And so we come to Samhain, or ‘Summer’s end’, the witches new year and the time when the veil between the worlds is thin… Now is the time when the Celtic Goddess Brighid, She who was the spring maiden at Imbolc, and the abundant mother at harvest time, shows Her crone face and transforms into the Cailleach of winter.
Much as I hate to bid goodbye to summer, I find this time of year is filled with an excitement and deep possibility all of its own. There can be an (understandable) tendency for people to focus always on ‘love and light’, and as a consequence to feel that the dark should be ignored or considered somehow a bad thing, but balance is part of life, and the darkness has a magic of its own.
The darkness can be the rich, enveloping, comforting darkness of the womb or the fertile earth, holding that which is yet to be born safely within its embrace until it has the strength to burst forth in fruition. It can be the depths of the bubbling cauldron, in which that which no longer serves us can be released or transformed. It can be much needed rest, recuperation and valuable time to pause in life’s sometimes headlong frantic activity, to take stock, and to consider in which direction we want to head next.
The Cailleach is fierce and powerful, but She also carries the wisdom of ages. She is the inner wild woman within, whose voice of intuition guides those who quiet and listen. She is Baba yaga in the forest, who tells the truth to those brave enough to ask. She is the keeper of the cauldron of transformation, which we all hold within ourselves.
Samhain is the time to consider that which we need to release, transform, or gestate, and to add those to our metaphorical cauldron, and let it brew…
Samhain is also the time to honour our beloved dead and our ancestors, not just those of blood, but also those of spirit – the suffragettes; those persecuted in the burning times; writers and artists and scientists whose voice lives on in their ongoing inspiration; those earth protectors who have lost their lives in the defence of the planet; all those who have gone before us and yet still touch our lives…
This weekend I led an Earth Spirals Samhain ritual on Hampstead Heath, we gathered to symbolically descend to the underworld, commune with our ancestors, give thanks for all that they have given us, and ask for guidance for the coming year. We each took a gift of the waters of the world, as a tangible reminder of the guidance we had received, and then brewed a potion of our combined gifts, as a libation to the earth. We honoured those who have gone before us with food and wine and song, and felt the joy of coming together in celebration, even when tinged with grief for those we have lost.
And in the process we raised £100 for TreeSisters, which I’m told will plant over 300 trees!
Naturally, I forgot to take any photos until long after the ritual had ended and about half the participants had taken their leave, but I was surprised at how popular the event was, I had many emails after the event was sold out asking if they could join anyway, and a few hopefuls asking to join on the day. I think there’s a growing need, especially among those in the sometimes impersonal city, for a connection with the earth and with others who feel the same way, so into my personal cauldron of ideas and possibilities I stir the intent to open all of my seasonal rituals to those who wish to join…
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How beautiful, you are absolutely right that people are really ready to have meaningful ritual in their lives. I’m not surprised so many are drawn by your spirit and strength. Samhain blessings to you and yours, Amelie
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Thank you so much Mary! And to you xx