There is a special resonance in the sound of 2020 and many predictions suggested that it would be a year of huge changes; no details or even hints of how this might happen were offered. Yet for people who were aware of the deterioration of the health and life force within the earth, the changes that have taken place on the planet were both necessary and correct. The pandemic has forced changes in the behaviours of the human population globally and has hugely reduced the negative impact of humans on planet earth. This is evident in the current blossoming of the earth, the return of fish in the rivers, the amazing birdsong, heard more clearly because there is less noise everywhere, wildlife thriving and the clearing of the skies due to less pollution from traffic everywhere. Now in Maytime 2020, we humans find ourselves in a world utterly different than anything we expected or could imaged at the beginning 0f the year. This year our world, that is the human world, has been turned upside down and we humans are struggling to make sense of our place within this changed reality. So while planet earth inhabits and celebrates the season of Bealtaine, the humans population finds itself in a deeply Samhain time
Our task now is to seek and find the best ways to navigate these changed circumstances. The ancient spiritual and mythological traditions of Ireland are one of the sources of wisdom that have nourished me over the years.
Within the Celtic tradition, the calendar year is divided into two halves Samhain or Winter-time and Bealtaine or Summer-time; there are also further divisions within these seasons of the year. Maytime, in the northern hemisphere, is associated with the season of Bealtaine, the time of flow and flowering within the earth and human community. Samhain, wintertime, is the season associated with darkness, inner reflection, stillness, surrender to the present moment and many kinds of death
The essential role of Samhain, the season of death and darkness is embedded in a story (cosmology) older than one which currently dominates western society. In this older story Samhain, the season of death and darkness, it is understood that death and the regeneration that follows are crucial to the reality of a healthy life .The newer story, on which our present culture, is a story of the domination of the earth by human interests ,of endless growth as a the measure of the success of a society, and is firmly rooted in the belief that humans are separate from the living earth. The older story knows that life itself and all living beings are interconnected. This newer story has causes widespread pain and loss for our planet, the living earth,
with its teeming life forms and of also course for the human population because as chief Seattle said a long time ago “ Whatever befalls the earth befalls the people of the earth “
Using the metaphorical aspects implicit in this Celtic calendar, we humans might use this imposed Samhain time to gain important insights into how we might live in a more harmonious relationship with all life on the planet.
Samhain is a time of deep reflection, which takes place within the dark, still places within the human and has the potential to open up spaces within us where we ask deeper questions. If w e allow ourselves to go into those deeper spaces within and to open up to what emerges there we may sense the deeper and significant questions that we humans must ask at this moment in time
Questions such as “How do we humans understand our relationship with the earth? What values and principles do we embrace and embody in our daily life?
We, individually and as a society, must reflect on the worldview we currently hold and which creates the blueprint from which we operate in our daily lives. What in my life do I need to let go of, what in my life needs to die?
W e need to reflect deeply within on the choices we make each day to ensure a viable and healthy shared future our children, our grandchildren and for future generations of humans.
As we become more aware of the value system which we embrace (consciously or unconsciously) w e begin to see the underlying story or Cosmology that informs our society and the choices we make that create our lived reality. W e may also see that some of the belief systems accepted as inevitable within the dominant story no longer serve the greater good of the whole. The story we create to give meaning to our lives is based on not only what is included but also on what is excluded because that too is alive within our story. If the story is linear and sees constant growth as a primary measure of success ,then anything that does not appear as growth is seen as failure within that story, Such a story will not value times of death nor understand that death is a precursor of rebirth. This is a central tenet in the older stories.
During Samhain we must face the many difference experiences of death present within different aspects of our lives. “How can we each engage with the energies present in this Samhain season in a way that will support the ongoing journey and evolution?” The ancient cultures of many primal societies, including that of the
Ireland, understood the importance of the dances that take place between the many sets of polarities present within the manifest world, polarities such as darkness and light Summer and Winter, doing and being , action and non –action, masculine and feminine energies. Examining the Celtic calendar we see how these energies dance with each other and integrate to form a flowing river of energy and life. The polarity between masculine and feminine energies is one which needs to be addressed if any real change is to happen in the world. We learn that neither the masculine or feminine energies hold supremacy and that both play significant roles at different stages within the Celtic calendar year and in the unfolding of any creative process. Many people are acutely aware of the strong bias towards masculine energy and the belief that it is superior to feminine energy, yet when we see the current state of the world the destruction that results from the use of masculine energies without the balance of feminine energies very clear. When w e look at the natural world we that both energies are essential and that when they work in harmony they result in very fruitful outcomes.
Feminine energy is expressed in three forms the Maiden, the Mother and the Cailleach/ Crone and all are essential in life. The Cailleach energy of winter time oversees the death and dissolution of what has been completed or outgrown, so that seeds of new possibilities can be planted and nurtured deep within the earth or with ourselves during the dark season of Samhain. The Cailleach energy, while it is very challenging for us, will also hold us steady and safely throughout the necessary transformational journey of Samhain. This is the tough mother love energy that demands w e let go of what no longer serves our good or is beneficial to the earth. Fear is a very dominant emotion present within the human population; we are especially afraid of death, not only physical death, but death of ideas, of ways of living and being. It is not possible for a person to enter and engage with the season of Samhain and the Cailleach energy while they are stuck in the fear, especially fear of death. To make the journey into Samhain successfully, it is necessary to move from the place of fear within ourselves to a place trust because undertaking any journey of transformation requires trust .The journey of entering into the darkness of Samhain, the unknown, without any guarantee of the outcome demands both trust and courage. We are being asked at this time to challenge our personal and collective fear of death. We need to belief that transformation into a new and better scenario is possible. The story of the transformation of the caterpillar into a butterfly offers us both a map to guide us and reassurance for the journey
“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” — Richard Bach
We humans as a species’ find ourselves on a significant threshold at this evolutionary time. If each of us embrace this Samhain season, to the best of our ability, then we create the potential to realign our relationships with the living earth and to create a more loving , caring and sustainable relationships with each other, with all life forms and with the earth, This requires the trust that just like Bealtaine follows Samhain , that the seeds that are sown in this Samhain season if attended to and nurtured will in time become the Blossoms of Bealtaine. At this time of uncertainty, we must hold steady, refuse to fall into fear and confusion
You may find support for your journey at this time the wisdom shared by John O Donohue in his poem
“As far as you can, hold your confidence. Do not allow confusion to squander This call which is loosening Your roots in false ground, That you might come free From all you have outgrown.
What is being transfigured here in your mind, And it is difficult and slow to become new. The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become For your arrival in the new dawn
For the interim time
May Brigid Goddess and Celtic Saint hold each of us safely under her mantle of protection
Le beannachtai Dolores