Sacred space

It’s been a while since I have been in this space. More than half a year. Late spring, plus summer and autumn have all passed on a spinning plate that wobbles somewhat precariously on some of my fingers whilst my other fingers attempt to weave the myriad threads of Day-To-Day Life, and my mind is scattered in a hundred places. And my ears try to attend to quite a few voices.

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Now we are sliding into winter where I live. Samhain-tide, I call this: the time from October’s Vanishing Moon (the waning crescent – the last quarter) to that of November. This winter seems to have come early with that chilly, biting kind of wind that makes you squint and chaps your hands as it dances around you like a playful toddler who wants to have fun but hasn’t quite learnt that teeth and nails hurt people! Samhain-tide is a sacred, liminal time where I say goodbye to the year – and with it the dreams I didn’t fulfil, the mistakes I made and hard memories that I’d like to bury. I picture them mushing into a sludge along with all the fallen leaves then sinking down into the earth, their secrets becoming the lessons that will nourish the seeds that grow next year. I look forward to that renewal.

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It’s a sacred time, these death-throes, and I find it’s easy to be tempted to skip over it and start focusing on the festive season, to start all the planning and making and buying and counting down. The shops lure us to do this from so early on. I find it sad not to give this time it’s own space, that we turn away from whatever song it has to sing – even if it’s not the prettiest song, and is often whispered.

I wonder if a parallel could be drawn between our society’s skipping-over of the year’s dying, and how we don’t talk about – or we make taboo – old-age and death of us as people.

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So I’ve tried to resist the festive magazines and refuse to eat a mince pie yet, until I’ve finished my Samhain-ing. I’ve been connecting with the slowness of this time, enjoying the invitation of the dark afternoons to cosy up and light candles, savouring the remains of Autumn’s beauty. (Like the revelation I had this week of how I prefer the deep red of the hawthorn and rowan berries now to their more scarlet hue earlier on). Protecting space as sacred can be hard though – whether that space is

  • a period of time in the calendar,
  • the “space” amidst all life’s to-do lists for self-care and spiritual practice,
  • personal space when your loved ones need endless hugs,
  • emotional space from those who are wearing you down a little,
  • physical space (say, protecting the nature table from being dismantled by the now-mobile baby!),
  • geographical space such as the land and water that those at Standing Rock are trying so very hard to protect,
  • mental space,
  • creative space.
  • And online space to come here and tell you all about it.

But I guess doing so is part of what makes it sacred.

Welcome back. Happy winter  ♥ ♥

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welcome winter

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The first frost has kissed Bristol this week – the “scrit-sshhhh, scrit-sshhhhh” of neighbours scraping ice off car windscreens called me to the window to see. I, in turn, called my little boy to witness this seasonal magic trick from nature.

The air certainly has a chilly bite. Most of the trees are bare and eerily skeletal. Their vulnerability, beauty, ugliness, wisdom, intricacy, strength and true form is all revealed and these themes remind me of some of the chambers of my soul that I seem to have visited lately. Leaves lie in the shadows of their trees on the ground beneath them like worshippers at an honoured teacher’s feet. My garden is a soggy, rotting tangle of the year’s debris some of it probably gangrenous by now. Even our hardy nasturtiums, who have clung on this long, now surrender to the chilly blanket that winter pulls over the earth to tuck her up to sleep.

Welcome winter. For me, like many, the year begins at Samhain. Although I celebrate this festival on October 31st for the sense of communal festivity with everyone else marking that date, I personally celebrate Samhain as a turning of Autumn to Winter when I feel that shift for myself. This day is kind of my New Year’s Day. However, In the practicalities of busy day-to-day life, it’s not quite possible to drop everything to party! On the day this week when I really felt that winter had come, I was able to go for a walk around my local park with my son noticing the signs of the season, the weather, the light etc. During this week we’ve exchanged the autumn books for the winter ones in his seasonal book basket, cleared, cleaned and started to re-decorate our nature table, changed a few things in the house to better suit our winter needs, and begun organising festive gifts.  Simple things that hopefully will become familiar seasonal rituals, grounding our family in natures rhythm.

This weekend I intend a little more celebration – a simple ritual and bit of special-ness to greet the New Year. On a weekend when many in the US may well be extending their Thanksgiving festivities, I like the thought of many of us engaged in celebrations of different kinds – it’s a good vibe to be going around the world. Welcome winter: may we be open to your insights, patient with your challenges and touched by your magic! ♥