So last week I managed to cause a ruckus on Facebook with my offerings of womb yoga, this week has been somewhat quieter, well it has on Facebook if not outside as autumn has well and truly blown into our lives with Brian hot on the heels of Ophelia. I hope that you have all come through safe and sound. Yet this is a timely reminder of how life and death, death and rebirth, light and dark are intrinsically linked. Often nature shows how us one cannot be without the other. The flower must wither and die for the fruit to prosper, foliage dies down leaving light for new growth, which brings me to Samhain or Halloween; Festival of the Dead. Samhain is a time when the veil is thin between the living world and the dead, a time to celebrate and honour our ancestors. Old age and death is not to be feared, old age is to be valued and respected our elders to be honoured for their wisdom. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world we no longer listen to the wisdom of our elders the words such as crone have negative connotations. Samhain heralds the beginning of the Celtic New Year, another time for endings and beginnings.
Death is to be befriended; as death is about endings of many kinds, the end of a chapter in our lives, giving room for growth, life, birth and opportunities for the new. So Samhain is a time for looking backward and forward. A time to reflect and a time to go inwards to journey to our inner wisdom, letting go of that which no longer serves. A time to lay rest those ghosts whether they be psychological or the ones that go “bump in the night” A time to rest to dream and drift as we gaze into the flickering flames of fires and candles. Think of a tree, the cycle of a tree, as it sheds it’s leaves, releasing them, letting them go, they no longer serve the tree, their job is done. Now is the time for the tree to rest and sleep.
For me the time of going inwards often brings out my creative side and I found this old textile portfolio and discovered my autumn inspired work. I love trying to catch the leaves as they fall from the trees, and listen to the rustle of the leaves, kicking through piles of leaves crunching underfoot, although they’re somewhat soggy out there right now.
Samhain has many traditions linked to it and with the increasing popularity of Halloween, whatever your thoughts may be on the ever growing commercial aspect of it, new traditions are on the rise. So whatever your traditions are take a moment to enjoy them, whether it be apple bobbing or celebrating your ancestors. You might decide to gather with family and tell stories of family members no longer with us, make traditional family recipes or this year might be your time to start a new one.
This week sees us preparing for our retreat at Fell Edge where we will be celebrating Samhain and honouring our ancestors. We will be treating them with respect placing their photos on our altar and seeing what messages they bring for us. I recently found an old photo of me and my mum sporting rather dodging 80’s hairdos. So she shall be placed upon our altar. When we think of those that are no longer with us it may not be people we were close to, it may be people we never met, people that aren’t part of our family but they resonate with us and mean a lot to us.
I’ve recently been revisiting my book Earth Wisdom by Glennie Kindred, I do love her books she suggests the following for Ancestral Connections and perhaps this will be your new tradition.
“Dedicate this time to the power of lineage, whether this is biological, tribal or mythical. Follow your intuitive threads and explore what you feel are your own personal connections, roots and heritages. Name and celebrate your heirloom gifts, what you feel you have inherited and what you feel you have been entrusted with.
Dedicate two stones or crystals to honour your ancestry. Keep one on your personal shrine and take one somewhere that makes a good connection for you and bury it, cast it into Water or leave it out in the elements.
As an ancestor of the next generation, ask yourself what history you leave behind.”
In the shamanic world we are often connecting with our ancestors calling upon them whether it be to heal ancestral lines, or within our women’s work we call upon our ancestors, our matriarchal line to help and support us with the healing. I also feel that at the moment the history we are leaving behind isn’t too great, but things are shifting. There is a rise, especially within women, and most recently the #me too campaign, it is phenomenal and for me one of the great things that has come out of it is not only that women are talking out but that men are getting involved. Men are looking at their behaviour and how they treat women, but what we leave as our history isn’t just about how we treat each other it’s how we treat the Earth. For me I feel it’s important to remember that each action ripples out into the world having a larger affect than we could ever imagine.