All Hallows Eve, Samhain, All Saints Day, Day of the Dead, Halloween. Today has many different names in many different traditions, but they all have something essential in common. Today, we honor the cycle. Today, we embrace the dark. Today, we celebrate the dead.
I revere today as Samhain (pronounced sow-in), the ancient Celtic festival marking the end of the year, the time when the veil between worlds is thinnest. Falling halfway between the fall equinox and the winter solstice, tonight is the gateway into the darkest part of the year. The last fruits fall from trees; the leaves mat thickly on the ground, beginning their compost; each morning the air is cooler. This is the dying time, friends. The earth has laid bare its final offerings and now prepares for dormancy, the temporary death of winter. The cycle finished, for now.
So today is a sort of threshold. A threshold into the womb-like dark that will hold us, gestating, till spring. A threshold to the other side. A threshold between cycles. If we choose to honor it as such, we can meet that threshold with intention. We can choose to partner with the changing seasons. Like the trees shed their leaves, we can shed what we no longer need. As the squirrels hoard their nuts, we can make plans for what’s to come. Like the ancient Celtic farmers, we can take stock of the year’s harvest and light our figurative bonfires in thanks. For this, I offer The Wheel Spread, so we may review the past and step into the future.
With the life-death cycle so visible outside our windows, with the veil so permeable, we can also meet this night to commune with our loved ones on the other side. We can put out a photo, an object of significance, an offering of wine or sweets or cigarettes or flowers, and light a candle in remembrance. We can also do ancestral work on healing traumas passed down through generations, on shifting inherited patterns, on breaking free of familial cycles perpetuated across time. For this, I offer the Ancestor Spread.
Our ancestors do not have to be blood relatives, either. They can be anyone who has come before us on our paths, the forebears of our experience. Tonight, we can hold space for queer ancestors, cultural ancestors, trans ancestors, Jewish ancestors, feminist ancestors, witch ancestors. Whoever you’ve descended from, talk to them tonight. We are bonded together by things stronger than blood, my friends, things stronger than flesh and time. We are all part of a lineage of spirit.
Blessed Samhain, friends, and happy new year.
THE PHOTO: What ancestor(s) is/are near you now.
THE ALTAR: Your sacred connection to them.
THE LOCKET: Your inheritance from them.
THE SWEETS: How to honor/give thanks to them.
THE FLOWERS: What you can do to heal/shift your ancestral line or trauma.
THE PRAYER: Your ancestors’ hopes for you.
THE CANDLE: Guidance for continuing on your path with radiance and hope.
THE WHEEL SPREAD
Me, this time last year.
What have I learned this cycle?
Where have I grown?
What is ready to die away?
What is transforming?
What is being (re)born?
My work for the coming year.
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Deck pictured: Supra Oracle by Uusi.