Thoughts and musings of the wheel of the Pagan Year.
Samhain, and an Introspective Journey
My dearest friend, why did you die?
Why did you need to go away?
Now, when I am hungry, who will feed me?
When I am cold, who will warm me?
When I need shelter, whose hearth will I seek?
When I need company, whose house will be warm?
It was never your way to be gloomy and sad.
If you were here, you would be serving us tea.
~ Scots Death Lament
“All is a held breath, a stillness and a moment between. Now is the time to step into the dormant season and allow the seeds to sift themselves into the loam of new ground.” (168, d Kate dooley)
Samhain has crested the darkening horizon, the final harvest of the season before the year spins away and Yule begins the cycle anew. The holy day arrived on wings heavy with sorrow, as just days before I said a sad goodbye to my familiar, the cat who had been my companion for thirteen years. I knew when she was gone I would miss her with all my heart, but I never really realized how hollow ritual work would be without Kami curled up in the circle with me. (Usually she was curled up on the altar, having knocked the Goddess and God statues out of her way. How dare I place anything that wasn’t her on the altar?)
My husband tells me that in the very early hours of Samhain he woke up to Kami scratching at our bedroom door, demanding admittance. He ignored her, as was his wont, but when it came again five minutes later he rose and opened the door, grumbling about ‘snarky cats,’ only to remember that Kami was gone when he opened the door and saw no cat. I wish I had woken to receive her final farewell. It is enough to know that in the hours when the veil parted she came home to let us know that she was safe and well, past sickness and pain.
The Samhain season is a season of introspection. We look into our souls, assessing who we are and how we have come to be this person. What have you left unfinished? What have you put off starting? What are your commitments and how do you approach them? When working, for yourself or others, what are your motives? Are you happy with who you are? If not, how can you become so? This is the time of year when more and more we come together in groups: family, friends, collecting to celebrate the harvest, to anticipate the upcoming solstice (or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or a combination), or to revel in the warmth of each other’s homes, finding shelter and companionship in the face of the darkening days and cold nights. What do you find when you sit amid a crowd of those near and dear to you? What knowledge is imparted by new acquaintances? What do you learn, about others, about yourself, about your destiny and your place here in this world? More importantly, and this is a subject for contemplation during this dark half of the year, what will you do with this knowledge?
These darker days draw us in; rather than roving abroad until the light finally fades in the evening hours as we do in the summer months, we return home early, inhaling the warm coffee-scented air of our homes, glad – even though we may dislike our neighbors or the look of our needs-to-be-painted house – to be here in our haven of warmth and contentment. We drop our coats in a chair, kick off shoes for slippers and pour a cup of cheer. Staring into the inky depths of our cups we review our day. How did it go? How did I do? What could I have done differently? Better? More efficiently?
When we look inside ourselves we often beat ourselves up over our mistakes (perceived or otherwise). As you travel on your own introspective journey this season, do it kindly. Whatever you have done that you think you could have done better, acknowledge the fact that you completed the task you set for yourself. Accept that you did it, and did it well. Allow yourself to aim higher next time, encourage yourself to do so. You didn’t do it wrong, you did it. Next time, try to do better.
Darkness pulls us into its depths. It’s easy to call ourselves out on our faults during this time of year. Do not let yourself despair. Look around you. Light is everywhere, all around. Dancing on hearths, gleaming through windows, sparkling in the cold night sky. Allow yourself to be drawn toward the light. Use the light around you as a guide when you walk the paths of your soul and you will find your way to fulfillment, understanding, and acceptance.
Go home now, to the mother of winter.
Go home now, to your springtime home.
Go home now, to the mother of summer.
Go home now, to your autumn home.
Sleep, oh sleep now. Sleep, oh sleep.
Sleep against her sacred breast.
Sleep, oh sleep now. Sleep, oh sleep.
Sleep this night, let her give you rest.
~Medieval Irish Death Chants
Dooley, d Kate, The Spindle Hearth: A Sourcebook for Goddess-Centered Living. Yarrow Press, 2006. Asheville-Lewisburg, WV.
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