October has always been a favorite time of the year.
What I love is the true autumnal feeling to October. Usually there is crispness to the air, the humidity of the summer has passed and the arrays of colors of autumn are on display. The scents and jewel tones of the leaves beguile and bewitch us. There is a poignancy about the month. In the Celtic tradition, this month would hold the New Year celebration as it is the time that they honored the final Harvest of the year giving October the theme of “endings.”
Samhain (pronounced sow-en) is a magical time when the veil between what we call “the worlds” blurs. This creates opportunity to drift, to dream, to vision and to connect to the world of spirit. It is the master time to do anything related to divination. This time is also dedicated to the Dark Goddess. She rules the Underworld, the Unconscious – She also represents our deaths, rebirths and regenerations. She has many names – Kali, the Morrigan, Ceridwen, Hel, Cailleach, Scatha or Sythia, Skadi and Hecate to name a few. The stories about these archetype Goddesses always center around the teachings of life from death. Rituals were performed in caves and underground places with an emergence back to the world above to symbolize the renewal of life.
The Festival of Osiris is celebrated in the month of October. This is a classic tale where Osiris is killed and dismembered by his brother and the goddess Isis re-members him and restores him to life. It takes Isis some time to do this because Set, Osiris’ brother, not only dismembers Osiris, but he scatters his body all over and not in one place. Isis spent her days searching for every piece until she realized one last piece was missing – Osiris’ man part! But instead of being defeated, Isis crafted one out of clay and completed his body. Isis then succeeded in giving birth from it!
What do we learn from this?
We come to realize that we carry many different aspects of ourselves; some dictate louder than others how we should act and be within our everyday lives. But by remembering and honoring the pieces that make up ourselves, we become whole – renewed. Remember who you are, what you really want, what have you forgotten? What dream have you put off? Where are you giving away pieces of yourself? What circumstances or situations are chipping away pieces of your worth, confidence, self- esteem? What habits and behaviors need to “die” in order to make room for new growth? This cycle is completing – it is ending and yet, in that ending resides a new beginning.
The Yew tree symbolizes this wonderfully. The Yew can regenerate from old wood. It is often found in church yards and sacred places as a symbol of mortality and resurrection. Yew trees can withstand harsh pruning and live for many years. One of the oldest is over 3,000 years old and is found in Fortingall, Scotland. The trees pictured here are an avenue of Yew trees leading from the Madron Well in Cornwall. It is a very powerful and magical place. We did a meditative walk through this avenue and it was transformative. We hope to bring together a small group to join us next year.
This time of year allows us a chance to withdraw a bit and reflect. This year has been challenging, between the astrological energies, eclipses, retrogrades, followed by the barrage of negativity that is thrown at us on a daily basis from everywhere. So a time of quiet withdrawal by the end of October would be of great benefit.
For me, many old wounds have begun to re-surface that I thought were long put to rest. Even with all the tools I have to use to balance the negatives – Reiki, crystals, meditation, journaling, exercise – I still have to check and remind myself to use them. I also have to re-member with honor that my individual life mirrors the Wheel of the Year with its endings and new beginnings as well.
Take the time to check in with yourself. Ask some tough questions. Be an explorer. Keep breaking it down until you find the core that you can work with and through. And always remember – you hold the clay.
Samhain/Halloween is also a festival of the Ancestors as our Spanish brothers and sisters celebrate Dia del Muerte. We too, honor those that came before us and ask for their guidance and blessings. As women, we can and should honor and remember the revolutionaries – the midwives, herbalists, wise women and hedge witches and the many courageous women of history.
This month, take the time to reflect on your life. Put down the phone, turn off the TV, be still…and know. You don’t need candles, bath salts, a tarot reading or Reiki. You just need to listen for, and trust your own inner voice when it does start to speak during the dark time of Samhain. Then you will be joining a long line of courageous women embarking on the sacred Celtic New Year.
The darkness is not the absence of light – it is the womb of light. -Fred LaMotte