhain (Gaelic samhuinn), from Old Irish samain, literally "summer's end," from Old Irish sam "summer" (see summer (n.1)) + fuin"end." (pronounced Sah-ween) Nov. 1, the Celtic festival of the start of winter and of the new year.
© 2001-2017 Douglas Harper
Samhain originally showed in pre-Christian history as a new-year post-harvest festival, and the communities would build winter housing for their returning warriors and meandering shamans. Given the light shone increasingly weaker, I suspect the shamans of the tribe expected the looming darkness to bring its goodies-in-hoodies, as only darkness can bring, thereby naturally repeating the ancient traditions of honoring the dead.The locals buried apples on the threshold of the house as offerings; built bonfires to light the way for the deceased; ate silent "dumb" suppers and, originally they carved turnips, each a personalized offering. Yes, the dead received passage with a low bow and utter respect. Now that's treatment.
We mark All Hallows' Evening today as an echo of BC history. The commercial side to Halloween complements the great fun of dressing up (I do love some of the props!). In addition, every handful of pumpkin goop and packaged costume or piece of candy corn has Halloweens dense history within them, so strong were the practices.
For our Paganism student readers, you might have already found the documented belief that a membrane-like veil separates the world of spirit from the physical world. Late autumn is the time when it thins the most, so spirits, fairies, and departed ones we wish so much to see again can pass through this veil. Naturally, this also makes Samhain an ideal season for magic and divination. The costumes and social activity grew from the same traditional roots, and Halloween releases our wild side.
Many pagans revere both agricultural cycles and the process of nature; this dichotomy manifests in this sometimes two-sided celebration both the reverend and silly have their place on October 31. Just don't lift that membranous veil too high!
Out of curiosity, what do you do for Samhain? If I could only return to my Irish soil in a time machine and get me a Rowan tree bonfire!
Meh, my Hibachi will do… easier to leap over, that's for sure :)
Photo by Jake Thacker
Lineage is paramount in these celebrations. Try to get your elders involved, even in some small way. If you can raise your veil to meet the familial numinous blend, if only for a moment, gather the sacredness of life and surrender it for the benefit of all. And without being too precious about your incantations, remember who's in charge and bow in gratitude for your lives. That is Samhain. That is the gist of living…
I don't know about you, but my head is a bit clearer in the fall, less full of mind-chatter and slightly more at ease with itself. Less judgmental and endearing, I can walk around in a generally open way, relatively free from the expectations I tend to put on others or myself. My body remembers that as a youth autumn meant the school year had already gotten underway, so practical preparations would fill the time slot of an otherwise overactive imagination. Simpler facts would guide me by the needs of a formal education. But that didn't keep me from sneaking out to watch my buddies Pow-Wow from a distance. As a non-native I had to keep my distance from the formal ceremonies, but you cannot take the wild origins out of the body, they're ever at the ready, no matter which practices you groove on.
One keen autumn memory sticks out for me. I think it was just around the time I had already been in school for a month or so, right at that tender age of seven. I was leaving fairies and dwarves to their forests and inviting the reality of a mature world. I grew up at the base of a mountain with an inlet of the Pacific Ocean rolling just below it.
The weather always invited a good time, yet it would shift and shimmy with impressive downpours. We were lucky to have the ravines for drainage (a shout out to the flood victims, hang in there beautiful people!). Regular and true throughout the year, water unforgivably doused the land, making it evergreen beyond compare. The best playground on Earth, I think.
Thrashing about in large wet piles of recently fallen leaves was something I had always done and this one day the leaves were present but only a part of me wanted to roll around in them. The other more "mature" part of me kept the act from happening. I remember a glad sadness that I would not engage in such childlike action. No aftermath bath or succumbing to the fated flu that I always had caught a week later. Death to a part of me? or the sneaky common sense of a young adult… I don't know which and perhaps the answer is both. Swiftly, the fall from innocence relaxed into its knowledge just as the fire-red maple leaf turns itself over to the ground below—and so the "splitting" had begun.
These days, I effortlessly return to innocence, to get back into the autumn leaves and Halloween fun. I have Nature to cruise with, and she constantly provides me with great company, inclusive of the dead!
This article is dedicated to your and my ancestors. I am the matriarch to my three girls :)
I honor my gammy, mother, and two sisters, all passed… one was an HPS on Vancouver Island (I know she'll be clicking her goddess love heels for us all!)
Spell to Heal Grief
Samhain is the most sacred and often the most celebrated of the sabbats. In its sanctity comes a part that's difficult to celebrate: remembrance. When we remember, we feel. When we feel we often grieve. Sometimes it's grief for someone dead; other times it's grief for what once was, for what never was, and for our own failures. These are all natural parts of the season, just as much as the joy and mystique.
Grief has its place in all of this, but sometimes mourning takes too much of our energy and instead of acting as a way to teach us what we value, it completely colors our worldview. This spell puts grief in its proper place—informing us of what we've lost, so that we know what in life to cherish.
