Samhain is the time of year when the veil between the earth and the world of spirit is said to be at its thinnest, across many cultures and over countless centuries. It is a time when connection with dead loved ones and ancestors is given particular attention and when fairies, spirits and otherworldly mischief makers delight in their night excursions to Middle Earth. It is, of course, the root of Halloween, Day of the Dead, and All Souls. It is also regarded as New Year for Witches.

Samhain is pronounced ‘Sow-wen’ and lies on the Celtic Wheel between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice. It is the last celebration of late harvest; a final opportunity to gather and dry herbs for overwintering, apples and quinces for bottling, marrows for chutney-making, to collect sufficient wood for a warm and welcoming winter’s hearth.

It is an especially powerful time of year for reflection, as autumn dips without resistance into winter. Growth now halts, animals move into hibernation, trees abandon the last of their leaves. Nature accepts the life cycle, giving herself up to the slow necessity of the resting months. Our ancestors knew this too, marking the coming season with some trepidation – winter was hard and often hungry – but trusting in the Earth’s abundance, and looking with anticipation and the necessary preparation to the fruits of the Spring, and the return of a warming sun.

This acceptance we have lost. Our species now resists the seasonality of the annual cycle and the waning of our own lifecycle, with cataclysmic consequences. Nature is calling us urgently back to rhythm. Embracing this call back to reality is a source of liberation and celebration. No cause for fear. In comparatively few turnings of the Earth about the Sun, we will ourselves have become ancestors to our children, and their children. Will they place food out for us at Samhain, and honour us with a deep sense of gratitude for the legacy we have passed on to them?

A thoughtful Samhain may begin to plant the deep seeds for a healing future.

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