Happy Samhain everyone! …or Halloween as it’s commonly known today. Those practicing an earth based spiritual path tend to follow the Celtic Wheel of the Year;- the annual cycle of seasonal festivals that mark a seasonal change caused by the Sun. The 31st October is the ancient festival of Sahhain, a time that marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It’s a time to honour and remember absent friends and family and to celebrate the potential for renewal and rebirth, which arises out of the darkness.
To learn more about how Samhain is the true origin of Halloween, check out my blog post ‘Samhain ~ The roots of Halloween‘.
There are many easy ways of celebrating Samhain that do not involve raising the dead or plastering yourself in fake blood! Essentially it’s a celebration of the seasonal transition to the darkest time of the year where death is widespread in the natural world. Therefore it’s a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge our relationship to nature, and to reflect upon loved ones passed over, and to acknowledge the gifts they bestowed us. Since Nature’s cycles is the true underlying theme, I like to ensure that mother earth is cordially invited to my celebratory plans! I often draw inspiration from the fabulous books of Glennie Kindred who generously shares her wealth of wisdom of magical ways to celebrate the Earth cycles, or the Wheel of the Year. (books listed below). I was fortunate enough to study with Glennie this year to deepen my undestanding of celebratory rituals.
I share with you a few simple ways that I celebrated Samhain this year in hope to spark your imagination to create your own magical celebrations:
1) Nature Walk
I headed out to the local woods for a meditative walk to mindfully observe the autumnal colours, scents, sounds and feelings of this time of year. I began my bringing my awareness to my footsteps, to provide an anchor to focus my mind in the present moment. I then tuned in with all my five senses, honing in on one sense at a time to really experience the sensations of the moment. As I did so I became acutely aware of the sensations of damp, crispy leaves under foot, the warmth of the sun kissing my face, the comforting odour of decaying leaves, and the splendid spectrum of colours that leave me awe struck.
Experience yourself as part of nature, and the cycles of life. As you witness the death of the decaying foliage, reflect on the importance of death in nature and how it
leads to rebirth. Contemplate on how this relates to your own life;- where have you experienced loss, endings or thresholds in your life? Can you identify the seeds of new beginnings that followed as a result? Sometimes we can only see the opportunities with hindsight, but maybe you can identify the growth, courage, compassion or wisdom that these experiences brought to you?
Gather some natural objects to bring indoors to adorn your home, to create a Samhain altar or to use to create a nature mandala as I did below.
2) Nature Mandala Spiral Ritual
You will need:
- An array of leaves (to form the spiral)
- Seeds such as acorns or chestnuts (to represent seeds of new beginnings you wish to plant.)
- Salt (used for protection, purification and healing.)
- tea light(s) and lighter (to represent spirit)
For me getting creative in nature is my favourite form of celebration, it not only lifts my spirits and catapults me into the present moment, but it’s so much fun – and something that can be done alone, or with a group or with family. Children love any excuse to get their hands dirty and play with leaves, and that goes for big kids like me too!
My intention for the ritual was to journey within to leave behind aspects of my self / my life that are holding me back, and to invoke inspiration, clarity and plant seeds of intentions for the new year.
To begin with I poured a spiral of salt on the ground next to a beautiful ancient yew tree. Upon which I mindfully arranged the leaves in spectrum order and lit a tea light at the centre upon a pile of acorns. The spiral represents the path leading from outer consciousness (materialism, external awareness, ego, outward perception) to the inner soul (enlightenment, unseen essence, nirvana, cosmic awareness) and the acorns (seeds) represents seeds of new beginnings.
After connecting in with my higher self, my guides, nature spirits, the elements and the divine / creator, I selected a decaying leaf to represent that which wished to leave behind;- stagnant and outdated energies, patterns & behaviours that prevented me from moving forward in life. I then walked mindfully in to the centre as I contemplated these aspects. At the centre I burned the leaf – transmuting the energies it represented. I picked up an acorn upon which to impart my intentions / wishes / hopes and dreams for the coming year as I spiralled back out again. After expressing thanks to the earth I proceeded to bury the acorn, planting my seeds for the future.
3) Bonfire Alchemy
Samhain is said to hold the potential for powerful transformative alchemy – where we have the opportunity to transform our lead (our baggage, pain, challenges) into the Gold of our desires!
Fire is the ultimate transformer, and also symbolises the light of the sun, and our inner light. Light a bonfire to gather round with loved ones. One by one place in the fire something written on paper, or an object to symbolise:
1) something you wish to let go of / to transform or heal…
2) your wishes / intentions. Speak these aloud as this serves to amplify the energy.
Afterwards, try Pyromancy; the art of divination by means of fire. Ask a question to the fire spirits and look for images in the flames to convey symbolic answers. Other ideas are to sing songs, play music or share stories about your ancestors as you soak up the warmth of the fire.
Regardless of your beliefs or how you choose to celebrate, it’s a great time to reconnect with nature – to the ever renewing cycles of life of which every one of us are connected. A cycle where life and death are two side of the same coin so wether you practice solo or with others, take the time to contemplate the endings and new beginnings in your life, and to reconnect with the sacred.
By Emma Tuzzio
The Earth’s Cycle of Celebration ~ Glennie Kindred
Earth Wisdom ~ Glennie Kindred