Samhain. A magical season, to be sure. So many people in a better mood, with cooler weather, anticipation, and more. Yet underneath all that bustling activity is a quiet hum. Do you hear it? If you are in tune with the rhythm of the season, you feel it and hear it. Despite all the crazy weather and climate change, the earth is still on its timetable, and you can feel the pull to head towards the darkness. It is partly the changing of the season, and the steady progression until winter. You feel yourself going deeper, both internally and emotionally. The lessons of Samhain are all around. Below are some of the lessons I’ve gleaned through the years, what are yours?
Preparing for the Darkness: The season prepares you for the inevitable winter. Even in sunny climates, there is a whisper in the air as we head towards the end of the calendar year. Things are slowing down, so let yourself slow down a bit as well. Maybe it’s impossible with your family’s busy schedule, but try to set aside time each day to go deep within. How has this year turned out for you? Review what’s been, what you’d like to keep, and what you’d like to fall away. Make small steps towards changes you’d like to see. It can be as simple as adding more vegetables to your diet, more yoga to your week, more time for writing or a different morning routine. Choose one small act, and if that feels good, then another. Prepare for the quiet days of winter ahead. Will you read more? Write more? Spend more time with family and friends? These are ways in which we prepare for the darkness.
Honor your Ancestors: You hear it so often this time of year, but do you truly do so? Do you spend a cursory few minutes thinking about them, or do you truly take time to honor them? Set aside some space for an ancestor altar, and set aside some time in your life to truly commune with them. Our ancestors live on in our hearts and minds, and it can be soothing, especially when there is chaos out there. Honor them with their favorite foods and drinks, and bask in the generational love that is part of you.
Transformation: So many people bought labradorite stones at the shop recently, I thought I had missed National Labradorite Day. Yet the uses of labradorite are many and varied. It is used for protection, awakening one’s inner spirit, and as an aid for transformation. As the leaves change, look to yourself for changes you would like to make. Take some time daily to truly envision what you would like your life to look like and the changes needed to make that happen. Want to take a pottery class but never seem to have time? What could you let go to make that happen? Create vision boards if you need to, make lists or journal daily until you reach a comfortable space of knowing what you want. It can be a fun, scary, exhilarating journey, and it begins with the first step.Practice Safe Hex: Your mind may turn towards banework more than usual with the oncoming darkness, and my advice is always, always, practice safe hex. There has to be a balance between dark and light, and although I myself practice more of the positive aspects of witchery, there is also room for steps needed to protect your boundaries and mental health. Many people worry about how far they can go with these type of workings, so it takes honesty with yourself, and very clear boundaries. If you don’t feel you are ready to do so, then don’t. Always take care of yourself first, and feel strong and centered before you carry on any sort of banishing, hexing or banework.
Honoring the Forgotten: This time of year can be so bustling and busy, yet there are those in our community who are forgotten. Some are suffering, some are unmourned, some are completely estranged from those around them. Concrete actions, such as helping with the homeless, donating to a food pantry, or even simply sending good thoughts and intentions towards someone struggling can be a huge help. We are in this world together, so spend some time daily on helping those who need it. Added boost? You will be spending time not fixating on your own problems, and adding to some goodness to the world.
A Light in the Darkness: Pumpkins are everywhere this time of year, but the rebel part of me always grabs a turnip to carve and light as well. Turnips were originally used in Ireland and Scotland to frighten away wandering evil spirits during Samhain. Across the globe, the Maoris began carving gourds as lanterns more than 700 years ago, and the Maori word for “gourd” and “lampshade” are the same. What better way to ground and center during this time than to work with a vegetable grown in the deep, dark earth, and give it some light? It is comforting and humbling at the same time, a worthy alternative to the more ebullient pumpkin. Give it a try and see how it adds to your season.
One of the best parts of the Wheel of the Year for me is how it connects me to the cores of the seasons and the time of the year. Each celebration has full meaning, and once you delve into them, it’s hard to not return with each successive festival. Samhain has me digging deeper and deeper each time, and the journey has been enriching. I hope it is the same for you.