For pagans, Samhain is the beginning of the year. For most of us, ‘beginning’ means birth, new growth, seeds unfurling and pushing up through the frozen ground… but seasoned pagans are savvier about the reality of a ‘beginning’. They understand that seeds begin life underground, in darkness, quiet and stillness.
Samhain, the last harvest festival of the year, is more often associated with death than with birth and rebirth. It’s a time to honour those who are no longer with us. Pagans often devoteSamhain to honouring the ancestors. It is when the veil between worlds is thinnest – a time to expect strange and spooky occurrences. So how can it be the beginning of thepagan year?
In human terms, Samhain’s new beginning could be equated to conception. Nine months of growth must take place in the womb before birth occurs. In the darkness of our mothers, wetransform from a tiny seed, just as a seed in mother earth’s belly transforms underground before sending forth shoots.Throughout winter, while the trees are bare and the earth appears cold and barren, metamorphoses are taking place beneath the surface. This energy affects us, too. Witches and pagans, in particular, seek to align themselves with the underlying energy of the seasons. It makes sense to work with the wheel of the year, not against it.
Before we can be reborn, we need to release all that is no longer working. Looking back at the year you’ve just experienced, you may feel it has been a time of frantic activity– as you pushed to better yourself, progress spiritually, learn and grow. Now is the time to turn inward, and decide which aspects of your life should be sacrificed.
If the Autumn Equinox is a time to take stock of what has come to fruition throughout the year, Samhain is the time to let go of whatever hasn’t worked.
As we honour our ancestors and the difficult times they lived through, laying the foundations of our current existence, we should also honour the hardships, mistakes, failures and lessons we have endured on a personal level. Paganspirituality upholds that we lead many lives, each experience refining our soul until we regain divinity. This means that there can be no such thing as failure – because each mistake is a lesson learned for the purpose of gaining wisdom and ultimately, achieving perfection.
Unfortunately, it can be a painful process.
Samhain is the death of the year, and by Yule, the year is reborn. So take this time to release past wounds and disappointments, so that by Yule, you’ll be ready to define new dreams, new areas for growth and new ambitions.Samhain is a season of rest and solitude, when we turn inward, allow the past to be past and, having released the old, look forward to welcoming the new.
My advice? Perform this simple ritual to help you release the old and welcome the new.
Write down everything you wish to surrender on a piece of paper (or several) and throw this, with intention, into the biggest bonfire you can find! Luckily, ’tis the season for bonfires, and you don’t need to do this on the 31st (Samhain is often said to fall on the 31st October/1st November). If youaren’t able to build your own fire, Guy Fawkes celebrations will provide the perfect opportunity to throw your cares into the flames, and watch them shrivel to insignificant ash.
Once this has been done, you can look forward to moving on with renewed vigour.
This November, the new moon falls on Sunday the 3rd, so this is the perfect time to define your dreams for the coming year, as you will be working with an increasing energy as the moon waxes towards fullness on the 17th November. Create a ‘Be, Have, Do’ list – writing down everything you wish for yourself (no matter how big or small) on a large piece of paper that you can display somewhere prominent. This will help you focus your intentions for a more positive, productive future.
Why not continue to cast away regrets on the full moon and define your hopes for the future on the new moon, throughout the rest of the year until Samhain 2014? You may be surprised by your positive progress if you do.