The In-Between Time of Samhain

The In-Between

Certain times in our lives are filled with potency and magic. Twilight is such a time, as is dawn. These are magical moments when it is neither day nor night. Birth is another potent in-between time, along with death. These special times mark borders and transition zones. The in-between is a sacred time when magic is afoot.

Here in the northern hemisphere, we find ourselves on the boundary between autumn and winter. The light is slowly fading away as our Sun drops lower and lower in the sky and our nights grow longer. This is another potent in-between time. The ancient Celtic people would celebrate Samhain (Sow-in) at this time.  Some tribes chose to celebrate at the 1st new moon after late harvest (October 19th this year). Other tribes celebrated at the 1st full moon after harvest (November 3rd this year). The celebration of Samhain was a beautiful way to honor the seasonal  transition out of the light and into the dark.

The veils between the worlds grow very thin during this sacred in-between time.  Loved ones who have departed this Earth are believed to be nearby. Many people in Mexico honor this by celebrating Dia de los Muertos  (Day of the Dead) at this time.

Samhain is the perfect time to acknowledge and celebrate the sacred cycles of birth – growth – death – rebirth that are an integral part of Nature.

Some suggestions for acknowledging and honoring the magical in-between time of Samhain:

Take a few moments to honor everything you have “harvested” this year.

Bow to your ancestors and thank them for giving you this life.

Offer love and prayers to loved ones who have transitioned.

Thank the brilliant light of summer and embrace the deep dark of winter.

Listen for spiritual guidance to help you in the coming year.

Celebrate the Magic of Samhain.

Autumn Begins with Balance

Today is the autumnal equinox.  Autumn has officially arrived.

An equinox is the moment in which Earth’s equator lines up perfectly with the center of our Sun’s disk. This occurs only twice each year, in March and September.

At the time of an equinox, our Sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. Day and night are precisely equal at the equator — and very close to equal everywhere else on the globe.

Metaphysical thoughts on the equinox from MysticMamma:

Symbolically, it can be viewed as the point when day meets night, where opposites meet on equal ground, where we can integrate the duality within the oneness of existence.
The ancients, who knew themselves to be at one with the Earth, honored these planetary shifts as important reflections of life. As above so below, As within, so without.
This eternal medicine reminds us of the equanimity necessary to reconcile opposites…

 

Thoughts on equanimity and balance from BuddhaNet:

Equanimity is a perfect, unshakable balance of mind, rooted in insight. Looking at the world around us, and looking into our own heart, we see clearly how difficult it is to attain and maintain balance of mind.

Looking into life we notice how it continually moves between contrasts: rise and fall, success and failure, loss and gain, honour and blame. We feel how our heart responds to all this happiness and sorrow, delight and despair, disappointment and satisfaction, hope and fear. These waves of emotion carry us up and fling us down; and no sooner do we find rest, than we are in the power of a new wave again. How can we expect to get a footing on the crest of the waves? How shall we erect the building of our lives in the midst of this ever restless ocean of existence, if not on the Island of Equanimity.

A world where that little share of happiness allotted to beings is mostly secured after many disappointments, failures and defeats; a world where only the courage to start anew, again and again, promises success; a world where scanty joy grows amidst sickness, separation and death; a world where beings who were a short while ago connected with us by sympathetic joy, are at the next moment in want of our compassion – such a world needs equanimity…

Spend a few moments meditating with Mama Earth today. May she help you find your sense of balance and equanimity in the midst of all the waves of change and chaos.

Total Eclipse of the Sun

Next week, the Moon will “extinguish” our Sun for a brief time.  A small strip of the North American continent will be aligned just so, and when the Moon moves between our Earth and Sun, it will cover the entire Sun, turning morning into night.

I have fantasized about seeing a total solar eclipse ever since I read Annie Dillard’s description of one many years ago:

“The second before the sun went out we saw a wall of dark shadow come speeding at us. We no sooner saw it than it was upon us, like thunder. It roared up the valley. It slammed our hill and knocked us out. It was the monstrous swift shadow cone of the moon. I have since read that this wave of shadow moves 1,800 miles an hour. Language can give no sense of this sort of speed—1,800 miles an hour. It was 195 miles wide. No end was in sight—you saw only the edge. It rolled at you across the land at 1,800 miles an hour, hauling darkness like plague behind it. 

…Less than two minutes later, when the sun emerged, the trailing edge of the shadow cone sped away. It coursed down our hill and raced eastward over the plain, faster than the eye could believe; it swept over the plain and dropped over the planet’s rim in a twinkling. It had clobbered us, and now it roared away. We blinked in the light. It was as though an enormous, loping god in the sky had reached down and slapped the Earth’s face.”

