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Samhain

Full moon behind bare tree branch

The Descent

into Darkness

Autumn turns

to Winter

1 November

About Samhain:

Samhain (pronounced SOW-in or SAM-hayne) is one of the four “Greater Sabbats,” a fire festival and the cross-quarter day between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice. At this sacred time, we celebrate all that has manifested in the fields and in our lives, we prepare for the winter months to come, and we remember and honor those who have passed on. 

Samhain means “end of summer,” and it is our third and final harvest. In ancient times, it was considered the “meat” harvest and so we invoke the Horned God, the stag whose antlers are fully developed. He is the God of the hunt, and he represents the animals and plants that give their lives so we may be fed. The Horned God reminds us that our lives are sacred gifts given to us by other living beings. 

At this time of year, when the nights grow longer than the days, the Sun God and Earth fall into slumber and we enter the time of the Underworld, of winter, the darkest time of the year. This is a magical time, when the energy is drawing down and inward so it can be recast in the Crone’s cauldron - the transformative place of death and rebirth that all of nature experiences. Death is a natural part of life. Things must die to order for change, growth, and new things to be born. As the year is dying, it brings the stillness of the long nights which are necessary for our souls; for if can surrender to the barrenness of winter, we can be rejuvenated next spring. Therefore, Samhain is also our New Year’s Day, for death and birth are two sides of the same thing. 

At this time, we can draw strength from Persephone, a Goddess of both life and death. At Mabon and the Autumn Equinox, we mark the time when she annually descends into the Underworld. At Samhain, Persephone embraces her power, ascends to her throne, and is crowned Queen of the Dead. We too, can grow in power when we allow ourselves to move into the rhythms of winter, taking more time for reflection, contemplation, and rest. We enter the Dreamtime, welcoming dreams, visions, and messages to guide the next turn of the Wheel. The time between Samhain and the Winter Solstice is the waiting time, like when a baby is in the womb but not yet ready to be born. We don’t know what the new year will bring, but we will soon begin to dream and imagine. 

At Samhain, we also call upon Hecate, the Crone of the triple Goddess. She is the aspect of the Goddess that teaches us wisdom and helps us to let go and transform. She comes to strip the leaves from the trees and quicken the decay of the flesh of the year, so that it may feed the new life to come. At this time, we can follow the wisdom of the trees and embrace the gift of release. We can let go of the past, and release all that no longer or never served us – our resentments, our guilt, our regrets, our attachments, our karmic and genetic patterns. We can hand these unwanted aspects to Hecate and allow her to transform them in her cauldron. We can experience a radical release and shift anything that has been stuck in our life. Letting go is a natural and necessary part of life. And, when we let go, we make space for love to enter. And as we let the old year die, we make room for the new year to be born. 

During Samhain, the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is the thinnest. In this time outside of time, this place between the worlds, we honor and visit with our ancestors. We commune with our beloved dead. We open our hearts and we open our circle, to welcome those we love and have lost. Interestingly, the words ghost and guest come from the same root. And so, we invite them to be with us, to speak with us, to share their wisdom and advice, and to celebrate the love and Spirit that survives even as the forms of life change. 

Samhain is considered the most sacred of sabbats by many and in its sanctity, comes a part that’s difficult to celebrate: remembrance. When we remember, we feel. When we feel, we often grieve. Sometimes its grief for someone who has died, other times it’s grief for what once was, or for what never was. These are all natural parts of the season, just as much as the joy and mystique. Grief in its proper place- informs us of what we’ve lost, so that we know what in life to cherish. 

And so, at the time of Samhain, we cherish and give thanks for all we have and all that has manifested during the past year. We reflect on the dreams first inspired during last December’s Winter Solstice, the fertile ground we prepared at Imbolc, the seeds we planted at Ostara, the first seedlings we nurtured at Beltane, the fields we tended during Litha, all that began to ripen at Lughnasad, and our Mabon harvest. We give thanks for all that came to be during the year and all that wasn’t meant to be. 

Goddesses:

You may wish to call upon the Goddess Oya, if you are looking for inner transformation. A Yoruban Goddess who controls the rain, winds, and storms.  She is a powerful crone who has a strong desire to help women through their struggles to transform and is also associated with the regenerative power of death and rebirth. You may feel the desire to have Oya blow her winds of change around your life to bring about something greater.

 

Another powerful Goddess available to us is Lilith. She can help us get in touch with our inner voice, our pure sovereign self. She is not afraid to be wild, sexual, or speak her truth. Often misrepresented by the masculine paradigm, she was never evil or bad. She encourages us to embrace our sexuality, our sensuality, and to stand up and fight for our power. So if you are looking to embrace your power and voice, you may wish to invite Lilith to be with you.
 

Correspondences:

Colors:  Black, purple, gold, orange

 

Altar components: photographs of people or pets you love or honor who have passes, objects belonging to them, a pomegranate (the symbol of Persephone), offerings of food and drink for the spirits.

Ode To Hecate Redux (For Ann)

by Daria MacGregor

O Hecate      Un-graspable One

Gold dust woman        She of the crossroads

            Quicksilver moment

                            Now you see Her          Now you don't

 

For You are the mist (after all, what is mist but crystal in decay)

You are the spirit infilling      infusing      encompassing      swirling

As the oracle card is pulled

The touch of the key as it enters the lock

                                            The soft snick of the turn

                                                        That lets you in

The tendrils of smoke rising from the torches

The leaping of the flame as it's lit

The whisper to speak

        The breath before you do        which clarifies your truth

 

The dissolving of a soul as it leaves the veil of the body

                                                                        Returning to Her body and soul

                Disappearing beyond our ken

                                                      Yet never gone

                                                                                For She is here

She swirls around and through

          before and behind        above and below

She is all magic      all mystery      all dreams

        She is the darkest moment

                And She is the dawn

She rebirths Herself every moment      and us, Her children, with Her

 

She is the bridge      the cross-point

        where the circle ends and begins again

Grasp Her?      Might as well try to grasp love

          or clouds    or the taste of wine upon your tongue

                  or a lover's kiss      impressed upon your lips

Stop a child from growing

          A lotus unfolding                Stop time and stars

                        To grasp Her would be to stop Life

 

So let Her speak and flow

      Misty dark gold dust lady of the doorway

She will sweep all of us along

                            in Her cloak of stars

                                                 Hail Hecate

The darker the night

          The brighter She shines

 

{Blessed Be}

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