Community Building at Samhain

Community Building at Samhain October 22, 2018

Samhain can either be a solitary time, or full of people. It depends on your nature, your interest, and what’s available in your community. Being an ambivert myself, I tend to balance the two, spending time one-on-one, as well as with community. When you think of the word “community”, you might think hordes of people, but my sense of that word (community) has shifted and changed over the years. I have found community in nature, in verbal exchanges, online, within myself and with others. Samhain is a lovely time to connect and dive deep within yourself, as the season welcomes both of these options.

First, start with YOU. Samhain is the third and final harvest, and before we move into the swift-moving last three months of the year, take time to pause and review. What has your year been like? Was it different than you expected? What have you harvested? Which harvests didn’t bear fruit? Why am I using all these harvest metaphors? If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with all four seasons, you can’t help but notice changes in nature, and once you ground and center yourself, you can find yourself in tune with the world around you. There is a quietness underneath the usual busy hum that begins at this time of year.  If this year has been horrendous (as it has been for many of us), focus instead on going deep within, to the quiet and stillness. Ground and center, and plan for a quiet season in which you can delve into you and what you personally want your life to look like. So many people stay frenetically busy to avoid doing that very thing, yet Samhain beckons us to dig deep to our roots and shore up our foundation.

Commune with Nature. Community is not just people. You can build community within nature. Ever taken the time to truly sit in a quiet spot in a forest or field? It is quiet, but also teeming with life. Find a spot that nourishes you. It can be a grove of trees, a botanical garden, a little garden spot in an urban setting. Go there to fill up your senses and your soul. Leave offerings as a thank you. If the weather prevents you from visiting that spot in person, visit it in your mind and meditate there. If you live in an unceasingly sunny climate, find a spot near water or a palm tree. Make your environment work for you, because nature can be had. Even if it’s just a plant in your apartment.

Appreciate your Interactions. I am fortunate in that I have always been open to the world around me, and I find people genuinely interesting. Something about this season, whether it’s the colder weather, the anticipation of the holidays, or a briskness in the air, seems to inspire meaningful conversations. I glean so many nuggets of wisdom from people, whether they have been through some sort of journey or are discovering nuances of life themselves. Be in the moment and pay attention when you interact with people. You can build community with just one person, knowing that you are not alone.

Attend Community Events. If you are not sure what is going on in your area, scroll through Facebook events or check out your local MeetUp app. You can interact as much or as little as you like. The first time I attended the Ancestor Vigil at Mother Grove Goddess Temple in Asheville, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t interact much with people, because I tend to observe first. The ritual was beautiful and moving, and added so much to my psyche that season. I’d been missing my parents and family, having moved to a new place, and that community service filled the ache I had. Not every community event will be meaningful, but take a moment and appreciate the efforts made. People are trying in their own way to build community, and sometimes it’s not a match. Move onward until you find one that works for you. Or not, if you decide to stay solitary. Either way, it’s your choice.

Take Comfort in Ritual. You may be content to be a solitary practitioner, and that is all the community you will need. Take comfort in your rituals, make new ones, or build on ones you have done before. Nothing is as satisfying as having the energy just singing with your intention, and even if you are by yourself, you are not alone, Your guardians, deities and ancestors are there with you, whether you feel you can feel/sense them or not. The energy itself that you raise can feel like a hug, or a surge of intention can last you through some of those cold nights ahead.

Find Community Online. Social media can be annoying and overwhelming, but it can be nurturing as well. Find groups that match your interests, see what your friends are into, do some research. I have communities on Instagram and Facebook, where I can participate as much or as little as I’d like. Some days, all I can do is look at the pretty photos on Instagram. Yet they can also inspire me to create different kinds of altars, or try something new with a ritual. As with anything else, it depends on you.

Samhain is not a one-size-fits all kind of season. Nothing in the Wheel of the Year is, and that’s the beauty of it. You can take as much or as little from the celebrations as you need. Try giving Samhain a go this year, if you have felt disconnected. It’s a great time for the reset button. After all, it is a time of death and renewal, and considered the start of the Celtic new year. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy your Samhain celebration. Build community, and take that feeling with you into the next few months.

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