The Crow’s Nest: Samhain, Boundaries and Nettles

Samhain. It is the time a year the boundaries between the realms is at its thinnest.  My thoughts of late have been on a different type of boundary, however. The type of boundary we establish between ourselves and others. This type of boundary is often referred to as a “personal boundary.” Personal boundaries are the conditions and limits we set physically and emotionally in regards to our relationships with others. Personal boundaries are a necessary protective measure established to promote healthy relationships. By establishing personal boundaries we demonstrate self-care and self-respect. This indicates to others how we will accept being treated by them.

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Nettles and Signs

Earlier this year, I took a break from writing and teaching.  The reasons varied, from family obligations to a strong message from my Deities to take some time for personal growth and private study.  Walking in the yard one morning, I happened to come across several stinging nettle plants popping up in my flower beds. I had not planted them, they had simply volunteered.  A former student reminded me of the association of nettles and boundaries (I love it when the student becomes the teacher but that is another subject and another article). I began to contemplate the boundaries in my life, or rather the lack of boundaries in my life. I came to realize I had not been establishing healthy personal boundaries.  And in failing to do so, I was suffering. The nettles were a “sign.”

The Morrigan has taught me many things over the years. I would say one of the most important is accountability to myself and the knowledge that I am in control of my life. The personal boundary issue needed to be addressed.  Shadow work ensued.  As a practitioner of the Craft I am very familiar with the concept of protection and how necessary it is. While I always take steps to protect myself magically, why was I neglecting to protect myself mundanely? Why was I reluctant to establish healthy personal boundaries in the first place?  These were some of the questions that came forward during my shadow work on the subject.

The nettles have continued to grow. They serve as a constant reminder to be aware of boundaries and the necessity of establishing them.  Magically, they serve as protection. Mundanely, they serve as a conscious reminder to be mindful of boundaries.

What does this have to do with Samhain? 

Samhain is a Celtic Festival. It is the third and final Harvest Festival of the year according to the Pagan Calendar. Samhain marks the beginning of the dark half of the year. Bonfires were lit and Divination performed.  Spirits can move about freely, as the “veil” between our world and the Otherworld is at its thinnest.  The Dead returned to Earth for one night a year and if not appeased with offerings would damage crops and generally wreak havoc.  Honoring the Dead is still highlighted this time of year.  The Sidhe would also cross the veil during this time and were gifted offerings to ward off Their mischief.

Samhain represents change and transition. It is an ideal time of year to release what is no longer necessary in our lives.  This allows us to proper in general. Shadow Work is a useful tool in determining what aspects of our lives we need to work on.

What is Shadow work?

The Shadow Self is a Jungian concept.  He theorized that we all have a “Shadow Self”, a dark side of ourselves we do not consciously acknowledge. Shadow work involves bringing the unconscious dark aspects of ourselves to the surface of our conscious, acknowledging it.  By doing so, we come to know ourselves better.   The Dark time of the Year is an ideal time to perform this kind of introspective work, as the veil between our conscious and unconscious is very thin during this time.  There are many techniques and rituals available online and in print for guiding you through the process of Shadow Work. It is not an easy thing to do, facing and acknowledging one’s darker self.  Nevertheless, it is essential to one’s personal growth. As we come to know ourselves better, we come to know the world around us better.

It is important to be aware of the signs we receive from our Deities and the Universe at large. The nettles were my sign, what might yours be? Look around, you might be surprised at what signs you see. As we fall into the dark half of the year, be willing to fall into yourself and get to know yourself better.

A safe and blessed Samhain to all!

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