The Sky Gods will perform a bit of celestial magic overhead on Monday August 21.   I will be heading north tomorrow to experience the totality first hand. I’m looking forward to the show.

How might this magnificent sky show  affect us physically, mentally, emotionally?

The astrological significance of this total solar eclipse.

☾☽

Turning Towards Spring

Hag's Head - Cliffs_of_Moher
Hag’s Head – Cliffs of Moher

At the beginning of February, we celebrate a strange and wonderful holiday known as Groundhog Day. We are told that if the prophetic groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, sees his shadow on this day and runs quickly back into his burrow, winter will last at least 6 more weeks.

The idea of waiting and watching for the first inkling of spring is not new. The ancient Celts celebrated Imbolc in early February long before Groundhog Day existed. Celtic stories tell us that the Cailleach—the divine hag Goddess who rules over winter and death—gathers firewood for the rest of the winter on Imbolc. If the Goddess Cailleach wishes to make the winter last a lot longer, she will make sure that the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. But, if Imbolc is a day of foul weather, it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over.

The Cailleach was worshipped by the Celts as the sacred Earth Mother in her bare winter form. And she is not just a dark and evil hag who arbitrarily decides how long winter will be. The Cailleach is also the Bone Mother who collects the bones of the animals that die in the winter. The Bone Mother is said to sing or pray or sleep over the bones all winter long. She does this out of love, so that the animals will cross over and can return as new life in the spring.

The Celtic tribes lived in the far north where winter is a brutal season. They had to burn huge quantities of wood to keep from freezing every winter. They also had to rely on their own stores of food to get them through the long winter months when no crops could be grown or harvested. There was no corner grocery store to run to if they ran out of bread. Is it any wonder that the Celts were quite focused on the return of spring?

The Celts watched and waited for spring. And they noticed that the ewes began to lactate and prepare for the birth of their lambs in early February. The Celts saw this return of mothers’ milk as reason to celebrate. The flow of milk and the birth of baby lambs meant spring was definitely on its way. The harshness of winter would soon end. The Celts celebrated Imbolc because they understood that their lives depended on the grace of Mama Earth and her seasons.

There is a magic to Imbolc and the early days of February. It is there, running just beneath the surface. Can you feel it? Mama Earth holds the seeds of spring safe for us all winter. As the cold wind blows and the snow piles up, she holds them safe in her soil.

It is February, not quite time for the seeds to sprout. But the days are definitely lengthening. The wheel of the year is slowly turning towards spring and new growth. And beneath the surface of Mama Earth, the seeds are beginning to quietly stir. Spring is stirring in the ground beneath your feet. Listen with your heart. Can you hear the stirring?

☾☽

Imbolc is traditionally celebrated at the halfway point between winter solstice and  spring equinox.  In 2017, this halfway point falls on February 3.

Want a simple way to honor Imbolc and the turning of the year towards spring? Light a candle or two tonight, and offer up a simple prayer of gratitude in honor of Mama Earth and the return of spring.

Companion Moon

moon-shadows

“The moon is a loyal companion.
It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast,
knowing us in our light and dark moments,
changing forever just as we do.
Every day it’s a different version of itself.
Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light.
The moon understands what it means to be human.

Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.”

~Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

Samhain and the In-Between

Samhain

There are special in-between times in life that are filled with power.  Twilight is such a time, as is dawn. Those magical moments in each day when it is neither day nor night…  Birth is also an in-between time, as is death. Each of these in-between times marks a border, a space of transition. They are special times when the ancients believed magic is likely to occur.

Here in the northern hemisphere, we find ourselves on the boundary between autumn and winter. This is yet another potent in-between time. As the sunlight fades away and our nights begin to lengthen, the ancient Celtic people celebrated Samhain (Sow-in).  Some tribes celebrated Samhain at the 1st new moon after late harvest (October 30th this year). Other tribes chose to celebrate at the 1st full moon after harvest (November 14th this year).

The Celtic celebration of Samhain was a way to acknowledge and honor the transition out of the light half of the year and into the dark half.  The Celtic people believed that the veils between this world and the next are very thin at Samhain. Those that have departed this Earth are close at Samhain. This made it the perfect time to celebrate the gifts of the ancestors, and to celebrate the endless cycles of birth – growth – death – rebirth that are an integral part of Nature.

In this sacred and magical in-between time, spend a few moments acknowledging and honoring all that has happened in the past year.

Honor everything you have “harvested” this year.

Consider what you hope to “birth” and “grow” in the year ahead.

Bow to your ancestors and thank them for giving you this life.

Offer love and prayers to loved ones who have transitioned.

Thank the light of summer and embrace the dark of winter.

Celebrate the Magic of Samhain.