For this spell gather one glass of water, one piece amethyst, rose quartz, and hematite. Soak the stones in the glass overnight. Using each stone one at a time, shake a little fluid over your head each morning, saying each time:
Have a safe and love-filled celebration. Oíche Shamhna Shona Daoibh!
Written by Sherrill Layton of Studio iO Metaphysics a media ecologist in love with stars and decent brews—coffee, potions, words, storms—the recipe does not matter, the decency does.
October 11, 2018
Thank you for sharing. I have lived in PHX for too long. I need to get back to Nature. I believe I will begin looking for a position in the Pacific NW.
Wish me luck!
October 04, 2018
Thank you Thank you!! Beautifully written! Autumn is my favorite time as well. The earthy smells are so rich and the light glows with delicious hues. It’s a time for long dresses and hand made shawls, sweaters & scarves. The rituals and traditions it brings is the icing on the proverbial cake!!
I also and grateful for the grief healing spell. I am in need of clearing this energy of a recent break up and the heartbreak that it has ensued. I am a mess!! Haha grateful for the seasons change has a healing energy of it’s own. I need to go get stoned today. My 2yr old has managed to lose most of the ones I had.I need a taller alter! Lol
October 26, 2017
love this information…enjoyed the writings on this Samhain !!!! Many blessings
Comments will be approved before showing up.
May 17, 2023
Bruja/o/x culture (brujería), stem from an ancient set of mystical beliefs and practices that have been passed down through generations in Latin America. It has its roots in the indigenous spiritual traditions of the region, as well as elements from African and European cultures and today’s Instagram hashtags #bruja and # brujería have over 2M posts combined.
As other magical practices, brujería orbits honoring spirits and deities, divination, nurturing specific traditional healing methods such as curanderismo, and rituals to protect oneself from negative energy. Get yer charms out!
In Latin American countries like Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Cuba, Colombia, and Brazil it is still a vibrant part of daily life for many people, though there are some variations depending on location. The original practice was brought over by Spanish conquistadors during their colonization of the Americas, and the stories say the cobblestone streets were “paved in slave bones”—see a pattern of repressed magic much? Seems everywhere we turn there’s a need to rise up from the lid put on us for being natural… No longer, though. You watch! This next 20 years will have diverse magical cultures openly practicing without fear, the time is nigh 😊🌿☽🌕☾
Now evolved into something unique to each region, brujería remains a source of immense pride for those who practice this tradition, which continues to hold strong despite attempts to marginalize or even eradicate it
May 09, 2023
April 30, 2023
Are you looking for insight into your archetypal planetary vibes? Do you want to know what the stars have in store for you in May of 2023? We Spirit Nesters can help you to gain insight into the events going on. With Pluto’s ingress to Aquarius, the upcoming trends vibrate with Uranian energy, so expect the unexpected! From love and romance to career and financials, May prepares us for individual and collective freedom or to take steps towards clarity and avoiding potential pitfalls. Read on to get into the flow of your elements and how each sign expresses itself in what's coming up!
Astrological Movements: In May, we see the Sun in Taurus and Mercury in Gemini, which will inspires an increase in mental acuity with a skosh of practicality. This is a sweet, sweet time for learning new skills or tackling projects that require careful attention to detail. However, it's also important to be aware of potential communication issues that may arise due to this pairing. You'll want to think carefully before fully speaking your mind during this month! This isn’t to say withhold info, but just be prepared to take the repercussions if you do, from both sides of the coin…
Fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) can find themselves feeling energetically active during this month as they take on new challenges with enthusiasm and learn through friction, that’s what squares do, and there’s potentially enormous power in that, though not always 100% comfortable. We all know what kind of magic happens outside that zone, though, yes?
Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo Capricorn) can expect stability and security thanks to the positive energy flowing through their world right now, but it’s super important that you know in which house Aquarius sits, because that security can be going through do-over renos, you feel me? And we’re not just talking light stucco here, we’re talking a new roof level of shift, lol.
Air signs (Gemini Libra Aquarius) can prepare themselves for exciting conversations as creative ideas come into play – but don't forget that words have power too and can anchor you to stuff that you might not have anticipated! The intellect is in full gear and, depending on where your moon sits, you could be having emotional epiphanies in May that will set stuff free that you might have been holding onto for too long.
Water signs (Cancer Scorpio Pisces) can experience heightened emotions during this period which could lead to solidified feelings emerging that you FINALLY understand, so make sure you take time out for yourself to feel them all the way through, up from the heart center and like a pinball machine bounce them around until their out on paper or in song or other creative force. Emotional inventory always feels correct and May has the vibes to take you through with the strength of an ox 😉
May 08, 2023
Holy smokes! I just saw these comment for the first time since I wrote this piece…
Sherry, did you get to the PNW?
Brook, your two-year-old is taller still! Ha, altars get higher and higher – Hope your grief has tranformed into love…
Susan, blessings to you as well …
So glad you all enjoyed the article, this last Halloween was equally beautiful!
Take care and much love :)