Samhain (“Sow-in”) means Summer’s End.
In the traditional view Samhain is the end of a yearly cycle on the wheel and the beginning of a new cycle. Typically found on the same day as Halloween, the energy of Samhain is much more than a day. Often spanning several weeks, it is the last of 3 harvest holidays and the beginning of an inner quietude.
The dark reigns and cold begins, a perfect time for resting, (starting Journeywork) going fallow ourselves, just as the fields did but also a time of great overhauling and inner preparation. We are turning over ourselves internally, preparing to become new people but we are in-between death and birth, in this liminal space, we may not recognize ourselves or others. Things around us may seem mysterious or chaotic as our culture does quite the opposite of what Mother Earth is urging of us; to rest.
Unfortunately, we are socially draw into “the Holidays,” full of social pressure, possibly unsettling forced family time, with little room for nurturing time or food, solitude and solace, thus “the sick season.” Try carving out 5 minutes of quiet alone time every day for yourself in this season of darkness and inner focus. If you are really ambitious, try turning all the lights out, make the house as dark as possible and prepare for bed as the natural light fades. We may need more rest during this time of elongated darkness. Soon, Solstice will be here and we will celebrate the return of the “Sun King,” although we will be entering the coldest period of our year.
Looking for a reason to celebrate? Thursday is a “cross-quarter” holiday! Groundhog Day is a lot more than it appears. There are ties to the activity of Bears flatulating (yes really) in German forests at this time of year to indicate the forecast of a long or short winter. Staying with tradition but lacking in bears, the groundhog was an apt substitute in North America.
On the Celtic wheel of the year this date is know as Imbolc, the time when ewes start to give milk. Could you imagine the glory of having some sort of fresh sustenance in the coldest time of the year?
Also known as St. Brigid’s and Candlemas, it is a “cross-quarter” holiday meaning it falls between solstice and Equinox.
All cross-quarter holidays are celebrated with Fire! At this time in particular we light the fires to clear stagnant winter energy and celebrate the returning heat and light coming in just 6 weeks – one more turn of the wheel – the “new year” Spring Equinox, usually March 21st or so.
Spring is coming!
On this day, the May pole is one of the aspects used to celebrate the pre-beginning of Summer. In many cultures there are beautiful examples of the coming together of man and woman to create new life. This festival is about celebration and drawing forth abundance. Decorating the may pole is a clear way to celebrate the feminine and masculine aspects coming together. We can see this in India with the yoni lignum statues and the Lakota pipe. When we bring together the pipe stone and the stem, the feminine and masculine pieces we create a new being and that being allows our prayers to travel to the Creator.
The Wheel of the Year is a Celtic solar calendar followed by those who once lived close to the land. It was a way to measure celebration, harvest and the harsh cold time of the year, a way to “read the signs of the wood” and keep track of time by paying attention to the relationship between the Sun and the Earth.