Samhain Blog 2016

Samhain came swiftly in Ireland this year.

It followed a few weeks of warm sunny autumnal weather which created a stunning array of burnt orange and golden yellow foliage and that sense of mellow fruitfulness  and completion.  Then suddenly it was Samhain!  The clocks went back, the days became noticeably shorter and darkness gathered in around 5pm most evenings.  Time to draw inward, to reflect and rest.  While writing this blog this morning, I was guided to include the following quotation

“I said to the guardian who stood at the gate of the year “Give me a light that I may thread safely into the unknown ” And he replied “Go out and put your hand into the hand of God (the Divine) That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way “ So I went forth and finding the Hand of God (Divine) trod gladly into the night. And He/ She led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone east”

Minnie Louise Haskins 1875-1957

That guidance came before I learned the results of the American Presidential election.  All morning I had a sense of dread, but didn’t actually believe (with my head), that  the outcome would be the election of Donald Trump  as president of USA.   Shock and Awe were my immediate reactions to this news. I was also aware of a certain irony in the timing of this event, that it occurred as winter and darkness descended in the northern hemisphere.  I realized that we are now entering a darker era in political and public life. Democracy has entered a greater level of decadence, one that has been growing steadily in recent times as the democratic process is being continually eroded through money and vested interested. Trump’s election epitomized this decadence.  We are now entering unchartered waters (as we have done many times before).  The quotation above was used by  King George VI in his Christmas  broadcast 1939, when the world was also entering very unknown  territories  with the onset of World War Two.

We find ourselves in a Samhain time, not only in the seasons of the year, but in the reality of life as it is unfolding.  Samhain is of course a time of decay, breakdown and death and it seems that the political events which just occurred mirror the season we are entering.  What is important about the season of Samhain, whether it is occurring in nature, in our personal life or in the bigger societal and political arena of life is the way in which we respond to it.

We live in a culture which is deep afraid of any kind of death and so tries to avoid it at all costs.  The Season of Samhain invites us into a reflective space where we can sink down into that deep place within and listen to the stirrings of our souls. In this space, we own and accept those aspects of our selves and of our society that are challenging and which we try to avoid.  Our culture encourages us to avoid this deeper conversation with ourselves and withal that is happening in our culture. It invites us into knee-jerk and superficial reactions to what has happened.   Blaming, judging and feeling victimized are the normal responses, and all of these disempowering responses keep us mute and helpless.  But there is another way to respond to the Samhain season wherever it occurs in life.  This other way is radical and counter cultural and very effective.

At the festival of Samhain, we are initiated into the mysteries of the dark goddess, the Cailleach aspect of the feminine energies.  A journey   which requires a dying to what has been, a letting go of all that has been harvested up till now and a willingness to embrace the resultant void and the deep fears which emerge in this space.  We are offered an opportunity to return to the transformative cauldron of the goddess and allow ourselves to sink into the being-ness of that place of our potential rebirth and re-emergence. This is the place where we bring those raw or unpalatable aspects of self, the difficult events of our lives, and our society so that they can be slowly transformed during the winter season by the healing energies of the Cailleach. In this season doing and activism is replaced by being still. It is a time and space of reflection, of active waiting, of slow unforced steps that lead to deep healing and transformation and to the emergence of new possibilities at springtime. This aspect of the Goddess and of life can often seem ugly or harsh to us because it challenges us to relinquish much of what we are attached even if it no longer serves our deepest self.

While this tough mother love challenges us, it also holds us in a wise, loving and compassionate embrace. This is the opportunity and challenge offered to us by the season and the energy of Samhain. In order to travel successfully and safely into and out of this dark season, we must learn and embrace the qualities that will support us in that journey. The qualities of stillness, reflection, non-judgement acceptance, of what is in each moment, active waiting.  These skills will nurture the seeds of new life are deep within your soul.  So, in these challenging times may you embrace this Samhain season in such a way that you become the seed of your rebirth and of the rebirth of our society.

Go Mbeidh e  ( may it be so )

Le beannachtai Dolores  November 9th 2016