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Samhain, finally!! I don’t know about you, but this is my favorite holiday. Day of the Dead Celebrations, Halloween costumes and parties, and the feel in the air make me happy. I have a sugar skull clock hanging on my wall. Ritual was last night, and we didn’t make it, but we’ll have a small celebration here to honor those who have passed and letting go of the past, so we can welcome the New Year.
Samhain, or summers end, originated with the ancient Celtic celebration of the end of the “light” part of the year represented by the harvest, and the beginning of the dark portion of the year as daylight hours become shorter and the weather grows colder. It’s one of only two times a year, people extinguished hearth fires and relit them the next day to celebrate the new beginning. This happens at Beltane and Samhain, and at no other time. Celebrations start at sundown on October 31 and continue through the day on November 1.
At Samhain, the veil between this world and the spirit world is thinnest, and departed spirits can return to mingle with the living. Samhain celebrations take many forms. People often clean house to clear the way for the coming year. It is also a time for reflection on the past year and on goals for the future. Samhain is one of the best times of the year for divination and looking to the future.
Just as the ancients inventoried their stock and the last of the harvest, it is time for us to take stock of our accomplishments and goals, our beliefs and rituals. What is working for you? What is not working for you? What changes can you make, and keep, that will make your beliefs, rituals, and life work better for you?
I’m not talking about making “New Year’s” type resolutions. We all know how well those usually work. What I’m talking about is more subtle. Review your grimoire or book of shadows, or start a new one. Revisit the teachings you have been living by, and look at new teachings and ideas. Expand your outlook. Are there other ideas that would fit with your belief system? If your focus has been on stones, read about herbs. If you’ve been studying the tarot, learn something about runes.
Every skill and idea we add to our knowledge becomes a part of our philosophy. This gives us a much larger spiritual harvest to carry us through the winter months. Just as the ancients harvested crops and herds to feed themselves through the winter months, so can we seek a spiritual harvest of knowledge to feed our souls. We can approach this from many directions; personally, I prefer to spend time in study, meditation, and ritual, and truthfully, I make the decision based on how my heart leads me at the time.
Sometimes, I will spend an entire evening reading and explore new ideas to find out what I want to study over the winter. I think this year, I'm going to read Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft by Christopher Penczack, Celtic Mythology by Ward Rutherford, and Handfasting & Wedding Rituals by Kaldera/ Schwartzstein. It doesn’t really matter what path or paths you explore, as long as you expand your knowledge and look for something new to learn.
Other times, I will conduct a divination ritual or, depending on the position of the moon, a moon ritual outdoors. For divination, I know I’ve mentioned that I use the Motherpeace Tarot deck because I like the more feminine and peaceful images, but whether you use a tarot deck, angel cards, spell cards, or runes, any divination ritual will let you look within yourself. Then you can reassess what has passed, what is to come, and how you can manifest in your life the things you want and need. Only then can you start to create what you want for the future.