Samhain

Samhain

At Samhain, the Goddess retreats into the deep vault of the earth to join her dark lover in the Underworld. Life withdraws, and the landscape turns bleak, cold, and grey. The last fruits, nuts and berries still hang in the bushes, but most are gone. Few flowers withstand the season’s call until the frost kills them off. The birds have left on their journey to the south.
It is a melancholy time, but also a time to turn inward.

We mark this season by remembering those who have gone before us. Death is but a stage of the wheel of life. Far below the surface, the Goddess sheds her worn-out gown and falls into deep meditation while regenerating her vital life-giving energies.

We face the cold and darkness as the Sun’s power wanes. Few of its rays can still warm us and the days grow shorter.

Life and death are aspects of the same eternal cycle. There is no light without darkness, no life without death. Use this time to reflect and remember, to cherish the good and to let go of all that is worn and wears you down. Concentrate your inner strength in contemplation – for soon, the wheel of the year will turn, and the Sun will be reborn.

Lughnasad – Harvest Time

Lughnasad – Harvest Time

The time of the grain harvest

Lughnasad marks the beginning of the harvest season. The fruit and vegetables are ripening, and the grain has turned golden. It is usually an intensely busy and happy time, especially for gardeners. The efforts of the early part of the year are paying off. But not this year.

The growing period from spring to harvest is fraught with danger: Late frosts can kill sensitive starters, and summer storms can ruin the crop in just a few minutes. The harvest is by no means guaranteed. This year, Lugh has been fierce. The summer heat is so intense that it is causing terrible damage, scorched landscapes and draughts. We need the Sun’s warmth and light, without water, there is no life.

Lughnasad is called Lammas in the Christian tradition, which comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘hlaf-mas’, meaning ‘loaf mass’. Bread and wine are the traditional sacraments of the Eucharist.

But harvesting the seed is only one of the stages of the perpetual cycle of life. Ideally, what we harvest at this time of the year should sustain us beyond our current needs and nourish us in the winter, when the Earth is barren and still. It must provide us with the seed necessary to start the cycle gain next year. We reap as we sow, but we also sow what we have reaped.

In the face of the unfolding climate catastrophe, we are grateful for what we can harvest today. But if we want to secure future harvests, we must change our practices.

We can no longer afford to ignore the changes that are taking place. We are facing an existential threat – unless we act now. The future potential for our species and life as we know it, lies in our hands.

The future starts now.

Imbolc Awakenings

Imbolc Awakenings

Imbolc, the return of the light

Winter is still with us, although is now entering a moody phase. One day it is frosty, stormy, and inhospitable, and a couple of days later the sun pops out to tease us. But there is one sure sign that things are beginning to shift, ever so slightly – the days are beginning to get noticeably longer again.

Imbolc is the season of the light maiden Brighid, a virginal Goddess, who appears to us as the returning light. As the sun climbs just a tad higher in the sky, it adds a few minutes of light to each passing day.

Nevertheless, it is still the middle of winter. But, if you look carefully, the buds are beginning to swell. Some precocious little flowers defy all the odds. Some particularly perky ones are pushing their way through the snow, or old leaves:  snowdrops, winter aconite or dwarf crested irises are among the earliest and bravest. Unmistakably, the life force deep within the earth is stirring. Last season’s seeds are preparing to germinate. The wheel of the year is turning, and the sap is rising once more.

Purification and Fasting

Imbolc, or ‘Candlemas’ in Christian terminology, is the festival of growing light, of cleansing, and purification. It prepares us for Lent, the time of abstinence and fasting intended to purify body and soul.

In the past, fasting was a way of cleansing the body of the residues of heavy winter foods. Spiritually, it is an act of mindfulness and a way to prepare the body and mind for the spring and a new cycle of growth.

Envisioning the future

Imbolc is a time for visualizing in your mind’s eye the possibilities that lie ahead. Some people use divination, others use affirmations. Take some time out to prepare yourself for the challenges and opportunities yet to come. Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, on good and bad habits, and make a commitment to your soul’s journey.

What kind of nourishment does your soul need? What are your intentions and purpose? How do you want to give back to life?  Are you walking your talk?

Imbolc is a good time to charge the seeds with intention and to foster your inner flame. Take care of that light through the dark of the night. Soon the sun will soon rise and grow strong again.

 

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