Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Countdown to Samhain: 5 Key Themes of the Festival

Every single Samhain leaves me feeling truly enchanted. There is so much depth to the festival, so much to learn, so much wisdom to drink in.. As I get older I notice that there are some key themes which recur for me. They come along every single year, greeting me despite the changes I've been through since the previous Samhain. Here are the top five familiar themes of the season..

1. Loss, death and saying 'goodbye'
Every time Samhain rolls around it brings with it the truth of the axiom, 'as within so without'. Seriously, all around me the trees are losing their leaves, the days are losing their light and, like clockwork, I am losing something in my life. Whether it's a job, a friendship, a romance, a home, a perspective, a belief or a dream, Samhain always brings with it the need to say 'goodbye' with as much grace as I can possibly muster. If I resist, death still arrives but it brings pain and bitterness with it. Whereas if I let myself flow into it with mystical acceptance and curiosity, it gives way to a holy lesson.

2. Facing fears
Along with the annual back-to-back horror movie fests, fear arrives in all kinds of other ways at Samhain. I always notice that the universe seems to be pushing me towards the edge of my comfort zone. I have to take a deep breath and enter into the darkness, not knowing what will ultimately happen. Samhain usually brings a dramatic sense of having to surrender to what scares me and just confront it with both eyes open. Samhain therefore tends to be a great time for tying up loose ends and dealing with unfinished business which I had previously been avoiding throughout the summertime. Where I have been in denial or trying to 'shirk the work', Samhain brings me to my sense of discipline. Where I have been burying my head for fear of what I will discover, Samhain reminds me to be strong and live consciously. I often think of Samhain as 'crunch time'. It's like I just can't live in avoidance anymore - I need to deal.

3. Trying to break out of the chrysalis
It seems that every single year at Samhain I am desperately trying to make something happen! It's usually after a great many setbacks, frustrations and obstacles. I am usually feeling pretty hardened, cynical and disappointed at the lack of positive progress by the time Samhain comes around, but the festival itself brings a fresh determination into my bones. I can make a lot of headway between the times of Samhain and Yule, especially through the use of magick, ritual and ceremony. Of course, positive rebirth is just the other side of death and I can fully appreciate that. It is the great revealing of what is left after the shedding of the skin.

4. Divine feminine energies
It's all about the goddess vibes for me at Samhain! Of course, my matron herself is a dark goddess - a goddess of death and of the underworld. So the festival definitely resonates with me in terms of my relationship with her. But I also find that my closeness with The Virgin Mary comes back into view and I feel the need to look at images of her and to pray on my rosaries rather than on my other beads. I also connect with death goddesses from different eras and civilizations. I tend to feel that it's a good time to learn about new goddesses and expand my knowledge of what the divine feminine truly means in different cultures and in my own heart. You could say that the Samhain energy offers a strong reminder of the darkness of the womb. You could say that it's classically a lunar festival and that the moon's energy is, for most pagans, distinctly feminine. Whatever the reason, I walk with the goddess so completely during the time of Samhain. Her many faces linger in the air around me. Her words knell like a bell in my heart.

5. Creative inspiration
I always give my altar the Samhain treatment! Being as creative as possible with my altar is just the beginning though. Writing poetry to celebrate this potent time of year is also important to me as well as creating collage or paintings to express my spiritual experiences as they occur. I notice that Samhain tends to be a time to get clear on my creative intentions too. If the planning of a particular project has been getting very sticky and complex, Samhain's energy seems to help me to boil it down into key points, cutting the superfluous excess away. Samhain is a time to cut the crap and get to the point. This means it's an appropriate time not only to begin a creative journey but also to let one go, accepting that it wasn't meant to stand the test of time..

So, these have been my top five Samhain themes. Take some time to think about the recurring energies which seem to come around for you at this time of year.


- Check out some of my favourite Samhain Tarot/Oracle spreads