There is usually a subtle shift in the air that happens in late July or August. It’s a slightly different, cool wind, and a whisper of what is coming. It’s that feeling of Fall being on its way, with summer’s end in sight. This has me simultaneously wistful and excited, as I love summer and yet I also look forward to Samhain. We spiral inward during this time of year, as we head towards the darker part of the year.
This year, there is a layer over all of this during this time. COVID-19 shows no sign of ending, and precautions are still in place. The words “back to normal” are fading from our vocabulary, as time marches on, and it’s difficult to make plans, much less think about the future. Each week is a new and unfamiliar territory, or the unrelenting same-ness may be taking its toll.
Part of me surrenders to the unknown, going with the flow, and then there’s a part that holds fast to my practice. It keeps me on task, and helps mark time. This is the time of year where we turn inward, prepare for the colder weather, and reach the culmination of the Wheel of the Year.
Just as we cleanse the energy of our homes and our spaces, so too do we cleanse the energy of the stagnant past few months. Begin simply, by lighting a candle, and spending time at your altar. Has it gotten dusty? Clean it off, and start anew. It may still be fresh from Lammas, or perhaps we have lost all sense of time, and items are on there from March. Move the energy at your altar, stand back once you’re done, and savor how you feel.
Next, plan ahead for your Ancestor Altar, if you don’t keep one up year ’round. Start gathering photos, and while you’re at it, share family stories. Online, in the written word, via email, or FaceTime. Pass along family recipes or share some of the photographs you find. Take up a family hobby you may have forgotten in the mists of time. Is there a certain dish your family would always prepare at this time of year? If you don’t have the recipe, try and recreate it. I made a blueberry cake recently that reminded me so much of my grandmother’s cooking that I cried. She has been dead many years, but I felt that familiar love and connection she always provided. It was a potent link between her and myself that sustained me.
Focus a bit of time on your spiritual practice next. Is it non-existent? Relegated to a corner of your life that you haven’t visited for a while? Rejuvenate that spirit by taking part in an online ritual. There are plenty to be found on Facebook and Instagram, and feeling that energy will invigorate you. If you feel comfortably quarantined and safe, check in with your local friends to schedule a socially distanced ritual in a park or open field. It doesn’t have to be a big, dramatic ritual (unless that’s what you’d prefer). Review what you have harvested this year in a Post-Lammas session, writing out all that you have reaped on slips of paper, and display the mosaic in your group. I promise you, you will be surprised at how much has happened this year, despite being isolated and quarantined. Then plan ahead for what you want to accomplish the rest of this year. Hold each other accountable if that is needed, and relish the sense of connection from sharing and hold space for each other.
After shoring up your spiritual foundations, check yourself next. Are you taking care of your health, both mentally and physically? Time to get more movement, water and breathing into your life, so make a plan to add all those, along with whatever you need to improve your days. Meditation, yoga, biking, nature walks? When was the last time you took a really soothing bath or shower? Have you taken any time for yourself that really felt nourishing? Make plans for an at-home spa day, or a hike, or a picnic. Get something on the calendar that you can look forward to, and make it all about what you need to feel supported and cherished. You’re your own best friend, so what would you like to do? Spend some time thinking on that, make plans and get excited about what’s to come.
Start planning ahead for the cold weather, either by canning or preserving, or ruminating on activities that will keep you busy when it’s cold outside. Start stockpiling witchy books and magazines that will keep you occupied when at home, or gather supplies for an activity you love and haven’t made time for, such as knitting, painting, puzzles, games, or whatever suits your fancy.
Next, reach outward. What is going on in your local community that you are passionate about, and are you able to donate time or resources? Start a food drive, check in with your local voting precinct, offer to drive people on Election Day, and get yourself educated on issues that matter most to you. Start an online book club on subjects you want to know more about, or ask a friend who is proficient in a skill to teach you, offering trades in energy or skills. We don’t exist in a bubble, and there is plenty to do in our community if we only look, and are curious.
I am ever grateful to The Wheel of the Year and our ancestors, who kept a steady rhythm and pace with guideposts of Sabbats to move us onward. It is grounding and centering, despite all the events life throws at us. Align yourself again with the wheel if you have felt disconnected, and prepare for this season of spiraling inward as we head towards Samhain.