Greetings from Ravensdale at the foot of the Cooley mountains in Ireland. We are at this moment in time crossing over into the season of Samhain and transitioning from the end of the old year to the beginning of a brand new year, Samhain is a crucially important festival which celebrates endings and beginnings and space in between them. The festival and the rituals associated with each festival prepare us for the journey into that season’s energies and awakening within us the necessary skills and dispositions that will support each of us as we engage with what unfolds , both within us, and within the world.
This is Samhain….winter time, a time of reflection a time of sinking; of surrendering into what is. It is not a submissive act rather a conscious decision to align oneself with the actual reality of the moment.
Samhain is a time when the veils between the physical and spiritual worlds are thin and, a time when if we wish we can open up to the spiritual world.
It is a time when we can connect with our personal ancestors and perhaps invite them to come into our lives perhaps offering their support in our lives. Knowing more about our personal ancestors, we can claim those gifts which are a part of our heritage, of our DNA but which may have become dormant over the past centuries. We acknowledge the woundedness that caused them and us to abandon those gifts, and we reclaim them now to be used in the creation of a new and healthier society.
Samhain, at the end and beginning of the Celtic year, is a time to reflect with gratitude on the year which has been completed.
Take a moment to reflect your past year remembering moments of birth, of budding, of flowering, of harvesting, of death, of stagnation and waiting.
Give thanks for it all, the blessings, the lessons learned, and release with gratitude everything from that time which is now completed.
Look back and give thanks Look forward and take courage
This is the season which is overseen by the Cailleach energy that aspect of the Feminine/Goddess energy related to death which leads in time to rebirth.
This energy demands that that we surrender into the darkness of wintertime with its restrictions and limitation for outer activities. The energy present in the season of Samhain brings us down into the depths of ourselves .This is where we can look at aspects of ourselves which may not be pleasant for us to see yet our willingness to engage with the Cailleach energies will supports us to transform these aspects into nourishment for our soul journey .In this Samhain season the deep, dark, feminine energy of the Cailleach that support our inner growth.
I invite you to read the Cailleach poem slowly while looking at the Cailleach wooden image
Stinging gales, trees denuded of foliage, and the damned
Look for a cave to live in. Winter ways
Over and over telling us to slow down, to hibernate
Homeward. With a passion and a letting go
Of youth and the careless days of brilliant dreams
And gentle caresses. Now, expectations spent
on a road so long explored nearly reaching Eden
Never touched. Time to take stock of our lives
That very nearly touched the stars in the heavens
Full of mysteries ah, my dear old woman
I feel the wrinkles on the face of your wooden effigy.
Tell me your stories, Wise Brigid and I will tell you mine.
Full of many things we did this year,
Of action and reaction and the savage times
Behind us and ahead. I follow you into friendly darkness,
The deepest darkness of surrender.
The chink of light appears, the light that
Shines then slowly expands. Our liberation
Unleashed at that moment. My dear ones,
The beginning of that long journey called hope
And the cries of a Baby are heard again. – Brid McDonnell
Simple Samhain Rituals
To create your Samhain fire
Use a small container or fire pit to light the Samhain fire, or create the fire using either 3 or 9 tea lights. Traditionally the Samhain fire was lit at Tlaghta (near the hill of Tara) by 9 women using the wood from 9 different Irish trees such as Beech, Oak, Ash, Holly, Hazel, Birch, Rowan, Alder, Willow, Hawthorn, use a twig of any of these trees that are available to you or call in the energy of the tree
Use a bowl or container filled with water ( from a holy well if possible)
Releasing into the cauldron at Samhain
Each of us is invited to reflect on something which is raw and painful in our lives, something which is not yet resolved or completed.
Ask yourself “What are you willing to release/sacrifice into the cauldron at this festival of Samhain so it can be transmuted by the power of Fire and Water and the energy of the Cailleach into nourishing creative energy for your journey?”
To sacrifice means to be willing to let go of something in order for something new to be born into our lives.
Release something that is no longer serving you by saying,
“I release …………. into this cauldron may it be transformed and transmuted by the power of Fire and Water and the dark feminine energy of the Cailleach into nourishment for my soul journey.
Even though you may be doing this ritual on your own, remember that you are connected with all the other people who are also doing this ritual and so we connect with each other now through this prayer;
Let us pray these powerful lines from John O’Donohue’s poem for ourselves our friends and families
“May all that is un-forgiven in me/ and everyone be released
May all fears yield their deepest tranquilities?
May all that is unlived in me and in everyone blossom into a future,
Graced with love
To ground those dreams, gather some seeds, acorns, marigolds, sunflowers…….and a pot of clay
As you plant the seed say “I plant the seed of……..in my life and I commit myself to nourishing its growth during the Samhain season sure of its emergence in springtime”
With hands extended say
“I bless these seeds and my commitment to nurture them,
May they bear fruit in me and in my life in perfect time”
Ask for the support you need to ensure the best outcome
What gifts do I need from the Universe for the year to come? Who do I call on for support? Be willing to ask in prayer for what you need knowing that you will receive it
A Caim (Encircling) Prayer from the Celtic tradition
Circle me / us with peace – keep light and love within, keep danger without.
Circle me/ us through this day – keep childlike trust within, keep fear without.Circle me /us this night – keep health and peace within, keep dis-ease without. Deep peace of the quiet earth, deep peace of the flowing air, deep peace of the ocean’s depth, deep peace of the God of peace. Amen.
May you be blessed tis Samhain season. Le beannachtai Dolores
Resources to support your knowledge of the Wisdom of the Celtic year Check out the perpetual Celtic calendar The Cd A journey Through the Celtic Year and book Ever Ancient Ever New all available from https://doloreswhelan.ie/shop/
Details of upcoming talk and workshops on Zoom and in person will be posted on www..doloreswhelan.ie