For me, each cross-quarter festival gets celebrated as a lunar month starting from the time when signs of that season are appearing in nature, and the sabbat’s corresponding moon phase comes around. So I’m right now in the middle of Samhain-tide. On Sunday 14th October I awoke to our first frost; nature’s clue to the start of winter. The moon was in the dark part of its cycle: the time the crone, the empty time, the “space in between”. With the next new moon, I’ll move on from this festival.
I marked the start of Samhain-tide by decking our alter in appropriate decorations and making a pie of seasonal veg which we ate drinking a purple fruit juice whilst I wore black clothes and smoky eyeshadow. During a chilly walk in the fields near our home, my husband and I admired the majestic autumn colours and shiny berries as we reflected on the year’s harvests, the transformations in our lives, our dreams and our insights. We honoured the Samhain colour of black by gathering many, many blackberries – undoubtedly our son’s favourite part of the celebrations!
Samhain is also a time to gratefully remember our ancestors and those who have passed on. Whilst in our garden this year’s harvest has been very poor, in other areas of our lives it has been so very rich. We have learnt much about the things that we hope will shape our life in the future; sustainable living, living more simply and permaculture among them. We have also learnt much about ourselves and our true values just from becoming a family. The reading we’ve done, support we’ve received and people we’ve talked to or met brand new have only enhanced that, as well as introducing us to new ideas that we now couldn’t imagine living without. This year has truly been one of transformation! I guess I’m honouring ancestors here as not just those who have passed on but those still alive who have more experience and wisdom who we “inherit from”. We will need some small tweaks as well as some major transformations on our path to treading more lightly upon the earth and we will use these dark months to reflect on what changes are right to “birth” in the spring.
This week has gone colder here in the south-west UK. Outside, I see everyone wrapping up in their scarves and thick coats. In our home, our winter-cold potions are made, we’ve got our heating on a little in the evenings and we’re attending to improving insulation and heat retention. I love this season of nurture and taking care of ourselves, each other and our homes. Perhaps we need the extra hour that the clocks going back gives us to rest – or to catch up from the busy harvest season. This time I the perfect opportunity to build that sense of camaraderie that comes with snow and approaching Christmas, and to extend it further than this season and further into our communities. As Satish Kumar said in the talk of his that was one of my highlights of this year, when we improve how we connect and take care of ourselves, we will improve how we take care of our planet.
Happy Samhainide; welcome winter!